StokkeAustad - "The Woods"; Image courtesy of Maria Larsson / Home in the Woods
It's always nice to be pleasantly surprised by a serendipitous visit to a strong exhibition, especially during a week when there happen to be dozens of events to visit. (With the launch of NYCxDesign, New York's annual design week was as supersaturated as ever, what with the ICFF expanding into Javits North and Wanted Design nearly overflowing with exhibitors.) As with Field and Various Projects' Here & There, an unassuming exhibition was well worth the visit, and even though most of last weekend exhibitions have been broken down, packed and shipped by now, Home in the Woods will remain on view at 29 Mercer St in Soho (albeit by appointment only).
However, unlike Jonah Takagi's effort, Maria Larsson's exhibition is brimming with New Nordic and Swedish Modern quality, including vintage pieces by Bruno Mathsson and Sven Markelius along with works of art and design. As the sole organizer of the exhibition, Larsson readily admits that her role went far beyond simply curating the exhibition: an architect by training, she oversaw the buildout of the gallery space, as well as the PR and marketing.
Design agency smallpond looked to go big time for the inaugural NYCxDesign festival, entering the fray with the support of London's Designjunction. The new INTRO NY show was modest in the best way possible, a showcase of smaller, mostly non-NYC design brands in a well-lit, street-level space in the heart of Little Italy (there was audible din from a parade two blocks over when I visited on Saturday morning).
If on-site retail—a curated neo-utility pop-up shop—and refreshments seem to be par for the course at design shows these days, the backyard pop-up cafe was a nice touch (though I imagine it was rained out on Sunday).
In addition to furnishing the patio, San Francisco's Council made a strong showing with products new and old. They've brought a handful of young designers into the fold since the brand debuted at ICFF in 2007, including Chad Wright, who was happy to discuss the "Twig" chair that he designed for the brand.
Now in its fourth year, Noho Design District has taken on a few different permutations over the years, encompassing various pop-up exhibitions from a tiny Japanese butcher shop to a four-story lumber company headquarters (which happen to be on the same block, no less), reflecting both the changes within the neighborhood and the landscape of American design as a whole. Once again, our friends Jill Singer and Monica Khemsurov of Sight Unseen have masterminded a neighborhood-wide celebration of young and emerging designers. In addition to partnering with several co-conspirators such as Future Perfect and American Design Club, they've also curated the flagship Noho Next group exhibition, featuring 13 handpicked studios that comprise a showcase of design talent.
The exhibition took place over the weekend at Subculture, the event space in the basement of the 45 Bleecker Street Theater, which hosted Tom Dixon's London Underground exhibition last year. (I don't know if I'm dating myself with the reference, but I remember going to the Crosby Connection sandwich shop when they occupied the cafe a few years back...). Although it happens to be closing as I write this, hopefully our documentation can serve as future reference.
Although this year marks their first ICFF, PELLE Designs actually dates back to 2008 or so, when co-founder Jean Pelle developed the first Bubble Chandelier. She met her future business partner (and husband) Oliver about ten years ago at the Yale School of Architecture, and each went on to work for major firms before setting out on their own.
The "Quadrat" series of tables takes its name from the German word for "square"; Oliver left his native Germany to study architecture in the States
Thus, their debut collection consists of iterations on the designs: the Bubble Chandelier is now UL listed, and they've just introduced a long version (not pictured) for a total of nine different shapes and sizes (they've also taken an interesting step in making all of the items available to order through an online store).
Jean noted that they make and hand-carve the Soap Stones in their Red Hook studio
Stockholm's Konstfack is among the university design departments that occupy the removed North Building of the Javits Center this ICFF, a more manageable—albeit somewhat sparsely populated—exhibition hall in contrast to the main floor of ICFF. Despite—or perhaps because of—the largely theoretical curriculum of graduate programs in Industrial Design, the 11 first-year Master's candidates at Konstfack undertook a self-initiated project to actually make objects, which they first exhibited during Stockholm Design Week back in February. According to the Negative Space website:
What is a negative space? Can it be framed by something other than matter? Can a negative space be made tangible?
