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Furniture Design

The Core77 Design Blog

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  24 Apr 2014  |  Comments (2)

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We've looked at desks designed to cut cable clutter, desks with storage and desks with gutters. But this deceptively-simple-looking desk by Artifox may be one of the most efficient designs we've seen yet for modern-day usage. Designed for pure functionality, if not flexibility, Artifox's Desk 01 is the type of object that an archaeologist could dig up 1,000 years in the future and study to deduce how we worked in the year 2014.

My biggest gripe with modern-day desks is that there's no allowance for the bags we all carry. Artifox has taken care of that with a simple knob on the front that provides easy bag access. Make that two knobs, with the second providing a handy spot to stow headphones for your Skype session.

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An angled groove in the desk surface provides a handy (if static) spot to place a tablet and smartphone, or just a tablet if in landscape orientation.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  22 Apr 2014  |  Comments (3)

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You don't think of big-name designers doing furniture for schools, but Danish furniture brand Hay scored Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec to do their line for the University of Copenhagen. The resultant Copenhague line is a handsome blend of wooden desks, tables, chairs, and stools, some stackable. And in a nod to modern needs, the tables and desks featuring bent plywood provide a slot where the dual surfaces meet, intended for power cables to be routed through.

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Posted by erika rae  |  21 Apr 2014  |  Comments (1)

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In the late 1950's, a swiveling star was born—or rather, designed. Furniture designer and architect Gianfranco Frattini created a revolving bookcase that not only gave books a home, but was fit for displaying other decorative belongings, as well. Now Poltrona Frau has taken Frattini's lead and recreated the much-loved bookcase with few modifications—hey, timeless design is considered such for a reason—naming it "Albero," which means "tree" in Italian. After discovering the ROOM Collection last week, all kinds of customizable furniture systems have been catching my eye—this one included.

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Frau's reintroduction of the design is a reminder that vintage furniture doesn't have to be overused (or used at all), kitschy or "retro." The bookcase's customization and easy use that made it so popular in the first place continues to ring true in today's world where tiny urban apartments and homes are far too common.

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Posted by Ray  |  21 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Along with the nearby ECAL exhibition, Studio Formafantasma's "De Natura Fossilium" at Palazzo Clerici was one of the most buzzed-about projects in the Brera District this year—after all, Andrea Trimarchi and Simone Farresin consistently present excellent work during at the Fuorisalone, and this year was no exception. The Eindhoven-based pair often look to their Italian heritage for inspiration; this time around, they took inspiration from the November 2013 eruption of Mount Etna, creating a beautiful collection of tablewares, textiles and small furniture items from the byproducts of volcanic activity.

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The project page for "De Natura Fossilium" does a far better job of explaining the work than I ever could, including striking photos by Luisa Zanzani; the "Process" section in particular illustrates the depth of Formafantasma's practice.

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Volcanic glass, procured by remelting Etna's rocks, has been mouth-blown into unique vessels or cast into box-like structures that purposefully allude to the illegal dwellings and assorted buildings that have developed at the foot of the volcano. Drawing on their own vocabulary, these solitary glass boxes and mysterious black buildings have been finished with such archetypal Formafantasma detailing as cotton ribbons and Murano glass plaques.

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In homage to Ettore Sottsass, the great maestro of Italian design and an avid frequenter of the volcanic Aeolian islands, this new body of work takes on a linear, even brutalist form. Geometric volumes have been carved from basalt and combined with fissure-like structural brass elements to produce stools, coffee tables and a clock."

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Posted by Ray  |  18 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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The Dutch made a strong showing throughout Milan this year, including in Zona Tortona where a loose collective headed up by Frederik Roijé is returning alongside Tuttobene and Moooi to represent of a range of Dutch design from independent studios to major brands. The factually titled "Dutch at Savona 33" features four brands that fall somewhere in between: Roijé's eponymous studio; New Duivendrecht, the brand he co-founded with Victor Le Noble; DUM, returning this year; and Quodes, whom they've added to their ranks this year.

