Posted by Carly Ayres
| 21 Nov 2014
When Poltrona Frau turned one hundred in 2012, the Italian furniture maker decided it was time to rethink its classic armchair, which had been around since the very beginning. An overstuffed wing chair with a built-in ashtray for the gentleman who likes to smoke at home—clearly it was time for a revamp. So the CEO reached out to 12 designers to take part in a competition for the "centenary armchair"—one that not only brought new life to Poltrona Frau's classic, but that also predicted the future of the armchair in the home.
The winning design was by Satyendra Pakhalé, an Amsterdam-based industrial designer originally from India (who answered our Core77 Questionnaire last spring). Pakahalé envisions a future where work and life intersect more than ever. "The concept was inspired from contemporary life in an increasingly connected world where the boundaries between the domestic space and the workplace are further blurred," Pakhalé says. "The resulting collection is a synthesis between the contemporary and the traditional; between the needs of an evolving society and the excellence of Poltrona Frau's craftsmanship in processing leather and hide."
In addition to the new armchair, the Assaya collection includes a table, a lap tray and a pouf. The idea, Pakhalé says, is for the armchair to provide "a flexible way of living and working, where one could use it as a writing desk and also as a place to relax." The lap tray is provided for the use of digital devices, while the pouf and side table can be used in formal or informal settings for work and leisure.
The project began with a trip taken by Pakhalé to the Poltrona Frau factory in Tolentino, Italy. "I was curious, keen to grasp, assess and evaluate in my own manner the legendary heritage of Poltrona Frau," Pakhalé says. The designer drew upon the company's extensive leather production facilities and craftsmen in the design of Assaya, which is constructed in hide and leather all sourced from Italian and Swedish tanning factories owned by Poltrona Frau.
Poltrona Frau's original armchair, with its built-in ashtray
Posted by Carly Ayres
| 14 Nov 2014
Winter is coming. Between blustery winds and slushy streets, sometimes it can be a challenge to decide whether you need an umbrella, an overcoat, a trash bag or all of the above. Enter the Häring Poncho, a lightweight, multifunctional solution from The Arrivals, a New York City-based clothing company focused specifically on American-made outerwear.
The Arrivals' creative team is made up of architects, designers and engineers, championed by creative director Jeff Johnson, who originally hails from San Diego, but spent time living in the Netherlands. "Living in Amsterdam, the weather is unpredictable, likely resulting in a soaking wet afternoon," Johnson says. "I wanted to design something light, packable and functional." Taking its name from the German architect Hugo Häring, known for his obsession with place and condition, the Häring Poncho is a "wearable, waterproof shelter" constructed of weatherproof poly-spandex and rubberized twill.
"Our fabrics for all of our garments are chosen for their performance properties," Johnson says. In the case of the Häring Poncho, that means an Italian twill undergoes a rubberizing process where an impermeable layer of matte rubberized film is laminated onto a portion of the material. This creates a double-face effect to the fabric, resulting in a water-resistant and windproof coating. For the body of the poncho, the designers fused a breathable yet water-repellent Korean Din-Tex micro-knit mesh to the rest of the shell.
Posted by Carly Ayres
| 12 Nov 2014
Photo by Carly Ayres
It's not often that an event brings government officials, public servants, visual and industrial designers together in the same room... but when it does, you can expect a truly forward-looking conversation. At least that's what organizers Dave Seliger and Ariel Kennan had in mind when they decided to bring Civic Design Camp to the East Coast: With the goal of creating "better citizen experiences" across the board, the 70 attendees spent last Saturday rethinking government programs and initiatives.
This past weekend marked the event's first eastern offshoot, following the first Civic Design Camp at Code for America (CfA) in San Francisco back in April. After attending the inaugural event, Kennan, a former CfA fellow herself and co-founder of Designing Government, wanted to bring the event to the other coast, enlisting Seliger to help her bring it to Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Hosted by the beautiful Makeshift Society, the NYC edition of Civic Design Camp was a day-long, self-described "un-conference" that tasked attendees with the responsibility of providing content. The close-knit community came prepared with thumb drives of work and presentations for a series of impromptu talks over the course of the day.