Ten explorations on the possible meanings of negative space showcasing new and intriguing perspectives. By shifting focus from matter to the space that it occupies, the designers have found new ways of working by investigating the relationship between objects and the surrounding space. Presented here are a series of individual interpretations of negative space, culminating in a fascinating interplay between form, memory, movement, light and time.
Insofar as the theme itself is intangible, the students took a broad range of approaches; even in the case of light, which might be considered an easy metaphor for space, the inspiration and execution varied significantly. Nevertheless, the overall aesthetic of the work is quite minimal, in keeping with both the theme and Scandinavian design language in general.
Unfortunately, the logistics of overseas travel and the tradeshow setting made for a somewhat attenuated exhibition—i.e. the convention center simply isn't the ideal context for exhibiting the highly conceptual work. (I find that the Javits Center, for all its cavernous, harshly-lit real estate, is something of a 'negative space,' if you'll excuse the pun.) In any case, the students were excited to be in New York—a first for many of them—and they were eager to share their work.
Daphne Zuilhof's "Spin" stool inspired friendly jealousy amongst her peers for it's packability. It takes it name not from the English verb but for the Dutch word for 'spider,' where its collapsible legs delimit a volume that is a usable space.
As data continues to indicate that spending all day on your ass isn't good for your health, there are exciting opportunities for workstation and seating designers. Standing desks, treadmill desks and funky chairs may fade in and out of popularity, but we like seeing the weird permutations and risks that designers are willing to take in their quest to find the "correct" solution.
One such new seating product comes from Turnstone (the Steelcase brand dedicated to furniture solutions for small companies and startups) with their Buoy, designed by Michigan-based ID'er Ricky Biddle. "Research shows that even people who typically work out after work don't receive the same benefit if they are sitting all day," writes Turnstone. "Overall, we recognize that movement is good so any way we can bring movement to the office is something we look for."
To that end, the Buoy is designed to be off-balance, like its namesake bobbing device, though not as extremely as a Pilates ball; the idea is that the microadjustments you're continually making with your body are not annoying enough to be a hassle, but adequate to burn some calories. Also unlike a Pilates ball, the Buoy is height-adjustable.
We wanted to find a simple seating solution that would allow for movement and work in multiple environments and applications. Turnstone had explored some initial ideas around active seating with a rocking stool concept called Humma shared at Neocon a few years ago, but for Buoy we wanted to allow a greater freedom of movement and a create a highly functioning product that could complement multiple settings and work with different height tables and related items around the home and office from both a functional and aesthetic point of view.
This photo began making the blog rounds some time last year, and continues to resurface on Pinterest, usually with the word "clever" in the description. But is it? Let's think about this for a second.
First off there's the table. Treehugger wrote "I don't know how they get such a big table into the counter, perhaps there is a fold in it." By zooming in on the photo, we can tick that box:
As you can see inside the circle, the faintest of reveals is visible, indicating the table's in two halves. My guess is the front half folds up and back onto the rear half for stowage. The two red arrows indicate where conventional leaf hinges (as seen below) might be, conveniently concealed in the photo by the dish and the newspaper.
However, as this piece of furniture is ascribed to German manufacturer Alno (though I could not find it anywhere on their site, probably due to the language barrier), I wouldn't be surprised if they used hidden hinges like this:
Those bad boys are inserted into simple holes drilled into the edges of each board, and then you join them like you're doweling them together. Hinges like that don't come cheap, maybe a hundred bucks U.S.
"The first time somebody acknowledged your skill," writes craftsperson Jeff Baenen, "and asked you to personally make them something (and they would pay you!)... was a moment I will always remember." Years ago the Illinois-based Baenen, a mechanical designer by training, was having drinks with a co-worker who asked if Jeff could build him a special box: One that would hold his wife's family Bible.
