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Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   3 Sep 2014  |  Comments (1)


Summer's over, so now we all have to switch from living it to reading about it. When it comes to the picnic tables we won't get to enjoy again until next June, they're often bulky, permanent affairs that just sit there passively. But a host of folks have created more innovative units with a bit of dynamism.

The cake-taker is probably this model, designer unknown, which folds into a bench:

And while we think of this as an outdoor piece of furniture, it does in fact have good indoor utility in a space-tight home, though the design could use some refining:


Posted by Ray  |  29 Aug 2014  |  Comments (1)

Bonner-WearableChair-1-viaGaryCruce-USPTO.jpgLeft: Courtesy of Gary Cruce; Right: Drawing for patent D249,987

So it looks like the honor of Design Crossover Hit of the Week goes to Noonee's Chairless Chair, and while the mainstream media took to hailing it as a futuristic exoskeletal paramedical breakthrough, it so happens that the basic idea dates back to the late 70's. Upon seeing my post about it earlier this week, eagle-eyed reader Gary Cruce sent a note with a photo from an old exhibition catalog, indicating that the product may well have been invented several decades ago. "I doubt Noonee was aware of this earlier concept, but they may want to know of it as they work to take the product to market," Cruce writes. "The exhibit was at the Kohler Arts Center (yes the toilet company) in 1978, based in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. That show featured many studio furniture pieces including selections from Sam Maloof and Wendell Castle." Along with the image and anecdote, Cruce provided an all-important snapshot of the caption from the catalog; crediting the "Wearable Chair (1977)" to Darcy Robert Bonner Jr., it reads:

The "Wearable Chair" consists of two identical "chairs," one strapped to each of the wearer's legs. Bonner states that "It is important for the 'Wearable Chair' to be adjusted to each user. Just like a piece of clothing, if the chair doesn't fit, it will not feel good. When adjusted correctly, you can comfortably relax with all your weight on the chair.
"With the lower member of the chair strapped to the calf, a spring presses the upper member against the back of the thigh. As the user squats, the released compression bar pushes the leg of the chair to a locked position, thereby supporting the body. When the user rises, the lower member is unlocked and is retracted by a spring to its original position, where it will not interfere with the user's movements."

Curious to learn more, a de rigueur Google query revealed that Darcy Robert Bonner had actually filed a patent for his invention, which inspired this "more-than-you-cared-to-know" history of the wearable chair—a bit of rechairche du patents perdu, if you will—gleaned mostly via the USPTO (though tangential sleuthing reveals that one Darcy R. Bonner now heads up an eponymous architectural practice in Chicago).

Bonner-WearableChair-2.jpgLeft: Uncredited composite image of Darcy Bonner's "Wearable Chair"; Right: Detail of drawing for patent D249,987

The original patent is simply entitled "Wearable Chair," which also happens to describe Noonee's product. Filed in 1977 and granted as D249,987 in October 1978, Bonner's initial design patent is described in Twitter-friendly terms as "the ornamental design for a wearable chair, as shown and described." Although this first iteration briefly resurfaced in the post-Google era in 2008, when the images above made blog rounds, it turns out that Bonner subsequently filed a second patent, US4138156 A, granted in Feburary 1979, which is far more detailed in tenor and scope. Where the former is classified as a "footed," "collapsible or folding" article of furniture, the latter is subject to an entirely different taxonomy of patent-worthiness. US4138156 A is a "device for supporting the weight of a person in a seated position including chairs, seats, and ancillary devices not elsewhere classifiable," specifically a "portable bottom with occupant attacher" (Subclass 4) with "occupant-arising assist" (Digest 10). (In the interest of due diligence, there are 148 patents in the former subclass and 353 in the latter; Noonee's Chairless Chair does not appear to be among them. Fun fact: "Digests" [denoted by DIG followed by a number] are considered secondary subclasses, which are used for indexing purposes only, i.e. as meta tags.)


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  27 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)


Don't let the bland name of Scottish start-up Design LED Products fool you. At last year's Lux Live 2013 lighting exhibition, DLP showed off the flexible resin-based LED tile you see above, considered to be a potential game-changer in lighting design. The tiles are flexible, modular, inexpensive, highly efficient (roughly 90%), can emit light on one or both sides, and "can be produced in any shape or size up to 1m, offering up to 20,000 lumen per square meter," according to the press release. They also do not require external "thermal management," i.e. bulky heat sinks.