Photos by Tim Gigbson unless otherwise noted
The event kicked off with a keynote from Chelsea Mauldin, Executive Director at Public Policy Lab, who warned the audience to be aware of taboos and different cultures, elements that can cloud judgements and negatively effect the design process. "There is no way to design services for others without properly integrating into their lives," she shared with the audience. Mauldin advocated for radical transparency, suggesting that a blog is perhaps the most viable solution to share progress and work with the general public while designing for them.
Mauldin's early message reverberated throughout the day as a motif emerged: Research early, and often. Sarah Lidgus, previously of IDEO and now a founder of her own startup, Small City, queried the audience about when they thought research should occur during the design process. "Always," she answered. "Research is a journey and you shouldn't end up where you started." The recent founder also spoke to the balancing of profit and non-profit work in her own business; Lidgus tries to spend two days a week working on pro bono projects, financed by three days of for-profit work.
Posted by Carly Ayres
| 7 Nov 2014
In today's fast-paced world, it's getting harder and harder to find the time to decompress and let off some steam. And for those who prefer to do this in some steam, well, even the most sauna-addicted can only manage so many Spa Castle visits a month. Design Academy Eindhoven student Marcis Ziemins feels your pain, and has created a miniature version of the classic sauna—one with all the sensory relaxation of a trip to the spa without the roomful of hot, sticky steam. In fact, this pint-sized sauna might even be your next desk accessory.
Billed as the Smallest Sauna on Earth, Ziemins's design was created as a way to share the decaying traditions of his home country of Latvia, where the sauna is a cherished method of cleansing and unwinding. After organizing a class trip to Latvia to learn more about the country's rituals, Ziemins sought ways to bring the sauna tradition back to Eindhoven with him. "When I went [back] to Eindhoven to present my ideas to the teachers, they said that it is not really enough for me to just live there and renovate [a sauna]," Ziemins says. "They asked me to search for translations and something that I could actually bring to Eindhoven to show."
Ziemins scoured Latvian beaches for the perfect-sized stones for his sauna.
An early prototype and a sketch
Ziemins began designing a smaller version of the large saunas he saw in Latvia, something simple in scale and stature so that users could easily understand the concept and principles of how one works. What he arrived at was a device that could imbue a small space with the atmosphere of a sauna. "It will not get as humid or as hot as the real sauna, just the ambience and aroma," Ziemins says. The Latvian native also looked to incorporate the classic four elements—fire, earth, water and air—into the design. Not thinking much about mass-production, Ziemins saw the object as something to be made by hand, feeding into ideas of rituals and tradition.
Posted by Carly Ayres
| 24 Oct 2014
Based in Tahoe City, California, Barclay Moore has been making custom furniture in his tiny one-car garage since 1986. Working in the small space, the furniture maker relied heavily on folding sawhorses for their ease of storage and light weight. One huge drawback, however, was their lack of strength and stability—over the years, Moore amassed a pile of broken plastic versions. Last summer, he finally got fed up and decided to invent a sawhorse of his own.
"So the idea came in July, when all my plastic horses lay in ruins," Moore says. "I needed a set that was bomb-proof but that still folded." With a background in engineering, Moore took out a piece of cardboard and began sketching. "The goal was to make something that will last years, fold up, be transportable, be able to stand on it, be able to modify it and use a material that is appropriate," he says. Moore chose plywood for its stiffness, durability, weather resistance, light weight and ability to be machined using tools he already had on hand.
The result is the MORHORSE, which Moore calls a "folding sawhorse on steroids." It comes in two versions: the Clydesdale—"the mother of all horses as far as strength to weight"—and the Mustang, a slimmer and lighter design. Both are CNC-cut from 4-by-8-foot sheets of 3/4-inch CDX plywood, yielding three and six sawhorses per sheet for the Clydesdale and Mustang, respectively. To test the strength of his designs, Moore loaded two Clydesdales with 3,320 pounds of lumber, and they held up without a crack. The Mustang made it to 1,720 pounds—before Moore dropped the load from eight feet to finally break them.
Moore's Kickstarter video