For the final installment of AN's New York Design Week Q+A series, we talked with Todd Bracher about his Nest and forthcoming Asa collections, his design philosophy, and inspirations. And Kevin Stark stopped in to visit, as well. How did your collaboration with HBF come about? I reached out originally to Kevin Stark a few years ago, who was the vice president of design at that time. I've been in the [design] business for 15 years but worked mostly overseas, so I wanted to find the right partner [stateside]. HBF entered my radar because they produce European craftsmanship; their products are really high quality. A year later a mutual friend reintroduced us and that ignited the relationship. What was particularly enticing about working with HBF? I wanted to pick the best [company] that's out there; those that I know are reliable and bring quality products to market. But they also have to be fun to work with and trustworthy. So when I surveyed the landscape to see who was smart, growing—really it was a long checklist—there weren’t a lot of companies that landed on that list, but HBF did. They have a really European level of quality, and I don’t mean that in a negative way. In Europe, [furniture] is not just an industry but a passion, and HBF embodies that. What was your design intent for the collections? For Nest, we wanted to hit the perfect balance between lounge and workspace seating, and bridge productivity and comfort. It's about eye contact at the end of the day. That's what collaboration is fundamentally about. Physical spatial relationships and engaging is really important. We're designing for how you actually work. It sounds obvious but not a lot of [companies] do that. HBF is known for its wood work, as well as upholstery, and both are expensive, so we had to find a way to put the money where you need it most. For Nest, we steam-bent wood and used mesh from athletic footwear [on the back]. These design choices were 20 percent cheaper and faster to manufacturer. The mesh is lightweight, and [using it on the chair] was the perfect marriage to bring the material to market. You pay a lot of money to cover things up [with furniture] so if we make the insides beautiful we don’t have to. What were some of the challenges you faced? Probably cost. It's hard to make beautiful things affordable. The trick is to make the design manufacturable. You have to engage the full team and use their expertise, and pare down what you're doing without losing comfort and freshness. [Your design] has to be relevant to today, not [just] reminiscent of the past. Sometimes we get it right. Where did the name for the collection come from? For Nest, it’s pretty straightforward. It was all about the idea of keeping things, like our conversations, and containing your experiences. It’s like a protective container so you’re “Nested” in place. For Asa, the S of the word is the inspiration. The body is S-shaped and the frame is A-shaped. The name is a visual representation of the chair. What are the successes of the collection? Cost is always the challenge but that’s not specific to HBF. The real challenge is getting to solve collaboration in an elegant way, and that’s not always so. [You have to] do it in a way that you'd love to have [that piece] in your office space or in your home. A lot of times, you get a brief saying “solve collaboration” and then a block of plastic to work with but we’re solving this in a human way. We're using wood with tactile qualities, in ways that are familiar to HBF and their customer. That's pretty tricky to do. It’s about two mentalities coming together and you want it to have both [the designer’s and the manufacturer’s] identity. It also has to be strong visually, comfortable—all these things must lineup. [Nest] can go into a hotel lobby, a lounge area, and what I like about it is that you can spec it for power integration, or combine it with laptop table [for the office]. It’s not obvious but that’s what it’s designed for it. The difference with HBF is that it's not obviously collaborative furniture. The vocabulary of the furniture collection shouldn't look collaborative, and that's what [can] broaden the market. What inspires you? [I find inspiration in] loads of things, but I tend not to draw inspiration from design. It’s usually from food, travel, music; things I don’t know. If it's familiar it doesn't click as inspiration. though I certainly appreciate those things. For me, it’s more about the process. Before we design anything we create an ecosystem and define what's important for the collection. Maybe it's eye contact, privacy, comfort, but not too much. We really need to define the solution and once we do that the design appears. The more data we put into it, the better the outcome. I always use a tree analogy. You don’t think tree is good looking; you take it for what it is because it's not about the look but the solution. Look at nature. How often does she get it wrong? Is there a designer or architect you really admire? The architects that I love are long dead and buried. [You could say] I’m a fan of the older styles. Toward the end of the conversation we were joined by Kevin Stark, president of the brand and head of design. He offered his thoughts on the success of Bracher’s collections for HBF: We have worked with a great cadre of designers in the past and Todd has a different point of view. His way of aesthetically and functionally solving problems is unique and has been great for HBF. We spent a lot of time interviewing designers and architects about their needs and Todd solves problems first. The Nest [collection] has been a great success for us—and he is great for us. For me this [Nest lounge chair] is an iconic piece. He spent time to understand our craftsmanship and so we stretched our limitation in a good way. Todd gives a new view we haven't had in a while. Asa is one of the pieces that is familiar but totally fresh at the same time. It has a classic form and design but also a uniqueness to it; the scale in terms of lightness and even the arms the thickness of the back. It's one of the lowest priced pieces [from HBF] and he's pulled off a beautiful, contemporary, classic design at a great value. In terms of HBF’s direction, Todd has been integral and given us a glimpse of what we’ll look like in the future from a functional, problem solving, and aesthetic perspective. It's been a great relationship. We have a great history of lounge furniture for reception areas, and there will always be a place for that, but lounge seating is entering a new area. There is a more collaborative and interactive need. Todd's pieces fit well into that collaborative intent of how people are using those areas. And we're just at the beginning of that learning curve, in terms of this changing working environment and dealing with those issues.
