Middle class aspirations—of car ownership, of course—notwithstanding, the humble bicycle endures as a touchstone of everyday life in Beijing. Although usage is unlikely to come anywhere near the 2/3-of-trips-by-bicycle mark set in the mid-80's, the 2012 launch of the city's bikeshare program and ever-increasing congestion are key factors in bringing pedal power back into fashion in the capital city... and at somewhere between 16–20% usage as of the current decade, they're easily an order of magnitude beyond, say, NYC. The iconic Flying Pigeon may be a veritable endangered species among the mix of domestically-produced bikes on streets and sidewalks throughout the city, but the bicycle commuter, as a breed, certainly is unlikely to go extinct any time soon.
So too is the curbside repair shop a common sight, at least along the more heavily trafficked bicycle routes in the city center. In the interest of elevating the mundane mechanic, a team of students from CAFA's Visual Communication program saw fit to elevate the ultralocal repair shop in the heart of Dashilar into a "Museum of Bicycle Parts," repurposing bits and pieces of hardware into jewelry and toys.
Although there is nothing particularly precious about the upcycled parts—mostly chainlinks, plus nuts and bolts that remain recognizable as such—many of the native Chinese visitors were delighted by the winsome works, and I personally thought that the trinkets and tchotchkes made for more charming souvenirs than the gift items available at Beijing Design Week's new retail store.
The Passionwege format returns for this year's Vienna Design Week linking emerging international design talent with what's left of the city's historic industries. Among the designers are Franco-Swiss duo Bertille & Mathieu, who have combined forces with crystal glass and chandelier manufacturer Lobmeyr to make the ultra-high end brand that little bit more accesible.
Having sought inspiration with a visit to the brand's age-old factory, the two designer drew interesting parralels between the process of crystal manufacturer and candy making—both involving the melting and boiling of powders (sand in the case of crystal, sugar in confectionary) and the subsequent depositing, shaping and setting of the molten sustenance into a clear solid.
Isabelle Pascal has supported Beijing Design Week since its inaugural year through her curated design shop Wuhao, which she founded one year prior, in 2010, after relocating from her native France. Located on a quiet alley off the heavily-touristed strip of Nanluoguxiang, the traditional courtyard house is arranged thematically based on the seasons and elements, featuring collections of furniture, jewelry, fashion and other design objects by a mix of local and imported designers.
An art and media manager by trade, Pascal has an excellent eye for young and emerging designers, and her savvy is especially useful in a country with an as-yet-inchoate design scene. We were impressed by the work of CAFA grad Mian Wu, whose debut collection we saw at Wuhao during last Beijing Design Week, and Pascal was pleased to present several new pieces from the young designer. Wu expands upon the theme of jewelry meta-production with rings bedecked with clusters of 'defective' rings, which have been cast and painted bone white yet retain their original details.
Of course, Pascal's main focus for this year's Beijing Design Week is one of her new finds: the Fabrick Lab, a.k.a. Elaine Ng Yanling, a Chinese-British designer who splits her time between Beijing, London and Hong Kong and whose past experience includes stints at Nokia and Nissan. And although she's been dubbed the "Techno Fairy" by Elle Decor, her pithy nickname belies the rigor and research behind her craft: she was recently a TED Fellow for smart materials, which take the form of biomimetic textiles.
Photography by Sam Dunne & Anki Delfmann for Core77
Now in its 11th year, London's annual design festival has expanded from its focus on furniture and design objects to include a strong a fashion, graphic and (most notably) digital component.
Not represented in our photo gallery of highlights—but worth mentioning—was the really interesting line-up of talks and seminars offered at this year's festival.
London's annual design festival, which wrapped up a nine-day run on Sunday, included over 300 events, exhibitions and installations held across the capital. Here, we present some highlights from around the city, including special shows at the Victoria and Albert Museum and new product designs from the 100% Design, designjunction, Tent London, and Super Brands London exhibitions.
