Why Design Now?, the Cooper-Hewitt's fourth installment of the National Design Triennial, zeroes in on the segment of design that attempts to solve our biggest social and environmental problems. To best exemplify the international cooperation that lies at the heart of this outlook on design, the curatorial team extended their scope from domestic to global. Consequently, this show is the biggest yet. One hundred and thirty-four projects run the gamut from water-based eyeglasses to self-propelled high-speed rail.
Top: Z-10 Concentrated Solar-Power System by Tarazi Studio. Bottom: a scene from MVRDV's Vertical Village.
But, why design now?
The exhibition catalog suggests, "designers around the world are answering this question by creating products, proposals, buildings, landscapes, and messages that address social and environmental issues and opportunities," but there's a disconnect here: the designers haven't answered this question, they've only responded to problems and opportunities specific to their practices and contexts. The one hundred and thirty-four chosen projects represent just as many attitudes about design, and it's up to the Cooper-Hewitt to digest these and offer larger answers to the big, broad question they've posed. Unfortunately, the quote mirrors the stance of the Triennial: that the projects say enough on their own. They're left to fend for themselves in the sea of the exhibition, and, without sufficient explanation from the museum, it's difficult to understand them beyond face value.
If the Cooper-Hewitt's role is to clarify and present design to the general public, it's not a good sign that even a designer had difficulty parsing the message. This is not a problem of content, but one of form; the situating of the projects should be as important as their selection.
New York's Museum of Art and Design presents twenty-one hand-built bicycles this month by six internationally renowned bicycle builders. Check out our gallery and visit the show before it closes on August 15.
New York Design week seems to be bigger than ever, with lots and lots of offsite events. We were especially proud of all the events celebrating new American design. These included Breakable in the Meatpacking district, Cite Goes America in SoHo, Lift Hold Roll, Modern Citizens NYC, The Roll & Hill launch, BKLYN Designs and more!
Sunny Memories, a traveling exhibition exploring the application of dye-based solar cells, landed at the Center for Architecture during New York Design Week and runs through June 6th. Above, Laetitia Wolff of Futureflair and Nicolas Henchoz of EPFL+ECAL Lab walk us through 5 highlights.
The story begins with a partnership between designers and engineers. The EPFL+ECAL Lab is an outpost of the Swiss technology bureau Ecole Polytéchnique Fedérale de Lausanne (EPFL) that lives within the design school at ECAL. Their goal is to find ways to integrate and apply new technologies by bringing them straight to designers.
For this exhibition, the EPFL+ECAL Lab invited three other schools, the California College of the Arts (CCA), the Royal College of Art (RCA), and Ecole Nationale Supérieure de Création Industrielle (ENSCI), to explore a colorant-based solar cell technology invented by Michael Graetzel at EPFL a few years ago.
The cells are best explained in the show's catalog:
A colorant is poured onto ceramic powder which is heated at 400 degrees and sits between two plates of glass. A liquid conductor—an electrolyte—serves as a kind of sauce, the final ingredient in this sandwich. An electric wire is connected to the top glass, another to the lower glass and the cell is ready to work. The technique used to deposit the powder—the colorant's support—comes from screenprinting and can thus be used for refined patterns and even texts.
The results are impressive—the four schools produced work that touched all parts of daily life, from architectural pavilions to radios and horticulture. The new capabilities of the dye-based cell combined with the inventiveness of the students moved the projects away from the familiar aesthetic of the surface-applied, black and blue pholtovataic. The best part is that one-third of the projects shown are feasible now, and the rest within ten years.
Images and descriptions of several of the projects follow.
Helio by Léa Longis
Big time radio is back! In an era of miniaturization for electronic objects, Helio gives radio back the ability to captivate as it used to. Recalling the esthetic of tube amplifiers, the device showcases cells whose direction and colour complement each other to capture almost all of the light spectrum.
Electriflore by Alexandre Kournwsky
A wall fixture to encourage plant growth: a solar energy-fed electric current circulates in the floor to help plants grow—the new solar cells, inspired by photosynthesis, are making their tribute to plants. Electriflore can be bent as needed to allow the grower to add plant food capsules.
At ICFF this year, Michal Bartosik, an architect and designer based in Toronto, showed Dominion, a series of lamps/coffee tables that reflect the ceiling grid of Mies van der Rohe's Toronto-Dominion building ad infinitum. Because the pattern is modular, the reflection planes compound to produce a never ending effect. The pieces are available through Nienkamper, and are part of the Klaus Collection. He explains above.