NewDuivenDrecht-1.jpgMore on New Duivendrecht below

Along with the "Smokestack," which debuted last year and has reportedly been selling briskly (or at least as well as a COR-TEN steel chimney might sell), Roijé launched several new products, including the "Texture Tray," which was inspired by hatching/crosshatching, and the "Treasure Table" (below).

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Meanwhile, the "Cloud Cabinet" is intended to complement the "Storylines" and "Guidelines" series of book shelves and magazine racks.

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Posted by erika rae  |  15 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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While there are many designs out there that look to replicate the iconic style of the Eames Chair, I'd bet that there aren't many doing it quite like Bora Hong. Her work always has some sort of cultural connection, and her recent design series, "Cosmetic Surgery Kingdom" is no exception. The cultural spin? Hong explores the aesthetic surgery trend in South Korea by recreating the classic Eames chair using parts of outdated chair designs. She showcases her design process in two videos, where she dons doctor's scrubs and a hospital mask for added effect:

The project is meant to draw a correlation between the goal of creating a younger and more beautiful self by means of cosmetic surgery and the way in which designers are also always trying to create "good design." Check out her second video, titled "Surgery for an Eames Chair":

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Posted by erika rae  |  11 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

ROOM-Lead.jpgPhotos by Gustav Almestal

In college, I became the master of bin organizing. I'd stack towers of those black and blue mailing bins—you know, the ones where you'll win a hefty fine if you're caught snagging them in public— until they haphazardly leaned forward, compromising my coveted DVD collection. I would've loved to get my hands on a system like this. Part functional and part artsy conversation starter, the ROOM Collection Furniture System by Erik Olovsson & Kyuhyung Cho lets you create your own structure from 25 different pieces.

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Each cut-out block has been inspired by a different object's shape and, as you can see from the photos, the whimsical countours welcome all kinds of household storage/display space, from morning coffee mugs and lamps to bottles of wine and shoes. The designers explain: "Each block was inspired by specific objects, creating various shapes and sizes. The round for wine, zigzag for phones, tablets and laptops, or peaked for an open book. Each block can be a room to invite any object, the composition is unlimited."

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Here's an interesting design challenge that extends beyond the design of the object you're trying to get into people's homes: Imagine you and your team have designed your thing, whatever it may be, and have engineered the parts to be manufacturable. Now you have to design an additional line of objects that people can use to assemble the initial object with complete precision.

That's the challenge faced by companies like Häfele, Hettich and Blum, as the fittings they devise in their respective studios must be physically installed at the end-user's location by a legion of independent tradespeople. While Ikea handles this by using simple designs, knockdown screws, cam nuts and black-and-white illustrations that any idjit can follow, the fixtures by the previous three companies—just look at Blum's Legrabox, for instance—require ultra-precise assembly by a professional in order to function properly. And because most European cabinetry is made from melamine-covered particle board, there's no margin for error: Holes must be drilled perfectly perpendicular and at the correct depth on the very first try, as there's no patching up marred laminate and shredded screw holes.

So we found Blum's side booth at Holz-Handwerk pretty fascinating, since it was aimed not at consumers or designers but at the tool-toting tradespeople who will be installing Blum's designs in their own clients' homes. Blum has produced a line of drilling machines, assembly rigs and clever jigs, along with CG videos, that tradesfolk can use to get everything together. And these assembly devices, which will never be seen by the general public, are all beautifully designed in their own right. Here's their drilling jig for installing cabinet door dampers, either into the edge of the cabinet wall or affixed to the side of it:

This jig for drilling mounting plates uses a simple trick that carpenters who've ever drilled holes for shelf pins will recognize: A metal pin, placed into the first hole, ensures the second will be precisely spaced.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Apr 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Austria-based hardware manufacturer Blum might make the low-end hinges for Ikea's cabinets, but when it comes to their own branded product, they go for the top of the market. At Holz-Handwerk Blum was showing off their sexy Legrabox, a drawer system that provides the strength of heavy-duty drawer slides—offering both 40kg and 70kg capacities, or about 88 to 154 pounds—with the added touch that you don't have to see the darn things when the drawers are open, as they're completely concealed.