Posts tagged with "ICFF":
On the opening day of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) at the Javits Center, AN sat down with Christian Rasmussen, the head of design for Fritz Hansen, to discuss the company's design strategies, its philosophy on collaboration, and to test out the new Favn and Ro seating that has just been released in the U.S. What are your impressions of ICFF? It's getting better every year and I'm seeing more interesting stuff. I was surprised last year and this one is even better. Last month we were in Milan but it's so big. I like that ICFF is more focused and offers a tighter overlook. You can spend more time in each booth as opposed to Milan where you have to move very fast to see everything. Overall it's really positive. How are the new releases being shown at ICFF this year significant for Fritz Hansen? We just released the Ro chair, which means tranquility in Danish. We wanted to design a chair where you could sit down and create your own atmosphere in the midst of this hectic life. Similarly, this sofa by Jaime Hayon, Favn, means embrace because its like two hands cradling you. Danish is a small language, spoken only by five million people, so it's nice to use these [names]. Denmark has a long history of furniture design and we've been a part of it since 1872. [Design] is really part of our culture and at Fritz Hansen we've helped create some of that identity. The reason we pick the Danish names, in addition to the fact that its hard to name a piece, is that it's its nice to [hear other languages] interpret the names in their own way. How would you describe the releases? You can divide our work into new and classic categories. I'm really happy with the Ro chair, because its close to the Egg Chair but it's still its own. It's like a cousin; they're very clearly related. It's very important to draw a red line between the past and present but still keep some of that design DNA. It's part of our philosophy to stand on the shoulders of the classics. We have a number of design values we follow very carefully to make sure we're on the right track in the design process. What constitutes good design for you personally? It is many, many things. To me, it's important that it's original and brings something new to the world. It should surprise you positively, and hopefully provoke a little, too. That depends on the brand, of course, but personally I like it to challenge me, particularly when it's based on an original idea and that comes across in the product. It also needs to last. Design-wise it shouldn't be too fashionable and you have to balance quality with design for longevity. If it's too fashionable it'll go out really quickly, kind of like clothing. For furniture, a lot of energy goes into it and it would be hard to spend on quality if people didn't keep the chair for years. We can't guarantee how long it'll be held but [of course] that's our ambition. I like things that are fashionable but it's not always simpatico. It has to be thought of in a longer perspective. The world is flooded with a lot of bad products and so we launch only one collection a year. But I like that; I'd rather launch something I believe in than launch 20 new products a year [and have to discontinue] half [of them] later. That is the company philosophy—our products should have a long lifespan. Is there a designer or architect you'd really like to work with? We spend a lot of energy and time getting to know designers before we work with them so we understand how to best release their creative potential. That's the most important thing for me. When they feel comfortable they can perform well. Our external collaborations should [last longer], like with Jaime [Hayon]. Working with a new designer each year wouldn't make sense [for us]. It's also about chemistry. He's a fantastic guy—50 percent artist and 50 percent designer—so he comes from a very different background with a different approach. It's a good challenge for our view and we have great design discussions. There has to be mutual respect to lift [the relationship] to a new level altogether. In that sense, it has been a great partnership. Additionally, some of the best interpretations of Danish design history come from abroad. Jamie isn't afraid of going close to our heritage. Which designers do you admire? The Boroullec Brothers are really clever and I admire them. They are very skilled. And I also admire Jamie because of his ability to combine art and design. He's really creative and I've never met anyone like him. He can zoom in and out, [thinking] abstractly one second and very organized the next. Its a very unique combination of control and open-mindedness on an abstract level. Some designers are strong only conceptually or otherwise, but he's balanced. He spends lots of time prototyping with us and I think that's different from other manufacturers. We want them to spend time with us because it needs to be a Fritz Hansen piece and a Jaime Hayon piece. The product should be born and raised in Fritz Hansen. The process is really important. That's what is different for us. Jamie has said working with us in Copenhagen is like doing yoga. When he started with the sofa, he was frustrated with the pace [at which we work] but he's learned