A box to hold a book, sounds simple, no? But religious tomes that double as family heirlooms require a certain amount of reverence, and there was also a nuts-and-bolts design problem to solve:
The size of the family bible had a huge impact on how the box would be designed. I think it was somewhere around 14”×10”×4”. Being of such a large size I didn't want to have a person reach into the box to pull out the bible (it was pretty heavy). Nor did I want them picking the box up and dumping the bible out.
Baenen's solution was to design and build an interior mechanism that would enable the user to raise the book up out of the box, like something from an Indiana Jones movie. "I designed a lifting mechanism that would allow the bible to 'rise' out of the box by rotating two cam arms," Baenen explains. "In the down state the mechanism is only .75” thick. When actuated it will raise the bible 3.5” out of the box... easy to just grab with your hands."
We're talking about food now more than ever—so much so that food-centered innovation isn't just taking place in the kitchen anymore. Interest in our edibles has officially made the leap from plate to apartment. Sure, you've seen a sleeping bag in the style of a pizza slice and a scarf painted like strips of bacon, but recently we've spotted furniture that takes subtler cues from the kitchen. The end result is infinitely more palatable.
How do you stand out among a group of 120-odd young international designers all trying to capture the attention of customers and buyers? During Milan's recent SaloneSatellite, Francesco Barbi and Guido Bottazzo of Italy's Bicube Design created a line of furniture inspired by their country's national cuisine: pasta.
Before chocolate transforms into a topping or a candy bar, it's poured. The action has been reproduced over and over in commercials and advertisements to whet our palates. Designers Vinta Toshitaka Nakamura and Kohei Okamoto captured that same liquid quality—and our attention—in their Chocolite lamp.
Vitsœ, exclusive licensee of Dieter Rams' furniture designs, is very pleased to announce that they are re-releasing the "620 Chair Programme." As of yesterday, the ultraminimal armchair is available on the Vitsœ website and will be in showrooms worldwide shortly.
Vitsœ's new production of 620 shows characteristic rigour and attention to detail. The chair has been completely re-engineered, right down to the last purpose-designed stainless-steel bolt. In turn, the very best traditional upholstery skills have been revived to ensure a chair that will last for generations, a point reinforced by the choice of a sumptuous full-grain aniline-dyed leather that will only improve with age. All of this has been achieved while prices have been reduced.
Although Rams is best known for designing household wares for a certain German company, he also dabbled in larger objects such as furniture; as with the better-known Vitsœ 606 shelving unit, the 620 is modular (similarly, the first two numbers refer to the year in which the product was designed, per the company's naming convention). As the story goes, a knockoff turned up by 1968; company co-founder "Niels Vitsœ, fought a lengthy court case that culminated in the chair being granted rare copyright protection in 1973."
I was tempted to photobomb this image with Blown Away Guy...
Last week, a vacant industrial loft was magically transformed into an elegant gallery space for the evening, as the Rhode Island School of Design's Department of Furniture Design celebrated its graduating Masters Candidates in a show titled, 'The New Clarity.'
The title of the exhibition drew its name from "Letters to a Young Poet" by Rainer Maria Rilke:
...Everything is gestation and then birthing. To let each impression and each embryo of a feeling come to completion, entirely in itself, in the dark, in the unsayable, the unconscious, beyond the reach of one's own understanding, and with deep humility and patience to wait for the hour when a new clarity is born: this alone is what it means to live as an artist: in understanding as in creating."
Each designer took a fresh approach to that understanding, re-envisioning what furniture could be and giving a glimpse of what that development looked like on the path to their final work.
Bent-wood room divider by Elish Warlop
Pieces ranged from the bent-wood room divider above to a chair to facilitate sex with multiple partners simultaneously--running the gamut of what comes to mind (and doesn't) when one thinks of 'furniture design.' The diverse array of work explored not only a new understanding, but varying motifs of tradition, from daily traditions of the everyday to ornate, woven tapestries re-imagined in plastic.
