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Copyright © 2004
Core77, Inc.

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Design News
July 2004

t o v d e s i g n

For Tom De Vrieze, the young Belgian designer behind tovdesign, furniture and objects are a platform for articultating ideas and emotions—not only his own, but the emotions of the people who buy and use his designs.

Originally trained in information technology, math and material handling, he worked for a variety of companies as a CAD draftsmen for several years. Seeking a more creative outlet, he began designing furniture in 1996. His engineering and production experience gave him a foundation that helped him take his ideas beyond sketches and into reality. After a few years of creating prototypes, he established tovdesign in 2002, and in March of this year opened an office and showroom in Sint-Pauwels, a town between Antwerp and Ghent in Belgium.

His 'Aije' object is the icon of the company, appearing in many forms. As a light, a picture holder, an MP3 player, a garden sculpture, a pool float, a seating unit and more. Aije is part of the Emofurn collection, which "represents the next level of evolution for furniture." Beyond functionality and design, Emofurn is specifically intended to speak to users on an emotional level. Each piece takes all three levels into account, and is built around a concept intended to raise issues not normally associated with furniture. An example is the 'iwillloveyoualwaysforever' folding stool: the function is a stool, the design is minimal, and the emotion is love. The piece is designed to be given as a gift and a symbol of love from one person to another. Two o-rings hold the folded pieces together, symbolizing the strength of the bond between the two people.

Rather than showing the furniture in perfectly unpopulated 'art shots,' De Vrieze features the enigmatic tovdesign girls—two models dressed as Dutch farmer women who pose with and demonstrate the objects and furniture pieces. The photos convey their enthusiasm and add a light-hearted and human element to the items.

In the past year and a half, tovedesign has exhibited throughout Europe and has received favorable media coverage. De Vrieze has bigger aspirations, and dreams of seeing his ideas move from the prototype and limited-run state to more affordable and mass-produced versions. Whether we'll see Aije in Target anytime soon remains to be seen, but keep your eyes out for appearances on the design fair circuit and in showrooms near you.

More information available:


The Olympics of Design

INDEX: is an international design event scheduled to take place in Copenhagen from September through Novemebr, 2005. The program includes a design awards and exhibitio,n offering prizes of 100,000 euros each in five different categories. Not a competition, but rather an invitational, entrants are nominated by hundreds of participating organizations (note: Core77 is one of them). The selection criteria focus on "design to improve life." According to the INDEX: website, this means "design and innovations which really make a difference to human beings by solving known problems in a new and better way or by solving new problems in an excellent way."

The five categories are BODY, HOME, WORK, PLAY and COMMUNITY. The winning entrants will be featured in display cases installed on the central pedestrial streets of Copenhagen. In addition to the award ceremony and exhibit, there will be other displays, openings, parties, and events scheduled for the 6+ weeks that the program will run.

This will be the innaugural run of the INDEX: program, and it is scheduled to happen every four years going forward.

For more information and complete details, check their website:


International Design Competition News

The British Antarctic Survey and RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) have announced an international competiton to design new scientific laboratories and living accommodations in Antarctica. The current station is the fifth that has been built over almost 50 years, and is an isolated outpost with supplies reaching the station by boat and Snow Cat only once a year. The design brief calls for a complex that minimizes environmental impact, is aesthetically stimulating, and keeps within a specified budget. An expression of interest must be filed by August 3, 2004, and from there a shortlist of contestants will be developed.

Complete details and information are available on their web site.

On July 1, Architecture for Humanity announced their third design competition, Siyathemba, an international design competition to develop a football (soccer) facility for young girls in Somkhele, South Africa. ("Siyathemba" is the Zulu word for hope.) The football facility will be run by medical professionals from the Africa Center for Health and Population Studies, will serve as a gathering place for youth between the ages of 9 and 14, and will serve as the home for the first-ever girls football league in the area. The pitch will also act as a place to disseminate information on HIV/AIDS prevention and treatment, and eventually as a service point for mobile health care.

Participants will be challenged to employ sustainable and/or local building materials using local labor to realize their design. The facility is to include a youth-sized field, sideline benches, and a small changing room, and the entire construction costs should be below US$5,000. Designs are due by October 1, 2004, and in mid-October, a team of internationally renowned designers, landscape architects, medical and sports professionals will select three finalists and up to twelve honorable mentions. From the three finalists, the winning design will be chosen by members of the Somkhele Girls Football team. With funds raised from the competition entry fee, donations and a generous grant made by the Red Rubber Ball Foundation, the winning concept will be built in 2005. It is hoped that the Somkhele Girls football team will kick off its first match at the new pitch by fall 2005.

Complete details and registration information can be found on their website.

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