to enjoy the process. We believe at the end of the day it makes a good piece. What are some of your plans for the future of Fritz Hansen? We'll focus more on laminate wood as we haven't done in a while. We understand that material and process well, so in a few years you'll see more experiments with laminated wood. We will make upholstered furniture, too, of course! We'll also be looking into new materials and technologies where you can create value but still support timeless design. The state of the materials can really make long lasting products. Right now, we 3d print legs and things like that for prototyping. Maybe in five or 10 years everything will change, so we're looking into it for larger production. It's the future and it will change everything. We will also collaborate with Jamie moving forward but there's more in the pipeline. We have a huge catalogue so maybe we'll reinterpret some of the classics. It's all about timing and making pieces relevant for today. What's one of your favorite parts of visiting New York? Walking to the Javits Center along the Highline.
Patrizia Moroso, art director at Moroso, recently chatted with AN about her impressions of ICFF, working with Patricia Urquiola, and the design house's plans for New York Design Week. What are your impressions of ICFF? It is something very important for the U.S. and for New York. For me, around the fair and outside the pavilions, there's a lot organized in town. The fair is growing. For example, Milan [Furniture Fair] has become so important these years. In Milano, we have something like 3,000 events around design week but this means that people are excited. Now, New York is becoming something like this. You have so much happening around it. The interest and the dialogue between the institutions and the companies and firms can carry on in and around the fair. What is Moroso doing for ICFF? It takes place one month after Milano, so we usually present a few of those releases, [since] that is the big show for us. It's natural to present what we've done in Milano but with another special twist. This year we're transforming the space for Patricia [Urquiola] and in the window [overlooking Greene Street] we're showing the things we've done for Patricia and Kvadrat. We were talking months before the fair so we decided to do something together. Fabric is great for upholstery and we have an installation that was amazing for me. We won an important award in Milano and are happy to say we were the winners this year, so we can show just a glimpse of that here in New York. Because the installation was so big—it took 10 days to install in the [Milan] space—it was not easy to reproduce. Some [challenges were] material, some immaterial. But the exhibition we had [there] was not possible to reproduce here. How did you start working with Patricia Urquiola? About 14 years ago, she was just starting in the design profession. She was managing projects in another big studio in Milano but her name wasn't attached [to her work], as it happens a lot with young designers. A common friend called me to tell me about her; "She's a young designer who's ready to tell her own story. I think you'll be perfect match." I saw her work and energy, and we started working together [pretty much] right away. We are good friends and work together a lot. We are sharing many things, even outside of our profession. Our lives are very intertwined. Is there anything special about showing in New York? The mood here is very happy and bright. It's spring here, [so with the] flowers [in the window] we're trying to recreate that feeling. We painted the showroom in all bright colors, just like space in Milano and we are carrying a mood that we started in Italy. What you see in the window are prototypes that we are presenting but are not yet in production. These are really new things. For example, we are showing our new sofa system, MASSAS, an acronym for Moroso Asymmetric Sofa System Adorably Stitched. Its massive and delicate at once: it's not a common piece of furniture. The other things we will present is our new fabric collection in new colors. Everything is coordinated with the new colors and flowers because the collection is happy. It's not feminine but the approach is very sweet. We want to be optimistic and joyful. For us, it's a new style. What is your favorite thing about coming to New York? The energy, the air—it sparkles! You can come on a rainy day but the morning after everything twinkles. There's something about it. You walk the streets and you're happy. The air in your face is sweet; maybe it's the ocean? The light? It's the atmosphere. If you sit at a cafe and see the people walking, you can see the planet in an hour. You see all the nations here. That, for me, is incredible. When you put all the different people together you have a fantastic melting pot here in the city. It's the power of humanity. I really hope to work more in a country like this, that I love so much. The possibilities here are grand. I really like the thinking here. I meet a lot of architects and designers and everyone is so special. Things are moving fast, projects are growing, it's all very interesting. There's lots of energy in terms of thinking, too. It's all very positive and fast paced.