Well, someone noticed, and that someone was IKEA. Today it was reported that Ikea's GreenTech venture capital division plunked down an undisclosed sum to invest in the company, giving them access to the light tiles for their presumed inclusion in future product designs. "The tiles are unique as they are extremely thin, flexible and low cost and can be seamlessly joined together in exciting new designs," IKEA said in a statement. "The partnership is a clear strategic fit for IKEA and our goal to make living sustainably affordable and attractive for millions of people."

While you can still buy halogens and CFLs at IKEA today, by the way, the company is reportedly planning to switch exclusively to LEDs by September of 2015.

Anyone want to take a guess at what they'll be designing with these? Kitchen wall cabinets with these tiles on the undersides seem like the obvious choice, but those would be flat; I'm most curious to see how they'd exploit the curvability of the technology.

Posted by erika rae  |  14 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)

Nikolo-UponTea.jpgPhotos by Akseli Valmunen

As much as that teapot design above might suggest otherwise, I promise you won't get in trouble for reading this at work. That's right, I said teapot (c'mon—don't act like you didn't see those tea leaves on the side). Sure, it might resemble some sort of illicit or semi-erotic paraphernalia, but this tabletop brewer is really just a minimalist approach to steeping your favorite leaf. Finnish designer Nikolo Kerimov takes a note from nature in regards to the pot's process, specifically the motion of rain falling over a mountain top. I'll leave that to your own interpretation.


As any warm drink enthusiast recognizes, brewing a cup of coffee or tea is just as much a visual experience as it is a ritual. Following suit of the many well-designed beverage makers out there, "Upon" is pretty eye-catching when it comes to form and would look mighty nice nestled next to a lineup of well-designed tea canisters. NSFW doppelgangers aside, the combination of glass, ceramic and cork is the detail that really won me over. Way to hit us with the houseware trifecta.


Also notable is Kerimov's "Shelfie" design. Much like the "Pop-Up Linen" wardrobe we covered a while back, this storage unit can be flat-packed down into a convenient carrying capsule.



Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  13 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)


Boeing may have transformed their derailed 737s into scrap-metal cubes, but if that accident had happened closer to California, perhaps the outcome might have been different. We last looked in on MotoArt, the El-Segundo-based company that turns old airplanes into furniture, way back in '09; since then the company's success has been explosive, if their greatly-expanded product line, six-language website and multiple showrooms both in the 'States and overseas is any indication.

While they still crank out the reception desks and couches that initially caught our eye, a recent check-in reveals a lineup well beyond what they were doing five years ago. Check out this sink made from the front landing gear door off of a Boeing KC-97 Stratotanker:


For your friends that always bail out of the bar early, here's an ejector seat barstool pulled out of an F-4 Phantom:



Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  12 Aug 2014  |  Comments (3)


David Yamnitsky and Isabella Tromba are grad students at MIT, with degrees and degrees-to-be in the unchallenging, trifling fields of Cryptography, Math, Electrical Engineering, Computer Science and Computer Security--or as we ID'ers refer to these fields collectively, Meh.

The duo were seeking to purchase standing desks for themselves, but balked at the going rates. They then disrespectfully decided to design their own, despite being too lazy to apply to a four-year design program. With access to a CNC router, and under the assumption that their math and computer skills would enable them to calculate a balance between light weight and structural support, the pair produced what they're calling the Press Fit Standing Desk, which sells for less than $200.

In an effort to poison our foreign relations, the duo opted not to use formaldehyde-based plywood from overseas, but instead located a local supplier of 100%-formaldehyde-free maple plywood. Their cynical choice to design something fastener-free is an obvious attempt to undermine the hardware industry. And in what amounts to an attack on the printing and paper industries, Yamnitsky and Tromba opted not to include assembly instructions with their design, leaving befuddled consumers that don't have degrees in Rocket Science to try to puzzle out how this thing could possibly come together.


Placed on Kickstarter, the Press Fit Standing Desk hit its $10,000 funding target in a matter of days, probably because confused consumers were trying to fund a different project and don't understand how the website works. Anyways, at press time, the Press Fit hadn't even quadrupled it, with $37,000 in funding and 13 days left to pledge, indicating that the confusion is growing.