And despite the sides being sheathed in stainless steel (with an optional anti-fingerprint matte coating), each drawer side is just 12.8 millimeters thick!

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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In addition to living spaces, Häfele is also addressing is the design of kitchens, which they see as areas that need to "look good and meet the highest individual requirements for functionality and ergonomics." At Holz-Handwerk they demonstrated a variety of kitchen and dining pieces that used to be static--tabletops, cabinetry, stovetops—but that are now rendered free to move, slide and hide via Haäfele's fancy hardware. Have a look:

Spotted at Holz-Handwerk.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  10 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Häfele is a German manufacturer of furniture fittings and architectural hardware, and of all the booths we saw at Holz-Handwerk, theirs was the most mobbed. And it's no wonder why: Aimed at the designers and builders responsible for kitting out homes and offices, their sprawling exhibit was a showcase of what it's possible to make with their products, a sort of vision of our domestic future—and one that's attainable right now, as all of the hardware exists.

In Häfele's vision, storage furniture is not a boring bunch of static objects; rather, everything transforms to serve us in kinetically exciting ways, shifting, flipping and sliding at the touch of a finger, either via tiny hidden motors or cleverly designed and invisible mechanical fixtures. We snuck in early one morning before the crowds got there to show you:

Spotted at Holz-Handwerk.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   9 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Self-proclaimed "furniture technology" company Hettich makes the clever, mostly unseen hardware that makes cool furniture work: Hinges, handles, drawer slides and door hardware, including a lot of stuff that closes itself after you give it a push. If that doesn't sound sexy, you need to see and touch their wares in person; but for those that cannot, we like the four-pronged approach the company is taking to popularize their products from afar.

First off they hope to draw consumers in with short, sweet videos showing their systems in action, like their SlideLine M sliding door system:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   9 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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If you're a furniture builder who likes the vacuum clamping set-ups we looked at, but don't have the four- and five-figure budgets to add them to your own shop, there are lower-cost alternatives. Schmalz is a Germany-based global company that's been in the vacuum technology game for some 30 years, and they manufacture everything from high-end vacuum clamping tables used in CNC operations to small desktop units. Their Multi-Clamp VC-M is the entry-level product, aimed at the lone tradesperson who wants to bolt it to their own workbench in place of a vise.

The benefits of vacuum-clamping versus a vise or mechanical clamping are manifold: You don't need to take any protective measures to shield the piece from the vise's jaws or the clamp surfaces, you can get at five sides of a piece at once, and the articulating nature of the clamp means you can quickly reposition the piece—for example, to go from sanding the face to one of the edges—without having to unclamp and reclamp. And the second-tier version of the VC-M can not only be tilted, but rotated and swiveled as well.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   8 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Every workbench needs a vise—or at least they did, until the advent of vacuum clamping. After seeing Guido Einemann's homegrown table at Holz-Handwerk, we spotted a multitude of more big-dog versions made by Barth Maschinenbau, a Bavarian engineering company whose goal is "to optimize the work processes in both craft and industrial businesses" for furniture- and cabinet-making.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   7 Apr 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Swiss manufacturer Peka's no-nonsense tagline, "Fitting and accessories for the kitchen, bathroom and living area" belies a slick line of well-conceived product designed to use every square centimeter of space. The brand has eschewed the particle-board shelves we've become accustomed to on Planet Big Box and opted for laser-cut steel, providing the rigidity and durability required for their designs, which all move through space on various axes; they also allow for magnetic, user-configured dividers and cleanable mats.