Don't miss out on your chance to get the inside scoop on the future of digital design workflows at the Autodesk: Intro To Cloud Based Design workshop happening this afternoon at ICFF. The era of cloud-based design is upon us, making it possible to access data from anywhere, at any time, and on any platform. This hands-on lab will introduce designers to a typical Autodesk Fusion 360 workflow, including importing 2D sketches and reference material to develop a design using T-Spline modeling strategies. There's still time, so head on down to the Javits center and sign up for the seminar, which begins at 2:30p.m. today.
If you need yet another reason to go to DesignX next week at ICFF, Mode Collective has got it covered with their 3D printed bracelets. Stop by their booth to watch the 3D printing extravaganza live and to pick up a bracelet of your own. I [Heart] DesignX bracelets will be available in different colors and for a limited time only. See you there!
DesignX presenter Skylar Tibbits, the founder of SJET, Director of Self Assembly Lab, and Senior TED Fellow, will host a hands-on lab introducing interior designers and architects to the future of additive manufacturing and programmable matter. Discover how matter programmers design materials to self-assemble when exposed to the elements. Additional topics include 4D printing and how 3D printing technology is changing. Tibbits will utilize self-assembling structures to touch base on what these changes mean for design practices. The workshop takes place on Tuesday, May 21, 2013 from 12:30 to 1:30 PM and offers 1 AIA CEU. Registration is available online.
Interested in learning how to build parametric design models using Grasshopper for Rhino3D? DesignX, in conjunction with the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, is offering a workshop on Monday, May 20, 2013 from 10:30 AM to 12:30 PM that focuses on fundamental concepts and mechanisms with an emphasis on professional practice. Instructors Ronnie Parsons and Gil Akos will help participants understand pertinent applications of parametric design and will demonstrate how to use Grasshopper in creative practices. Interiors, architects, and anyone seeking to find out what parametric design is and when it is useful can register and attend. The workshop fulfills two AIA CEUs.
Take advantage of a valuable course at the inaugural DesignX, hosted by the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, and learn about Autodesk 360. Discover how the program takes software capabilities beyond the desktop and allows users to access information anywhere, anytime, and on several platforms. The comprehensive cloud-based design structure offers tools and services that simplify work and has the ability to scale up or down to meet business requirements. Anyone interested in learning about cloud-based design tools and services are encouraged to participate in the workshop on Monday, May 20 from 2:30 to 3:30 PM. Reserve your space here and check out other workshops online. This course offers 1 AIA CEU and is taught by Roger Liucci.
Join us for four days of hands-on digital design and fabrication workshops and at DesignX, hosted by the International Contemporary Furniture Fair, and earn your AIA CES credits! From May 18-21, you can join the industry’s leading experts at the Jacob Javits Center to get your hands dirty with the latest in web-based design apps, parametric design, and interactive modeling services. Stop by Saturday to get the lowdown on 3D printed fabrics from Francis Bitoni, the man behind Dita Von Teese’s miraculously printed gown. Learn how 3D printing is transforming the textile and fashion industries, and get started with the fundamentals of Rhino3D—the world’s leading modeling software. The workshop will cover the basics for creating your design, manipulating geometries, and preparing your textile model for 3D printing. Visit deisgnX.is to reserve your space now, and for more information of the workshops and events.