This jumprope by student Shi Weilu collects kinetic energy from use to power a flashlight
Ben Hughes has scarcely looked back since he made the transition from Central St. Martins to CAFA about three years ago; rather, he's looking to the future and what it might possibly hold. What better place to do so than in Beijing, where he's set up shop in the Caogchangdi artist village and works part time as a Visiting Professor at the prestigious China Academy of Fine Arts?
Yet in China, Hughes notes, "design is almost exclusively linked to lifestyle and luxury consumption. It is seen as something to aspire to rather than something accessible by all." In the interest of initiating a sea change, he's working on dn Design for the Real China, a design competition that addresses the "imbalance in the understanding of 'design' in China—amongst students, amongst consumers, amongst designers."
With dn - Design for the Real China, I was anxious that we didn't simply reproduce familiar modes of design competition. Many of these (you know who you are) appear to place image, styling and presentation over content and do not insist on development, prototyping or testing. Many also seem to favour slick exterior computer visuals and don't require any level of depth. Some (again, you know who you are) seem to exist solely as commercial entities to extract money out of students and young designers, first for entering, then for publishing, then for attending awards ceremonies, then for receiving an award.
Design for the Real China is unique on several levels:
Emphasizing the explanation of the problem being addressed. Competitions that provide briefs are often so limited and so full of assumptions that we wanted to remove that element. Therefore there is no brief, but participants are asked to explain the problem they are tackling. The problem is often as interesting as the solution...
Removing the influence of judges. They often have their own agenda, so the judging is by popular online vote.
Creating a new kind of incentive structure. The categories are not linked to traditional divisions of design activity—graphic design, product design, textiles, fashion, furniture, etc.—but are decided according to the number of people affected by the design.
This is potentially the most confusing part. Since we ask that all entries are prototyped and tested in some way, the category is linked to the number of people who have been affected so far. Therefore, a product that is on the market and has sold well may have affected 10,000 or more people. A prototype that you have shared with your classmates and friends might have affected 50 people. Something that you made for a relative to solve a particular problem might have affected just one person. The prize money is allocated in inverse proportion to this category. i.e. if the design has affected many people, the prize money is low.
Given 3D printing's meteoric rise over the past year, it's no surprise that crowds were swarming around the iMakr booth at 100% Design. Inside the skeletal frame of a 100 square meter "house," the UK-based online retailer (and owner of the world's largest 3D printing store) brought its "Factory at Home" concept to the show floor, displaying various 3D printing models and 3D printed objects ranging from lighting, furniture and architectural models to cutlery, jewelry and sculptures.
iMakr staff gave live demonstrations using some of the industry's best desktop 3D printers from companies like MakerBot, Ultimaker and FlashForge.
100% Design was also the occasion for iMakr to launch its new Print on Demand service called My Mini Factory, allowing designers to upload their own models or download free 3D printable files from the company's in-house team of designers.
Combining the latest in 360-degree scanning and 3D printing technologies (along with a healthy dose of narcissism), iMakr gave people the chance to walk away with a full body, full color replica of themselves—a service the company plans to offer in London's department store, Selfridges, this winter.
Once again, the Caochangdi Artist's Village is hosting several BJDW ongoings, and the Red Bricks cluster of studio/gallery spaces is home to several installations, events and initiatives in conjunction with the weeklong festival. Naihan Li, best known for her CRATES series from 2011, led us on an informal tour of her neighborhood—indeed, the ever-charismatic architect/designer-turned-curator/producer has duly assumed the role of village ambassador since she established her studio there several years ago. For Beijing Design Week, she offered her sizable live/work space for a handful of local and international exhibitors. In addition to work by Dutch photographers, a German fashion designer and techno-fabric designer Elaine Ng (more on her later) on the first floor, Li's home is also the venue for furniture and photos by the newly-formed Studio LL. Co-founder Fai Lau explained that the "Du Pin"—literally "unique products," but also a homonym for "drugs"—are an extension of his work as a vintage furniture purveyor and interior designer. The simple concept allows for unpretentious execution of reclaimed and repurposed pieces.
