Contemporary Hungarian design, what is it? - that was the question roaming around my mind when I headed down to Budapest a little while ago. In order to gain a greater understanding and overview of what's cooking over in Hungary, I met up with Judit Osvárt, the woman responsible for Budapest Design Week, at Nomuri, a newly opened design cafe in the heart of the city.
First, a very brief history of Budapest Design Week: Once upon a time, in the early 2000s, the Hungarian Property Office felt that it was time for them to introduce the public to the world of design so as to create a greater understanding of what design is, seeing that it can be rather hard to wrap your head around unless you know what it's all about. They were also very keen on helping Hungarian designers understand their rights in the legal system and teach them more about patents and other mysterious formulas.
The first year, you could attend a mere 28 events, but over the years, Budapest Design Week grew and grew in size, peaking on their ten-year anniversary with a total of 350 events including fashion shows, design exhibitions and festivities for days.
In the design sphere, we often hear about countries such as England, Italy, China, The Netherlands and Denmark when it comes to what is hot and up and coming on the design scene. Hungary is not on this list, but things are changing. For the 11th year in a row, they are arranging Budapest Design Week, an event that this year around starts off with the opening of a major exhibition on October and continues with events in various forms until October 10.
Color trend research agency Global Color Research took over the green outside Shoreditch station last week at London Design Festival, collaborating with material and surfaces specialist Giles Miller to create this unusual multi-colored obelisk in celebration of the dark art of colour forecasting. "Global Color Research has been successfully prediciting and applying color trends in design for 15 years. The science behind precise forecasting isn't simple but the results are clear..."
The installation—comprised of a frame holding a number swatches from the GCR archives, tracking the developing taste for colors from 2006 to (erm...) 2016—took on something of a religious character, with weary LDF-goers taking rest beneath its predictions past and present.
A smaller version of the sculpture was also on show at design show Tent London for those in need a mid-fair solace. All hail the gods of color!
As we mentioned a couple of weeks ago, we're pleased to be media partners with Beijing Design Week for the fourth year running, since its inception in 2011. The ever-expanding celebration of Chinese design kicked off last night in Dashilar, which endures as the cynosure of the nine-day event even as it evolves as a design-hub-cum-historic-district.
Last night saw the grand opening of the Dashilar Guild House exhibition space, adjacent to the extant area, at the Quanyechang 'department store'—originally built in 1906 and reopened last month following a three-year restoration process—where dozens of projects are on view across four stories of the skylit main hall. As the story goes, the organizers secured the space only after presenting Beijing Design Week at the Venice Biennale this summer, and a follow-up to that exhibition is on view at the Guild House (concurrently with the Biennale, which runs until November).
This year also saw the debut of a one-night-only pop-up in Dashilar's farmer's market, where the local community was invited to celebrate alongside international guests for a colorful launch party.
Tent London—and its sister event Superbrands—took over the long retired Truman Brewery (interestingly the old beer may be making something of a rival) once again for London Design Festival exhibiting creative furniture and design work from both big brands and smaller players.
Highlight of the show for us has to go to the mind boggling optical illusion mirrors on show at the Cascade stand. Although the guys wouldn't reveal to us quite how they had achieved this impressive effect, it seems that neon tubes are wedged between reflective plastic sheets giving this three dimensional tunnel effect shooting straight through a solid wall (there was a stand on the other side, we checked).
We couldn't help but be drawn in by the lovely crisp, clean kitchenwares on show as a collaboration between Sue Pryke and Wild and Wood, a range of crockery and chopping boards with subtle references to life in the great outdoors.
Well-known for being awash with emerging talent from across disciplines, Designersblock has been a mainstay of the London Design Festival, now in it's 17th edition. This year saw the event move from its Southbank home on the River Thames to a more central location, in a jaw-dropping location in a soon to be converted 18th-century courthouse (sold only recently, the story goes, by London Masons). Exhibitors could not have asked for a more inspiring location for their work—enormous projections on the domed ceiling bringing the already epic space to life.