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


David Roentgen's transforming gaming table is the most amazing piece of furniture I've ever seen. It's also from the 18th Century. But here in the 21st, a company called Geek Chic is making modern-day gaming tables. Their stuff is beautiful, and as the company's name suggests, the products are aimed at the Dungeons-and-Dragons roleplaying game crowd.

Their top-of-the-line model is called the Sultan, and no, it ain't a table for eating on. The center surface is what the company calls the Game Vault, where the Gamemaster lays out the unspoilt fantasyland devoid of your landlord, boss, spouse and parents.


The sides feature integrated flip-out trays and drawers within, as well as little pull-out shelves to hold your dice and/or a cup of magic potion.




Posted by Ray  |   6 Aug 2014  |  Comments (0)


We've seen plenty of furniture with secret features, but none quite like Sebastian Errazuriz's "Explosion Cabinet." Instead of the usual hidden compartments, the Brooklyn-based artist and designer opts for a latent form as opposed to a discreet function. As with past projects such as the spiny shelf and articulating armoire, the new cabinet has a lot of moving parts.



Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   5 Aug 2014  |  Comments (4)


Some people love guns, some people hate 'em. But the fact is that lots of Americans have them, and they need a place to store them. And the design of gun storage furniture has two main requirements seemingly at odds with each other: Gun owners want their firearms readily accessible, yet they don't want them out in the open where children or burglars can get to them.


The current solution is to create furniture with hideaway compartments (a sub-genre we looked briefly at here), as New Jersey Concealment Furniture does. And if web traffic is any indication (140,000-plus Facebook likes, 30,000 website hits last Saturday alone), business is booming for the Jersey-based company. Founder Dan Ingram designs and builds coat racks, end tables, nightstands, coffee tables, wall shelves and even clocks that secretively stow the end-user's firearm of choice.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 Jul 2014  |  Comments (2)


Vikings loved to brawl, with both their enemies and with each other. Viking sagas are filled with tales of even longstanding friends happy to settle disagreements with steel. But as they piled onto their longships to go pillaging, their boarding process was a good deal more civilized than the melee that is modern air travel. For one thing, their storage was one-to-one; when 30 Vikings got onto a ship, there were 30 places to store things.


That's because they carried their seating on board with them, and their seating doubled as their storage. Prior to boarding, the decks of a ship were bare. Each Viking plunked his chest down at his own rowing position.


Enough Viking chests have been found, and replicas made, that we can take a look at their design. It's both intelligent and purposeful. The first thing you notice is that the tops were rounded to shed water, and perhaps to provide a modicum of comfort.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  28 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)


Vacheron Constantin timepieces have been worn by the likes of Harry Truman, the Duke of Windsor and even Napoleon Bonaparte. So when the luxury watch manufacturer needed a special case built to house a one-of-a-kind watch (a "tourbillon minute repeater," buyer unknown), they couldn't exactly buy off-the-rack. Instead they turned to UK-based Method Studio, a highly specialized manufacturer of one-off furniture and cases, to create something truly unique.


Method Studio, which is comprised of the husband-and-wife, cabinetmaker-and-architect team of Callum Robinson and Marisa Giannasi, along with the input of Callum's master-cabinetmaker/woodcarver/designer/builder father David Robinson, is located on the east coast of Scotland. But they were able to source some "rare old-growth brown oak" from a woodlands in Northampton as their starting point.



Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  17 Jul 2014  |  Comments (1)


In our quest to uncover the designers behind AMC's new reclining seats, we did come across an unusual, oft-overlooked subgenre of furniture design: Auditorium and lecture hall seating. And in Europe at least, schools and institutions are apparently willing to shell out for the designey stuff, where aesthetics carry a premium. Case in point: The Genya system, designed by Dante Bonuccelli and produced by Italian manufacturer Lamm.


The simple, geometric form belies the workings hidden within: The backrest suspension is supplied through elastic straps, and when the seat is pulled open, gas shocks inside also lower the armrests in synchronicity.



Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  16 Jul 2014  |  Comments (5)


As airplane seats get narrower, shallower, closer together and even unable to recline, movie theater seats are getting fatter, deeper, further apart and increasing their reclinability. Both The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times have picked up on cinema chain AMC's $600 million investment to re-seat some 1,800 of its theaters (out of 5,000 total), providing absurdly posh recliners at a cost of $350,000 to $500,000 per venue.