One of the most memorable pieces from the evening was the latter, the work of Colantonio, which looked at commodities of the past, seeped in ancient tradition, and adapted them utilizing contemporary tools and technologies.
Plastic Persian carpet by F Taylor Colantonio
"Most of my work deals with historical 'types' of objects, at least as a point of departure," said Colantonio. "I'm interested in taking a thing like a Persian carpet, and all the baggage that comes with it, and abstracting it beyond the qualities we would normally associate with a Persian carpet. I wanted to create a kind of a ghost of the source object, something that is both familiar and entirely strange. In many of the pieces, this is done with a shift in material, often as a result of exploiting a manufacturing method in a new way."
F Taylor Colantonio
Patterns on patterns on patterns by F Taylor Colantonio
The Beer Bag, by Marco Gallegos
The aptly titled "Beer Bag" was part of Gallegos' "Rethinking the Familiar" Collection, which looked to further the relationship and value people place on everyday objects. With the capacity to carry a six-pack of beer, the bag fits snugly onto one's bike. Beer holders included.
The Lilu Table, by Marco Gallegos
The Lilu Table is also the work of Gallegos, who sought to create a self-supporting structure, where each part provides vital support to the rest--working together as a system. The power-coated steel legs fit into the top, locking them all together in a secure fit.
The breadth of the work left little to be desired in terms of heterogeneity, leaving the future work of each designer just as varied and unpredictable as the collection produced. We'll be eager to see what divergent paths they take after graduation this June!
The Graduate Furniture class, photo by Anelise Schroeder
More photos from the opening night after the jump.
Top spot went to Katie Lee's spot-on blend of ingenuity and style
Last fall Core77 got the chance to participate in the jurying of a chair design competition sponsored by Wilsonart and held at the University of Oregon's Product Design Department. It was a semester long assignment for the students and challenged them to use Wilsonart's laminates to produce a NW cafe inspired chair. This coming week the results of that competition are going on display in NYC at the ICFF and we encourage you to stop by and see the winners yourself; the high level of thinking and polish applied by the class is well represented by the champion chairs. Here is a teaser of the work, continued from above...
Adam Horbinski's sculptural (and versatile) two-piece
Jordan Millar's contemporary synthesis of line and plane
Kvadrat Soft Cell panels line the entrance of the Moroso showroom
Celebrating Patricia Urquiola's first textile collection for Kvadrat, a feast of the senses was organized at Moroso's Milan showroom during Salone. Entering through a hallway lit with the dynamic glow of Kvadrat's Soft Cell panels, guests were welcome into the main showroom where rotating columns of embroidered fabrics were hung around the circumference of the space.
The Revolving Room honored a spirit of collaboration—between Urquiola, Moroso, Kvadrat and Philips—as a showcase of the myriad possibilities for textile application. The Urquiola-designed Kvadrat collection was the filter on the acoustic lighting panels, an embroidered skin on the rotating architectural columns, the fabric on Moroso furniture and a material transformed into bowls and inspiring food design by I'm a KOMBO for the communal table.
Kvadrat Soft Cells are large architectural acoustic panels with integrated multi-colored LED lights. These "Luminous Textiles" provide an ambient glow of light filtered through the textures of Kvatdrat fabrics. The modular panels are based on a patented aluminum frame with a concealed tensioning mechanism which keeps the surface of the fabric taut, unaffected by humidity or temperature.
The magic of the panels lies in Philips' LED technology which allows architects to control content, color and movement projected from the panels. The Kvadrat textiles provide tactility and sound absorption qualities even when the Soft Cells are static.
Core77 had an opportunity to speak with Urquiola on the collaboration with Kvadrat on the occasion of the collection debut. As the first designer to create a collection for the Soft Cells panels, we were interested in learn more about the process of designing across different mediums and working with light.
From left to right: Anders Byriel, Patricia Urquiola, Patrizia Moroso
Core77: This is your first time designing textiles for Kvadrat. What was your design process like and how was it different than designing furniture?