Designer low energy bulb makers Plumen took over one of the grander spaces on the buildings top floor with a stunning installation—'The Glowing Oak'—featuring their newest bulbs, the Plumen002, hanging like fruit from a pretty sizeable tree seeming to grow straight out the centre of the room.
Design fair designjunction once again took over 120,000 sq. ft. of old warehouse space in central London, displaying all that is hot in furniture and object design with international brands, smaller cutting-edge labels and pop-up shops all getting in on the action.
With an unexpected twist on last year's format in MINI x Dezeen's take over of the entrance space, there was also of course plenty of the usual eye candy we've come to expect from this jewel in the London Design Festival crown across the three vast stories.
Fitting quite perfectly with the old industrial interior of the venue, design duo Soderlund Davidson took over a large portion of the ground floor with a clever never ending conveyor belt display for their ceramic creations.
UK design blog Dezeen have collaborated with car manufacturer MINI at London Design Festival this year to create an exhibition of commissions exploring the future of transportation. Far from a showroom for shiny self-driving cars or connected-car dashboard concepts, was eclectic collection of exploratory interpretations by artists, designers and architects was on display in the ground floor entrance of design and furniture fair designjunction. The exhibition space itself embodied the theme—architect Pernilla Ohrstedt teaming up with 3D-scanning specialist ScanLAB to create her contribution 'Glitch Space'—an enormous arrangement of vinyl white dots meticulously laid out across the exhibit floor as a representation of the swaths of environmental data that will flow through the city in a future of driverless cars.
On the same theme, Dominic Wilcox, ever the inspiring out-of-the-box thinker, turned a lot of heads with the revealing of his incredible 'Stained Glass Driverless Sleeper Car.' Not just a pretty piece of craft, Wilcox's creation is actually a profound reflection on the future design possibilities for the automobile. In a future in which cars are self-driving and super safe, the forms, materials and uses that have constrained automotive design in our time may no longer apply. Although Wilcox's fictional future car manufacturer's website shows a spectacular array of possibilities this could present, the stunning stained-glass model on view demonstrated the equally appealing option of rolling around town in a half-car, half-bed 'hybrid,' revealed when lifting up the hood (below).
When it comes to week long festivals of design, it is often off the beaten track and around the fringes—at a safe distance from the frantic hype and clamouring furniture brands—that you find the most interesting things going on.
North from the thriving creative district of Shoreditch, photographer Dan Tobin Smith—famous for his work with everyday objects, perhaps most recognizably as the cover artwork of Jay-Z's Blueprint 3—has opened up his studio in Haggerston (a recently established haunt for the creative classes, with a few notable IDers amongst them) exhibiting a spectacular installation that is perhaps the most critical contemplation of consumer culture we're likely to see all week.
"No one can win against kipple, he said, except temporarily and maybe in one spot."
Entitled 'The First Law of Kipple' in reference to Phillip K Dick's 1968 novel 'Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep'—that later went on to inspire Blade Runner—the installation features thousands upon thousands of objects swamping the studio on every flat surface, arranged (with great appeal to the OCD-inclined) in a stunning spectrum of colours. Much like the fictional post-apocalyptic world that is haunted by plastic 'kipple,' the objects swarm all throughout the exhibition space—following viewers up stairs and into the toilet cubicle.
Apparently the accumulation of months upon months of collecting in thrift shops and carboot sales, the objects collected were first used for a series of photographps of spectral seas of objects. Tobin Smith and his team report then spending around a month to lay out the objects perfectly for this week's incredible installation.
Lee Broom opened doors at his Shoreditch studio last night to launch an opulent new collection of lighting and objects under the tongue in cheek title, 'Nouveau Rebel.' Recognized on the design scene for his contemporary twists on classics and high-end finishes (see his Crystal Bulbs from 2012) Broom's collection this year shows some creative and incredibly crafted use of marble—thin tubes of the stuff, for example, making even strip lighting look swanky.
