Vitra—Design, Architecture, Communication: A European Project with American Roots Philadelphia Museum of Art, Perelman Building, Collab Gallery 2525 Pennsylvania Avenue, Philadelphia, PA Through April 26, 2015 In its new exhibition, Vitra—Design, Architecture, Communication: A European Project with American Roots, the Philadelphia Museum of Art explores the history of the famous Swiss furniture company from its early licensing partnership with Herman Miller to new collaborations with world-renowned contemporary designers, such as Verner Panton, Antonio Citterio, and Jasper Morrison. Vitra’s evolution will be tracked through a collection of about 120 design objects, furniture, models, publications, and videos. This will be supplemented by archival material and historic objects from the Vitra Design Museum in Germany. These materials include a plywood toy elephant by Charles and Ray Eames, a series of Alexander Girard’s Wooden Dolls, and George Nelson’s 1948 furniture catalogue for Herman Miller.
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At the recent Design Miami fest, artist Naihan Li exhibited her work-of-art wardrobe, which is helpfully—or confusingly—titled I AM A MONUMENT. (Apologies, and a tip of the chapeau, to Robert Venturi, Denise Scott Brown, and Steven Izenour.) The monument in question is, of course, Rem Koolhaas' CCTV building. But the homage isn't limited to the exterior of the structure. Inside—the cabinet, if not the building—things get interesting. The elaborate compartments and cupboards contained in the rosewood armoire would seem to take inspiration from programmatic diagrams of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture's Beijing skyscraper. The artist explained her thinking: "The CCTV tower, shaped like a loop of video in endless production, has been turned into a wardrobe, where the ritual of dressing and undressing can also be said to be an endless loop."
The Noguchi Museum in Queens, New York has bestowed its second annual Isamu Noguchi Award to designer Jasper Morrison and architect Yoshio Taniguchi. This eponymous accolade is given to professionals who, like Noguchi, are leaders in the fields of design and architecture, and “kindred spirits in innovation, global consciousness, and Japanese/American exchange,” the museum said in a statement. Noguchi, an artist and landscape architect, brought a sculptor’s touch to furniture design, creating pieces that were abstract yet functional, soaring yet minimalist. The recipients of this year’s award were selected because they demonstrate a common approach to their work and “exemplify Noguchi’s lifelong commitment to world citizenship and the practice of art with a social purpose,” stated Jenny Dixon, Director of the Noguchi Museum. Motohide Yoshikawa, the Ambassador of Japan to the United Nations, will officially present the awards to Morrison and Taniguchi on May 19, 2015 at the museum’s Spring Benefit and 20th Anniversary bash. The museum’s inaugural awards went to Norman Foster and Hiroshi Sugimoto this past May.
Architect Daniel Libeskind has collaborated with artist Marina Abramovic on the design of furniture for her upcoming event, "Counting the Rice," which will be staged December 4–7 during Miami Art Basel. The integrated table/bench will be fabricated in concrete by Moroso in a limited edition of 30 pieces. Plywood versions were created for previous performances in Geneva and Milan. While striking in its characteristically angular appearance, we're a little skeptical of the comfort quotient of the seating. Was Libeskind channeling his inner Frank Lloyd Wright, who created famously painful furnishings? Hmmm. But perhaps the nature of the performance provides a clue, here: The event requires participants to sit for at least six hours, counting and sorting grains of rice. Part meditative ritual, part atrophy-inducing experience—at least they will look, if not feel, good. Proceeds from the sale of the tables will be donated to Abramovic's MAI organization, a platform for "immaterial art" and long duration works.
MOD, the newly-created furniture wing from San Francisco architecture firm Min | Day, will be unveiling three new pieces at ICFF next week. By making use of the human inclinations to rearrange and reconfigure, the pieces grow through a simple geometry of addition and subtraction. All three styles utilize playfulness and improvisation to create topological terrains. The AVA is a steel storage system that on it’s own can be used as a stool or small table, however, when combined with more than one unit it can quickly become a complex shelving system, room divider and space converter whose precise tonalities along with its lightweight metal and shifting angles create inherent drama. Soft Stones furniture is comprised of eight unique components that transform from a lounge when fitted in place to individual seats and small tables when broken apart and scattered throughout a room. The line is constructed out of steel, foam, and upholstery fabric and comes in five colors. It resembles, perhaps, an undiscovered geologic formation, as it’s geometry pervades a muted yet playful interpretation of shattered boulders. Pentables, a five-sided table system originally designed with students at the University of Nebraska is made of welded steel and goes together quickly. It grows in similar ways to the AVA system, where it can exist on its’ own but can also be added to with additional units.