After a nice conversation with Michal about his architecture and design practice, we looked into some of his past work. It's awesome—check out the fluorescent domes he's made, a smartly detailed nod to Bucky Fuller.
Todd Bracher as featured in Intramuros Magazine this month.
We love New York Design Week not only for the insane amount of design to see, but also because it offers an opportunity to meet people face to face and get a little bit of their backstory, outside of press releases and high-res images. At Carte Blanche, we caught up with Todd Bracher, an American designer featured on the cover of this month's issue of Intramuros. After working in Copenhagen, Milan, Paris and London, Bracher made a move back to the United States a few years ago to establish a studio in his native New York City. Below, Todd demonstrates Physical Illusion, his project for the DuPont Corian Carte Blanche exhibition.
We talked to Todd about why so many designers in the USA are eager to define "American Design." What's with the nationalism? He pointed out that designers in the USA are wondering who holds their flag: "Italians have brands like Moroso, Alessi, and Cappellini. The UK has Habitat and Established and Sons. They have a homeland advantage." He acknowledged that America has Nike, Coke and Herman Miller, but they aren't in the same game. The "emotional side" of design is not focused on here. The American prowess is in marketing, branding, and sales potential."
Todd is optimistic despite the lack of representation. He observed that in Milan, the scene has been changing. "Design has become less big business, more small producers, and the ideas are as strong." The growth of the designer-maker is reflected in the American scene as well. "American designers are ganging up. They don't need branding or manufacturers to represent their ideas." We were happy to hear it.
Physical Illusion, by Todd Bracher for Corian.
A growth of independence in the American design scene should also free designers up to explore some of the weirder and more wonderful corners of American culture. Through his work at Mater, a Danish company out to support craft traditions, Todd was sent to artisans in 3rd world countries, like stone masons in India, to develop design projects around their particular set of skills. But, Todd said, "Craft is dying everywhere. In New Orleans, there are quiltmakers and bootmakers without work." We tend to go to 3rd world countries to try to "revive" them, but there is plenty to work with at home in the US.
Todd is fleshing out a project that works with some of these issues. Instead of designing an object with the tools of a particular trade, he is developing a tool specifically for a craftsman. This is not only to find new directions for a craft, but to also design a system that will create products, removing design one step from the actual output.
Pick up this month's issue of Carte Blanche exhibit at Corian Dupont, open through July 2nd, 2010.
The American Design Club (AmDC) really brought it this year with the help of the Heller Gallery, an all-glass gallery, and Susan Clark, one of AmDC's members who specializes in glass work. After running it by the Hellers, Susan pitched the idea of Breakable to the AmDC with the goal of both famliarizing designers with glass fabrication and brining glassworkers from the craft- and art-only realm into design.
They put out their call for entries in late 2009 to ensure there was enough time to have everything made. Susan also helped in that respect, putting designers in touch with her vast network of glassblowers and casters.
The resulting show is one of the richest of this year's ICFF offsite. The high level of material accomplishment evident in each project makes for work that doesn't rely on a concept explanation to be enjoyed.
The American Design Club invited a handful of jurors to pick a best-in-show. According to Clark, the jurying process was heated, particularly around the issue of "Art vs. Design." The two pieces in question were Patrick Townsend's 72 Bulb Droplet and Dylan Palmer's Sealed Air from 2008. Design won out this time, with 1st place going to the lamp and 2nd place to the "packing material."
The Future Perfect's show Lift Hold Roll challenged designers to create an object using a clamp, pulley or caster — or any combination of these — resulting in a tightly curated and at first glance, a very functional looking range of furniture, lamps and objects.
Limited to these simple utilitarian tools, most designers took the opportunity to add a layer of playfulness through the use of simple mechanical actions, unexpected function, and bright colors. Our favorite detail was the decorative treatment to the metal on Carrie Solomon's "Portable Candelabra" (pictured last).
Pictured above: The Future Perfect in Brooklyn,"Ring & Max" by Karl Zahn, and the Lift Hold Roll exhibition space.
For the New York Design Week, the Cite curators Alissia Melka-Teichroew and Jan Habraken had created a 400 square feet "skeleton house" in the Cite shop that they filled with a selection of current work made by renowned and emerging international designers and companies from many different countries and backgrounds, all currently living and working in the United States of America.
Shown above is the Terrarium lamp by Lindsey Adelman and below the Juxtaposed Power book shelf by Mike and Maaike. It is the second part of a series of curated bookshelves, bringing together 2,451 pages, 2,390 years, 2,251 wars, 432 revolutions and 90 empires as 7 books in 1 shelf. Seven of the world's most seminal texts on power and its relationship to the ordering of society are brought together and presented on the same level.
