More than seventy years after their creation, a collection of classic office furniture by Jean Prouvé is being updated and released to the market. Dutch fashion purveyor G-Star, in conjunction with Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra, have developed "Prouvé Raw," a collection of ten pieces that include chairs, desk and wall lighting, conference tables, and writing desks. And Rem Koolhaas also plays a role in this revival. In 2014, OMA and Koolhaas completed a new headquarters for G-Star. Observing an affinity between the architecture and the Prouvé pieces that was mirrored by the design philosophy of the fashion house, a decision was made to outfit the offices, conference rooms, and canteens of the new building with the seven-decade-old furnishings. In cooperation with the Prouvé family, Vitra adapted the French designer’s furnishings to meet the needs of today’s office. Desks have been modularized, and fitted with concealed runs for cables and pop-up power outlets. The swiveling desk chair has a more stable five-branch base. Teaming up with art directors at G-Star, color and material palettes were created that are true to the aesthetic of both Prouvé and the Dutch company. Several shades of industrial green, and leather and fabric upholstery complement the steel and solid-wood furnishings. The Prouvé Raw collection debuts next month at Salone in Milan.
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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.
AN had boots on the ground at the 2013 Milan Furniture Fair, taking the air and parsing the differences. This year saw an abundance of collaborations between furniture designers and architects. What follows is the second half of our greatest hits, everything from modular shelving and sleek hardware to design-forward consoles and practical seating. View even more architect-designed furniture from Milan in the first section of our roundup here. Parrish Collection Emeco In conjunction with its collaboration with Konstantin Grcic on the mobile interiors of the new Parrish Art Museum, Emeco released the Parrish Collection of modular indoor–outdoor chairs and tables. Chairs are available with three recycled aluminum frame designs that can be combined into four seat options, including one made of locally sourced wood from Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Ovetto Wallsystem FLOS Continuing his collaboration with Flos, Antonio Citterio designed the new Ovetto wall light for functional up- and down-lighting on walls. The light can be mounted on a rosette or in its own socket. Other additions to the Wallsystem collection include a long-necked Minikelvin design and Disco, a pivoting head that allows for adjustable directional lighting. Tools for Life Knoll Celebrating 75 years of design at this year’s Salone, Knoll introduced its new Tools for Life collection designed by Rem Koolhaas’ practice, OMA. The twelve-piece collection is designed to facilitate the flow between office and social life with adjustable tables and consoles available in a range of Knoll finishes. Dream Chair Carl Hansen & Son Pritzker Prize–winning Japanese architect Tadao Ando and Carl Hansen & Son teamed up to pay tribute to Danish furniture designer Hans Wegner, one of Ando’s own influences. Designed with a single piece of bent plywood atop a bent plywood base, the chair is also available in oak and American walnut with optional leather upholstery. Stack Shelving Paustian Designed by professor and architect Anders Brix, Paustian’s Stack shelving system is made up of stacking elements that lock into each other, allowing the shelves to be assembled without tools. Elements are available in six colors and are easily reconfigured based on evolving needs at home or at the office. ColoRing Collection Schemata Architects Young Tokyo-based architect Jo Nagasaka, founder of Schemata Architects, reinterprets the traditional technique of Udukuri, in which a wood surface is polished to reveal its coarse grain pattern, applying bright paint leftover from construction sites before polishing the surface smooth. The collection includes a variety of tables, chairs, benches, and stools.