Moving away from generic studio opening format or indeed the mock shop of previous LDF's, last night's dramatic exhibition ushered visitors down monochromatic corridors of curtains with only the collection to dramatically lighting the corners and crevices.
With festivities now in full swing, first stop for many (us included) on the London Design Festival trail is a whiz 'round the various goings-on at the illustrious Victoria & Albert Museum in the city's Brompton district. As the world's largest museum of decorative arts and design (housing an estimated 4.5 million objects in the permanent collection), the grand Victorian edifice has become a fitting hub for the design festival in recent years. As in previous years, the V&A hosts a number of LDF exhibits dotted around the maze-like galleries and corridors of the museum, as well as an impressive program of talks and debates.
Amongst the highlights, new trio Felix de Pass (product and interior designer), Michael Montgomery (graphic designer) and Ian McIntyre (ceramist) have taken over the dimly lit climate controlled tapestry galleries with a spellbinding installation entitled "Candela.' A large rotating disc floating above the gallery floor rotates to display evolving glowing partterns—a light fixture at the bottom of the piece effectively 'printing' light onto the discs phosphorescent surface (similar, apparently, to that used by the sponsoring watch brand). As the disc turns and the printed pattern evolves, a pleasing depth is created as previous rotations slowly fade.
Strolling through any of London's more creative districts today, you're almost certain to see preparations in full swing as the eyes of the design world turn to the city over the next eight days. Now in its 12th year, the London Design Festival is set to kick off this weekend.
The branding for this year's event prompts revellers to 'Lose Yourself in Design'—perhaps a little less ridiculous than it sounds considering that this year sees some 300+ events (not including the parties), spread wider than ever before across the metropolis. Six areas across the city center have been given official 'design district' status this year, with the usual suspects Brompton Design District (with the V&A and its environs), Clerkenwell Design Quarter (design furniture showrooms abound), Chelsea Design Quarter (the crazy posh stuff) and Shoreditch Design Triangle (the edgier destination in the East) joined by two new comers—Islington Design District (North Central-ish) and Queen's Park Design District (West-ish)—set to join the fray.
As in past years, a number of 'Landmark Projects' headline proceedings with installations and interventions on a grand scale. Whilst true to form, this year's centrepieces sees the involvement of some big brands. In an expected move, AirBnb appear to be a major sponsor of this year's festival and will be taking over the famous Trafalgar Square in the heart of the city with an installation entitled 'A Place Called Home,' an arrangement of miniature homes each with interiors design by acclaimed designers. BMW will also get in on the act, taking over the enormous Raphael Gallery space at the V&A museum with a collaboration with industrial design darlings Barber Osgerby, involving a kinetic sculpture of giant mirrored surfaces.
Detail of A Little Bit of Beijing (Tongji University Press 2013)
September isn't just back-to-school month—it also marks the second wave of international design festivals, an impossibly omni-terrestrial agenda that includes Paris, London, Vienna, Istanbul, Mexico City, Eindhoven, Tokyo and beyond. Beijing Design Week is easily among the more unique events in the mix, not least for the fact that it spans a sprawling, rapidly changing metropolis and is the single biggest design happening in the world's most populous country.
Core77 has been a media partner for Beijing Design Week since its inception four years ago, and once again we will be scouring Dashilar, CaoChangDi, 751 D-Park and beyond for the gems amidst the cross-cultural chaos. While some might consider leaked Apple components to be the most exciting 'design objects' coming out of the PRC, Chinese institutions and individuals alike have made a concerted effort to shift from "Made in China" to "Designed in China." Granted, the homegrown design scene still has a long way to go, but it's well worth witnessing its progress as a new generation of designers forges a path towards establishing Chinese design on the world stage.