While much of the work introduced at Milan this year played it safe—distinctly conservative colors, forms familiar from the 1950s, cautious use of materials—some architects' designs took, shall we say, a bolder stance. But: Was it a better one? You, ever-opinionated reader, shall and no doubt will be the judge of that. Among the boldest of the bold designs this year were four pieces presented by Zaha Hadid. Most photos we've seen of the aluminum Manta Ray seating underscore its unfortunate semblance, not to the graceful sea creature, but to a giant human posterior. At AN, we're taking the high road, featuring this more abstracted view of the piece. But it may not be enough to erase the obvious imagery. Here, Hadid has designed a fireplace, which appears to have melted into a puddle of black marble. Ironically cold design, for an interiors element that generates heat. Thumbs up on this one. A rectangular top is a disciplined extension of the vaguely tripod-ish base. Great stone fabrication, and we wouldn't even mind bumping our knees on the legs of this terrific table. A welcome departure from the blobby, yes? But the mid-point of the unit seems to be a bit dysfunctional for shelving, lacking any level horizontal surfaces, but hey, it's all about the cantilever. Looking back on Salone 2014, it's interesting that one can fairly easily discern which pieces were architect-generated versus those that were created by industrial designers. The latter are trained (and paid) to produce commercially viable furniture collections, while the former are free to indulge in the making of domestic monuments.
It's easy to get overwhelmed at the Salone del Mobile and the dozens of related events during Milan Design Week. Luckily there are plenty of visual palate cleansers in form of immersive environments, from new showrooms by Pritzker Prize–winning architects to dazzling installations by up-and-coming designers. There is more to Milan Design Week than just great looking furniture! At the Triennale design museum, for instance, Paris-based DGT architects created a light-catching installation for Citizen watches called Light is Time (above), featuring space dividing curtains made of tens of thousands of watch plates. For the Swedish textile company Kinnasand, a division of Kvadrat, Toyo Ito designed a luminous new showroom to display the company's fabrics, many of which feature diaphanous qualities. Ito covered the walls in frosted glass, which gives them a shimmering quality as downlights tucked into the edge of the ceiling filter through the panels. The ceiling itself is paneled in reflective metal. Draped fabrics are displayed on curved metal rods suspended from the ceiling. Cassina tapped the rising Japanese star Sou Fujimoto to design a "floating forest" for their booth at the fairgrounds, arguably the most innovative display at the Salone. Fujimoto hung mirrored metal planters from the rafters, which held green Japanese maples. Canned bird noises added to the atmosphere, which felt both natural and surreal within the tradeshow hall. The reflective surfaces forced visitors to slow down within the booth, giving them more time to look at Cassina's classic and contemporary furnishings. Also at the fairgrounds, an invited group of architects—Shigeru Ban, Mario Bellini, David Chipperfield, Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, Zaha Hadid, Marcio Kogan, Daniel Libeskind, and Studio Mumbai—riffed on themes of domesticity with conceptual installations called, Where Architects Live. As far as installations like these at a furniture fair go, the installations were largely devoid of the trappings of daily life. Libeskind, for example, sliced deep voids into the walls, inset with screens showing videos about his personal history and architectural projects. Chipperfield showed of his German side, with photos of deliciously drab Berlin and clanging music underscoring the seriousness of the project.
AN editors swept and tweeted through the exhibit halls of the venerable Salone del Mobile last week, as well as the myriad satellite design events, exhibits, and installations that popped up around Milan. Footsore but aesthetically satiated, the AN team has reassembled stateside to share some of the best finds from the fair. Casamania Color Fall A lacquered, digital print enlivens the interior of the shelves, which are constructed of humble MDF. Designed by Garth Roberts. Cassina 9 Tables Marble base in black or white, with tops of aluminum, marble, or painted mirror glass. Designed by Piero Lissoni. Cappellini Lotus De Luxe Available with or without castors and/or arms, this chair is suitable for residential and office use. Wooden frame with molded polyurethane cushions covered in fabric or leather. Designed by Jasper Morrison. Viccarbe Trestle Solid oak legs are topped by padded or smooth upholstery. Seating modules are 60 inches in length; up to three benches can be seamlessly joined together. Designed by John Pawson. Cristalplant Slide Towel Shelf A polished aluminum loop slides up or down to both hold and hang bath towels. Designed by Cory Grosser. Poliform Web Bookcase Fabricated of Dupont Corian, this shelving unit is as much sculpture as it is storage. Designed by Daniel Libeskind. Kartell Uncle Jim Demonstrating the current limits of injected polycarbonate fabrication, this single-piece chair comes in four transparent colors. Designed by Philippe Starck.