Looking to brighten up the party at the 2012 Milan Furniture Fair and beyond, Heineken plans to sponsor a pop up club contest. The idea was hatched at the fair two years ago when global design and concept manager Mark van Iterson visited the Salone. The company was on the lookout for an ephemeral marketing idea that would make a nice splash--a beer equivalent of a concept car or couture, a top tier notion with a nice trickle down effect. But when the Icelandic volcanic ash kept him earthbound longer than he expected, he decided leave the exhibits and hit the party circuit instead. It was at one of the fair's many venues he had his Isaac Newton moment. "I found it a bit dull, and we were waiting 40 minutes to get a drink, and we thought "we can do this so much better--that’s our business." The concept club contest will allow the winning designer to work with coaches from Heineken's own range of design consultants from the worlds of interiors, fashion, motion graphics, as well industrial design. Milan-based Fabio Rotella will act as architecture coach, while L.A.'s Luc Schurgers of Minivegas, a multi-platform production studio, will weigh in on production values. The tag line "Light Up the Night" dictates that designers should not hold back when it comes to lighting. Everything from effects on the beer bottle (the iconic shape can't be touched) to the LED clothing worn by wait staff can be included as part of the design. Amsterdam-based LEW will advise on fashion. Contenders will be selected from a series of contests held in clubs in New York, Sao Paulo or Tokyo and will be modeled after PechaKucha, the Japanese organization that pioneered 20x20 networking event where young designers connect over drinks. Participants have about five minutes to present 20 slides (20 seconds per slide). The first event will be held in New York on August 18 and is open to New York City residents only. While the selection process sounds a lot like beer-soaked crowdsourcing, the selection process will not be. "This is not democratic voting," said van Iterson. The winners will have to pass muster with van Iterson and his team of design experts.
Chef Mario Batali stopped by a group of diners at a press event today at Eataly to say that everyone who came into the new high-end Italian-theme eating court is ‘Italian.” But he was actually right, as sprinkled among the journalists sat the upper ranks of the Italian furniture industry all come to New York to announce one of those commercial-turned-cultural events that only the Italians can pull off without seeming crass. “I Saloni Milano in New York” wants to be for furniture what Fashion’s Night Out is for fashion. On November 29, some 20 Italian showrooms throughout New York will throw open their doors to “pay homage to the quality, innovation and beauty for which Italian design has long been known.” But that’s not the half of it. Programs in multiple venues will run for six weeks thereafter until January 8, 2011. Robert Wilson, master of theatrical event, will be at Center 548 in Chelsea to debut “Perchance to Dream: Videoportrait and Design Landscape,” a commissioned piece featuring ballet star Roberto Bolle. An ardent Italophile, Wilson is currently designing seven plastic chairs for Kartell, one for each decade of his life, and will also be selecting contemporary Italian-made furnishings to fill the gallery space as accompaniment to the videoportrait. When asked about his preferred style, he said, “I am interested in counterpoint. And you?” But that’s not all. Over at the Park Avenue Armory on December 3, artist-filmmaker Peter Greenway will be showing his multimedia spectacle of Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper that debuted in Milan in 2008. Here he will be upstaging himself with a replica of the dining set of the painting inside a full-scale mock-up of the nearly 4,000-square-foot apse and cupola of the Refectory of Santa Maria delle Grazie inside the drill hall. If that weren’t sweet enough, we hear that the panettone and caffe will be flowing everywhere throughout the holidays to inaugurate the 50th anniversary of the Milan Furniture Fair.
Is Italy returning to medieval-era warfare between city-states Milan and Venice? AN’s own Julie V. Iovine reports from Milan that Milanese and Lombardy officials are more than a bit miffed that Venice is proposing to start its own design fair in 2011, seeking to steal the spotlight from the nation’s long-established epicenter of design. Milan has been displaying its prodigious output for nearly half a century at the annual Salone Internazionale del Mobile, and sporadically at the Triannale’s Palazzo del’Arte. But Carlo Guglielmi, the president of Cosmit, which runs the Milan fair, said that Venice’s sophisticated biennale exhibition and marketing organization would like “to pick off a little bit of the Salone for its avant-garde furniture, and from the Triennale for culture.” The annual Milan event attracts more than 300,000 visitors and brings in, according to Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera, at least 7 million euros a year for the local Lombardy economy. Siphoning some of that wealth into Venetian coffers would be a blow to both the Milanese pocketbook and to its powerful design community. Venetian officials are said to be giving a serious look to the proposal, which would add another high-style biennale to its roster of well-known art and architecture events. Whether the dueling design capitals can reach a peace accord over the matter remains to be seen.