Now that it's officially July, the city of Chicago has settled into its annual routine of near-constant street festivals, concerts, BBQs, neighborhood 5Ks and other seasonal activities. With the heat and the holiday, it's almost easy to forget the hullabaloo surrounding the Chicago design community and it's myriad events only a few weeks ago. Starting in May and culminating in the first weeks of June, the Guerilla Truck Show, This is Chicago, and CHICAGOLAND set up (and tore down) shop; CHGO DSGN and the Chicago Design Museum hosted opening receptions; and Catalyze Chicago, a young organization offering resources to local designers, hit their membership capacity.
Preview Reception at Chicago Design Museum. Courtesy David Ettinger
The common thread, title-wise, between the names of these events and the organizations collectively represent the Chicago design community and, like the proverbial diamond in the rough, its various facets: collaboration, shared resources and a regular old Midwestern work ethic. Presumably anticipating a sylvan summer getaway, Rick Valicenti likened various groups of Chicago designers to multiple campfires across the city. His thought, which is clear within his show, was that the closer these campfires become, the more light they'll put off, making it easier to see Chicago design from a distance. So before the "summer-of-Chicago-design" fades into just-another-Chicago-summer, here is a summary of just a few Chicago design events that have taken (or are taking) place, how they overlap and what the community can still gain from them.
CHGO DSGN at the Chicago Cultural Center. Courtesy Ross Floyd Photography
CHGO DSGN is a massive display of current object and graphic design currently on view at the Chicago Cultural Center. Curated by Valicenti, 2011 recipient of the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Award, the opening night saw over 2,000 visitors. With limited promotion, the record turnout was a testament to the interest in local design work, and to the vast network at play. Rick's show, as it is often fondly referred to, features over 100 makers, and over 200 pieces of work, presented in funky, densely packed vignettes. While CHGO DSGN offers the obvious benefit of accessibility to a public audience, it has also helped bring designers in closer proximity to each other. Per his example above, exhibiting together is one way to dissolve the boundaries, both physical and perceived, between object and graphic designers, to see what is happening outside one's bubble and envision future relationships.
Opening Night at CHGO DSGN. Courtesy Alfonso Monroy and Elizabeth Muskopf
Photography by Glen Jackson Taylor and Alex Welsh for Core77
Has the ICFF has found it's mojo again? The trade show that serves as the anchor for New York's design festival took a noticeable hit after the 2008 economic collapse, many designers either stopped exhibiting, scaled back or presented at a competing satellite show leaving the furniture fair light on for talent and press-worthy design. This year saw a number of new designers exhibiting for the first time, overall delivered a higher standard of work and attendance was strong. For some reason, probably shipping logistics, there is still a disproportional amount of lighting, objects and wall furnishings compared to large scale furniture pieces but companies like Moooi did their best to bring a taste Milan to the Javits Centre and Shimna showcased their stunning 13ft long table with intersecting pylons.
Bernhardt design who have helped launch numerous emerging designers with their ICFF Studio partnership celebrated their 125th anniversary this year and to mark the occasion, designer Frederick McSwain created a series of family tree wall sculptures inspired by the growth rings found in the cross section of a tree trunk. Chicago-based designer Felicia Ferrone launched her debut furniture collection bravely opting for white carpet in the booth, London-based Cycloc returned after a brief hiatus with some brand new wall mounting fixtures and accessories for bicycles, and Artek picked up an ICFF Editors Award with their multifunctional task chair 'Rival' designed by Konstantin Grcic.
Tom Dixon's booth was beautifully designed from a branding perspective, and Uhuru's beacon style booth was a super efficient use of space with divided sections to present each of their product lines. Checkout our gallery for more highlights and we suggest adding the ICFF back on your list of must see exhibitions next year.
Photography by Brit Leissler and Glen Jackson Taylor for Core77
Since New York Design Week's repositioning as NYCxDesign, the extended design calendar (12 days) has meant more art and design exhibitions can be presented under the official event umbrella adding a much needed critical mass to gain public awareness. Our photo gallery coverage by no means captures the density of exhibitions, pop-up shops and workshops that took place but it does provide a taste of some of the interesting stuff we saw. » View Gallery
Photography by Brit Leissler and Glen Jackson Taylor for Core77
One of the most anticipated shows this year was Slight Unseen's "OFFSITE" presenting almost 50 emerging design studios in a massive two-story 20,000 square ft. raw space. After founding the hugely successful multi-venue Noho Design District in 2010, curators Monica Khemsurov and Jill Singer were faced with increasing challenges to secure affordable spaces in the neighborhood and took the opportunity to move, rebrand, and connect the annual exhibition with their design blog Sight Unseen.
