Photos by Jessica Miller
For many of the practicing designers who live and work in the five boroughs, the months before the ICFF are often a caffeine-fueled blur, crunchtime in anticipation of the single most important weekend of the year. The 15 third-year Product Design students in the Design for Wastelessness studio at Parsons the New School for Design had the chance to experience the same flurry of activity as Poltrona Frau offered them the chance to exhibit their projects during NY Design Week. The brief: to transform leather off-cuts into retail-worthy goods for the home and office.
Led by instructor Andrea Ruggiero, this marks the third year in a row that the storied Italian manufacturer has sponsored coursework at Parsons, in which the students had seven weeks to design and prototype their products. About a month ago, they presented their projects to the panel of judges from both Poltrona Frau and the school, including guest judge Massimo Vignelli, who subsequently announced three winners at the company's Design Week reception. Congrats to Jenny Hsu, Yuna Kim and Benjamin Billick, who won a trip to the Poltrona Frau factory in Tolentino, Italy, where they will have the opportunity to refine their prototypes with master craftsmen.
Jenny Hsu - "Piqnique"
Piqnique is an extension of the domestic dining experience for on-the-go situations, enriching your eating rituals while away from home. Whether at the park, a horse-race, or on the yacht, Piqnique functions as a carrier for a set of silverware and a napkin. When unrolled, Piqnique also doubles as an elegant placemat: it's Frau to Go.
Yuna Kim - "Miovino"
Miovino is a set of wine markers designed for social gatherings that elevates the act of enjoying wine through a luxurious tactile experience. By choosing a coloured leather wine marker—or sleeve—wine drinkers can identify and personalize their stemware, and as a result, Miovino also becomes the interface between the drinker and the glass, suggesting that the glass should be held by the stem. Miovino exemplifies the concept of wastelessness, as the markers are made with small and economically-shaped production scraps coupled with small embedded magnets.
Benjamin Billick - "Tuft"
Tuft explores ideas of surprise in the unexpected. Rather than simply covering an object with leather, Tuft is literally upholstered, creating a seamless transition from Poltrona Frau's furniture collection to their tabletop collection. Here, the typology of the traditional candlestick is re-imagined using the classic leatherworking technique of capitonné. In upholstery, the purpose of capitonné is to pull and stretch. Tuft emphasizes that process and uses powerful magnetic buttons to secure the candle cup into the folds of leather.
Noemi Szalavar - "Spirale"
Spirale is a family of vases consisting of a weighted crystal glass wrapped in a removable spiral of leather. The elegant gesture of the spiral visually suggests an upward motion and the glass can be removed to be refilled as needed. A thin sheet of metal is sandwiched within two sheets of scrap leather providing structure for the flowers and ensuring that the vase retains its form.
Robert Bezrutczyk - "Pinch"
Pinch is a family of document organizing clips that securely hold the physical things you find important. It offers a more immediate and intuitive way to organize your notes, cards, documents or photos on your desk. Pinch is available in two sizes, a longer three-clip version and a larger single clip version for larger documents or envelopes. The weighted base is covered in wood and the clips are made in leather-covered spring steel.
Steven Huang - "Bombé"
Bombé is an elegant cigarette cache designed for the casual smoker who prefers to enjoy their cigarettes in the comfort of their home or office. The cache typology revives the traditional glamour of smoking, inviting the user to slow down, smoke a cigarette and savor it. Named for its distinctive profile, Bombé presents the cigarettes by lifting up on the metallic pin.
Aaron Chan - "Bottoni"
Bottoni is a fun coaster set inspired by the leather upholstery buttons used in Poltrona Frau's furniture. Consisting of a subtly tufted leather side and a contrasting metallic side, Bottoni can be used either way offering two distinctly different experiences: The softer, traditional leather side hints at the inviting comfort of Frau's upholstery, whereas the metallic side suggests a more contemporary feel. The variety and vibrancy of Poltrona Frau's leather colours also allow Bottoni to act as a marker to facilitate the tracking of one's drink during gatherings and small parties.
Raul Espinoza - "Cavalletto"
Cavalletto is an elegant picture frame that evokes Poltrona Frau's timeless furniture as it accessorizes any home, office or ambiance desired. The folding leather support connects to the back with embedded magnets and wraps around the structure accenting the wooden frame. Cavalletto is available in two sizes and can be used either in portrait or landscape orientation.
Trady Kim - "Fraus B"
Frausb is a USB flash drive consisting of a cast metal housing with a protective strip of Pelle Frau leather. Its design and elegant choice of materials adds value to what is typically a banal everyday electronic device, elevating it to a precious item. Through Pelle Frau's many colour options, Frausb can offer a distinctive level of personalization, ultimately combining the world of modern technology with the artisanal qualities and values of Poltrona Frau.
Chris Miano - "Cumpare"
Cumpare is a portable speaker that connects to smartphones or tablets, providing an iconic and beautiful source for enjoying quality sound in the home, office, or on-the-go. The two speakers are mounted horizontally inside a tube covered with one small strip of Pelle Frau leather, making it a tactile object to hold and carry.
Hayley Kim - "Doppio"
Doppio is an elegant cigar case that carries two cigars, allowing the cigar smoker to share one cigar when with company. Doppio is produced using a minimal amount of hardwood, veneer, and scrap leather in order to reduce the material usage while maintaining a luxurious aesthetic. The leather cover doubles as a live hinge and the strap allows for a quick and intuitive way to open and close the case; Doppio comes in two sizes to accomodate longer and shorter cigars.
Jean Pae - "Carry On"
Carry On is a responsibly-designed tray set for entertaining. Carry On consists of a two trays, with the smaller one nesting within the larger tray for storage. It is made only with leather and wood scraps, thus it is completely "Wasteless."
Irisa Xiong - "Personal Pleats"
Personal Pleats is a small container for organizing and containing jewelry and other small delicate items at home or when traveling. Traditional honeycomb pleats create storage areas within the pouch and are made of high quality leather to cushion and muffle the items, creating a charming, yet functional experience.
Rachel Martinez - "Spun"
Spun is a desktop set meant to evoke fascination and childlike wonder within adults. Created to live in an office setting, it will provide its user with a much needed break from an often monotonous daily routine. The set consists of three unique hand-turned aluminum spinning tops paired with an organically-shaped walnut box that also doubles as a container for desktop items such as paper clips or writing instruments. The leather strip acts as a colour accent and cushioning for when the two box halves are joined.
Parsons the New School for Design × Poltrona Frau - Designing for Wastelessness:
» Part 1 - Introduction
» Part 2 - How Many Students Does It Take to Work a Sewing Machine?
» Part 3 - Judgment Day
»Part 4 - The Final Projects
» Part 5 - A Visit to the Poltrona Frau Factory in Tolentino