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Posted by Ray  |  18 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)


The Dutch made a strong showing throughout Milan this year, including in Zona Tortona where a loose collective headed up by Frederik Roijé is returning alongside Tuttobene and Moooi to represent of a range of Dutch design from independent studios to major brands. The factually titled "Dutch at Savona 33" features four brands that fall somewhere in between: Roijé's eponymous studio; New Duivendrecht, the brand he co-founded with Victor Le Noble; DUM, returning this year; and Quodes, whom they've added to their ranks this year.

NewDuivenDrecht-1.jpgMore on New Duivendrecht below

Along with the "Smokestack," which debuted last year and has reportedly been selling briskly (or at least as well as a COR-TEN steel chimney might sell), Roijé launched several new products, including the "Texture Tray," which was inspired by hatching/crosshatching, and the "Treasure Table" (below).



Meanwhile, the "Cloud Cabinet" is intended to complement the "Storylines" and "Guidelines" series of book shelves and magazine racks.



Posted by Ray  |  17 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)


It's never a perfect analogy, but it can be interesting when it comes close enough: Attempting to translate one creative discipline into another is, to mutilate the metaphors, more difficult than turning water into wine—rather, the old saying regarding "dancing about architecture" comes to mind. For Milan Design Week 2014, the Centrum Designu Gdynia ambitiously sought to distill a dozen products by Polish Pomeranian designers into culinary delights. Although the concept itself was executed to varying degrees of success, "Taste of an Object" offered a nice twist on the tried-and-true local design showcase.

Taking inspiration from Richard E. Cytowic's The Man Who Tasted Shapes (MIT Press 2003), the Gdynia Design Centre worked with razy2 design group to develop an exhibition in which "an object goes beyond the limits of how it's typically perceived."

"Flavors have shape," he started, frowning into the depths of the roasting pan. "I wanted the taste of this chicken to be pointed shape, but it came out all round." He looked up at me, still blushing. "Well I mean it's nearly spherical," he emphasized, trying to keep the volume down. "I can't serve this if it doesn't have points."
..."When I taste something with intense flavor, the feeling sweeps down to my arm into my fingertips. I feel it—its weight, its texture, whether it's warm or cold, everything. I feel it like I'm actually grasping something." He held his palms up. "Of course, there's nothing really there," he said, staring at his hands. "But it's not illusion because I feel it."

So goes the excerpt of Cytowic's book, a seed of source material that is planted in the geopolitical context of the Pomerania region of northern Poland, across the Baltic Sea from Sweden. Described as "a region of a turbulent history linked with and age-long fight for independence," Pomerania is also an incubator, "a base for brave yet developing, unique projects."

Mouthwatering though they may be, chef Rafal Walesa's gastronomic concoctions are only obliquely related to the products—but that's precisely the point. After all, one can only imagine that literal interpretations of, say, a radiator (there are actually three heating-related products in the show) or an urn might not be nearly as appetizing as the photogenic treats that were on view. (Note: The captioned images below alternate between food and product, with the dishes followed by the design that inspired them.)

TasteofanObject-WelnaPowietrze-1.jpgChocolate sponge cake is perhaps the ultimate comfort food

TasteofanObject-WelnaPowietrze-2.jpg"Welna & Powietrze" armchair by Malafor (Agata Kulik-Pomorska & Pawel Pomorski)

TasteofanObject-Pillou-1.jpgHard candy is intended to symbolize cast aluminum, while its lemon tea flavor conjures the contrast of heat on a cold winter day

TasteofanObject-Pillou-2.jpg"Pillou" radiator by None Grupa (Marta Szaban & Antoni Krzempek) for Terma

TasteofanObject-TearDrop-1.jpgRed wine jelly offers a twist on a drink for a solemn occasion

TasteofanObject-TearDrop-2.jpg"Tear Drop" by Aeon Form (Aleksander Bielawski, Robert Kowalczyk & Dominik Sedzicki)


Posted by Ray  |  14 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)


It's an increasingly pressing question in this day and age, and one that has certainly seen some interesting responses—including this interdepartmental collaboration from Switzerland design school ECAL—as an evolving dialectic between two closely related design disciplines. Exhibited in Milan's Brera District during the Salone del Mobile last week, "Delirious Home" is comprised of ten projects that explore the relationship between industrial design and interaction design. (Naoto Fukasawa, for one, believes that the former will eventually be subsumed into the latter as our needs converge into fewer objects thanks to technology.)


