Posted by Carly Ayres
| 6 Dec 2013
If your holiday shopping list includes any serious home cooks, there is probably nothing you can get them that will be as useful, or as appreciated, as a high-quality knife. But buying chef's knives is hardly a straightforward matter—indeed, the world of knife-making is its own complicated and fascinating design niche.
Recently, I set out to learn more about the design of Japanese knives, which have become increasingly widely available in the United States through brands like Shun and Global. [Editor's Note: Our own Hand-Eye Supply offers a few options from the more obscure Midori Hamano.] Not surprisingly, Japanese knife manufacturers take their craft very seriously. Shun, for instance, describes its blade as "a way of life"—and the name Shun (rhymes with "moon") is derived from a Japanese word that refers to the moment when a piece of fruit is at its sweetest, the peak of perfection.
This perfectionist approach trickles down to every aspect of the Japanese knife manufacturing process, which traces its roots back to the blade-making tradition of ancient samurai swords. Companies like Shun and Global pride themselves in the fact that none of their knives leave the factory untouched by human hands, as the final balancing process requires a myriad of hand-working techniques by skilled craftsmen to achieve the ideal weight.
Weight is one of the key areas where Eastern- and Western-styles knives differ. Eastern knives tend to be balanced with the weight in the blade, allowing for quick and easy chopping with no additional pressure. The Chinese cleaver is an excellent example of this, having a rectangular blade and a slight curve for easily mincing and dicing food using only a slight rocking motion. Western knives, more often, are neutral-balanced, meaning that the center of gravity exists at the "pinch point," or where the blade meets the bolster. This allows the chef to pinch the knife between the blade and the handle.
"Think of how a sushi chef works," says Tommie Lucas, the product development manager in the housewares division of Kai USA Ltd., the Stateside division of Kai Group, which manufacturers Shun cutlery. "They swiftly chop tons of fish and vegetables into clean, tiny pieces. That cut needs to be as seamless as possible and, since it's so repetitive, the motion needs to be easy and effortless."
Posted by Carly Ayres
| 10 Sep 2013
All photos courtesy of Mark Cocksedge
Kicking off this Thursday, Friedman Benda is pleased to present Paul Cocksedge: CAPTURE, the British designer's inaugural solo exhibition, which will run until October 12, 2013. Introducing new works that Paul has been working on for the better part of the past five years, the show promises to challenge the viewer's perceptions of light and structure, exploring the mediums' possibilities through a large-scale light installation, "Dome" (above), extraordinarily sized, dramatic, hand-wrought lamps, and "Poised" (below), a series of unyielding steel tables inspired by the delicacy of paper
Cocksedge is well known for pushing the limits of technology, materials, and manufacturing capabilities, and this exhibition of work is no exception. CAPTURE brings to light a new series of designs from the East London based studio, where Paul has continued to experiment with physics since we spoke with him this July, when he elaborated on never having a regular job, needing a raw workspace, and how the financial crisis has been good for design. "There are usually so many choices available during a design process," he writes via e-mail. "Looking at these pieces now, the only real choice was to work with the laws of physics, in a kind of collaboration. Each of the pieces had only one outcome: they showed me when they were complete. I found this process extremely liberating, it made sense."
Posted by Carly Ayres
| 29 Aug 2013
Founder Noel Wiggins describes Areaware as "a gallery for artists, sort of like a group show." A fourth generation painter, Noel brought a different perspective to the product design industry when he formed of Areaware in 2005. Since then, the company's line of "everyday objects" has struck the perfect balance between function and sculpture, as they continue to seek out young, local designers for objects to include in their line.
Core77's Carly Ayres had the opportunity to talk with Noel Wiggins at NY Now (formerly NYIGF), where he walked her through some of Areaware's latest products.
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Core77: Areaware seems to strike the perfect balance between function and sculpture. Having a background in painting and the fine arts, what led you to form such a product-driven company?
Noel Wiggins: I'm an object guy. I like things. And I also have a lot of the engineer's mentality of wanting to do things better than they're already being done.
I come to it from a kind of problem-solving idea. Painting, honestly, wasn't collaborative enough for me. You have to be a really kind of solitary person to be an effective painter.
I love mixing it up with our staff and the artists, and then we're banging ideas around, so it's like movie-making with objects—you know, with crews—and thinking about things, and they have narratives, and stories behind things. So it keeps me very mentally engaged.