Patricia Urquiola: We worked in two ways. The first process started with the idea of "applying memory," to create a fabric that looks like its been worn with time. This fabric will not get older in a bad way because it is already "worn." The passage of time will be good for contrast.
The other idea was to work with digital patterns. We have been working with ceramics as part of my research in the studio for a long time. Part of these patterns were in my mind as we were searching for new tiling designs. I am working with Mutina, where I am the art director, and we're trying not to work in color—exploring bas relief and a treatment of the tiling.
One pattern is a kind of matrix—its kind of a jacquard. We're working with a classic technique in a cool wool, but in the end, you have this connection with a digital world. The contrast of the jacquard is sometimes quite strong and sometimes more muted—you can see and then not see the matrix.
And then there was the possibility to work velvet—opaque and quite elegant. We use a digital laser cut technique. They are patterns but not. They give an element to the fabric but they are still and quiet.
These are digital techniques but the process to create all three patterns was quite complicated. I'm happy because we explored three complex processes but they turned out amazing.
Designer Ivan Zhang originally hails from Shanghai but is currently working towards his Masters degree at Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design in Germany. Indeed, his work draws heavily on a certain school of Northern European design, which holds that form follows function. In keeping with the unassailable logic of minimalism, Zhang has developed his own formula, simplifying "A + B → C" to "A’ → C"—something to the effect of incorporating a "correction" (user-generated solution for specific use cases) into a product.
For example, not only does the Bookshelf’ incorporate a flatpack-friendly hinged top and bottom panel, the slightly arching shelves eliminate the need for bookends (or the ad hoc solution of propping of a book to serve as such.)
We usually tilt the last book on the shelf in order to prevent the books from falling. Likewise, a wide variety of bookends are on the market for the same purpose. This "conscious action" or "auxiliary bookend" is defined as "B" in A’ philosophy, that is: correction... This natural shape of Bookshelf’ makes conscious rectification unnecessary.
Elaborate justification aside, the work is quite interesting in itself—the tension in the shelves suggests a tautly composed structure, and Zhang notes that "with the strength produced by the arched board itself, users can easily assemble the bookshelf without punching or screws."
Way back in 1995, Core77 was just a baby, and designer Rolf Sachs blew the sawdust off of a new chair he'd designed. Two notes:
1. Had we had the blog up and running back then we'd have covered it, but it took two years before anyone even knew what a "blog" was.
2. As you can probably tell, these first three photos are indicative of 1995 image quality.
Sach's brilliant 3 Equal Parts chair, "an academic exercise in deconstructivism," consisted of three L-shaped pieces made from heavy, 28mm thick Doug Fir. All three pieces were identical, and the user could configure the chair in a couple of different ways.
Years later Sachs revisited the chair for an exhibition in 2008, adding a sexy little angle to the L and switching materials to Swiss stone pine. (Unsurprising, as the longtime Switzerland-loving Sachs had converted a Swiss Olympic bobsled facility into his holiday home and was presumably surrounded by the stuff.)
That's the Growth Table, by L.A.-based architects Tim Durfee and Iris Anna Regn. While it's not practical for say, a Manhattan apartment, who wouldn't love to stick one of these into an open-plan office and use it to reinforce hierarchy among co-workers?
Speaking of gaming tables and things that fold into boxes, here's a video of a wicked design by David Roentgen, a cabinetmaking mechanical genius from 18th-Century Germany. This deceptively simple-looking table has so many amazing features I don't want to describe and spoil them for you—just fullscreen it and watch:
Are you freaking kidding me? Just making the moving hardware alone, pre-Industrial-Revolution, must've been ridiculously complicated; that and the fact that Roentgen pulled this off without CAD or any power tools boggles the mind.
Roentgen and his father Abraham, by the way, were designers and makers on the order of Jean-Francois Oeben, except they were based in Germany. After Abraham died, David took over the family business and was eventually appointed the ebeniste-mecanicien—"Cabinetmaker Mechanic"—to one Marie Antoinette.
