Saturday, 22 December 2012

Merry Christmas

We're winding down for a well deserved Christmas break, before it starts all over again on 2nd January, but before we go we want to wish you all a Merry Christmas and a happy, healthy, peaceful and successful 2013.

2012 has been our most successful year so far and the signs are positive for 2013. We've had a lot of support from a lot of different sources and we say thank you to all of you. 

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

Zeitraum: Editions and Additions at Interieur Kortrijk

At the recent Interieur biennale in Kortrijk, Zeitraum gave us a sneak peek at some additions to the range which will be officially launched at IMM Koln in January alongside a limited edition Morph chair.  

Images of Asian women have been printed directly onto the oak veneer, before the seat is bent into its final shape. There are 3 women to choose from, all with a tale to tell. Some are printed on the front and back, some on the front only and they are limited to 300 of each style.

Pelle by Lorenz*Kaz made a brief appearance in Milan in April. Blink and you missed it (and a lot of people missed it), but the design is much more honed and almost ready for its formal debut in January. A beautiful saddle leather sling, supported by a refined, slightly oriental wooden frame, Pelle is fit for a king.

Side will soon be available with a new leg detail - adding extra height and creating a more traditional sideboard.

We've added more images from our Kortrijk trip to a Facebook album. Check them all out HERE.

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Interieur 2012 Kortrijk

Interieur comes but once every 2 years and that's probably a good thing. It means the standard of exhibitor is high, the standard of exhibition design is high and visitors are eager to see whats on offer. Splitting the show into 2 separate venues, as the organisers did this year, may not be such a good thing, but more of that later.

Interieur at Kortrijk is a chance for the Benelux designers and brands to flex their muscle. With a tendency to be more decorative than the Scandinavians, and quirkier than the Italians, the show has a unique feeling. It's immediately obvious there is a strong curatorial team in charge, with each hall linked by a central corridor, gently guiding you around. Rather than have a single guest of honour, several designers were invited to create installations and temporary cafes on the theme "Future Primitives"  which interrupted the corridor. Makkink & Bey, Nendo and Muller Van Severen all created hugely different spaces.

Installation by Makkink & Bey
Installation by Nendo

One of the more attractive elements of Interieur is that space is given to design galleries, representing less commercial designers and "design-art". Carpenters Workshop Gallery, Galerie Greta Meert (showcasing works by Donald Judd), Valerie Traan (who represents Muller Van Severen amongst others) and Victor Hunt all had space within the main exhibition halls. After LDF, followed by PAD London and Frieze, it's good to see these different sides of the design industry can co-exist. 

Installation by Muller Van Severen
Less effective was the new Buda Island area in the city centre. A fleet of Audi cars in blue and pink Interieur livery carried you from one site to the other. The new zone focused on younger designers and brands and was almost a mini Zona Tortona. However, it felt isolated and had no interaction with the city around it. It may as well have been in an exhibition centre on the edge of town. However, the first time is always difficult, so we won't be too harsh. There were some definite highlights like the Troika ARCADES PROJECT, a site specific installation, and part of the Future Primitives programme, that created a cathedral of light.

It was also good to see Dennis Parren's CYMK light again (last seen tucked in a corner of Spazio Rossana Orlandi) and Vera, Chapter Two, a "must see" during LDF that we missed.

One strand that linked the two sites was the multitude of 3D printing. Long been mooted as the future of design, 3D printing or rapid proto-typing as it is also known, was by far the biggest trend on show. Stepping into the mainstream, it is not that difficult to envisage a day when a show like Interieur becomes an online only event and a visitor to the site can print out at home any of the designs that takes their fancy.  

3D printing at design vlaanderen
We have added an Interieur 2012 album with more images on our Facebook page.

Sunday, 14 October 2012

Bruno Munari: My Futurist Past at Estorick Collection

Bruno Munari, one of the most prolific and diverse artists of the 20th century is being celebrated with an exhibition at The Estorick Collection in London.

Image via The Estorick Collection
Using his involvement with the Futurist movement as a young man as a starting point, the exhibition focuses on the first half of his career. Useless machines, Dada Alphabets, advertising, graphic design, textile designs...they're all there. Diverse in style, it is hard to believe it is all the work of a single person.
Image via The Estorick Collection
The work of his advertising studio R+M (one of the first in Italy) revolutionised the field with photography and photomontage, at a time when images were hardly used in ads.