While the 751 D.Park (D is for Design) abides by the tried-and-true quasi-industrial gallery crawl and Caochangdi is a purpose-built artist village, Dashilar is arguably the heart and soul of Beijing Design Week, and this year's program sees the launch of an exciting new initiative to examine the future of the neighborhood, which is historically significent to the extent that it simply has not been demolished or developed. I won't pretend to know enough about the Chinese real estate boom to speak to the broader sociopolitical context of what Dashilar represents as a swath of Old Beijing, adjacent to the recklessly reinvented Qianmen area—itself a part of Tiananmen Square—but as a pocket (in shape and relative size) of an ever-expanding city, the largely residential neighborhood has become a case study for an emergent hybrid of preservation and modernization.
Which is a long way of saying that this year's exhibitors include a series of architectural proposals alongside the local makers, plus an infusion of Dutch design, courtesy of guest city Amsterdam—each contingent represented roughly equally amongst the 40+ total exhibitors. True to the spirit of Old Beijing, the topography of the streets resembles a maze drawn by a child, and Kenya Hara's quasi-3D depiction looks something like a cross between the architectural version of "Where's Waldo" and some kind of biological scan.
National exhibits present an interesting opportunity to examine the design culture of a country and 100% Norway at Dray Walk Gallery did not disappoint. For the 10th edition of the show, curators Henrietta Thompson and Benedicte Sunde presented a true cross-section of the Norwegian design scene with works from ten established designers and ten emerging talents as part of this year's theme, '10 × 10.' From the exhibition design (by Hunting & Narud) to the collection of products and furniture, the whole show demonstrated Norwegian designers' expert knowledge of material and craft, love of raw materials and nature-inspired forms.
Outside of the gallery, Hunting & Narud created a playful lounge inspired by the sun and Nordic light with patterned decking, angled panels and stackable poufs in a gradient of soft colors.
This three-legged seed-shaped prototype by Bergen Academy graduate Philipp von Hase immediately caught our eye. Originally designed for a seed center in Bergen, Spire is crafted from solid maple wood and three-dimensional walnut veneer with a recessed porcelain bowl that can be used for planting herbs or keeping fruit. It easily transforms into a functioning table with removable wooden surface plates.
As one of the few London Design Festival destinations to make a home south of the Thames, Designersblock sets itself apart as something as an alternative to the more establishedt goings-on further North.
With plenty of young and exciting design talent on show, we went along to the opening to bring you some of the best bits.
Design to-go: Some of the wares on show were display in intriguing piles of pizzaboxes
Across town from 100% Design, Shoreditch was buzzing with gallery shows, storefront installations and a pair of LDF staples: Tent London and Super Brands. Occupying the industrial space of Old Truman Brewery, the exhibits spread across two floors showcasing everything from slip-casted ceramics to paper furniture.
One of the most visually striking pieces in the Super Design Gallery was Kishimoto Design's free-form Yumi Chair (pictured above), sculpted from ribbons of ash veneer. According to the designer, "By driving wedges into bound layers of veneer, I could freely manipulate the curvature of the wood without being hindered by clamps or molds."
This time last year, designjunction established itself firmly as the design show of London Design Festival, with a hearty mix of contemporary manufacturers and emerging design talent showing their wares under some expert curation.
Returning to the industrial surroundings of the old postal sorting house in central London, the show opened its doors to an expectant public as the sun set on the fifth day of LDF.
We were delighted to see Paul Cocksedge's Vamp drawing some attention with a huge installation recycled hi-fi speakers.
Reclaiming its rightful position as the hub of the London Design Festival once again, the Victoria and Albert Museum is springing to life this week as a number of design curiosities fill the gaps between the permanent collections.
Amongst the most impressive thing you're likely to see on the circuit this year, Lebanese designer Najla El Zein has erected an enormous installation in a usually unassuming doorway. Constructed of 5,000 paper windmills, the 'Wind Portal' creates a gateway between the antique corridors of the Victorian galleries and the modern extension on the other side. As light streams from above through the latter's skylight, the mills spin playfully on and off, the whole sculpture powered by small hidden motors.