Brazil-based industrial designer Ricardo Freisleben Lacerda either lives in a small space or likes thinking about how to reduce the size of furniture when it's not in use. Check out his Gaming Table, done as his graduation project from the Universidade do Estado de Minas Gerais in Barbacena:
Assuming the cantilevered tops are strong enough to support even my heaviest friends, I'd say that's a cool design for saving some space. It'd be a welcome addition to my space-tight Manhattan digs for having friends over, though we might be chugging rather than checkmating.
Another project Lacerda has worked on, this one in conjunction with fellow designer Andre Pedrini under their Oboio brand name, is their Nomad Closet.
Our friends at KiBiSi recently sent us the 'scoop' on their latest project, a chair for their fellow Danes at Globe Zero 4. Taking its name from the construction vehicle, the Scoop features an "innovative gyroscope-like suspension system conveys a feeling of being carried—a free suspended feel. The Y-shaped beam creates a visual and functional overlap between seat and base."
KiBiSi partner and Head of Design (and 2011 Core77 Design Awards jury captain) Lars Larsen notes that, "Scoop is the logic output of a clear idea: The character of the series lies in the straight forward appearance—a kind of ideogram of how it works." His colleague, co-founder and Creative Director Jens Martin Skibsted also notes that "We wanted to stay clear of a home decorative cutesy product and contract business polish. We needed to establish a new middle ground that would bridge private and public spaces. Yet this wasn't an exercise in style. We had to come up with an entirely new suspension system to build the gravity of the product inside out."
Thus, the new design is intended to strike a balance betwen craft and technology: "The innovative technical edge increases comfort, yet maintains a clear and simple Scandinavian appearance. The chair has a tailor upholstered cast foam seat and an injection molded aluminum frame. The scoop family comprises of a conference chair, a lounge chair, a table and a bar stool in the making."
If you're looking to take your hygge out of Copenhagen and into the mean streets of New York, look no further than the recent collaboration between Danish Furniture brand BoConcept and Mercedes-Benz operated smart. We first saw the smart Fortwo BoConcept signature style car a month ago, during its European debut as a brand ambassador vehicle at the 2013 Geneva Auto Show. The car is now joined by its domestic counterpart: the Smartville furniture and accessory collection.
We had the chance to sit down with Head of Marketing Communications & Brand Management smart Michael Schaller, BoConcept's Collections and Visuals Director, Claus Ditlev Jensen, and General Manager of smart USA, Tracey Matura, to get some insight into designing a major corporate collaboration.
Core77: Tell us about the origin of the collaboration, was smart itching to design a sofa? Had BoConcept been waiting for a chance to get into automotive design?
Claus Ditlev Jensen: Two and a half years ago, the agency for smart approached BoConcept because we have experience as the urban brand for interiors, and smart represents the urban brand for automotives. When we saw the initial presentation and heard about the ideas, we could only agree that it sounded like a fantastic idea.
We have the same mindset—[we both deal with serving] the customer in a functional way, to be cool, to have the right thing at the right time and also the vision about quality. When you buy our products you will be happy.
When we were together the first time, we were saying, "Okay, but what can we get from it?" That's what we were thinking at BoConcept and I'm sure they did the same at smart, thinking how smart are they at BoConcept? How can they match what we are thinking?
Michael Schaller: It was less that we had been searching for a corporate partner and more that we knew the same people and they said, "Hey, we know both of you and you have so much in common, you should meet"—that was how we had the initial meeting. It was very organic because we had so many similarities. We didn't have any difficulty making the brands fit to each other. It was more or less by accident that we were connected.
Are there plans for expansion of the line? Will we see more furniture pieces, maybe a storage line for our small urban spaces?
Jensen: Well we can't say anything about future collaborations. But [our design teams] have a great relationship and if you have a great relationship—you don't dump it.