Yes, as airlines are seeking ways to cram more seats into their fuselages, AMC's re-seated theaters will actually decrease capacity. With seats being bumped up from 44 inches wide to 60 inches wide, and with full reclinability including elevating the legs La-Z-Boy-style, rows will need to move further apart and will be able to fit less bodies per row.

The motivation is financial. In a trial run conducted earlier this year, AMC saw ticket sales increase by 60% in the re-seated venues. Even with less capacity, this is hoped to lead to increased profitability, assuming moviegoers can swallow the $1 to $2 ticket price increase that the seats will eventually bring.

The question for us was, who designed/manufactured these new seats? Are these custom jobs for AMC or off-the-shelf? Unsurprisingly neither of the aforementioned newspapers mentioned it, since no one gives a damn about our profession. But by poring over the Journal's shots and comparing them to hundreds (okay, dozens) of product photos from companies that make home theater seating, we tried to uncover the source.


Posted by erika rae  |  16 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)


You may remember Konstantin Achkov's flat-packed plywood furniture from when we captured it as a standout at the 2012 Sofia Design Week. While he's obviously known for his breakdown-focused furniture, his Coroflot portfolio boasts a number of impressive—more recent—designs that don't skimp on complexity in lieu of its simplified flat-packed nature. Take the Electron Chair, for example. Achkov describes the shape as incorporating a "puzzle principle," and that's one description that doesn't get lost in translation with this work.



Electron is made out of beech plywood cut with a CNC router. There isn't a single screw or drop of glue used in the chair's construction—instead he chose to use pin joints—falling even more to its puzzle-like nature. This is the first time we're seeing a textile element in Achkov's work, with the bold fabric seat and back of the chair. Tip the seat on its side and you might notice a familiar shape: "The side-view of the symmetrical geometric form looks like electron symbol," Achkov says. The lace-up detail on the underside of the seat is a nice touch, too.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |   7 Jul 2014  |  Comments (2)


Greg Klassen is a craftsman who's extremely attuned to his environment. "I live in the Pacific Northwest and find inspiration in the trees, the rivers and the fields," he writes. "I love the idea of taking a discarded tree and giving it new life." To that end, Klassen has developed a beautiful line of furniture called the River Collection, and it features an unusual twist on the "live edge": Each tabletop is two halves with the live edges running down the center. Klassen then hand-cuts a single piece of glass to make up the difference.


The resultant pieces, which are of course one-of-a-kind, resemble landscapes bisected by a river.




Posted by erika rae  |   2 Jul 2014  |  Comments (0)


As we millenials increasingly flock to cities and learn to make the most of modest floor plans, we often find ourselves looking for space-saving storage solutions—it's no surprise that this multi-purpose furniture post remains popular to this day. Hidden storage is great and all, but what about a furniture design that can easily be taken apart and out of the picture when it's not in use? Since she graduated from the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague in 2011, furniture designer Renate Nederpel has explored various projects in unconventional materials, but one piece in particular stands out when it comes to working with a limited amount of space.


"Pop-Up Linen" is a full-size wardrobe that will house your attire and look good doing it. But the real wow factor lies in its construction: Thanks to its origami-esque construction method, the textile compartment folds completely flat. Pinewood legs slide into the wardrobe's body while cross bars within the paneled interior add structure and support to the otherwise flexible design.


Posted by erika rae  |  23 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)


It might be called a cabinet, but anything you're displaying inside of it is going to be overshadowed by the furniture itself. I've long been a fan of Sebastian Errazuriz and his ability to turn his strong and sometimes controversial opinions into eye-catching works of design—in a good, "pushing the boundaries" kind of way (see here, here and here for examples). So it makes sense that he's subverting the very function of a display cabinet with his impressive articulating shelving unit.


As with his "Porcupine Cabinet" from 2010 (a riff on his "Piano Shelf," which dates back to 1997), the Samurai Cabinet is made up of blade-like rotating wooden arms, inspired by the armor of its namesake. The length of each of the four legs serves as an axis for each tapered 'tooth,' some 40 in all, which can be individually adjusted to strikingly different visual effect.