At the tip of Lower Manhattan, a three-acre green space in the 22-acre Battery Park may soon be home to a field of flower-shaped seats, a sea of brightly colored rocking chairs, or a plethora of pivotable chaise lounges. Last summer, the Battery Conservancy Americas launched the "Draw Up a Chair" design competition, the first of its kind from the New York City Parks Department, calling for a moveable, outdoor chair to fill the oval lawn of Battery Green. The new park is currently under construction as part of rebuild efforts after last year’s Hurricane Sandy devastated the area. From a previously condensed pool of 50, the Conservancy has chosen the top five proposals, from firms spanning four countries. Each unique design is stackable, weatherproof, and made of recycled materials. Full-scale prototypes of each Top 5 chair design will be on display for public examination and comfort testing in Battery City’s Castle Clinton National Monument from April 2014 through June 2014. The winner will be announced next June and awarded a $10,000 prize. U Rock Team Project by Davi Deusdara, Érica Martins, Tais Costa, Rafael Studart, and Alencar Falcão Brazil “The U Rock chair gives you the choice of sitting straight in a comfortable and beautiful chair or to rock it out in a fun, cool new take on the classic rocking chair. You just have to flip it over. Its design is friendly to all ages and being light, stackable and easy to carry around, it also contributes to many different social arrangements and situations.” The chair is made of PETE plastic bottles in combination with glass fiber for a lightweight, recycled material seat. Pivot Chair Simon Kristak and Aiden Jamison of Independent Design Group United States "The Pivot Chair is a study in dualities, ripe with qualities that encourage and accommodate different programs one finds at Battery Park. Lightweight yet durable, static yet moving, neutral yet specific, the Pivot Chair has two physical phases: upright and reclined, and the chair is set in these two positions by “pivoting” about a central leg. This allows the user to define their mode, passive or active, while within Battery Park." Its bent tube frames with metal slats or extended metal mesh infill are cost effective and can be manufactured locally. Fluert Andrew Jones of Andrew Jones Design Canada "The design impulse for Fleurt came from imagining how a field of chairs could poetically respond to the lawn of Battery Park. Using a single chair in repetition, the view across the lawn is transformed by the whimsical suggestion of sun-loving flowers floating in a field. The chair is conceived as an open blossom; seat, back and arms are abstracted as petals and synthesized into an archetypal floral form. Constantly rearranged by visitors to the park, the chairs create a memorable, diaphanous landscape." Fluert chairs are made of a thin steel shell, welded and then powder coated and its base is a single bent tube. In soft blues and mauves, the chair’s colors are representative of the first blooming bulb flowers. South Chair Jason Bird, Designer United States "The South Chair concept for the Battery Park Conservatory has been designed as a unique, contemporary form for outdoor movable seating. Robust construction and marine grade, exterior materials makes this design not only a long term proposition, but the soft curves, flexible backrest and color options provide a playful aesthetic and comfortable seat for a large percentage of the public." A single tube frame creates an "infinite loop" and the seat and backrest are fabricated of recycled milk cartons. This material is also used for boat decking, making the South Chair resistant to salt spray and sun damage. Maple Chair Maria Camarena Bernard of Maria Camarena Design Mexico "For manufacturing three Maple Chairs a sheet of aluminum of 0.2 x 96 x 48 inches is used. The entire chair is a single piece, which with cuts and folds acquires the desired form. This will make greater use of the materials and the waste is recyclable. ...The leaves on the seat and back are pictures of Silver maple leaves, a common tree in the region. The white aluminum, the pattern of the leaves and the soft and subtle shape claim to be a mantle, which instead of be placed in the grass for a picnic became a chair." View more details on each design here.
