When you think about it, the basic forms of quintessential articles of furniture—I'm talking desks, chairs, couches, stools, work lamps and pendant fixtures—largely consist of variations on a theme. As such, furniture designers innovate through the details from new manufacturing methods and materials to integrating functionality that speaks to our mobile, tech-enhanced lifestyles. This much is apparent in seing the honorees for the Furniture & Lighting category of the 2014 Core77 Design Awards.
While the selections from Jury Captain Naihan Li and her Beijing-based jury team may look familiar at first glance, closer inspection reveals that each one is customized to fit a certain lifestyle-driven need.
Professional Winner: Gesture, by Steelcase Design and Glen Oliver Loew
As more and more of us spend more and more time basking in the warm glow of a screen, so too do we spend more time in our office chairs. With these digital tendencies in mind, Glen Oliver Loew designed Gesture for Steelcase (with help from its internal design team). The jury appreciated the chair's origin as a research project: "This project began as a global study on human body gesture and resulted in a stylish chair that will not only carry you comfortably in a work environment, but support you in every move you make while seated. Furniture design can be as advanced as any new technology we use today and an advance in office chair design has the potential to benefit thousands as our lifestyles evolve. By providing a more dynamic support to the body, this chair attempts to encourage movement while we interact with the handheld digital devices we love."
Student Winner: SOAK Charging Side Table, by Youmin Vincent Kim
Recently graduated from the Youmin Vincent Kim's SOAK charging station redefines the humble side table as a 'platform' for mobile devices. Furthermore, the Art Center College of Design student cleverly managed to tuck the power supply for the induction charging surface into its very construction: "The leg emerging from the wall to accommodate the main power plug is an artistic solution to the inelegance of wired products. Our daily need to repeatedly charge our digital devices can now be achieved casually by leaving them on a side table—a thoughtful and functional object design that surprises you by the advanced technology embodied within a playful yet elegant form."
Professional Runner Up: Lightwing, by Jean Marie Massaud
Lightwing brings a new level of interaction to the way we illuminate our spaces while remaining relatively inconspicuous. Designed by Jean Marie Massaud for Foscarini, the lamp features adjustable screens, allowing the user to cast a glow wherever it's most needed. The jury noted the artistic aesthetic of the lamp: "Minimalist and elegant, this is a delicate and fluid lighting design. The history of elegance can only be enhanced by new technology, which is the case here where a clever magnetic sphere provides fluid, multi-directional movement as the light transforms from an ambient light to a reading lamp. It utilizes a new LED lighting system and technically advanced industrial production to make a bold and artistic statement in its form and in the interactive nature of the motion the lamp achieves."
Student Runner Up: Dynamik Standing Desk, by Brian Pughe and Conor Brown
Virginia Tech's Brian Pughe and Conor Brown have developed an interesting take on a contemporary trend with the Dynamik Standing Desk. Made from steel and wood, the desk has a sleek appeal for users of all stripes, but it's the the strap of felt that serves as a knee rest that wowed the jury: "Clever usage of something as economical as a belt makes this desk design more than a place to lay your books. It is a simple yet effective solution to rest in public space, allowing one to fully engage with others even if the interaction will last longer than your legs can hold out. This standing desk also gives new function to an existing furniture type with minimum alteration.
Professional Notable: Multi Dine High Chair, by Keter Kids Development Team
Raising a kid is expensive, but Keter's Kids Development Team is looking to dial down on your high chair budget. Instead of shelling out cash for a bigger model when your child outgrows his or her seat, the Multi Dine High Chair evolves with your youngster. The chair itself serves as three different seats: a high chair, booster and a junior chair. "An industrial product can be designed to maintain usefulness for a certain period of time, such as the dramatic growth of a child in its infant years."
Professional Notable: Newform Hook Desk, by Karim Rashid
The Newform Hook Desk is a modular response to the eyesore that is a cluttered workspace. Karim Rashid has created a system that is fully customizable and includes discreet storage, cable slots, integrated LEDs, privacy screens, and more. "This stylish and highly functional modular desk takes into consideration all of the needs of your office life but adds a sense of openness to let you break away from cubicle office environments."