The Taglieri cutting board is created by Matt Brown, having 3D-scanned his grandmother's very old wooden chopping board which had a big dent, created by the long term use of the round cutting plate. Brown then re-created the shape with a CNC machine and therefore mass-producing the useful traces of long term usage.
The Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) just won an ICFF Award for their stand in the Javits Centre. The project presented is called also MICA, standing for Material Inspired Concepts and Artifacts. The brief was to get inspiration from traditional natural materials that have been around since centuries and are therefore "proofed by history".
Dig, Shift, Make... Earthen Play is a natural toy kit designed by Leslie Giron and Heiji Jun, including digging tools, a storage box with a sifting screen bottom and bamboo molds, to introduce kids to play with dirt.
Twist, Push, Pull... by Stephanie Sevich and Pati Pogodzinski is an interactive multipurpose object, inspired by a clarinet which uses cork as a fastener.
With his project Making non-woven objects by Sitting, Sunny Chong created a felted bag by attaching a plastic bag filled with felting wool and soap to his car seat By sitting on this plastic bag during long car journeys, i.e. applying pressure to the wool fibre-soap mix by sitting on it, a felt bag was created.
The Natural Hemp Body Pillow (summer and winter version) is designed by Christi Chung. The Jute Spool Seat was created by Karine Sarkissian, using a traditional technique from Scandinavia.
The Green Wood Rocking Stool by Antoine Heath is a simple yet very sweet rocking chair made from green wood (as the name suggests).
Model Citizens NYC returned for their second year showcasing furniture, objects, and jewelry from 40+ young designers. Located in an amazing raw loft space with huge skylights half a block from the ICFF, they were able to enjoy a constant stream of visitors making their way to and from the Javits Center.
The stand out piece of the show was Jason Neufeld's super smooth operating Floor (to ceiling) lamp which is pictured after the jump. The suspended lamp shade is counter-balanced with a polished plumb-bob that can gently be raised or lowered to adjust the ambient light.
The work varied quite a lot in style from the Guyana Project furniture to the one-liner iconic ironic gestures. There was really something for everyone, and this year's exhibition shop was a little larger in scale with 100% of all sales going to the designernice!
Kegan Fisher and Liz Kinnmark of Design Glut curated the Uncomfortable Conversations show as part of this year's ICFF off-site events. 15 participating designers were challenged "to create something which provokes an uncomfortable yet important conversation." Watch above as the duo explain the origins of the idea and demonstrate one of their favorite pieces at the show: Dominc Wilcox's Pre-Handshake Handshake.
Mind the Gap, a set of gloves by Andrew Haarsager, probably deters conversation of any kind, comfortable or not. The subway gloves "protect against unwanted landings," adding bird spikes to the hand.
The Kevin Carpet Bench, by Will Robison, brings a fetishist into the room. A human carpet, Julio, is rolled up in a carpet and placed on a specially built armature to become a bench (much to his enjoyment). Will gives the backstory in the video above, and, according to the NY Times, the story is no joke.
A shredded is embedded into a briefcase in In Case, Materious' comment on the all-time low level of public trust in corportations. They ask, "how does a society that is founded upon, and so reliant upon, the corrporation reconcile its lapses of morality?"
For even more uncomfortable conversations, click through the jump.
In Carte Blanche, DuPont and Intramuros have asked 25 international designers to make works from an A4 sheet of white Corian on the occasion of Intramuros' 25th anniversary. The designers were selected because they have all (at one time or another) been on the cover of the magazine.
The show also introduces Designer White, a new color created "at the request of architects and designers." Funny that designers are so particular about the absence of color that they need a special shade of it.
Our favorites were the pieces that moved away from the format of the sheet. Stefan Dietz embedded the material in a rearview mirror, Thierry Gaugain made a small lightbox, and Todd Bracher filled a volume with the Corian shavings. We'll hear more from Todd in an upcoming post and video.
In FAST and FURIOUS, Mathieu Lehanneur created paddles for a new game called Corian Ball. Each paddle behaves differently, depending on the pattern milled into its surface. FAST is perforated to increase striking speed and FURIOUS is grooved for more power.
The show is open at the New York's Corian showroom through July 2, 2010.
The Designboom Market at ICFF featured a wide range of design objects, presented and sold by their makers. Above are Anki Delfmann's "Rheintoechter" handbags, made from a combination of bathing caps with a long zipper (that serves as closing mechanism as well as the handle), and the beloved "Anti-Theft Lunch Bags" by the Japanese/Zimbabwean design team THE.
