To mark its 75th anniversary Knoll joined forces with OMA, co-founded by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas. At Salone del Mobile 2013 in Milan earlier this month they launched a new collection of kinetic furniture called Tools for Life. The collection features adjustable tables, swivel chairs, a stool, an executive desk, and other items. The minimalist material palette makes the furniture compatible with a range of residential and workplace interiors. I would like to highlight one of the collection pieces named 04 Counter. A horizontal stack of 3 timber blocks that can be transformed from a wall-like unit to cantilevered benches that swing around a central axis. A metamorphosis from a spatial partition to a communal gathering place. We wanted to create a range of furniture that performs in very precise but also in completely unpredictable ways, furniture that not only contributes to the interior but also to the animation – Rem Koolhaas
The Tom Kundig Collection, launched in 2012 by Olsen Kundig Architects is a celebration of the moments when people become kinetically involved with the buildings and spaces they inhabit. The series features a variety of differing interaction scenarios, suitably named peek, no peek, droop, pull and earless. The collection is one of stylised conscious consideration of experience. With each piece, the user is challenged to change their interaction with the hardware, as a response to the evolution of the aesthetic that is presented. I like and appreciate this immensely. Here, design is challenging behaviour, heightening experience and giving a nod to the appreciative eye of the user. The use of steel, the consideration of the line work and seamless nature of the execution are beautiful. Seattle-based Olsen Kundig Architects were also recognised in 2012 from Interior Design magazine with a Best of the Year Award. Envisioned as the first of several product lines by the firm, the focus of the collection stems from Kundig’s well-known interest in the ways people interact with their environment. The resulting collection is one that celebrates the movement of people through architecture, and the interface of that interaction is celebrated. I look forward to the...
Stockholm based studio Claesson Koivisto Rune was founded by designers Mårten Claesson, Eero Koivisto, and Ola Rune. The multi-disciplinary studio, which was originally an architectural office, have produced Kami – a minimalist-inspired series consisting of precise and elegantly designed tables and benches. Kami (paper in Japanese), true to the rules of sobriety and elegance, features essential symbols, extremely slim profiles (up to 3mm) and geometric outlines. The Kami table is entirely made in solid bamboo. Available in natural or black, it can be a precious living room table, an elegant desk or a peculiar meeting table. The absence of screws, bolts and glues and the innovative interlock assembly underline its technical and aesthetic qualities. The shallow Kami table or bench perhaps has an even more striking beauty, in my opinion. Also made in bamboo, it measures 1800mm (L) x 450mm (W) x 190mm (H) and weighs only 15kg. Wonderful.
The Simplissimo collection was created by French architect and designer Jean Nouvel for the furniture manufacturer Ligne Roset. The line consists of chaise lounge, banquette, fireside chair, footstool and bench. As the name suggests, the objects are deliciously minimal and understated. Viewed in profile, each Simplissimo piece looks as if it has been designed with two strokes of a pen. Here is how Nouvel explains his vision: I like simple objects, produced in a natural way, with a little wood, foam and plastic. This is a direct aesthetic, which goes straight to the point, inspired by ‘fitness’. This faux banality renders such objects moving. Different and similar, like the members of a family which will grow and take on colour over the generations. Comfort of the seating comes from a Polyurethane foam applied over a sheet of grooved polypropylene. The upholstery hugs the curves of the metal structure and deliberately allows gathers in the corners, contributing to the overall aesthetic of the pieces.
This is Oak, the result of an extracurricular, collaborative student workshop at Lund University School of Industrial Design, Sweden. The goal: to explore archetypes and stereotypes in the world of furniture. The group developed a range of independent pieces, but which are actually impressively coherent. Of course it helps that they’re all made from the same single material, American oak. One of the participaring students, Karl Jönsson, describes how all pieces were stripped down to their origins. From those elements, together with a hint of humor, new pieces have been created, while considering form, usage and interaction with their surroundings. The icing on their cake: Oak was exhibited during the Milan fair 2011.