Some of our favorites included new work from Rosie Li, Bower, DAMM, Ladies & Gentlemen, and the anti-design I'm Revolting pop-up ceramics shop. Visitors—well the brave one's—were treated to a healthy snack at the MOLD Future Food Cafe who were serving summer rolls with crickets as part of their research into nutritious food from sustainable sources. The OFFSITE debut was packed throughout the weekend, the opening party line was a nightmare running around the block and exhibiters were treated to some really great exposure for their wares, we can't wait for next year!
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.)
Chocolate sponge cake is perhaps the ultimate comfort food
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" comprises 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.
Photos courtesy of ECAL / Axel Crettenand & Sylvain Aebischer
Inhabitants of the small town of Disentis, in the Swiss canton of Grisons, still mainly communicate in the Romansh language—a Roman dialect that has survived here over centuries. This is mainly because this part of Switzerland had remained rather untouched, due to being a little cut off from the rest of the world (even for Swiss standards). In fact, the name Desentis derives from Desertinas (deserted), but yet it's the birth place of the most innovative skis that the world has seen for many decades: the ZAI skis.
They're the brain child of passionate skier and "son of the mountains" Simon Jacomet, whose main objective for designing these skis was to "create a tool which enables people to ski easier and have more fun—to forget about the skis and just be creative themselves in the snow." Educated in the local Disentis ministry by abbots, he developed this rather Zen design approach of "constructing a ski that is doing the skiing itself."
A few years ago, I saw a picture of a desk that captured my eye. I can't remember exactly where I saw it—perhaps it was this very blog—I just remember not being able to stop thinking about it. I searched the Internet to find out who had created this lovely desk and ended up on the website of Manoteca. Now, when I see something that I like, I have to tell the person who is behind it that I like their creation (or what they are wearing, or what they are singing, or what they are drawing, etc.) Call it what you will, OCD if you wish.
So I found the e-mail address for the person behind the brand, and it turned out to be a young woman called Elisa. Since then, we haven't written much, but my curiosity for the person and the visions behind the brand is still there. So, here comes the second article about young ambitious entrepreneurs working within the creative field.
Core77: What led you to start Manoteca?
Elisa Cavani: Before creating Manoteca, I was working as a visual merchandiser for fashion companies, for more or less ten years. I traveled a lot and gained a lot of information. In those ten years, I met very respectable people with so much talent. Yet the structure of big companies crushed them—I saw many people forget the things they believed in and give up any kind of talent. I was scared because I could feel that it was happening to me as well, so I decided to "fire" myself and create something that I had had in my head for so long.
This was the beginning. I moved the furniture in my apartment and for a year I worked, lived and slept in the middle of tools and sawdust. To me, the pieces of my first collection represent the freedom of expression. I loved them so much. I spent my evenings watching them, cleaning them one by one, every single hole and crack in the material. I really treated them as if they were the most valuable things I owned. In fact, they still are.
Did your ten years of experience as a merchandiser have any influence on how you started your brand?
I didn't think so initially, then I thought again and came up with a better answer. The visual merchandisers work with the visual language, they communicate feelings and moods but cannot use words. There is so much of this in Manoteca. There is a maniacal attitude, for which everything have to be perfect, and a meticulous attention to every detail. There is the organization and optimization of the time. There are the administrative and commercial skills, which I unwittingly absorbed and modified in favor of the brand. There is the knowledge of foreign markets that I have followed for a long time, the awareness that every person have different habits and cultural characteristics that you need to know, otherwise it is impossible to communicate. There are errors that I have made in the past, from which I can benefit today. There is a predisposition for solid and professional structure, which hasallowed the project to go around the world.