Darling of the London design community, accessories designer Ally Capellino makes her contribution to the design festivities this week with a tribute to the iconic tubular stacking chair.
The "Bums on Seats" collection juxtaposes Cappellino's industrial tendancies with a touch of the human—her signiture worn leather retrofitted to the 60's original frames capturing the many different ways in which chairs are sat on—from "left leaning" to "knees up."
And so the design festival returns to London this week—the guide book bigger, and official map more expansive than ever.
Whilst we're all delighted to see the event going from strength to strength, the year-on-year expansion of the festivities makes it increasingly difficult to find the inspirational gems amongst the same old chair worship. It's enough to put a time-poor designer off entirely.
To help festival goers make the most of it—and back by popular demand—London-based design strategists Plan have put together a beautifully concise guide that cuts the wheat from the chaff for the discerning design enthusiast. Check it out here.
We've set our sights on Beijing since its first design week was announced back in 2010, and once again, we're pleased to announce that we will be on the scene at the arts and commercial districts throughout the city. Now in its third year, the capital city's annual celebration of design promises to be bigger and better than ever, and we're looking forward to bringing you the very best of Beijing Design Week.
Under the new creative direction of Beijing-based curator Beatrice Leanza, the overall program of BJDW 2013 looks at creating a meaningful narrative across its various outlets, by aggregating perspectives from current design discourse and practice into an experiential storytelling taking Beijing as its theater of action.
The Detroit Design Festival returns September 18–22, with a focus on highlighting the independent design trends originating from Detroit and surrounding areas. The third annual celebration of Motor City's unique art and design scene is set to be bigger and better than ever, and their team and advisors will be sharing various highlights with us over the next few weeks. Mark your calendars for 2013, and check out some of our previous coverage here and here.
We've developed a strong relationship with the unsung folks behind Vienna Design Week over the past few years, and once again we're pleased to announce that we will be bringing you highlights from the show. Set to take place from September 27 – October 6 in the Austrian capital city, we invite you to revisit our coverage from last year and check out the event website for more details on this year's festivities.
Berlin's famed airport Berlin Templehof opened its doors for the 11th annual DMY International Design Festival Berlin, a showcase of architecture, interior and product design featuring over 500 designers from across the globe. The central exhibition served as a focal point of Berlin Design week, a weeklong celebration including galleries, museum, studios and school-hosted events and exhibitions throughout Germany's capital city.
The central exhibition of DMY 2013 showcased an incredible range of new products and designers, however arguably the most notable was the student work. In keeping with 2013's Polish Design Focus—making Poland the 5th guest country to present at the German festival—DMY showed and impressive range of professional and student work from Warsaw to Gdansk.
Here is a quick look into the exhibitors from four of Poland's design programs.
Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in KrakowThe Jan Matejko Academy of Fine Arts in Kraków (established in 1818) is the oldest arts academy in Poland. For DMY they presented a selection of work from their bachelor's, master's and doctoral programs spanning the disciplines of transportation, furniture and industrial design.
Cafe Seat. A furniture design with a specific function - Dominika Brzostowska
Let'sprint concept design for a fixed-gear bicycle - Stanislaw Juszczak
School of Form in Poznan - For their booth at DMY Berlin, the School of Form based in Poznan, Poland presented a unique set of IKEA-hacked Lack Tables. Students of the Domestic Design curriculum in collaboration with IKEA added or shifted the function of pre-existing products while redefining the target buyer.
Domestic Design: Lack Additional Function - Kamila Sanczyk
Fine Arts Academy in Gdansk - In their presentation of "Around the Table" the Fine Arts Academy of Gdansk reconsidered one of the most cultural and social hubs in any household - the dining room table. Visitors of DMY were invited to investigate a number of new products while circulating around a long display table. The reasoning for both the unique presentation and design of the objects was that the "work should highlight the advantages of a meal, but also to stimulate creative thinking and willingness to debate."
