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Furniture Design

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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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.

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"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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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:

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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:

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

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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:

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

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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:

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

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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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?

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

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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.

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Posted by Jeri Dansky  |   1 May 2014  |  Comments (2)

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As popular as eBooks are, good old books-on-paper are still hugely popular, too. As a professional organizer, I have many clients who love their books and have a lot of them. Which means I care a lot about bookshelves.

This shelf from Signalement has no backing to the shelves—which means that books need to be well propped up with bookends to ensure they don't fall out. However, the lack of a backing also means the shelves don't need to be positioned against a wall. End-users in places prone to earthquakes (or with small children or rambunctious pets) might be better served by shelves that are placed against a wall, so the shelves can be bolted to it. But other users might like to use shelves like this as room dividers—as long as the books going into them aren't too valuable, since books do best when not exposed to a lot of light.

The rounded edges are a nice touch, with no sharp edges to run into; feng shui practitioners will appreciate this feature. And the rounded edges only remove a tiny bit of storage space from the bottom shelf.

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The Pyramid from Fitting is a modular design, which is always nice for the flexibility it provides. Bookshelves with interesting shapes don't appeal to me unless they also do a good job of storing books—and the Pyramid does indeed accommodate a lot of books. However, I'm a bit concerned about the books that are stacked horizontally on top of each other; a large stack can sometimes cause bowing to the bottom books, and those tallest stacks are about twice as high as one expert recommends.

The Pyramid is pretty easy to assemble, as demonstrated in the video above.

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Posted by erika rae  |   1 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

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The only thing might be missing from this design is a built-in speaker that pops every time you pull out the cork. Hyeonil Jeong, a freelance designer based in New York, is responsible for this quirky furniture design. With a quick glance, there are a two obvious things to love about this table: 1) It's extremely easy to put together, and 2) it's just as simple to take apart. (The designer's website says it takes less than a minute to assemble.) There are no screws, tools or glue needed for assembly—it's all held together with a well-fit cork and a little bit of faith in the good old law of gravity.

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While the ease of putting it together is one advantage, the design is another. The clip legs are made of plywood (making them relatively easy to paint or finish). The cork stopper-turned-centerpiece would make a great storage spot for any notes and other push-pinnable objects.

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Posted by core jr  |   1 May 2014  |  Comments (0)

Coalesse-CarbonFiberChair-MY_Stacked.jpgMichael Young and his aptly named Carbon Fiber chair

While Salone headlines tend to be dominated by news of the latest and greatest collections from European manufacturers—and the biggest European names in design—plenty of exhibitors hail from further afield. We're always keen to see what San Francisco-based Coalesse has to offer and they didn't disappoint. The new Michael Young-designed Carbon Fiber chair is something of a marvel, weighing in at <5lbs and available in fully custom paint for maximum versatility.

We had the chance to catch up with Design Director John Hamilton, who shared the story behind the chair. The transcript below has been edited for length and clarity.

We do projects both internally and with partners—Michael's our latest one; I've been working with Michael for a couple of years now. We started the process thinking we don't just want to make a carbon fiber chair, we don't want to make a gallery piece—we want to make a real, industrialized solution, at a pricepoint that will enable it to be used for a variety of applications.

So when we started, we set a couple of bars for ourselves: 1.) Make sure it's under five pounds and 2.) make sure you can stack it at least four high. We hit both of those marks—we're at 2.2 kilos or right thereabouts, which is 4.8 pounds... and it does stack four high. Four of them in a box will weigh less than 25 pounds, which is pretty amazing—I have photos of people holding four on each arm smiling, which you can't do with any other chair.

The other interesting thing was working with Steelcase engineering—we were able to leverage their expertise in seating and FEA modeling to be able to understand how to utilize the material in the most efficient way possible in order to reduce the amount of carbon fiber needed to pass all of the business contract solution testing. They have these very, very high standards for what a chair has to be able to do, and this chair passes all of those tests.

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Since carbon fiber is so expensive, optimizing for as little material as possible brings the cost down. When you add more material and have a big surface of carbon fiber, you're going to end up with a $5,000 chair, or you add a lot of labor to it by having to polish this huge object and it becomes more expensive. The way we've done this chair allows it to be (again, that metric that we set for ourselves) more affordable. It's not going to be the least expensive chair on the market, but it's not going to be the most expensive. I think it's going to be one of the lightest chairs on the market, and I think it's going to be one of the funnest chairs, because it allows the designer to participate in its final step.

Basically, you can do any paint you can imagine with the paint methodology used in the automotive, bike, boat, etc. industries, because it's the same material. If you send me a chip that's the color of your shirt, we can do it. For the chairs at the show, we did an ombre effect on the legs to show that you can actually do a transition. We did one in metallic, to actually have a depth to it—a copper color—which we did it kind of as a play, because you look at it and think, "Oh, it's a metal chair. Oh look, it's made out of copper." But then you touch it and there's this surprise and delight that you get because you pick it up and go, "Oh, it's not. It's balsa wood... but it's strong."

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

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We've seen the concept of gizmo-joined furniture plenty of times before, most recently with Henry Wilson's A-Joint. To refresh your memory, the idea is that the end-user takes a bunch of wood of predetermined sizes, and fastens it together using prefabricated connectors, no traditional joinery required.

But it's this slightly different take on the concept that has our attention. Netherlands-based design studio Minale-Maeda has combined the concept of self-joined furniture with 3D printers and downloadable plans for the connectors, calling the resultant line of furniture Keystones, pictured here. By distributing the production of these connecting components, at least theoretically, among the MakerBot-owning households of the end-users, Minale-Maeda may have struck upon something that could challenge even the mighty IKEA.

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Actually, strike that: If Ikea's smart, they'll look into this for themselves. The company has already got the inexpensive mass manufacture of panels down to a science; it is arguably the cam-nut-and-hex-key assembly that serves as the largest barrier for mechanically-challenged consumers. If 3D printers were to see mass domestic uptake, it's not difficult to imagine Ikea shipping you a flatpack of panels, for which you would then self-print the connecting components. (An idiot-proof design for assembly would have to be an integral part of this plan, of course.) It's also conceivable that they could refresh furniture lines with a minimum of hassle, as end-users could print connections for new designs that incorporate existing panels—saving themselves, or their local deliverypersons, a trip.

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Posted by Ray  |  29 Apr 2014  |  Comments (0)

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I'm done with IKEA.

Having recently moved apartments, I've decided that I'm at a point in my life where I need (or deserve, or at least aspire to own) nicer things, and while the Swedish megastore is fine for miscellaneous housewares—I'm perfectly happy with my Idealisk colander, thanks—I feel that it's in my best interest to invest in real furniture. No more cheap-o particleboard furnishings for this discerning urbanite; longevity, durability and timelessness are the main criteria this time around.

Which brings me to HAY, a new-ish Danish housewares and home furnishings company that is often favorably compared to their mass market neighbors to the northeast. Founded in 2002, the company draws on its national heritage, harkening back to the 1960s, while offering decidedly contemporary takes on everything from sticky notes and matchboxes to the Bouroullec brother-designed "Copenhague" furniture collection.

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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.

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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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