Brown University's Granoff Center for the Creative Arts
The furniture designs were conceived and produced to resemble the familiar furniture typologies present in a living room. "The suite of furniture can be rearranged, adjusted, and adapted to the multifunctional program of the building. These furnishings extend the utility of each landing and breathe life into the space with a punch of inviting color," described McKenzie-Veal. The collection includes the following three pieces:
The Granoff Sofa
The Granoff Sofa is a flexible seating system design specifically for the landings within the building. In its complete couch arrangement, the furniture fills the full width of the landing. At once, the sections of the sofa can be pulled apart to become three independent seating surfaces. Users can rearrange the sofa into a large variety of formats to cater specifically to the task at hand.
The Granoff Chair
The Granoff Chair is a geometrical lounge chair that utilizes the formal language of the building to create a surprisingly comfortable seating experience. Designed to mirror the triangular, planar forms of the building and contrast with the organic forms of the couch, this chair provides a counterpoint to the other furnishings as well as a wonderful spot to sit and enjoy the building.
The Granoff Side Table / Stool
The Granoff Stool & Side Table is a multifunctional task surface that directly interfaces with the couch and chair. A set of three can nearly double the seating quota of a particular landing or simply provide users with a surface to place their belongings or kick up their feet.
A newer design technology in the Wintec Innovation fold (see our post on their Winbloks) is their Stratflex system. It's essentially flatpack furniture with a twist, or rather, a bend: Plywood is scored through several of its layers at specific junctures, allowing the forms to ship flat, but flex during assembly. The gaps are permanently filled with a flexible polymer that can withstand the slight deformation.
Thingking is Lyall Sprong and Marc Nicolson's "designer-maker consultancy." Based in Cape Town's design district of Woodstock, the three-year-old company does a range of client work ranging from interior/exhibition to interactive products (check out their Lipton Vending Machine, "the world's first floating vending machine.) We wrote about Thingking's converted Gypsy Caravan buildout for The Soft Machine, an ice cream truck that debuted at Design Indaba last year.
At this year's Expo, they showed a small range of their design objects—I particularly loved their Pot Plant Stands, freestanding or wall-mounted powdercoated steel frames that are designed to support potted plants as singles or in series. Their nesting plywood Nominal boxes, represent the duo's design ethos. They work with common materials, creating objects that, "are designed by the people that choose them. Undefined, non-precious, archetypal frameworks."
While the Oeben Mechanical Desk conceals all of its machinery inside its form, designer Joe Paine's equally beautiful Mechanical Bureau proudly wears its gears on its sleeve. The now-you-see-it, now-you-don't worksurface is operated by a crank attached to gears and a rack and pinion system, inspired by 19th- and 20th-Century farm equipment. Check out how smooth it looks in action:
Sitting in the emergency room after sustaining a somewhat minor chisel wound to her forearm, Laura Kishimoto calmly taught those around her to fold origami parabolas. The injury was a small price to pay in fabricating her latest design, Saji Chair, a marvel of geometry not far off from the parabolas she was creating that night.
A senior in the Department of Furniture Design at the Rhode Island School of Design, Kishimoto often looks to geometry for inspiration, an influence that is evident throughout her work. President of the Origami Club in high school, half-Japanese Kishimoto has been toying with the limits of paper to create new forms from a young age.
Close up of Leaf Chair, made from craft paper, epoxy resin, expanding foam, mild steel
Star Weaving, wooden dowels and elastic bands
"Geometry is both a tool and a crutch in my design process," says Kishimoto. "I find it impossible to create an original idea without some foundation to build upon. Geometry is very useful in this respect since it is an established system of rules, easily broken down into logical patterns. Its abundance in the natural world also irretrievably links to our subconscious conception of beauty."
Working in the determined system of mathematics, Kishimoto tries to break that sense of predictability to maintain an element of intrigue. By adapting a more intuitive process, she strives to create unique forms in each piece that departs from the expected to arrive at unparalleled results.
Below are three of her projects, the Yumi Chair, Tessellation Cabinet, and Nautilus.