In retrospect, I should say 'Thank You' to my past.
While much of the Northern Hemisphere clenched its collective teeth through yet another week of bitter cold, the end of February was a rather multifaceted celebration of art and design in South Africa when Design Indaba, World Design Capital 2014 events, the Cape Town Art Fair, and the Guild Design Fair converged in Cape Town (surely not by coincidence, as 2014 also marks the 20th anniversary of the nation's independence). The latter event was organized by the same folks behind Southern Guild, who made a strong showing at the very first Collective Design Fair last May, and like the NYC event, Guild skewed toward the Design Miami crowd. Not that there's anything wrong with that—I wish I'd had more time to explore the eclectic offerings on view (not that the multi-building venue was that big anyhow).
Nacho Carbonell exhibition in the courtyard
Instead, I chanced upon an exhibitor whose mission is precisely to engage the Cape Town design community and public at large in a meaningful way. I recognized Daniel Charny immediately—I posted a video of his talk from Design Indaba 2013 just a few days prior—and he proudly gave me a tour of the Maker Library at Guild.
As its name suggests, it's a variation on a makerspace, a community hub that serves as a library-like resource for designers even as it transcends the scope of a mere repository of information. Rather, the Maker Library is designed to be a workshop and studio as much as it is a gallery, and the 'Librarian in Residence'—Heath Nash, in the case of Guild—is not only a knowledgeable administrator but a well-connected member of the local design community.
The Maker Library initiative finds its origins in the British Council, an organization is tasked with "educational opportunities and cultural relations" around the world. This year sees a focus on South Africa: As 2014 sees the nation enter its second decade of independence, so too is the first generation of "born-frees" on the cusp of adulthood, and an arts program called Connect ZA (sometimes styled as "Connect/ZA"; pronounced "Connect Zed-A," per the local flavor) is intended to meet them halfway.
Although the exhibition closed on March 9 along with the rest of the Guild Design Fair, the British Council / ConnectZA have posted an open call for other Maker Libraries in South Africa; applications are due on April 4. Here is a selection of the work from the Maker Library at Guild, which Charny organized with V&A curator Jana Scholze:
This year's Design Shanghai was absolutely packed with visitors, to say the least, as the mixed international and local Chinese audience managed to fill the vast Shanghai Exhibition Centre. Compared to many other design fairs and exhibitions, Design Shanghai was extremely well advertised to the Shanghai public—the lines for general entrance and the Collectibles were astronomically long, but this was quite a welcome sight, showing the general public's growing interest in design and design culture.
Design Shanghai featured exhibits featuring over 40,000 designers. Because the event is planned by predominantly foreign organizers, there were unfortunately not as many homegrown designers, but there were a couple of gems we still managed to pick out.
In terms of emerging designers, the CIID Awards were the highlight, recognizing 120 interior designers with the "Outstanding Young Interior Designers of China" Award based on several criteria: performance during 2011 and 2012 in terms of impact, design programs, work experience and participation in competitions. The organization did a fantastic job of identifying and curating a diverse range of interior designers, from those who sparkle a room with traditional elements to designers with who create with entire futuristic ensembles.
Powerhouse design duo Neri&Hu and rebel designer Naihan Li both had fantastic exhibits with their latest products. Naihan prominently featured her Skyscraper Candles, which has expanded in the number of countries and cities. Neri&Hu collaborated with Jaguar, the exhibition's key sponsor, and Wallpaper Magazine to re-engineer the distinctively British picnic basket with a Chinese perspective and carbon fiber.
One of the great things about the Design Indaba Conference is that it not only sparks conversations but also puts them on center stage. In this short dialogue between Marian Bantjes and Jessica Hische, the two graphic designers cover everything from mentorship to being the "one designer friend," as well as the secret to design success. (Bantjes, who reveals that she is entirely self-taught, is the Jury Captain for the Visual Communication category of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards.)