The arms jump to action with a simple slide of the finger, thanks to a counterbalanced pivot point on each of the planks—flip an entire side of wooden arms at once and your ears are in for a treat:


Posted by Ray  |  19 Jun 2014  |  Comments (0)


The chair is often cast as a pincushion, so to speak, for critiquing the self-serving rigmarole of design festivals: It is essentially the basic unit of a furniture fair, and for all of the marketing muscle and star power behind the purportedly major product launches, the chair remains a close second to the wheel when it comes to reinvention.

Yet it endures as a mainstay of our homes and our lives—unlike, say, the objets du jour axes and bows-and-arrows of dubious utility for their target market of hip citydwellers—and if it is a byword for furniture fatigue, it is precisely because it symbolizes 'design' writ large. To extend the trope, a chair could even serve as the physical manifestation of a designer's mission statement.

This may well be the case for Keiji Takeuchi, who debuted an unassuming dining chair—the first production piece to his name—at the Fuorisalone in April. As with any deceptively simple design, there's more to it than meets the eye: The backrest and seat read as a squares, but the elegant lines are subtly curved throughout, striking a nice balance of formal integrity and anthropomorphic comfort. When Takeuchi notes that he'd painstakingly refined the proportions and radii, which are formed by CNC, it's less a boast than a matter of fact—the chair simply could not be any other way.

In fact, Takeuchi had only committed to exhibiting a few weeks prior to the Salone, when he received a satisfactory prototype from a local factory; his friend Henry Timi was happy to display the chair at his new-ish showroom of his eponymous luxury brand. Set off from its street entrance on Foro Buonaparte by a small courtyard, Timi's skylit gallery featured just a small selection of work: a monumental kitchen island by the proprietor himself, alongside Antonio Sciortino's wrought iron pieces and Leonardo Talarico's geometric, vaguely suprematist vases: a minimalist manifold of marble, wabi-sabi and modernism. Takeuchi's work occupied the equally spare side galleries—besides the chair, his modest debut included just one other piece, a marble dish—rounding out the work on view with a touch of understated refinement.


Small though this step may be, it's a proverbial leap for Takeuchi, who is keeping his day job as a designer and Milan liaison for a certain small Tokyo-based design studio. As the story goes, he's something of a black sheep, an idiom that might resonate with the sometime Kiwi: Takeuchi spent the formative years of his youth in New Zealand before attending ENSCI–Les Ateliers and subsequently returning to his native Japan, where he eventually landed a coveted job at Naoto Fukasawa Studio.

After cutting his teeth on a broad range of client projects, Takeuchi relocated to his current home in Milan, where he logs plenty of face time (the pre-app version) with Fukasawa's Italian clients, including heavyweights such as Alessi and B&B Italia. But as of this past April, he has declared his ambitions beyond stable employment. Takeuchi is the first member of Fukasawa's small team—all designers, all in Tokyo—to set out on his own, both geographically and now professionally as well.


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  18 Jun 2014  |  Comments (2)


Sorry for the title, but I just don't know what else to call this assemblage of objects. Tasked with designing the interior of a small apartment, Russian architecture firm Ruetemple came up with this "mobile solution for recreational areas." Ruetemple's website is so sparse that the principals' last names are not even give—all we know is the firm consists of "Alexander" and "Daria"—and the project pages offer little in the way of description, so we'll have to let the photos do the talking here.

What they came up with is three separate, wheeled components that can be assembled in a seemingly infinite variety of ways:





Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  18 Jun 2014  |  Comments (2)


When studying industrial design, you'll find most programs will have you build at least a couple of pieces of furniture, whether you're a Furniture Design major or not. But the main output always seems to be in wood or metal, with most programs simply too short on time to teach the art of upholstery.

So it's helpful, we think, for the aspiring but inexperienced furniture designer to see how upholstered furniture comes together. Your program has undoubtedly taught you rudimentary wood-joining, and maybe you've learned to weld and finish with an angle grinder, but there's an entire science of straps, webbing, springs, nails, tacks, foam, glue, fabric, buttons and thread you may have never seen. Here are three different pieces being assembled by Shanghai-based Novaz Furniture.