This is one of many ant farms-in-a-picture frame, designed by Katie Vitale and Hugh Hayden (for "sophosticated children" as they said) and below is the little piggy from the series of plywood animals in the shape of postcards, created by Lovi from Finland.
Material ConneXion's new product ActiveMATTER pictured above with Michael LaGreca is a box of 15 hand-picked materials intended to inspire and keep you abreast of emerging technologies. Best material in the box was the Concrete Cloth that sets with water!
The other highlight of this year's booth is the installation of PUMA's new sustainable packaging system designed by Yves Behar of fuesproject, which was recently featured on Core. Hands-on, the "Clever Little Bag" feels like it's a great shoebox alternative and it was receiving a lot of admiration from visitors.
Now in its fifth year, GLM and Bernhardt Design present the ICFF Studio as part of the show in the Javits Centre. Described by the organizers as "the design industry's answer to the millionaire matchmaker", ICFF Studio puts together emerging designers (or rather their prototypes) with appropriate potential manufacturers. Featured above are Brooke Woosley's shelf system as well as Mark Kinsley's relief shelf.
This pictures shows Chase Will's modular shelf system (that also works as a bench) and shown below are Viktor Skorikov's metal tube bench and stools.
ICFF party-goers were treated to some amazing weather, a good selection of exhibitions and an abundance of free booze last night. With the addition of NoHo Design District this year, the whole Soho/Downtown party night has grown substantially in size making it a real destination. We gave out a bunch more Photo Paddles between drinks and have a handful left if you're in the Meatpacking District today!
Core-fave Subports, a text-to-buy retail platform aimed at helping artists and designers sell their stuff without needing four walls, a roof and a cash register, is ever present during this year's design week, partnering with Fair Folks & A Goat, the Joey Roth Sounds Like Show, Uncomfortable Conversations, and CITE Goes America. Many objects from these shows come with codes, allowing you to purchase them securely and on the spot with your cell phone. We love this—with Subports, exhibition spaces hybridize with retail spaces, helping young designers sell work while upping their visibility.
Subports' just-published first catalog is one of the more fun publications being tossed around at openings. Named Portal/76825 after their SMS number, the pamphlet indexes the newest Subports offerings with images, descriptions, and purchase codes. Many of these come directly out of Design Week, so it also makes for a nice souvenir. Pick one up at any of the Subports partner shows mentioned above. Or get in touch with them if you've got ideas for more retail experiments with SMS.
A wonderful recipe to make people happy during the design week: Use an abandoned timber shop in NoHo, serve free whiskey, impossibly delicious roasted marshmellows on a stick and a super yummy birthday cake in the shape of the products that you are selling. Areaware and Roll & Hill created this recipe last night - here some visual impressions for all those who were not able to make it to this wonderful celebration of Areaware's 5th birthday. Happy Birthday!
Design Deustchland's bright orange booth at ICFF was a big improvement on last year's. Instead of being arranged by category and hung on the wall, the objects were spread out in mini spaces that felt like small rooms, with lamps on tables, chairs on desks, and the odd car here and there.
The show encompassed both established companies and young designers. These weren't differentiated in layout, but the objects in prototype stage were marked with a tag that said "Looking for a Producer." Below, a few of our favorites from that category (like Slot, the dining table complete with Winter Wonderland centerpiece, by Matthias Ries Design Office and Studio Hausen's UDO Chair, a snap-together aluminum lawn chair).
UDO by Studio Hausen Jörg Höltje (Studio Hausen) presents the UDO, an into four elements dismountable tube-chair. No additional procedures like welding, sanding or polishing are needed, as well as expensive tooling costs. All four elements can be customized coloured within a certain colour range and connected with blind riveting and screws. The dismounted UDO can be packed cost efficiently in a flat-pack and can be assembled by the customer himself.
Slot by Matthias Ries Design Office Besides the classical linoleum bord Slot convinces due to its unreckoned leg construction. Their design provides structural strength in vertical, horizontal and diagonal directions, which additionally helps to strut the table. Due to additional corner caps the table can be easily color customized. For the Design Germany exhibition a special one-off with a little model scenery has been created. It plays with peoples perceptions and assumptiuons.
Each year the ICFF invites design schools worldwide to submit student projects for juried review, selecting the best submissions for display at the fair. This year six schools had work on display; ArtFuture, Konstfact, Maryland Institute College of Art, Parson The New School for Design, Pratt Institute and Yale.
The work explored a range of subjects and themes and included housewares, toys and lighting in addition to furniture. Shown above are Neon Candlesticks, by Catherine Merrick, part of Pratt's "Empathy for Culture" project. The piece is inspired by the neon signage from Merrick's hometown of Las Vegas.