Their mechanisms also take your post-usage shoves and turn that into a gentle self-closing motion. Check out their Libell line:

While Peka already has a reputation in Europe, for North American designers looking to spec their stuff, you'd have to go through Richelieu, their Quebec-based distributor.

Spotted at Holz-Handwerk.

Posted by Ray  |   4 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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The phrase "balloon chair" could mean any number of things, really, so h220430's take fits the bill as well as any of the possibilities (according to their website, the company takes its name from its birthday). If I understand the description correctly, the chair is mounted to the wall, as is its canopy of airless FRP (i.e. non-deflating) balloons, but this scarcely detracts from its visual effect. According to the Tokyo-based design studio, "if you sit in this chair, you'll be able to think positive thoughts even if you are feeling down."

And while the "Balloon Chair" might evoke a certain Disney/Pixar film for many of us, it was actually inspired by Albert Lamorisse's classic featurette Le Ballon Rouge from over half a century prior. The critically acclaimed 1956 fantasy is viewable in full on YouTube, and if you haven't seen it (as I had not), I highly recommend it:

The "Balloon Chair" will be on view in Milan next week, at the Ventura Hive group exhibition, where we'll find out exactly how h220430 achieved the floating effect.

Posted by erika rae  |   4 Apr 2014  |  Comments (1)

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Scoope Design is taking small space design to the next level by providing you with only furniture fixture you'll ever really need. SUPERBAMBI—a chair-turned-table-turned-footstool—is pretty fantastic, with its stark white base and bold orange seat (er, step stool?) support.

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The chair is designed so the orange interlocking piece is the only component doing the real moving. By inserting the orange ends into the different pre-cut holes, you can easily transform the piece in no time.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   3 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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In 1968, the Winkler family patriarch was a cabinetmaker working in his native Austria. He needed something to help him maximize his shop space, particularly where materials and cabinet parts storage was concerned, but could not find existing products on the market to suit his needs; so he set about developing a series of rolling, adjustable storage carts of his own design.

Winkler soon began selling the carts to other cabinet shops, building up a small, successful business in Austria. But it wasn't until the '90s that his son took over the operation and hit up their first German trade show, propelling the company into the global market. Jowi, as the company is called, now does business on three continents.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   2 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Operating under the motto "We are found in the best joints!" is Hoffman-Schwalbe, a German manufacturer of woodworking machines and a little doohickey called the Hoffman Dovetail Key. The company has cleverly exploited the humble dovetail joint by producing a small, bowtie-like piece in a variety of sizes, and in materials ranging from plastic to metal to wood to rubber.

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They then created a line of machines, ranging from handheld to standalone, that are essentially half-dovetail cutters.

Armed with a bag of these Hoffman Dovetail Keys and one of their machines, customers can use the system to join pieces of wood to create everything from picture frames to furniture to structural beams.

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Posted by Moa Dickmark  |   2 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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A few years ago, I saw a picture of a desk that captured my eye. I can't remember exactly where I saw it—perhaps it was this very blog—I just remember not being able to stop thinking about it. I searched the Internet to find out who had created this lovely desk and ended up on the website of Manoteca. Now, when I see something that I like, I have to tell the person who is behind it that I like their creation (or what they are wearing, or what they are singing, or what they are drawing, etc.) Call it what you will, OCD if you wish.

So I found the e-mail address for the person behind the brand, and it turned out to be a young woman called Elisa. Since then, we haven't written much, but my curiosity for the person and the visions behind the brand is still there. So, here comes the second article about young ambitious entrepreneurs working within the creative field.

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Core77: What led you to start Manoteca?

Elisa Cavani: Before creating Manoteca, I was working as a visual merchandiser for fashion companies, for more or less ten years. I traveled a lot and gained a lot of information. In those ten years, I met very respectable people with so much talent. Yet the structure of big companies crushed them—I saw many people forget the things they believed in and give up any kind of talent. I was scared because I could feel that it was happening to me as well, so I decided to "fire" myself and create something that I had had in my head for so long.