First up, a bed frame with an upholstered headboard and footboard. It starts off with the woodwork and glue-ups you're probably already familiar with, but the second half covers the upholstery:


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


Back in '09 we showed you an Ultimate Factories clip of an IKEA factory revealing what's inside their lightweight tabletops. That clip has since been rendered unembeddable, so we'll grab the new code and show it here:

As you can see, by adapting the technology used by hollow-core door manufacturers, Ikea was able to create a lightweight, yet reasonably sturdy tabletop surface at a pricepoint that attracted consumers.

The honeycomb construction isn't only in their tabletops, of course; anytime you see something chunky at Ikea that seems lighter than it ought, there's probably honeycomb inside. UK-based Physicist Lindsay R. Wilson—a man who built "a prototype double-layer luminescent solar concentrator module" for TU Eindhoven--is the kind of guy who has high-end optical imaging technology lying around his house, so after he recently bought a soon-to-be-obsolete Expedit, he X-rayed the thing to show you what's inside:


Posted by hipstomp / Rain Noe  |  29 May 2014  |  Comments (0)


As we saw in Accidental Designer's True I.D. Story, production work can be one of the biggest challenges faced by an independent furniture designer/builder. Never mind the months you spent getting your prototype right—can you now design a process, using conventional shop tools, to quickly and affordably manufacture consistent multiples of your design? If you can't, as Accidental Designer learned, it can break your business' back.

Design-build guru Izzy Swan knows a thing or two about introducing efficiency into production work; he not only runs his own well-trafficked, jig-showing YouTube channel, but he formerly ran his own furniture company and now does consulting for other shops looking to speed their own production times. In this video, he reveals a very simple, gear-based tip that can speed productivity by some 20% (hint: it involves leather). In the second half of the vid, he shows a highly specific, multitask jig he designed to make short work of manufacturing a particular component of a tool he sells. Check it out:

That jig is just one component of a highly efficient and ingenious system Swan came up with to produce that tool (and we're loving the self-made toggle clamp). Coming up next, we'll take a closer look at both the tool and the system, which includes Swan's innovative, socks-knocking method for turning the handles.

Posted by Mason Currey  |  27 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

AQQ-ROLU-Conversation-1.jpgLeft: Seven Stacked Benches (After Shelves) by ROLU. Right: Temple by AQQ Design

This article was originally published in the C77 Design Daily, Vol. 1, Issue 3, on Sunday, May 18.

Last month, with ICFF and New York Design Week looming, I arranged for Matt Olson and Matthew Sullivan to get on the phone with me for what I was describing as "a long conversation about furniture design." Olson is one third of ROLU, a Minneapolis studio whose products include furniture, landscape design, urban planning and collaborative public art, among other work. And Sullivan runs AQQ Design in Los Angeles, where he produces furniture and objects that show a keen interest in the experimental spirit of postmodernist design (although he might cringe at that oversimplification); he also writes a twice-monthly column about lesser-known design figures for Core77.

I chose these two because I admire their work, and also because I thought that they could provide a sort of outsider's perspective on the industry—both make furniture, but their work is more about engaging with design history than producing and selling chairs for people's homes and businesses. Indeed, as I found out during our conversation, neither one considers himself "a furniture designer" exactly, and getting them to talk about just furniture design was impossible. Over the course of two wide-ranging telephone calls, they touched on everything from the nature of capitalism to their youthful punk-rock days and Robert Filliou's theory of the poetic economy. What follows is a condensed version of our conversation.

Maybe we can start by talking about blogging—you're both active bloggers, and it seems to inform your design work.

Matt Olson: I'm an avid blogger, and have been for many years. I started in 2005 as a kind of marketing attempt for the studio, and it was an utter failure. But I got into the habit of waking up in the morning and posting something. At some point, I asked the rest of the studio if it would be cool if I just did it for myself. And then I started writing about what I was actually interested in. It's led us to a wild community of like-minded designers and artists—both on the blog and now, increasingly, on Instagram too.

Matthew Sullivan: Yeah, I was a detractor of blogging at first. But now I really feel that it is an amazing thing, and that it's only going to get more interesting. I also think it's problematic, though, just because it's so image-based. There are lots of images of things that really require your physical presence. Like, Matt, I just saw some Donald Judd stuff on your blog. He would say, I think, that a photograph of my work is meaningless.

MO: Judd would say that. I wouldn't.