In 2010 Tokujin Yoshioka introduced The Invisibles, a collection of invisible furniture for Kartell that employed their pioneering polycarbonate technology to produce a thickness never before seen or manufactured. This year Yoshioka introduced at the Milan Design Week 2011 a Light version of The Invisibles with a similar profile but made with a thinner acrylic. The collection includes variously sized tables and simple, linear armchairs. On the original Invisibles, Yoshioka say: They were an exceptionally experimental pieces made out of the transparent blocks of acrylic. The poetic, yet dynamical presences reveal the essence of the pieces, and leave a mysterious scenery.
MAKR is the brainchild of Jason Gregory, who designs and patterns every product (and produces all of the hand-sewn small goods in house) along with his team. Composed mostly of bags, cases and accessories, MAKR products are all invariably designed in clean lines and their apparent simplicity and effortlessness belie quite a sophisticated build. The succint range of materials – canvas, leather, metal and wood – provides the brand with a strong character: sturdy, dependable and beautiful. I’ve been especially in love with the black canvas and black manitoba utility bag featured here, but I also secretly pine for their work stool…
Without friends where would we be? My good friend Sonia of Area22 dropped us a line about Silva/Bradshaw, a small design studio based in Brooklyn, New York. Apparently, they have something good to offer – and yes they do! Silva/Bradshaw, founded in 2010, is the combination of Sergio Silva and Matthew Bradshaw. Their portfolio spans furniture, jewelry and industrial design – and they’re also working on the design and branding of a restaurant. As wide as their focus is, I’m impressed by the elegance and freshness of throughout their work. It’s just a pleasure to look at, isn’t it?! (Pssst, they actually sell their jewelry online – and it’s quite affordable!)
I myself am a pretty hardcore minimalist in my taste for furniture. I’m a sucker for that rational minimalism, where even the variation in an object’s proportions is brought down to the minimum. And so, cubes appeal to me. Consider the Blox Cube. Doesn’t it remind you of our godfather Donald Judd’s cubes? And then there’s its big brother, Blox Bench. Don’t put this against a wall, but in the middle of the room. Of course without piles of stuff on it! (Before you continue to the rest of the images, please be warned: the mood shots are *really* tacky…)
A ‘messed up’ look. Or is it wabi sabi? Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka has a fascinating minimalist approach to asymmetric conceptual design: design and nature get really close. “I’m fascinated by the elements of nature.” he says. Tokujin Yoshioka takes white paper, crumbles it a lot and voilà. He creates a crumpled sofa with a ‘paperness’ and fluffy cloud feeling. Believe or not the prototype is actually made entirely of paper. The Cloud sofa, to be manufactured by Moroso, has the sensibility of wabi sabi which values modesty, simplicity and imperfection. Tokujin Yoshioka’s work is displayed at the Museum of Modern Art and Cooper Hewitt’s National Design Museum’s permanent collections among others. I love the ‘crumbled paper’ blue sketch. One of the interesting things about experimental design is the difference between the first idea and the final object. Is the design more important than the original idea?
This sofa contains a secret. I need softness to satisfy my need for order and aesthetic expression. The stark wood base of this sofa is pure minimalism. But the upholstered, quilted blanket wrapping the minimalist frame is traditional and deliberately loose fitting. The Sofa Ruché, for Ligne Roset, by French designer Inga Sempé, is a conceptual provocation, currently on display at maison et object 2010 in Paris. Inga says she is not interested in art but is fascinated by everyday things. She is the daughter of illustrator Jean-Jacques Sempé and painter and illustrator Mette Ivers-Sempé. The blending of soft quilting curves with modern sleek geometry is unusual. A softened minimalism with forgiving edges. The goal? Make modern design less intimidating an easier to live with.
I’m a big fan of Claudio Silvestrin‘s work: austere but not extreme, contemporary yet timeless, calming but not ascetic, strong but not intimidating, elegant but not ostentatious. Silvestrin made this macassar ebony Waterside bench-with-armrest in 2001 for Cappellini. The bench is one simple play of proportion. The retail price however is of a different proportion ;-)