Both the Media & Interaction Design and the Industrial Design programs at the Lausanne-based school are highly regarded, and the exhibition at villa-turned-gallery Spazio Orso did not disappoint. In short, professors Alain Bellet and Chris Kabel wanted to riff on with the "smart home" concept—the now-banal techno-utopian prospect of frictionless domesticity (à la any number of brand-driven shorts and films). But "Delirious Home" transcends mere parody by injecting a sense of humor and play into the interactions themselves. In their own words:

Technology—or more precisely electronics—is often added to objects in order to let them sense us, automate our tasks or to make us forget them. Unfortunately until now technology has not become a real friend. Technology has become smart but without a sense of humor, let alone quirky unexpected behavior. This lack of humanness became the starting point to imagine a home where reality takes a different turn, where objects behave in an uncanny way. After all; does being smart mean that you have to be predictable? We don't think so! These apparently common objects and furniture pieces have been carefully concocted to change and question our relationship with them and their fellows.
Thanks to the development of easily programmable sensors, affordable embedded computers and mechanical components, designers can take control of a promised land of possibilities. A land that until now was thought to belong to engineers and technicians. With Delirious Home, ECAL students teach us to take control of the latest techniques and appliances we thought controlled us. The students demonstrate their artful mastery of electronics, mechanics and interaction, developing a new kind of esthetic which goes further than just a formal approach.
The ultimate object—still missing in the delirious home—would be an object able to laugh at itself.

ECAL-DeliriousHome-COMP.jpgPhotos courtesy of ECAL / Axel Crettenand & Sylvain Aebischer

"Delirious Home" was easily a highlight of this year's Fuorisalone and was duly recognized with a Milano Design Award. The video, which features all of the projects, is well worth watching in full:

Additional details and images of each project below.


Posted by Ray  |   4 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)


The phrase "balloon chair" could mean any number of things, really, so h220430's take fits the bill as well as any of the possibilities (according to their website, the company takes its name from its birthday). If I understand the description correctly, the chair is mounted to the wall, as is its canopy of airless FRP (i.e. non-deflating) balloons, but this scarcely detracts from its visual effect. According to the Tokyo-based design studio, "if you sit in this chair, you'll be able to think positive thoughts even if you are feeling down."

And while the "Balloon Chair" might evoke a certain Disney/Pixar film for many of us, it was actually inspired by Albert Lamorisse's classic featurette Le Ballon Rouge from over half a century prior. The critically acclaimed 1956 fantasy is viewable in full on YouTube, and if you haven't seen it (as I had not), I highly recommend it:

The "Balloon Chair" will be on view in Milan next week, at the Ventura Hive group exhibition, where we'll find out exactly how h220430 achieved the floating effect.

Posted by Ray  |  31 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)


There's a good chance that even those of you who aren't runners are familiar with Nike Free footwear, whether you wear them for other sports or training or as a go-to sneaker for your day-to-day activities. While Tobie Hatfield (Tinker's brother, for the uninitiated) had originally designed the articulated midsole based on the biomechanics of barefoot running, the shoes have been adapted for (and adopted by) anyone who spends time on their feet—in keeping with the Nike credo "if you have a body, then you're an athlete"—which is to say, everyone.

Of course, the concept of Natural Motion is a natural extension (so to speak) of Nike co-founder Bill Bowerman's seminal insight into performance footwear: that it should "provide protection and traction but minimal weight and zero distraction." Like most any design challenge, it's easier said than done: For more on the history and background of the Free—now in its tenth year, Nike recently unveiled the 2014 Collection—we had the chance to chat with Hatfield, Director of Athlete Innovations, on his personal journey, the inspiration behind the Free and what the future holds for Nike.

Core77: Let's start with a bit of your background—tell me a little bit about yourself and how you ended up at Nike.

Tobie Hatfield: Sure—I was a track athlete, grew up in the state of Oregon and knew Coach Bill Bowerman (I didn't know Phil Knight when he was an athlete). When I was a senior in high school, he actually made me my first pair of custom-made track spikes. At first, he X-rayed my feet to actually find out where my bony prominences are, underneath my foot, so he could re-drill the holes and put the spikes in the proper places just for my foot. Little did I know, at that time, he was already starting to teach me about innovation—about working with an athlete, listening to an athlete...

It's something that I look back on, even today, 23+ years later at Nike... but I didn't know I was going to be a footwear engineer, footwear designer, I really wanted to be a track coach—my dad was a track coach for 40+ years. After high school, I went to college, and then I [continued] pole-vaulting for a couple more years. I got into coaching, and I coached at the collegiate level.

During that time, Nike was recruiting me because I spoke Mandarin, because I was married at the time, and my wife is from Taiwan. They were always trying to get people to go overseas, to work with the factories, and knowing that I already spoke one of the languages would make it a bit easier.

But I denied that for a while until my dad came down with cancer—I'd been away from Oregon for about ten years at that time and felt like things were pulling me back to the state... like, well, if I'm going to go back, I might as well go ahead and see what Nike has to offer, so I accepted their offer to have some interviews. At the end of a week of many days of interviews, I was actually offered two jobs, and I took the one where I actually started learning about materials, which is perfect because [at the time] I didn't know much about shoes at all, let alone the ingredients of them.

Nike-Lineup.jpgA brief history of Nike Innovation: Cortez (1972), Nike Sock Racer (1985), Air Huarache (1991), Air Rift (1995), Air Presto (2000)