MS: But this proliferation of images—like, you can have entire histories that you can scroll through in 30 seconds. Literally, if someone posted the whole history of art, the main pieces, you could be done in less than three minutes.

MO: See, that's what I want. That's absolutely what I want. Because of the Internet, we live in a time when history is free of institutional or academic constraints. And I think it allows the images and the objects in them to live their own life in some way.

MS: Yeah, I think that it does democratize and deinstitutionalize a lot of things. And I like that it makes things less precious. Because that's the most annoying aspect of art—and why furniture in particular is interesting to me, because it's not as precious.

MO: I was actually just reading an interview last night, where one of the Memphis designers was talking about the conflict of trying to make something that was acceptable to her, and all of the sudden it gets so expensive, because it's so rare and difficult to produce, that it becomes completely out of reach to most people. And I was thinking to myself: Well, with online imagery, now you can get the spirit of something without possessing it. That's why I don't really think of what we're doing as furniture design. I think it has as much to do with photography and conceptual ideas as functional furniture.

MS: That's nice to hear you say, because that's exactly how I feel. I always think that that's one of the silliest things about design—the idea that design is solving, like, an engineering problem. I don't think that's what we do. We're cultural; Memphis is cultural. It's not about ergonomics or anything like that. Everyone wants to think that design is a problem-solving thing primarily, when it's really not, or that's not the main thing.

MO: Yeah. I'm good at making problems, not solving them.

AQQ-ROLU-Conversation-2.jpgROLU's Box Chair Square (After Scott Burton)

AQQ-ROLU-Conversation-3.jpgAQQ's Pinget (left) and Sarraute


Posted by erika rae  |  23 May 2014  |  Comments (0)


Ping pong tables seem to be having a moment. What was once a gaming set-up hidden away in the basement for the occasional game or two around holidays when family get-togethers run rampant and often, is now taking the front seat in office design. I even took a spin on a concrete version being shown at last week's ICFF. The You and Me table is the perfect solution for those offices looking for a completely functional work space with a "members only" way to solve all of those tough corporate decisions over an after hours game of ping pong.



The table—thoughtfully designed by the Antoni Pallejá Office for RS Barcelona—features a discrete side drawer that houses the paddles, balls and net. When it's closed, there's no trace of the table's alternative—and I'm willing to bet, more popular—use.


Posted by Jeri Dansky  |  15 May 2014  |  Comments (1)


Many of my organizing clients live in somewhat small homes, so I'm always appreciative of furniture that serves a dual purpose—and coffee tables are an ideal place for adding some storage.

This coffee table from RKNL provides storage in a subtle way, with a space that could store magazines, TV remotes, etc.—the kind of things an end-user is likely to want at hand when in the living room, great room, etc. But this would probably be a horrid table for someone with small children, who would gleefully pull everything off that shelf.


This Gus Modern wireframe coffee table makes everything stored totally visible. I can see this being used to store things like lap throws or a child's stuffed animals—if these are things that would be used in the same room as the table. There are bumpers on the bottom of the frame to protect hardwood floors from scratches.


On the other hand, there are a number of ways to keep the items in storage totally hidden. This coffee table from Cummins Design does it with two drawers.


The Chiva coffee table from BoConcepts has a lift top which provides access to the storage compartments; the raised top could also turn this table into a dining space or laptop work surface. One minor inconvenience: End-users would probably want to remove anything placed on the lift-up sections before the tops were raised. And if there were small children around, I'd want to investigate how easy it was to lift and lower the lids; could little fingers get hurt?


Posted by Robert Blinn  |   2 May 2014  |  Comments (0)


Brandon Washington's Martino Hamper may look like a fugitive from Dr. Frankenstein's menagerie of forgotten K-Mart furniture, but it belies a playful human behavioral dynamic. He pitches it as a reward system for laundry procrastinators, and perhaps the sort of person who would tolerate its aesthetic flaws is exactly the constituency who would benefit from having the object in their home, because it's not much of a chair (laundry chair?) unless you've been slacking on your cleaning duties. That's because the "cushion" doesn't appear until its owner has been remiss in their washing for at least a week, but once you've accumulated a week's worth of smelly socks and crusty jeans, what was previously a void where the seat would be becomes a plush accumulation of layered fabric.