words Anna Bates
Brad Pitt popped into Design Miami/Basel – the Swiss edition of the collectors fair that takes place annually in Florida – to do a spot of shopping earlier this week. Among the pieces on offer was work by Dutch practice Studio Makkink & Bey, London-based designer Julia Lohmann and Swiss design school École cantonale d’art de Lausanne.
The fair’s Designer of the Future award had four recipients this year – Munich- and Stockholm-based duo Kram/Weisshaar, and London-based designers Martino Gamper, Lohmann and Max Lamb, whose work was among the pieces Pitt bought (as well as a lamp by Atelier van Lieshout and Jeroen Verhoeven’s Cinderella Table in marble). The design brief was to create items using wool and concrete. Lohmann subverted expectations of the materials by casting a sheet of concrete onto a wool weave and subjecting it to harsh conditions. During the process, the concrete cracks, but rather than shattering into bits, it’s the wool that keeps everything in tact. The cracked surface is then formed into a three-dimensional structure and “fixed”.
Lamb presented two sets of stools – one made of wool felt, and the other of concrete – but both shaped using rotational cutting processes and vaguely resembling giant chess pieces. But the designer spent his time at the fair loyally manning the blown-glass lamps of his ECAL students. Designed especially for the show, the students worked with a young glassblower in Bern to produce the collection. Among the impressive results was a series that inadvertently resembled dirty plastic Tupperware.
Contrasts Gallery of Shanghai showed new work by Studio Makkink & Bey under the title Cleanliness is next to Godliness – comprising cleaning cabinets made of silk and mops made of porcelain. The most beautiful piece was a porcelain bathing bowl with sketches of human-fish hybrid forms painted inside. Next door, Dutch designer Maarten Baas accompanied his wooden garden chair – which resembles the simple plastic model but rendered in Elm – with a wooden seat resembling three stacked stools.