There has always been a big buzz about the Maison & Objet show, which happens twice a year in Paris—and, as of a couple of years ago, Asia, where the brand has expanded to include a large tradeshow in Singapore as well as various "road shows" in different Asian cities.
Whereas the September event in Paris coincides with the Paris Design Festival, the show in the end of January is a pure trade fair on its own, sans side events celebrating the more artsy end of the design world by investigating ideas and concepts. No, this is all about sales, no bones about it.
Unfortunately, I'd say that the majority of the objects on view was unimaginative, average product overload at best—and kitsch at worst. Happening upon a booth that was full of taxidermied animals, most of them dressed up and put into ridiculous poses, I was compelled, in a disgusted kind of way, to take a picture, and briefly considered compiling a truthful photo essay, reflecting an unfiltered version of the 'real' Maison&Objet. After all, as a designer you often hear that "your portfolio is only as good as the weakest project that you present in it." Does this not also apply to design shows?
But then I remembered the conceit of digging through the muck in order to find the truffles—in order to present the "best of Maison&Objet" to our readers. And so I did, the result being yet another photo gallery showing lots of "nice stuff."
What remains undocumented, though, is the halls full of tacky goods aimed at buyers who intend to decorate the interior of a five-star hotel in the Middle East or Russia (or worse, still, a private client in one of those locales). Nor can you feel the headache caused by getting lost in—and overexposed to—the smell of a hall full of fragrance products (how design is that!) due to the poor signage of the whole fair.
Which brings me to the point of user experience, which started with a press room where there wasn't even a working wifi connection... or even a free glass of tap water. In almost every hall, I stumbled at least once over some unmarked bumps, thick cables visually but not physically smoothed over by carpet, which makes me wonder about the percentage of visitors who break their ankles at Maison&Objet. Considering that this show charges every visitor €65 even if they stay only for a day, as well as the rather proud prices for exhibiting, I would have expected a higher general level of experience design.
But once a show is established, the organizers can justify their "laissez-faire" attitude towards these details, since they know they can get away with pretty much anything. But being a critical member of the design community, I do feel very strongly about pointing out the flaws of it all, instead of just tuning into the general praise anthems about Maison & Objet.
As you can see in the gallery, there was of course a great number of delightful design objects on show - but they should be seen as a "best of selection", rather than the standard. The overall experience of my visit is certainly not marked as "delightful" in my memory.
Once again, Core77 is pleased to partner with Design Indaba for their annual design/creativity/innovation Conference and Expo in Cape Town, South Africa, which has quickly grown to a week-long celebration of all things creative. As the biggest design event in the country, continent and hemisphere where it takes place, Design Indaba has firmly established itself as a progressive platform for artists and designers of all persuasions, as diverse as its locale even as the event attracts a global audience.
So much more than a "how-to" conference, this is a forum fuelled by inspiration that breeds ideas, ingenuity and innovation. Creativity is our currency and a better future our agenda. The Conference is your opportunity to learn from and be inspired by the world's foremost creatives, thought leaders, entrepreneurs and trendsetters. It's the not-to-be-missed creative inspiration event of the year, the perfect way to kickstart 2014.
This year's speakers include: Jake Barton, Lauren Beukes, El Ultimo Grito, Naoto Fukasawa, Experimental Jetset, David Goldblatt, Thomas Heatherwick, David Higgs, Tom Hulme, Margot Janse, Nandipha Mntambo, Zanele Muholi, Ije Nwokorie, Michel Rojkind, Dean Poole, Stefan Sagmeister, Scholten & Baijings, Marcello Serpa, DJ Stout and Clive Wilkinson.
Every January, IMM Cologne and the off-site exhibitions and events of Passagen kick off the design year as the first international shows on the calendar, hosting nearly 1500 exhibitions in all. We have bundled up in our winter gear to wander the fair and city to bring you the highlights of 2014 in our gallery. The shows are focused on (but not limited to) furniture and interior design, and increasingly flirt with other disciplines with each new year.