The wait is over: The City of New York recently announced the first annual full-fledged New York design celebration from May 10–21, 2013. NYCxDesign (pronounced New York by Design) will be a citywide festival spanning the five boroughs and all disciplines of design (including industrial, furniture, fashion, graphic, film etc). NYCxDesign could very well become the biggest celebration of design in the world.
The NYCxDesign Steering Committee is comprised of a stacked line-up, boasting some of the most notable members of the NYC design community—not only designers and media (including our own Allan Chochinov), but also curators, educators, entrepreneurs, retailers and more. With planning committee spanning so many diverse fields—NYC Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Etsy CEO Chad Dickerson and MoMA's Paola Antonelli, to name just a few—the inaugaral NYCxDesign has massive support from all corners of the design community.
Every May for the past 24 years, designers, students and design enthusiasts flock to the Javitz Center in NYC for the International Contemporary Furniture Fair. While ICFF serves as the must-see mecca for new ideas and conversations about the state of furniture and industrial design, it is high time for NYC to go ahead and brand an all-inclusive design festival. In addition to many of the yearly exhibitors and shows in past NY Design Weeks, a host of new venues and designers will be added to the roster in the 12-day event.
Great citywide support: check. Awesome exhibitions, shows and events from all corners of the globe and design field: check. But how does one go about creating a brand identity for an event that encompasses one of the largest and most diverse design communities in the world? The Steering Committee for the 2013 NYCxDesign looked to Base Design to brand a design tribe that is 40,000+ strong. According to lead Willy Wong:
Speaker Quinn and the NYCxDESIGN Steering Committee understood that the celebration's identity needed to showcase individual designers, firms, schools and institutions, embrace the diversity of their practices across disciplines and throughout the City. Base Design's emphasis on the 'X' nailed the brief beautifully. They created an open system with an inclusive symbol that stands for location, expression, identification, examination, experimentation, intersection, iteration, variation, amplification and excellence.
Over the course of three posts, we take a look at the highlights of the second edition of the Munich Creative Business Week (MCBW), which took place from February 16–24, 2013.
Colorful "Midgets" by Bastian Müller at the downtown Filser & Gräf gallery
Historical wardrobe area transformed into exhibition displays
Lifting the "Blackbraid" bicycle with a single finger
At the Alte Kongresshalle, we found a collection of exhibitions and company presentations. One of the highlights was meeting the lightest bicycle in the world. Manuel Ostner from PG explained how they developed a new procedure to produce braided carbon frames with Munich Composites resulting in the "Blackbraid" bicycle that weighs less than 5 kg, all (hand)made in Germany. [Ed. Note: Designer Jacob Haim also used this manufacturing process, as seen in our exclusive look at the RaceBraid bicycle from last November.]
The recent Ecodesign exhibition received no fewer than 140 entries but only a handful of them made it to the exhibition in Munich. Luckily, poster presentations explained the 14 winning products in detail (which can be seen here). Nevertheless we hope that this year's Ecodesign competition features more tangible entries. More information about the competition is available at the Bundespreis Ecodesign website (in German).
Welcome words by Ralph Wiegmann (iF design's Managing Director) at the reception.
Gianluca Armento (Brand Director of Cassina) explaining the importance of their archive
Over the course of three posts, we take a look at the highlights of the second edition of the Munich Creative Business Week (MCBW), which took place from February 16–24, 2013.
"Die Neue Sammlung," an impressive museum run by the Free State of Bavaria, houses the largest collection of industrial and product designs in the world. We found it difficult to concentrate on curator Corinna Rösner's introductory remarks about the museum as we walked by amazing products that most of us only know from design history classes. During our 20-minute walk, it felt like we are traveling through time, passing by Gerrit Rietveld's chairs, Richard Sapper's TV and AIBO dogs. Suddenly, we found ourselves in front of a huge paternoster system featuring the "secret archive of Cassina" with a dozen items from the Italian manufacturer, which has been archiving products and prototypes since the 1930s. Gianluca Armento (Brand Director of Cassina) elaborated on the importance of an archive and how it can help brand management. As a company, you need to keep track of your history in order to make strategies for the future.
