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Ray

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Posted by Ray  |  22 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

Konstfack-TheTalkingTable-0.jpgRossanaOrlandi-COMP.jpg

Spazio Rossana Orlandi is perenially among the must-see exhibitions during the Salone, and its namesake design patron is perhaps the definition of a doyenne. This year, her multi-chambered, multi-level space hosted an eclectic mix of students, small studios and well-established designers, several of whom happened to be exhibiting kitchenwares and other vessels.

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Konstfack's "Talking Table" was a showcase of experimental tablewares that explore the nuances, dynamics and social norms of dining. Students from the Industrial Design and Jewelry & Corpus programs (some of whom we'd met at ICFF last year) presented consistently thoughtful and well-crafted design objects, from the 'ghost' place setting (smartphone not included) to the napkin for two, a comment on Eastern vs. Western dining traditions.

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Posted by Ray  |  21 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Along with the nearby ECAL exhibition, Studio Formafantasma's "De Natura Fossilium" at Palazzo Clerici was one of the most buzzed-about projects in the Brera District this year—after all, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin consistently present excellent work during at the Fuorisalone, and this year was no exception. The Eindhoven-based pair often look to their Italian heritage for inspiration; this time around, they took inspiration from the November 2013 eruption of Mount Etna, creating a beautiful collection of tablewares, textiles and small furniture items from the byproducts of volcanic activity.

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The project page for "De Natura Fossilium" does a far better job of explaining the work than I ever could, including striking photos by Luisa Zanzani; the "Process" section in particular illustrates the depth of Formafantasma's practice.

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Volcanic glass, procured by remelting Etna's rocks, has been mouth-blown into unique vessels or cast into box-like structures that purposefully allude to the illegal dwellings and assorted buildings that have developed at the foot of the volcano. Drawing on their own vocabulary, these solitary glass boxes and mysterious black buildings have been finished with such archetypal Formafantasma detailing as cotton ribbons and Murano glass plaques.

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In homage to Ettore Sottsass, the great maestro of Italian design and an avid frequenter of the volcanic Aeolian islands, this new body of work takes on a linear, even brutalist form. Geometric volumes have been carved from basalt and combined with fissure-like structural brass elements to produce stools, coffee tables and a clock."

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

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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).

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

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

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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)

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

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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.)

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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.

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