Professional Notable: PUBLIC Office Landscape, by Yves Béhar & fuseproject
As our job descriptions become more collaborative, so do our work spaces. Designed for Herman Miller, fuseproject has come up with a solution that looks to increase productivity by including group spaces alongside more private stations for independent endeavors. PUBLIC is made up of a number of building block pieces, orbiting around the Social Chair—a communal seating option that's movement friendly. The feeling of community is well translated, considering the jury's comments: "Thanks to the flexibility of this modular office furniture, contemporary office life can include a sense of individuality and community at the same time."
Professional Notable: Lamp RIMA, by Matthias Pinkert
Sure, Matthias Pinkert's Lamp RIMA for Dreipuls looks great, but its real beauty lies in its user interface. By sliding the rings across the bar of LEDs, Lamp RIMA's lights can be turned on and off at different intervals. The jury appreciated the subtle skeuomorphism (which is not always a bad thing): "A sophisticated LED light system, this futuristic looking design makes turning the lights on as interactive as opening curtains."
Professional Notable: Hexalampara, by Patricio Ortiz/Planitia
Hexalampara works as both a hanging and standing lamp, conveniently appealing to our need for versatile lighting. What's less obvious is that the luminaire, which Patricio Ortiz designed for Planitia, was also a study into hexagonal geometry and the search for a balance between functionality and looks—in this case, light diffusion and how it played into the shade's visual appeal. The jury appreciated its wide appeal: "An affordable origami light shade design that brings a touch of artistry to ordinary spaces."
The ability to control our light sources remotely isn't a groundbreaking idea, but Monash University student Andy Zhou has managed to turn an everyday pendant lamp into a highly flexible fixture. The Plus Pendant features wing-like shades, controlled via a tablet app, that serve to adjust how much OLED light it casts. "In this design, ambient and spot light can both be achieved through one flexible smart LED system," says the jury.
With "Foamy Wood No. 3," Ming Kong—a student at the Royal College of Art—ventures into somewhat experimental territory. Sure, it's a functional chair, but it's better described as a perch to ponder the correlation between materials, textures and comfort. Between the foam and the wood (Birch-ply and Maple), the result is an unexpected contrast of a soft-to-hard feeling for those looking to take a seat. "The two materials used in this design are meant to give you a contradictory sensation when you sit on it."
School of Art Institute of Chicago student Soeun Choi has designed a foldable lamp that's got all the whimsy of your mom's craft projects but is rugged enough to illuminate a workspace. The hingeless worklamp folds down to 3.6", but measures in at 8" when in use, making it the perfect choice as an on-the-go option that doesn't skimp on character. The jury enjoyed the contrast in styles found in Flippo and described it as "a light and portable LED lamp design that appears sharp in its origami-esque geometry but is soft and cozy to handle."
Student Notable: Lemonair Decor Headboard, by April Tapley
As the air we breathe becomes irreversibly laden with toxins, we have to incorporate new ways to avoid taking in our unhealthy atmosphere. To that end, San Francisco State University student April Tapely has created the Lemonair Decor Headboard. A tiny, energy-efficient computer located in the interior of the headboard draws in polluted air, which is purified with panels of activated carbon and zeolite before its released through the top of the headboard. "A DIY solution to resolve a domestic environmental need by freshening the air by your head while you sleep."
Bezalel Academie of Arts and Design student Karl Frederik Scholz has made more than just a nice-looking floor lamp when it comes to Buoy. The materials for the household beacon are a great representation of its environment, considering it's made from elements that can be found in most homes or work spaces—in this case,a sandbag, a wooden stick, two cords, a PVC lamp shade, light a lightbulb, an electric cable and rubber O-rings. After all, "elegant design can be made with anything around you."
While we'd usually prefer our pastel eggs on Easter, we'll make an exception for University of Art Braunschweig student Sebastian Aumer. EGGO! embodies a material study with eggshells as building materials, which is what the seat is made of. The entire chair is biodegradable and made from casein, vinegar and starch—all environmentally friendly materials. EGGO! had the jury team making some exclamations: "A fully decomposable light weight material for furniture making. Leggo my egg shell!"
Student Notable: Morgan Felt Folding Stool, by Brett Mellor
Inspired by the folds of origami and the functionality of flat-packing, Brigham Young University student Brett Mellor tried his hand at a portable seating option made from one sheet of felt. The result is the Morgan Felt Folding Stool, which manages to marry the two construction methods in a cohesive, eye-catching manner. "Flat-packed origami seating with a bold and contemporary look."