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Posted by Rachel Swaby  |   9 Aug 2013  |  Comments (1)


This week's collection of space savers includes items notable not only for their economy but also for their ability to perform a big reveal. Like a micro-apartment that brilliantly transforms to suit a certain household occasion, these items shift, fold and squinch in one state and then stretch out, unfurl and pop open in another. Overall, the accordion effect is delightful.


Beyond removing table leaves and unfolding a sofa bed, our big household purchases typically resist adaptation. But the Austrian-born, London-based designer Stephanie Hornig suggests, with her Set expanding shelving unit, that more flexibility should be baked into our furniture. Her powder-coated steel and beech bookcase can rest in three widths that, like a child-proof gate, will adapt to the parameters of a space.




Posted by Rachel Swaby  |   2 Aug 2013  |  Comments (3)


Want to get out of your apartment without going far? Why not set up camp right down the block? The designs this week prove that urban camping has never been easier—or stranger.

Sibling-ShoeShelter-1.jpgWalking Shelter photos by tin&ed

The Walking Shelter is part Inspector Gadget, part performance piece. Created by the Australia and Amsterdam–based design collective Sibling, the Shelter deploys from a slightly odd-looking pair of sneakers. From the netted back of each shoe, the wearer pulls out a single-person tent stored in two parts. When zipped together, it almost looks like the real thing, save for one key design feature: the covering relies on the wearer for support. So pulling up a tent also means assuming the (seated) position.






Posted by Rachel Swaby  |  26 Jul 2013  |  Comments (0)


Don't call them layers. What we found this week were stacks—perfectly conceived piles of objects as inventive as they are inviting.


To compose his Stack chair's casually tossed cushions, the Milan-based designer Stefan Krivokapic varied their thickness, color and alignment. Designed for the Italian furniture purveyor Contempo, the cushy arrangement rests atop a metal and wood frame, which makes the seat look at once stable and slippery. It's a tower of mattresses worthy of a princess—with or without the pea.





Posted by Rachel Swaby  |  19 Jul 2013  |  Comments (0)


Sometimes you want to enjoy the pleasures that come with sky and sun, but you don't want to have to actually go outside to do it. This week's group of designers turned our expectations outside in by inviting structures and materials usually slated for the outdoors into the indoors. The results range from droll to downright strange. But perhaps that just means we need to adjust our established outlook.


When the French designer Grégoire de Lafforest took on an 1,100-square-foot Paris loft renovation, he looked to nature for inspiration, placing a dried maritime pine tree adorned with plastic needles in the center of the space. Then he took the idea even further. Around the kitchen, de Lafforest erected a greenhouse constructed from a do-it-yourself kit. This house-within-a-house nicely divides up the space while leaving food preparation both enclosed and exposed.


Residing somewhere between gardening and composting, the installation Final Bloom by the Australian architect and designer Eugene Soler enlists the lopped-off tops of root vegetables as stars in an installation for the British Institute of Interior Design's 2013 conference. Saved from restaurants and friends' kitchens, the veggie caps are placed in shallow pools of water filled by a series of bathroom fixtures (manufactured by the conference's sponsors), where they sprout new growth. The series of containers and the vegetable off-cuts emerging from them look much more like indoor art than kitchen waste.




Posted by Rachel Swaby  |  12 Jul 2013  |  Comments (1)


Design is always a balancing act, and the best industrial designers are experts at finding that sweet spot between originality, practicality, cost, quality and the million other considerations that inevitably come into play with a new product. But recently we've seen several projects that perform a literal balancing act—designs that seem to defy gravity, plus one where the parts are ingeniously arranged to allow for one-handed operation.

OdoFioravanti-DragonflyChair-1.jpgDragonfly chair photos by Diego Alta

Designers often look to nature for inspiration, but even so, the dragonfly seems like an unlikely starting point for the making of a chair. As the Milan-based designer Odo Fioravanti notes, the insects' bodies "are characterized by an imbalance in weight distribution between the front legs and their extended tail." So too is Fioravanti's Dragonfly chair for Segis, a cantilever form with four legs joined at the front of the seat. It features an injection-molded polypropylene shell with steel legs—and the structure succeeds thanks to a hidden U-shaped element under the seat that bolsters its resistance.


OdoFioravanti-DragonflyChair-3.jpgEarly sketch models

OdoFioravanti-DragonflyChair-4.jpgThe first prototype


Posted by Rachel Swaby  |  28 Jun 2013  |  Comments (3)


You know summer is in full swing when even our bathtubs are stretching their legs and kicking back, hammock-style. That's good for us. The more ways we can include that slouchy, forgiving form in our everyday lives, the more likely we are to experience the easy relaxation we associate with it. Here's hoping.


Splinter Works, a design studio headquartered 30 miles south of London, has fused two furnishings—the hammock and the bathtub—into a serious relaxation tool. Constructed from aerospace-grade carbon fiber and foam, even the woven structure evokes the tree-suspended swing. Water fills Vessel from a freestanding tap, and a drain in the floor catches suds released by way of a plug at the tub's lowest point. Like any good hammock, it's strong enough to cradle two.





Posted by Rachel Swaby  |  21 Jun 2013  |  Comments (0)


This week's selections, ranging from skyscrapers to sneakers, would be fairly unremarkable if it weren't for their creators' ambitious, inventive, and sometimes downright strange off-label use of materials.

Take Sabrina Gschwandtner's quilts, for example. The New York–based artist builds her blankets from the film archive, sewing 16-millimeter strips into familiar folk-art patterns. The project gets bonus points for being cleverly self-referential. Along with films she took herself and others that the artist painted, scratched, and bleached, Gschwandtner used old educational reels from the Fashion Institute of Technology—so, recently she's sewn movies on the subject of fabric into her fabric. Gschwandtner's work will be on display at the Philadelphia Art Alliance through August 18.