This was the beginning. I moved the furniture in my apartment and for a year I worked, lived and slept in the middle of tools and sawdust. To me, the pieces of my first collection represent the freedom of expression. I loved them so much. I spent my evenings watching them, cleaning them one by one, every single hole and crack in the material. I really treated them as if they were the most valuable things I owned. In fact, they still are.

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Did your ten years of experience as a merchandiser have any influence on how you started your brand?

I didn't think so initially, then I thought again and came up with a better answer. The visual merchandisers work with the visual language, they communicate feelings and moods but cannot use words. There is so much of this in Manoteca. There is a maniacal attitude, for which everything have to be perfect, and a meticulous attention to every detail. There is the organization and optimization of the time. There are the administrative and commercial skills, which I unwittingly absorbed and modified in favor of the brand. There is the knowledge of foreign markets that I have followed for a long time, the awareness that every person have different habits and cultural characteristics that you need to know, otherwise it is impossible to communicate. There are errors that I have made in the past, from which I can benefit today. There is a predisposition for solid and professional structure, which hasallowed the project to go around the world.

In retrospect, I should say 'Thank You' to my past.

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   1 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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Germany's Festool makes amazing power tools, so I expected their booth to be as mobbed as it was at Holz-Handwerk. But there was one repeating demo in particular that seemed to draw inordinate crowds, that being for the machine above, the Conturo KA 65. So what the heck is it, and what does it do that caused such a stir? Well, have a brief look at the (admittedly crappy) video I tried to capture by wriggling in and out of bodies:

Yes, it's a portable edge-banding machine that can do curves (both concave and convex) as well as beveled edges! And unsurprisingly Festool seems to have thought of everything when designing it: For you furniture designer/builders who work with plywood or (shudder) particle board and need to cover those raw edges, you know how frustrating edge banding can be—you can spend $300-plus on a fiddly machine while resigning yourself to only designing pieces that have straight edges. Aligning the two guides can be like performing neurosurgery, and once it's all done you can still screw the whole operation up by making a sloopy end-trim with a pair of snips. But by designing the Conturo to have one point of contact, curves are no prob, and they've designed a handy snipping accessory to snip the waste just right.

The following, professionally-shot video shows the entire process of edge banding using a Conturo from start to finish, including the post-application role of the trim router and a handy little scraper. (By the bye, the UK-based demonstrator refers to edge banding as "lipping." Discuss.)

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   1 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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From German machine manufacturer Martin comes the Speed 20/10, a rollable spray station for varnishing. The one-meter by two-meter surface is covered with a roll of ordinary, cheap packaging paper, which varnish won't stick to; so when spraying your piece, there's no need to mask the underside. And it has a couple of other cool tricks, watch the vid:

What you might not be able to see in the vid is that it's foot-pedal controlled; tap one pedal to get those two rollers to pop up, so you can lift your piece away from the sides, or you can hit the other foot pedal to either advance to a clean sheet, or roll smaller pieces off of the surface and into your waiting hands. The action requires an air compressor, being all-pneumatic; they don't want any electricity jumping around, the rep explained, if folks are spraying explosive substances.

Spotted at Holz-Handwerk.

Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  31 Mar 2014  |  Comments (2)

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With workbenches like Ron Paulk's and Guido Einemann's around, is there any demand for an old-school workbench? Apparently so: Swedish company Sjöbergs does a brisk business in producing the traditional variety, with only slightly-modernized updates, like steel-cored, rubber-wrapped bench dogs (with half-round tops to accommodate angled workpieces), cork jaw protectors for the vise's clamping surface, and precision steel hardware for the vise's guts, ensuring they close perfectly parallel.

