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.
A giant, rainbow-colored "Hello Design" welcomes you at the entrance to this year's Tokyo Designers Week, which runs through Monday, November 5, at the Meiji Jingu Gaien in Tokyo's Shibuya district. This year the two themes are "House" and "Play" and there's plenty to see.
Exhibitors' booths are packed and with lots of small hidden pockets of space, it's hard to feel that you have seen everything. True to the "Play" theme, you can contribute to a sticker mural, draw on walls, build wooden block towers and climb into and over some exhibits. For a more techy form of play, the DESIGN NEXT area features a whole row of booths dedicated to digital devices—you can even register to "like" items by physically touching them with your Suica / Pasmo (Tokyo's metro cards).
One of the great things about TDW is the opportunity it creates for smaller, independent designers to exhibit and get an audience. One that caught my attention was Shinn Asano, who originally trained as a graphic designer in the US before returning to work in Japan. Asano's "Sen" is a series of 6 pieces of furniture inspired by traditional Japanese crafts.
Asano explained to me why he decided to move to interior design:
I realized that a lot of the things I was working with were in two-dimensional space—lines, negative space, etc.—I wanted to work with in three dimensions. Japanese craft is known for its high quality and attention to detail and I am interested in combining new materials with forms taken from crafts such as Japanese weaving.
All these pieces are based on the concept of the intersection of planes, lines that work in 2-D or 3-D. For example "Kagome" the name of my stool, is both a pattern used in basket weaving and a shape used in Shinto shrines. The word "kage" given to the small circular table means "shadow" and I have incorporated these ideas into the way the light works with the furniture. I chose red because for me it is a powerful color with a long history in Japan."
Through a solid three years of experimentation and tinkering, Yusuke Hayashi and Yoko Yasunishi of Drill Design have arrived at "Paper-Wood" which is now sold as a material used by a range of different designers and companies to make everyday objects (furniture, stationary, garden and kitchen utensils).
According to Yoko, the initial combination they came up with used acrylic and wood but the latest series (four and five) use paper and basswood. Since the colors aren't painted on, the material always retains its bright colors, even when it wears down. When I asked what kind of paper they use, I was quietly told it's a 'company secret.'
"...the first two years we experimented in workshops to find out what materials, colors and combinations worked best... we wanted to explore the concept of adding things to wood to make new kinds of 'layer cake' materials," explains Yoko. Look closely at a slice of Paper-Wood and you can clearly see the "layer cake" she's talking about—each layer alternates between, well, paper and wood.
DesignTide Tokyo, held again this year at the Tokyo Midtown, is a little oasis of intimate calm in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the Roppongi district. The exhibition hall is big enough to make the experience relaxing in a city where large spaces are at a premium.
One of the designs that immediately caught my eye was the black lacquer lamp by Kenke Design that was established this year. It is the brainchild of Kensuke Yamaguchi, a designer with a background in art history, which makes sense when viewing the "Koshirae" light he's exhibiting. The word Koshirae refers to the mountings of Japanese swords that were traditionally covered in multiple coatings of lacquer.
Yamaguchi left the interior solutions company Ilya to study the traditional Japanese lacquer craft technique of "Urushi Nuri" in Kyoto, where he was selected for the Kyoto Design awards earlier this year. His small company combines the best of Japanese design elements: simplicity, craftsmanship and functionality.
The lamp unit is created using the lacquer technique 'Honkataji-roiro' leaving its surface a perfectly smooth, shiny black. The body of the lamp is also about the same width as a sword and sits on a choice of two possible bases allowing for both a horizontal or vertical mounting. At under a meter long (77cm), it's just the right size to be used as a floor or table lamp.
Another noteworthy detail is the lamp's internal switchless touch system, which allows the lamp to be turned off by lifting the entire body off of the stand (there's a regular on/off switch on the cord as well). The functional elements are largely hidden leaving a product that hints at its own functionality whilst remaining disarmingly abstract and simply executed.
Top: New York City myThread Installation by Jenny Sabin. Bottom: Beijing Design Week Feather Pavilion by Arthur Huang
Coming off the success of their Flyknit collection, Nike has launched the Nike Flyknit Collective: an architectural initiative challenging a curated group of designers, artists and architects to create installations based on the core features of the collection—performance, lightness, formfitting and sustainability.
We had an opportunity to see 2 of the installations in person over the past few weeks and although the installations were quite different, it was interesting to follow the path of practitioners separated by geography and disciplines as they explored the way that yarn can be employed to create engaging structural experiences.
Jenny Sabin installing the myThread Pavilion
Philadelphia-based architectural designer Jenny Sabin's work explores the intersection of architecture, biology, craft, technology and generative design.
Hong Kong-based design gallery, ILIVETOMORROW, presented a vibrant exhibition with a focus on ceramics during Beijing Design Week. The gallery, established in 2010 by French designer and architect Nicola Borg-Pisani, represents a diverse roster of designers in the Asian market.
Jesse McLin and Julie Progin's Fragment(s) collection developed from their trips to the Chinese porcelain capital of Jingdezhen. For those unfamiliar, the city has been the center of porcelain production for over 1700 years. While visiting Jingdezhen, McLin and Progin noticed discarded molds and began salvaging them. After reconstituting the molds, they were able to create new vessels from these fragments, "each piece is different, each piece contains a memory," explained Progin.
The Viennese design group breadedEscalope (Sascha Mikel, Martin Schnabl und Michael Tatschl) transformed the entrance area of the Vienna outpost of Stilwerk into a temporary workshop in order to turn 'misfits' of the THONET chair production into make-shift, one-off chair designs. For those who might not be familiar, Stilwerk is a design retailer that houses 160 shops and over 1000 brands across their four locations—Hamburg, Berlin, Düsseldorf and Vienna.
Members of the public were encouraged to join in and build their own Thonet chair with the help of a few (power) tools, cable binders, glue, screws and assisted by the designers.
The cooperation does not work on the basis of a briefing but on the freedom of communicating an analysis of the form, material, tradition and processes involved in inventing a product.
The popularity of this workshop, conducted during Vienna Design Week, manifested in the outcome of more than 50 chairs, which could be taken home by their makers. Check out the video showing most pieces as well as breadedEscalope talking about their project in collaboration with Thonet.
Recent Beijing transplant Henny van Nistelrooy presented a selection of his textile work at this year's Beijing Design Week. Exploring the intersection of craft and industry van Nistelrooy's work centers on the process of creating (and deconstructing) textiles. Although he studied Industrial Design, the Dutch designer found himself drawn to textile design—first learning on the hand loom and later working with an industrial weaving process.
Fabricate 1 Lampshade
On display is van Nistelrooy's screen and daybed he created with the Scottish textile brand Bute, as well as an interesting lamp shade that challenges the idea of mass-production. Using computer-generated design and industrial weaving, he created bolts of lamp shades that are then hand-assembled into pendant lighting.
The push and pull of the design poles of craft and industry continue to enchant designers young and old. This year's Beijing Design Week theme of "Craft" invited Chinese designers to delve into the cultural history of object design in the country while taking advantage of the manufacturing prowess of China today. Although we didn't see a wide-reaching rigor in the design practice on exhibit, it was great to get a glance into future possibilities for design in China.