Core77 kicked off New York Design Week in full force last night at the Gershwin Hotel. The first 200 guests received our limited-edition "Instant Designer Glasses" Photopaddle designed by Chicago-based Steven Haulenbeek, a super low-tech pocket sized camera-phone accessory guaranteed to up your cred at any design event.
We'll be giving out more today at the Javits Center and at the parties tonight if you can find one of the Core77 bloggers. There's a live feed of the latest pictures here and we'll be featuring the best shots on Core over the weekend!
Mike and Maaike, the designers who envisioned the end of driving for us last July, are launching three new products at ICFF this year in New York: Swarm, a new space divider for Council, Wayfinder Wallpaper for Rollout, and Bias Candleholders for Phase.
Swarm is a space divider that offers great flexibility in density and scale, enabling the creation of light-filled, intimate spaces within open environments. The term Swarm describes an aggregation of animals (insects, fish, birds and microorganisms) of similar size and body orientation, generally cruising in the same direction. The Swarm space divider displays a similar behavior, softening spaces, fading in and out, creating texture and motion. The self-standing units blend together when arranged in groups.
See Swarm at ICFF booth 1708 and a large installation surrounding the ICFF theater.
Wayfinder is a line of wallpaper designed to serve a functional purpose within the context of architecture. Wallpaper is typically decorative. Symbols are typically functional. The combination of the two creates new possibilities for architects, interior designers and space planners.
See Wayfinder at ICFF booth 1153.
Part of the "Illuminate" series of candle holders commissioned by Phase design, Bias triggers curiosity and defies gravity with it's subtle tilt.
Each designer was given the same design brief and material palette: a 12" X 9" X 1.75" block of solid walnut with turned brass inserts.
See Phase at PROPERTY: 10 Years of Important Design at 14 Wooster St., New York.
Mike and Maaike will also be showing a collection of new and old pieces at 400 sq. Feet Later: Cite Goes America, curated by Alissia Melka-Teichroew and Jan Habraken.
More shots after the jump.
Mike and Maaike, New York Design Week 2010
ICFF: Javits Center, Booths 1153 and 1708 Cite Goes America: 131 Greene St.
PROPERTY: 10 Years of Important Design: 14 Wooster St.
Core77 is kicking off New York Design Week with a party this Friday night, and you're invited to help us do it. Join us on May 14th at the Gershwin Hotel, from 9pm - Midnight. Along with DJ Max Wowchy Wowch and the usual booze, we'll be giving away a special souvenir for the first 200 guests, designed by Steven Haulenbeek.
This year during New York Design Week, American Design Club presents Breakable, a collection of American designers working with glass. The work has been culled from submissions from all over the US, selected by David Alhadeff, Eva Eisler, Kip Kotzen and Kimberly Oliver, who have also chosen a Best In Show. The winner will be revealed at the opening reception on May 16th at the Heller Gallery in the Meatpacking District.
Most of the objects to be presented in the show is under wraps, but the AmDC sent us a couple of sneak previews: Candleholders by Esque Studio and glass artist John Chapman's work with lab glass.
Presented by the American Design Club and Heller Gallery
Reception: May 16th, 6-8pm
May 7-28, 2010
420 W. 14th St., New York, NY 10014
Roll and Hill, a new design brand founded by designer Jason Miller in January of 2010, produces contemporary lighting fixtures; though they don't mention working only with American designers, their first collection comes directly out of New York, with pieces from Jason Miller, Lindsey Adelman, Paul Loebach, Rich Brilliant Willing, and Partners & Spade.
Though some of the pieces will be shown at ICFF in the Javits Center, the full collection will be staged (for the first time) at Great Jones Lumber as part of the new NoHo Design District. The show will be open from the 15th through the 18th.
According to Jason Miller, this is "hopefully a sign of the strength of the design industry in the United States." Though it's easy enough to say, we agree—the offsite scene is shaping up to be especially strong this year, with the NoHo Design District joining SoHo and Meatpacking, and US-focused shows like 400 sq. Feet Later: Cite Goes America and Model Citizens NYC. New York represent!
Now, for a preview of some of the work: Pictured top is the Himmeli Chandelier and the by Paul Loebach Agnes Candelabra Chandelier by Lindsay Adelman, and above, the Excel wall sconces by Rich Brilliant Willing. Click through the jump for more.
Roll and Hill Launch
Opening: Saturday May 15th, 7-10pm
Hours: May 15-16, 12PM to 7PM; May 17-18, 12 PM to 6 PM
Great Jones Lumber, 45 Great Jones
New York City