Experts in digital design will lead four days of workshops and dialog at ICFF.The International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF) is expanding its program offerings with DesignX, its first ever series of digital design and fabrication training workshops conducted by leading experts in field. The four days of educational sessions will cover digital tools, cloud-based apps, 3D printing, and other related topics. Three-dimensional printing-related courses include Introduction to 3D Printing for Designers; Introduction to 3D Printing Marketplaces; Hands-On Desktop Prototyping for Designers; and 3D Printed Fabrics: Modeling Interlocking Elements with Rhino 3D. Workshops on digital design software and platforms include Introduction to Physical Computing for Designers; Introduction to Cloud-based Applications for Designers; Introduction to Cloud-based Design Platforms; Generative Design Apps: Product Customization Through the Web; Interactive Modeling: Responsive Design with Firefly; Parametric Design: Visual Programming with Grasshopper; Designing in the Cloud: Intuitive Modeling with Fusion360; Designing for Production: Integrated Fabrication with 123D Make; and Real Time Project Visualization with Showcase. Noted luminaries in the digital design field will conduct each of the seminars. Senior TED Fellow Skylar Tibbits will present Matter Programmers: 4D Printing & Bio-molecular Self Assembly. Jesse Rosenberg and Jessica Rosenkrantz of Nervous System will present seminars on 3D-printing and guide participants through the fabrication of a custom accessory with the firm's proprietary apps. Ronnie Parsons and Gil Akos of Mode Lab will help attendees navigate the sea of parametric design tools, from Grasshopper to Fusion360. Andrew Baccon and Erik Tietz will lead the Designing for Production discussion and show designers how to navigate their new web-based service, MachineMade. Andrew Payne of Firefly will walk designers through the platform's interactive modeling services, and Francis Bitoni will connect themes at Modeling Interlocking Elements with Rhino3D. For more information or to reserve your space at any of the workshops, visit designx.is.
It's not science fiction. One day, buildings may build themselves. Enter the world of Senior TED Fellow Skylar Tibbits, where "matter programmers" design the characteristics of materials that self-assemble when exposed to air, water, or temperature changes. Join Tibbits on May 21 at a DesignX ICFF workshop for a hands-on lab that will introduce designers to the future of additive manufacturing and programmable matter.
Goetz Composites fabricated the Granoff Collection of modular furniture for a new Diller, Scofidio + Renfro-designed building at Brown University.Brown University’s Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, completed by Diller, Scofidio + Renfro in 2010, was a direct result of the institution’s studies on how students and faculty interact today. Since most interdisciplinary exchanges were taking place in stairwells over classrooms, the architects designed a central escalier with five landings where the school’s population could meet among rotating student installations. One year after the building opened, the users realized that something was missing on the escalier: a place to sit. To rectify the situation, graduate students from the Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) collaborated with Brown alumni to design a unique collection of furniture named for the building’s patrons, Perry and Marty Granoff. The alumni designers—Taylor McKenzie-Veal, Scot Bailey, Ian Stell, and Yumi Yoshida—crafted a line of modular furniture that includes a sofa, a chair, and a table that doubles as a stool. The line caters to local industry in materiality; namely the state’s maritime history. “The boating and composite expertise in Rhode Island has a long-standing history of excellence and [we] consulted and collaborated with a local composites and engineering firm while developing and prototyping the design,” said McKenzie-Veal. Bristol, Rhode Island-based Goetz Composites worked to realize the designers’ vision for a flexible line of furniture that could be used in various configurations. The sofa, for example, is constructed from a large corner section, a small corner section, and a small center section that can be pulled apart and put together in whatever way the user wishes. “The designers had a very specific look in mind, both in texture and color,” said Chase Hogoboom, president of Goetz Composites. “A lot of time and effort was spent working with the designers to develop the [fabrication] process and achieve the results they were looking for.” To develop a prototype, the design team gave Hogoboom three-dimensional Rhino files outlining each section’s shape and dimensions. The fabricator used RhinoCAM to program the form and a CNC mill to cut medium density fiberboard to the exact shape specified by the designers’ files. “There were very strict requirements for the radius of the edges,” said Hogoboom. Additionally, the design schematic called for two A surfaces, so the front and back of the sofa had to be identical. Once the designers approved the prototype, the fabricators used a custom CNC-cut tool to make the shells of the furniture sections from fiber reinforced plastic (FRP). “The furniture was built for an institutional environment, so it needs to withstand heavy use from students, staff, and visitors,” explained Hogoboom. “Based on the profile of the pieces, it had to be low and streamlined, and we were able to achieve that through the materials we used.” Once the FRP was cut, the fabricator wet sanded—with 1,200 grit—and buffed the sections. Linear polyurethane—air craft-quality paint—was applied in crayon-inspired hues and the sections were bolted into metal frames with integrated cleats. The series is finished off with bright cushions from local upholsterer AJ Read. The sofa is currently on display in Milan as part of the exhibition, Risk and Certainty in Uncertain Times, curated by RISD president John Maeda, and will travel to the States for New York’s Design Week in May.