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Though dated (if the soundtrack doesn't tip you off), the following company video gives you a pretty good look at the bench:

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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  31 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)

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A gentleman with the unlikely name of Guido Einemann sought to design and build, as Ron Paulk did, the perfect workbench to suit his needs. But unlike Paulk's mobile solution, Einemann wanted something shop-based. A master carpenter & cabinetmaker by trade, Germany-based Einemann needed something that could hold unusual-shaped pieces like staircase stringers, could expand to hold wide pieces, would feature a vise for clamping, could change height while he worked on assembling cabinetry, and could be wheeled around his shop.

Thus he developed Der Montagetisch Einemann, a line of scissor-lift-enabled worksurfaces incorporating a variety of clever features, including vacuum clamping! Check it out:

Here's a closer look at that overhead, powered, tool-holding, cable-and-hose-managing contraption (der Multischwenkausleger, or multi-swiveling boom) and how the vacuum-clamped finishing process works:

Spotted at Holz-Handwerk.

Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  27 Mar 2014  |  Comments (3)

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Previously: Part 1 - Accessories

Most desks ignore the cable chaos that many end-users suffer with—but a few designers have created desks that recognize the problem and try to help. These desks can be both functional and eye-catching.

Of course, there are always trade-offs to be made. A desk with built-in cable control will often have less flexibility to respond to changing uses than would a simpler desk combined with aftermarket products that can be readily removed or replaced. And the cable control features will probably add to the cost, making the purchase a bigger commitment for the end-user.

The OneLess Desk from Heckler Design is composed of two nesting surfaces made of 12-gauge powder coated steel—but the feet are made of polypropylene so they won't scratch the floor. It's a neat design for a small space, and it also provides cable control that's especially effective if the desk faces a wall or a window. Behind that grill on the top level is a rear-facing shelf with notches and cut-outs near its rear edge for wrapping longer cables. And if you place your power strip on the shelf, you can have just one cable going from the desk to the outlet.

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Christofer Ödmark's desk also has a hidden space for cables and their power adapters. As his site explains: "The back of the table top features eight power sockets and enough space to gather all your cables. The electricity is supplied by a detachable power cord."

This raises another design issue: power management. As you look through these desks, you'll see that some include an integrated power strip, while others omit this feature. Having the power strip certainly helps control the cable clutter, but also raises issues of maintenance; what happens if the power strip has a failure?

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Posted by Moa Dickmark  |  27 Mar 2014  |  Comments (0)

This is the beginning of an interview series about young entrepreneurs around the globe working within the creative fields such as photography, product design, fashion and music just to mention a few.

Below you find the very first interview which is about Jonas Hojgaard and his up and coming Danish furniture brand Nordic Tales. It all started with the lamp Bright Sprout and have grown exponentially ever since. If you want to know more after reading this little interview, you will find him in Milan during the furniture fair April 7–13.

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Core77: What inspired you to start Nordic Tales?

Jonas Hojgaard: Nordic Tales is the product of an idea about that it is possible to handle the whole range, from idea to development to sale, as a designer! You don't have to wait for somebody to approve or disapprove your ideas to realise them! A design business put in the world, mainly and primarily to contribute with aesthetics and secondly to earn money will have a set of values that the general business man can't compete with.

What would you say are the values that define Nordic Tales?

We are storytellers just as much as we are designers. We try to contribute with products that you can influence and give your own touch. We grant you with "the power to design!"

Maybe the fascination about this remodeling / customizable thing comes from all the years I spent playing with Lego as a kid, or maybe I'm just curious.

When I design, I always try to achieve some complexity, to make it more than what it is! My ultimate goal is to do this and then hide it and let you discover the products' true features—it surprises you and gives you that very special "A-ha!" feeling!

Besides this, my goal is always to make something that you can't really describe why you like. The design should be a sum of many small details, balanced so that none outshines the other. The experience of the design should resolve in an emotion that you like and not any particular characteristics that you can point out.

I find it much more challenging to achieve this in design than in, say, photography. Design is more difficult especially because it has to be producible on a large scale. Photography is much easier since it consists mostly of visual parameters.

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