|Vitra, Hella Jongerius|
A tiny fluorescent notch attracts us to Hella Jongerius’ Rotterdam Chair. But far from decorative, the notch fills a cut in the plywood seat that stops the chair from splitting during the moulding process – when the seat is bent in several different directions simultaneously. The back and rear legs are solid wood, and the gliders are fluorescent, but the chair has a simple aesthetic despite the curious patchwork of materials.
|Classicon, Konstantin Grcic|
It might look as clean and simple as a Helvetica “e”, but as with most of Grcic’s work, there is a complicated story to his two-piece Kanu chair. Due to the number of bends and contours inflicted on the plywood – needed to make the chair as comfortable as it is – two moulds were made; one for the seat, and one for the semi-circular back.
|Cappellini, Adam Goodrum|
Cappellini had a better show this year than the last two, presenting new pieces by Nendo, Barber Osgerby and Stephen Burks. Our favourite piece was by Sydney-based designer Adam Goodrum – obscure on this side of the world but known in Australia for a mass-produced peg. The technicolour Stitch chair is made of hinged aluminium, and folds down to a flat sheet. We love the zebra-like hinges.
|More chairs tomorrow...|
|Arco, Ineke Hans|
Perhaps it’s the pointed legs and arms that makes Ineke Hans’ Fly chair so convincingly mosquito like. Designed for Arco, the Dutch manufacturer presented a well-edited collection of products that have a bold, original aesthetic the big Italian brands might take note of.
Kartell, Erwan & Ronan Bouroullec
words Penelope Shaw
A “ballet of floating lights” is how French designer Gwenael Nicolas, of Tokyo-based design studio Curiosity, describes Light-Light, an installation at the Tokyo Wonder exhibition in Milan. Here is a video of the piece, with little balls of light floating and bouncing in the dark.
The inspiration behind the exhibition was to share “the beauty within the chaos of Tokyo” and the unique qualities of life in the city. The lights are small polystyrene spheres, raised to hover in space by a stream of air and illuminated by LEDs. “The idea for Light-Light came from a kid’s toy, where you blow in a pipe and a small ball floats in the air,” says Nicolas. “I borrowed it from my daughter after convincing her I needed it for my work. So I spent one day blowing in the pipe, trying to imagine how to make it a reality.”
The show was a collaboration between three design studios – Curiosity, Tonerico and WOW – all united by their appreciation and enthusiasm for where they live and work. “Tonerico and Curiosity’s work is similar in the sense that we experience and take part in modern Japanese culture, with a constant search for beauty and authenticity,” says Nicolas.
Tonerico exhibited Snow, a white tunnel with an illusion of endless snow, and Water Drop, a space filled with hammock chairs inspired by drops of water. WOW showed Lights and Shadows, a portrayal of Tokyo at night. “Tokyo is a vision of the future – it works like an operating system, everything is connected and in continuous evolution,” says Nicolas. “Light is the substance that expresses this energy. So we decided to use light as the connection between the different artistic works.”
words Anna Bates and Penelope Shaw
My Beautiful Backside – a divan with cushions that appear to float behind it – was Doshi Levien’s confident follow-up to its hugely successful debut for Italian manufacturer Moroso last year, continuing the fusion of Indian and European themes.
“We have a beautiful painting of a beautifully sari-clad maharani sitting in her palace, surrounded by cushions,” says Jonathan Levien, one half of the London-based design duo. “We wanted to use the idea of multiples of cushions or bolsters but with a more Western typology.”
The reverse of the meticulously embroidered wool and felt cushions will boast large badges for buttons – such as a blue heart and a giant “and” symbol – but the duo ran out of time to stitch them on. “It was an opportunity to use iconography in a lighthearted way, almost as a form of branding,” says Levien. “It also stemmed from the idea of jewelling up furniture – in the same way you would add a brooch to a shawl, we could customise the furniture by adding buttons or logos as jewels.”
The pair combined a new wool fabric by Italian designer Giulio Ridolfo, for Danish manufacturer Kvadrat, with Indian silks, cotton and felt. “We’ve taken the language of English couture tailoring and combined it with an Indian typology of seating,” says Levien.
Doshi Levien also showed Principessa (Italian for princess) – a day bed inspired by the Hans Christian Andersen tale of the princess and the pea. Five mattresses, all in different colours, are piled one on top of the other; the highest three can be removed and used individually. “There is a tribal aspect to this piece; in areas of India mattresses are layered on top of each other every morning,” says Nipa Doshi. “So we used a really eclectic selection of fabrics and developed a red and gold jacquard weave for the top mattress.”
Using similar techniques as Charpoy – the decorative day beds the duo launched at Milan last year – the top mattress is embellished with the tools a modern-day princess would be surrounded by before going out, such as a hairdryer, sunglasses and umbrella. “Principessa is about utility and glamour,” says Doshi.
My beautiful backside by Doshi Levien for Moroso
Principessa by Doshi Levien for Moroso
words Will Wiles
Christiaan Postma’s Clock uses more than 150 moving hands to spell out the hours of the day. It was launched in at Spazio Rosana Orlandi in Milan, and was one of the most memorable objects of the fair. Still photos don’t do it justice – you have to watch the animation to see the numbers emerge from chaos, and then dissolve again as the hour passes.
“The idea was to communicate ‘time’ in another way, to make the viewer think what time is or could be,” says Postma, who is Dutch, but based in Stockholm, Sweden. The result is somewhat cryptic at first glance, but once the idea becomes obvious, it’s hugely charming. It’s a sophisticated concept, with strands of childish delight and adult guile. It undermines the notion of time as a series of increments, a succession of seconds and minutes, and nods towards a more innocent or pre-modern sense of time as a continuum – a shadow moving across a sundial rather than a ticking stopwatch.
But doesn’t that make it impossible to tell the time accurately? “No, that’s not true,” Postma protests. “I think you learn to read the time quite well. The completeness of the word means the completeness of the hour. I’m quite good at reading it now, to within five or ten minutes. The idea is also that using the object makes you change your use of time.”
Postma says that he has been bombarded with offers from high-end galleries since Milan, but he isn’t certain if he would rather present it as a limited-edition object or put it into mass production. “If I can find a producer I can reach more people,” he says. “That was the reason I went towards products, not art. I like to reach people.”
This year’s Swarovski Crystal Palace showcase in Milan included pieces by Tokujin Yoshioka, Front, Marcel Wanders and Paul Cocksedge.
Our favourite of the collection was Eternal by Yoshioka, who made the team at Swarovski quite nervous by merely presenting a series of giant crystals in acrylic cubes – a refreshing backdrop to the more high-tech designs the event has become renowned for.
Paul Cocksedge designed a “veil” of Swarovski crystals. Each of the 1440 crystals is placed so it reflects light into a certain direction – crystals are either lit up or dark. Standing in front of the veil, it doesn’t look anything interesting, but if you look into the strategically placed mirror behind, a dot-matrix style image of Mona Lisa’s face is revealed.
Swarovski-encrusted bathroom tiles were Marcel Wanders’ contribution. To make it all a bit more interesting he got some models in crystal bikinis to bathe underneath some “shower chandeliers”, but no water came out, and the ladies spent the evening not sure whether to pose, dance or sleep. It was pretty awkward watching.
The real crystal porn actually came from Front. Accompanying their hand-blown glasses and lights was a video with slow motion close ups of molten glass, sumptuously dripping over chunks of crystals – captivating watching.
FredriksonStallard, Zaha Hadid and Studio Job were among the other designers taking part.
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