Posted by Carly Ayres
| 9 May 2013
Last week, a vacant industrial loft was magically transformed into an elegant gallery space for the evening, as the Rhode Island School of Design's Department of Furniture Design celebrated its graduating Masters Candidates in a show titled, 'The New Clarity.'
The show opened its doors in downtown Providence to members of RISD and the local community who came out to show their support. 'The New Clarity' exhibited the Masters' theses of seven graduate students, featuring work by Adrianne Ho'o Hee, Elish Warlop, F Taylor Colantonio, Chen Liu, Carley Eisenberg, Simon Lowe, and Marco Gallegos, this year's graduating Masters' candidates of the department.
Woven vessels by F Taylor Colantonio
The title of the exhibition drew its name from "Letters to a Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke:
...Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one's own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating."
Each designer took a fresh approach to that understanding, re-envisioning what furniture could be and giving a glimpse of what that development looked like on the path to their final work.
Bent-wood room divider by Elish Warlop
Pieces ranged from the bent-wood room divider above to a chair to facilitate sex with multiple partners simultaneously--running the gamut of what comes to mind (and doesn't) when one thinks of 'furniture design.' The diverse array of work explored not only a new understanding, but varying motifs of tradition, from daily traditions of the everyday to ornate, woven tapestries re-imagined in plastic.
One of the most memorable pieces from the evening was the latter, the work of Colantonio, which looked at commodities of the past, seeped in ancient tradition, and adapted them utilizing contemporary tools and technologies.
Plastic Persian carpet by F Taylor Colantonio
"Most of my work deals with historical 'types' of objects, at least as a point of departure," said Colantonio. "I'm interested in taking a thing like a Persian carpet, and all the baggage that comes with it, and abstracting it beyond the qualities we would normally associate with a Persian carpet. I wanted to create a kind of a ghost of the source object, something that is both familiar and entirely strange. In many of the pieces, this is done with a shift in material, often as a result of exploiting a manufacturing method in a new way."
F Taylor Colantonio
Patterns on patterns on patterns by F Taylor Colantonio
The Beer Bag, by Marco Gallegos
The aptly titled "Beer Bag" was part of Gallegos' "Rethinking the Familiar" Collection, which looked to further the relationship and value people place on everyday objects. With the capacity to carry a six-pack of beer, the bag fits snugly onto one's bike. Beer holders included.
The Lilu Table, by Marco Gallegos
The Lilu Table is also the work of Gallegos, who sought to create a self-supporting structure, where each part provides vital support to the rest--working together as a system. The power-coated steel legs fit into the top, locking them all together in a secure fit.
The breadth of the work left little to be desired in terms of heterogeneity, leaving the future work of each designer just as varied and unpredictable as the collection produced. We'll be eager to see what divergent paths they take after graduation this June!
The Graduate Furniture class, photo by Anelise Schroeder
More photos from the opening night after the jump.
Posted by Carly Ayres
| 7 Mar 2013
The Saji Chair - Ash veneer and mild steel
Sitting in the emergency room after sustaining a somewhat minor chisel wound to her forearm, Laura Kishimoto calmly taught those around her to fold origami parabolas. The injury was a small price to pay in fabricating her latest design, Saji Chair, a marvel of geometry not far off from the parabolas she was creating that night.
A senior in the Department of Furniture Design at the Rhode Island School of Design, Kishimoto often looks to geometry for inspiration, an influence that is evident throughout her work. President of the Origami Club in high school, half-Japanese Kishimoto has been toying with the limits of paper to create new forms from a young age.
Close up of Leaf Chair, made from craft paper, epoxy resin, expanding foam, mild steel
Star Weaving, wooden dowels and elastic bands
"Geometry is both a tool and a crutch in my design process," says Kishimoto. "I find it impossible to create an original idea without some foundation to build upon. Geometry is very useful in this respect since it is an established system of rules, easily broken down into logical patterns. Its abundance in the natural world also irretrievably links to our subconscious conception of beauty."
Working in the determined system of mathematics, Kishimoto tries to break that sense of predictability to maintain an element of intrigue. By adapting a more intuitive process, she strives to create unique forms in each piece that departs from the expected to arrive at unparalleled results.
Below are three of her projects, the Yumi Chair, Tessellation Cabinet, and Nautilus.