News
05.07.2008
Strength of Character
At the 47th International Furniture Fair in Milan last month, the mood may have ricocheted from fears about the economic road ahead to earnest concentration on sustainability and gaga excitement about all that's arty and luxurious, but at least a few designers tried to stick with solid lines and good design.
Courtesy BASF
 
Myto
Konstantin Grcic/Plank
Technology and design coalesce in Konstantin Grcic’s Myto cantilever chair produced by Plank. Using a new plastic from BASF, Grcic was able to conceive the chair as one monoblock with a supporting frame structure and perforated seat and back that convey the feeling of flexibility typical of cantilever chairs. Stackable, the chair comes in eight colors: black, white-gray, traffic red, pure orange, gray, yellow green, aubergine, and light blue. Grcic’s passion for technology and materials is showcased here along with his interest in detail and high performance.
Helleu
François Russo/Poltrona Frau
Fellini would feel at home in this makeover of the classic director’s chair, which reinvents old-school wood and canvas with modern flair. The fixed steel frame is clad in glacier-white Corian, while armrests and cross brace are of reflective chromed metal. In place of canvas, a saddle-leather seat and backrest are sturdily secured with a clever system of stitch-like connectors. Dedicated to the late Jacques Helleu, Chanel’s artistic director for more than four decades, this chair melds simplicity and luxury, as evident in its finely worked leather—available in Conero red, dove gray, blue, coffee, and olive. 
 
Spoon Table
Antonio Citterio/Kartell
Cramped New York apartments need not stint on style with the arrival of this studio-sized folding table. With a white, melamine laminate honeycomb top that is just over half-an-inch thick, this lightweight piece can be easily demounted via its foldable knee mechanism. High-tech materials continue in the molded, bi-component legs, which are made of modified polypropylene aluminum in sharp colors (like fetching day-glo orange). Named in the spirit of Citterio’s Spoon Chair—which brought a snazzy glamour to office cubicles—this table does likewise for space-starved urbanites. And at more than six feet in length, it’ll seat six with room to spare. 
 
Ghisa
Riccardo Blumer and Matteo Borghi/Alias
Designed as an urban furnishing for public plazas, gardens, or backyards, this modular seating system is built to sprawl. It can snake around trees, roll in waves across lawns, or lock step in bench-like ranks. The basic module consists of a closed-frame, ergonomic chair, with 11 tapering ribs that shape its seat and back. With mirror-image modules and constructed of lamellar wrought iron, these heavy-duty chairs are built to last, with durable, exterior-grade finishes. And if you’re alone in a crowd, they also do just fine as a single seat.
 
Frame Chair
Wouter Scheubin/Established & Sons
Only four years old, Established & Sons has already made a name for itself and for its unerring knack in identifying new British and now also European talent. The Frame Chair, designed by Dutch designer Wouter Scheubin, owes a bit of its angularity to Rietveld but is also cleverly engineered. Belonging to his “Walking Furniture” series that explores the mechanics of motion, the chair is made of beech laths assembled to support an oak-veneered plywood seat and backrest.
 
Wormhole
Wyssem Nochi
Inspired by space-time travel, Lebanese designer Wyssem Nochi crafted this table with a funnel-shaped column whose form is borrowed from astrophysics. The designer’s flair for spatial flows stems from his career as an architect and urban designer who studied at the AA in London and Parsons in New York. With a sleek Corian skin, the Wormhole holds its own in Nochi’s quirky line of limited editions and one-offs.
 
Double Bottle Table
Barber & Osgerby/Cappellini
Long, sleek, and ultra-modern, Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby’s Double Bottle Table produced by Cappellini successfully combines innovative design with familiar forms. Part of a line of single bottle tables that have won international design acclaim, this latest version multiplies a singular element, the bottle, extending the size of the table to eight feet long and three feet wide. Rectangular in shape, the table connects to the two bottle bases with a simple yet resistant conical joint. A central element of furniture for any dining area, Double Bottle is available in white Calacatta marble or black Marquinia marble.
Mr. Impossible
Philippe Starck/Kartell
Bad-boy designer Philippe Starck may have inspired this chair’s moniker, but the official story goes like this: Tasked with creating a chair that would dazzlingly float in mid-air, Starck and his crack team at Kartell turned to advanced plastics technology to realize the impossible polycarbonate dream. This marvel of organic good looks is created by indestructibly welding two oval shapes together—the transparent frame and the seat—with a state-of-the-art laser process that sets off beguiling visual effects. The seat is available in both opaque or translucent versions, while the circular, transparent legs complete the sensation of a pearlescent shell in suspension.
 
Nine-0 Chair
Ettore Sottsass/Emeco
The Italian designer Ettore Sottsass, who died on December 31 at age 90, was the first to recognize the generic beauty of Emeco’s aluminum 1006 Navy chair, taking it out of its place as standard issue for submarines and government offices and putting it in homes and stores in the 1980s. A few years ago upon telling Emeco that this was the one chair he wished he had designed himself, Sottsass was invited to remake it his way. And so he did, giving the iconic metal shape a more forgiving polyurethane seat in five bright colors, including red and orange, that are as life-affirming as the designer himself. He also created a swivel armchair version.
Kanu
Konstantin Grcic/Cassina
Gently curved and seemingly smooth, Konstantin Grcic’s wooden armchair, Kanu, exemplifies perfect form. German industrial designer Grcic teamed with Italian manufacturer Cassina to create this basin-shaped, plywood seat that is deceptively simple. Two molds—one for the frame, the other for the seat—were required to accommodate the different curvatures required for the back and seat support. Minimal in its design and available in white, black, and brown, the chair seems two-dimensional but relies on an interplay of conical volumes. Together, Grcic and Cassina create an impeccable icon of good design through careful crafting and state-of-the-art industrial technology.
Surface Table
Terence Woodgate & John Barnard/Established & Sons
With radius corners that pour into rounded legs, this nearly 10-foot-long carbon fiber dining table is as slim and uniform as it can be at only .08 inches thick at the edge. From British producer Established & Sons, the Surface Table was designed by Terence Woodgate, an industrial designer, and John Barnard, a racing car engineer who has worked for Ferrari and McLaren. (Barnard’s Ferrari 641 is in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection.) According to Woodgate, the idea behind the design was “in taking the form of a normal table, one with legs at each corner, as far as we possibly could. It became a search for perfection.”
 
Jeff Byles, Julie V. Iovine, William Menking, and Danielle Rago