Nearly three decades after he was launched into design stardom by his biomorphic, aluminum Lockhead Lounge (above), famed Australian industrial designer Marc Newson will soon receive his first solo museum exhibition in the United States. Presented by the Philadelphia Museum of Art, "Marc Newson: At Home" will collect furniture, clothing, appliances, and Newsons’ 021C Ford concept car within a mock, six-room home in the museum’s Collab Gallery. Gathered from collections across Europe, Japan, and the United States, in addition to Newson’s personal cache, the objects on display will highlight the various facets of the designer’s distinctive style of flowing lines, bulbous forms, bright colors, and industrial references which helped to define an era of industrial design. The exhibition opens November 23rd and runs until April 20, 2014. Newson's signature riveted chaise lounge, both one of his most recognizable and rarest works, will be exhibited in the living room along side the matching, cello-shaped Pod of Drawers (1987), Super Guppy lamp (1987), and honeycombed, marble Voronoi Low Shelf (2008), among other works. The kitchen will contain a more attainable collection, including the curving, plastic Dish Doctor dish rack (1997), dinnerware by Noritake, glassware by Iitalla, cutlery from Alessi, and the Champagne Coffret Magnum (2006) for Don Pérignon. Newson's playful forms and vibrant colors take hold of the children's room, wherein the classic, three-legged Embryo Chair (1988), modular, plastic Bunky Bunk Beds (2010), and "Rocky" Rocking Horse create a vibrant, Jetsonian environment. To catch a glimpse of some Newson-designed clothing from G-Star, head over to the adult bedroom, which will also contain the retro Nimrod chair (2003) and transparent Atmos clock for Swiss watchmakers Jaeger LeCoultre (2008). The minimalist, streamlined Wall Hung "Invisi II" Toilet and Wash Basin (2012) take center stage in Newson's bathroom, while the 021C concept car, designed for Ford and exhibited at the Tokyo Auto Show in 1999, is housed within the garage.
Zaha Hadid has once again expanded her curvilinear design prospects. From wine bottles to superyachts, the starchitect has been quite productive in her recent development of a variety of non-architecture products, and none with right angles. Her latest endeavor is in the world of furniture. For the current exhibition, Liquid Glacial, at David Gill Galleries in London, Hadid has unveiled a new piece in her ongoing series of ice-influenced tables. Inspired by the unique geometry of glaciers, “Prototype Liquid Glacial Table” is an evolution of the previous tables, but all explore a seemingly contradictory existence of two simultaneous states of water. Polished to resemble pure glacial ice, Prototype Liquid Glacial Table has the dynamism and curves signature of Hadid’s architectural designs. In clear Plexiglas, four columns resembling cyclones of liquid water are frozen as solid table legs. These supports seem to originate from the horizontal tabletop, a smooth, undisturbed plane. The underside of this flat surface is a series of ripples in clear acrylic, as if the glacier were still liquid and the table were truly made of water. Hadid’s 2012 Liquid Glacier furniture series was shortlisted by London’s Design Museum as a “Best Design of 2012.”
Factory Floor, a new pop-up marketplace in Sunset Park, Brooklyn, will open this weekend with the “Maker’s Market” Furniture Showcase. Presented by Industry City at Bush Terminal, in collaboration with BKLYN DESIGNS and the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, more than 40 local and independent designers and manufacturers will present lighting, furniture, wall coverings, and home accessories in a 22,000-square-foot space. Design students from the Pratt Institute will also be showing their wares. “Factory Floor provides a new opportunity to elevate Brooklyn as a worldwide epicenter of design and boutique manufacturing,” said Carlo Scissura, president and CEO of the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, in a statement. “Our goal is to remove the bottleneck that exists between design-savvy local consumers and the tremendous cache of indigenous talent creating their products in Brooklyn and city-wide.” Makers Market will run through Sunday, October 27. Moving forward, the venue will feature rotating markets to support the creative makers movement in the Kings County borough, and help establish a unique presence in Industry City. Exhibiting designers and companies include: Juniper Design Group Inc. Alexandra Ferguson Roll & Hill Christophe Pourny Colleen & Eric: A Design Duo - Pickett Furniture 4korners Bell Boy Evan Z. Crane Nikkuu J Dunklebarger Bien Hecho Casa Kids April Hannah Token David Gaynor Design Volk Furniture Mi Mesita Bower Brooklyn Woods Annie Evelyn Soudasouda Moonishco Cambium Studio Reliquary Studio KWH Furniture Atocha Design Stephane Hubert La Chasse The Hunt SAWhomeBK Ethan Abramsom Ivory Build Materia Designs Whale Andrew Hunt Mark Grattan Srickbulb Wonk For more information visit factoryfloorbrooklyn.com.