The "Refuge Tonneau" reconstructed by Cassina
Basic kitchen inside the Refuge Tonneau
The exhibition also features the so-called "Refuge Tonneau," designed by Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret in 1938, during the threatening early years of World War II. The space-shuttle like mountain shelter has been reconstructed by Cassina for the exhibition to demonstrate that design is not only about objects but also about vision and ideas.
Over the course of three posts, we will take a look at the highlights of the second edition of the Munich Creative Business Week (MCBW), which happened from February 16–24, 2013.
The R32, BMW's first motorcycle
BMW clay model
Our time in Munich kicked off with a guided tour through the BMW museum, led by designer Antonia Cecchetti, who passionately explained how the brand started making motorcycles and engines in 1917 and expanded throughout the years without loosing its identity. The first motorcycles used to be available in only in black with white stripes, followed by a color alternative of "white with black stripes." Today, the brand (and its colors) have expanded enormously without compromising its signature design elements, such as the iconic round headlights and kidney-shaped air intakes. We were lucky to have Antonia guide us, being a great BMW fan. We enjoyed it when she told us how the new BMW7 tail lights makes her heart beat faster.
One of the highlights at the museum is the kinetic sculpture, which was used in an advertisement for the BMW 5 series:
Text by Rachel Carvosso; images courtesy of mizmiz design
Kamidana is a product that you're unlikely to find at design shows outside of Japan. The word "kami" means god in Japanese and a "Kamidana" literally translates as "god shelf." Kamidana are traditional miniature Shinto altars found in some Japanese households that worship a specific Shinto god. The Kamidana (designed by mizmiz design) on exhibit at Tokyo Designers Week is a stylish, compact and thoroughly modern take on these miniature altars.
Referencing Japan's history and Shinto religion, the front of the tabletop object features a carving of te Ise Shrine in Mie prefecture, one of the holiest Shinto shrines in Japan. The Kamidana can be used as a stylish, handy container to keep prayer papers (believed to contain some of the god's power) collected from visits to shrines.
The cedar wood is sourced from Iwaki City in Fukushima Prefecture, where the dedicated woodcraft team, moconoco, is based. Some of the design features are not immediately obvious to a non-Japanese observer—I asked what the hole in the front of it was for and was told that the small rectangle is necessary to allow the "power to come out."
We were back in Beijing for the 2nd annual Beijing Design Week festivities. It was exciting to engage in the conversations surrounding the future of design and craft in a country with over 5000 years of craft history and a reputation of being the manufacturing capital for the world.
Although this year's events did not include the Triennial at the National Museum, the addition of the Caochangdi Arts District and a more diverse showing from the larger design community generated much excitement for this year's events. Organized by BAO Atelier's Naihan Li and Beatrice Leanza, the bulk of the exhibitions took place in the red-bricked galleries designed by Ai Weiwei.
Traditional materials and craft practices were merged with contemporary design aesthetics, most popularly in displays of porcelain objects, reinterpretations of everyday Chinese objects and archetypes. The work itself looked towards a future where Designed in China becomes more ubiquitous than Made in China.
Text by Rachel Carvosso; images courtesy of Yusuke Yamamoto
Tucked away in the Architecture section, I discovered Yusuke Yamamoto and his "Moveable Movie Theater" project. Yamamoto, an architect, started this independent project after volunteering in the area ravaged by the earthquake and tsunami last year. Yamamoto told me many survivors he came across would express the simple desire to go see a movie—impossible to do when all the movie theaters in the region have been destroyed. While discussing the revitalization of the region's film industry with a professor of film at Tohoku University, Yamamoto came up with the design for his theater.
Current laws prohibit the building of certain permanent structures in the earthquake and tsunami ravaged region, but Yamamoto's moveable movie theater turns the problem into a design feature. The theater's rectangular structure is designed to allow easy transportation on one truck, with each level sitting within each other, like a Russian doll. Stretching out like an accordion when in use, the design (currently in a prototype production phase) will feature wood sourced from the local region. The current design fits about 30 people inside, and also features bookshelves along the sides, to double as a movable library.