SabrinaGschwandtner-FilmQuilts-1.jpgFilm quilt images courtesy the artist and LMAKprojects, New York


Posted by Rachel Swaby  |  14 Jun 2013  |  Comments (0)


Our nostalgia for paper manifests itself in more than just bespoke greeting cards and pocket-sized Moleskines. Papers of different thicknesses and colors can be cut and folded into forms that take on a strange intimacy, or even digitally recreated into characters from the craft store. Here's what's pertinent this week in pulp.


Just as beers and backyards are finally having their moment in the sun, the French design studio Zim & Zou crafts another seasonal staple: a full-sized barbeque grill made entirely of paper, complete with stacked skewers, drumsticks plump as hot air balloons and a geodesic bottle of Heinz to accompany it all. Although some of the images look like computer renderings, everything is handmade by the 25-year-old designers Lucie Thomas and Thibault Zimmermann, whose previous constructions include a paper Game Boy, a stop-motion greeting card for IBM and a lush leather-and-paper jungle for an Hermès window display.



Posted by Rachel Swaby  |   7 Jun 2013  |  Comments (0)

a21studio-TheNest-2.jpgThe Nest photos © Hiroyuki Oki via ArchDaily

Sometimes you've just got to take a minute for yourself. But finding a quiet space in the middle of the workday or in the urban outdoors can be near impossible. From womb-like structures to nest-like homes, this week we have folks who have taken their drive for privacy to the public.


Made from inexpensive, reclaimed and abandoned materials, the Nest house was designed by a21 Studio in Vietnam as the perfect perch for a long-time architecture admirer. The corrugated and fenced façade is a platform for greenery to climb, which will eventually create a natural barrier to the open-air kitchen and living room on the ground floor.



Posted by Rachel Swaby  |  31 May 2013  |  Comments (0)

GilesMillerStudio-HeartOfArchitecture-1.jpgHeart of Architecture installation photos © Jon Meade

An embrace of the low res is popping up in more than just "deal with it" memes. In sculpture, architecture and interiors, designers are taking on projects square by square. The results are purposefully pixelated.


Giles Miller Studio required 2,433 pieces of curved stainless steel and etched brass to construct the large reflective disk currently on display in London for Clerkenwell Design Week. As the outdoor light changes, so do the lines of rectangles, which reveal new patterns at different times of day. The installation, called Heart of Architecture, is a brighter take on a project the studio built last year for the event—a similarly styled archway made up of 20,000 wooden hexagons.


Posted by Rachel Swaby  |  24 May 2013  |  Comments (0)


As knitting, weaving, and other traditional methods of textile production have made the leap from old-age pastimes to mainstream DIY hobbies, designers have been pushing the boundaries of what's possible with stitched and woven fibers. This week we found a late-spring blast of innovative handmade textiles—plus one new collection that was woven by the wind.


Exhibited at New York's Wanted Design last weekend, the Guatemala City design studio Fabrica's Seat Ball has a soccer-equipment core surrounded by spring-suspended cushions made out of cotton rope. The combination, which can be used for seating, a yoga ball, or an ottoman, wraps up a current recreational preoccupation in an ancient crafting technique.


Posted by Rachel Swaby  |  17 May 2013  |  Comments (2)


This week we spotted objects and installations poised for a big reveal. At first look, their structure was familiar, elements not particularly out of place. But with a quick visual adjustment or test of expectations, something altogether different—a trompe l'oeil—appears.


Even though our furniture often serves several functions, the art on our walls typically exists just for our eyes. But during Milan's SaloneSatellite exhibition for emerging designers, Japan's YOY Design Studio packed more features into the frame. YOY's canvases, made of wood, aluminum, and elastic fabric, and then screen-printed with images of couches and chairs, actually support sitting. The secondary use is startling, so it might require a little explanation before asking that guests take a seat.


YoYoDesignStudio-CanvasFurniture-3.jpgImages © Yasuko Furukawa; via Designboom

Last month, the Swiss artist Felice Varini adorned the exterior of the Grand Palais in Paris with a work made from a very specific point of view. From the street, the vibrant orange stretched triangles look haphazardly splashed against the building. But observe them from the hall, and the applied scraps of color align, creating something that looks more like a projection than a perfectly planned effect.




Posted by Rachel Swaby  |  10 May 2013  |  Comments (0)


We're talking about food now more than ever—so much so that food-centered innovation isn't just taking place in the kitchen anymore. Interest in our edibles has officially made the leap from plate to apartment. Sure, you've seen a sleeping bag in the style of a pizza slice and a scarf painted like strips of bacon, but recently we've spotted furniture that takes subtler cues from the kitchen. The end result is infinitely more palatable.

Trendlet-BicubeDesign-PastaCollection-1.jpgImage by Carola Merello; via The Mag

How do you stand out among a group of 120-odd young international designers all trying to capture the attention of customers and buyers? During Milan's recent SaloneSatellite, Francesco Barbi and Guido Bottazzo of Italy's Bicube Design created a line of furniture inspired by their country's national cuisine: pasta.

Trendlet-Cassina-ChocoliteLamp-1.jpgVia Architonic

Before chocolate transforms into a topping or a candy bar, it's poured. The action has been reproduced over and over in commercials and advertisements to whet our palates. Designers Vinta Toshitaka Nakamura and Kohei Okamoto captured that same liquid quality—and our attention—in their Chocolite lamp.