Ad in Campo Grafico magazine. Image via The Estorick Collection
His mobile sculptures pre-dated the more famous works of Alexander Calder - but he always rejected the comparisons between the two. Yes, they were both conceived at about the same time (in the 1930s) and both were hanging objects, but they were made of different materials and where Calder's work is organic, Munari's work is geometric and harmonious.

Never elitist, Munari's writing is used as a resource by young and old alike - his text Design As Art is used by artists and designers alike, while his ABC and ZOO illustrated books are clever learning tools for children (but secretly enjoyed by just as many adults).


Bruno Munari: My Futurist Past at The Estorick Collection until 23 December 2012.

London Design Festival 2012

London Design Festival has grown tremendously since its inception 10 years ago. Sprawling across the city, in a way that once felt haphazard, it has now embraced zoning and is a better experience for the visitor as a result. Brompton Design District (including the V&A), Fitzrovia, Shoreditch Triangle.....all bite sized and easy to digest. Spend an afternoon in each and you don't come away feeling overwhelmed by the scale of the Festival.

As we were really rather late with our roundup of the Festival shenanigans, and as everyone has blogged, tweeted and Instagrammed the star attractions, we thought we might mention some of the smaller gems the Festival had to offer.

Crockery by Max Lamb was shown at Bramford on Draycott Avenue, Chelsea and also cropped up at the SCP Design Department Store in Shoreditch. Commissioned by 1882 Ltd. this series of jug, bowl and cup in fine bone china, looked anything but fine. Cast from plaster moulds hand carved by Max, these were super chunky, sturdy and imagined for everyday use. Not something to be left on a dresser for special occasions. 

Michael Anastassiades has been mentioned before on this blog, and for good reason. His new showroom on Lower Marsh is the perfect setting for his minimal works. Detailing and his use of materials are what elevate Anastassiades' work beyond desirability. Smaller in scale to the pieces shown in Milan and LDF in 2011, these pieces were subtle yet alluring.

The Conran Shop went RED to celebrate 25 years at the Michelin building in Brompton. Pillar box red to be precise. Confusingly, the exhibition was held in the Blue Room. Limited editions and one off pieces from Nendo, Jasper Morrsion and younger designers like Jonah Takagi in a single shade of red all made for quite an impact.

Gallery Libby Sellers hosted HOT TOOLS, a show of glass works by Masters students at ECAL (The University of Art and Design Lausanne). The result of a workshop run by Ronan Bouroullec, the pieces were experiments in glass, not necessarily complete works. However, we would have been happy to take any of them home.         

London Design Festival was the last hurrah for what has been an amazing summer in the city. The rain arrived on the last day, and just like that, summer was gone.

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

#YoungSweden at designjunction

London Design Festival came, saw, conquered and has already left the building. The 10th anniversary of the LDF also marked the 2nd outing for designjunction.

Moving to a new venue, the former Royal Mail sorting office on New Oxford Street, designjunction has mushroomed from its initial incarnation in 2011. Visitors and exhibitors alike were staggered both by the scale of the building and just how quickly designjunction has grown. Featuring top quality pop up shops, flash factories, temporary bars and restaurants as well as a high standard of trade exhibitors, we presented Young Sweden and were delighted to be involved.

Focusing on young designers like Jonas Wagell, Form Us With Love and Joel Karlsson working with older, established brands like Mitab, Ӧrsjӧ and Trӓullit, Young Sweden was an opportunity to showcase the design talent coming from Sweden. It also served to highlight the bonds between some of our differing brands.

Note Design Studio are a design collective we've mentioned before. Back in February, a prototype of their Boet stool featured in the Work in Progress show curated by Jonas Wagell. Now, it is being produced by Mitab and we took great pride in launching it at designjunction. Available in 2 heights, the contrast between the rounded cork seat and the smooth metal frame drew many admiring glances. This is the first collaboration between Note and Mitab, but probably won't be the last. In February they will design the Greenhouse area of the Stockholm Furniture Fair and they just may have another product launching with one of our brands, but's top secret for now.

We also showed the Trӓullit Dekor acoustic hexagons by Form Us With Love for the first time in the UK. In just over 4 hours and using 300+ hexagons, our lovely intern Liz created a real showstopper. People gravitated towards the installation and couldn't help but touch it.

Daniel Svahn's Quiet Riot screens were also a UK first, and complimented Jonas Wagell's Montmartre Bar series.

While Jonas Bohlin may not be the youngest designer featured on the stand, we feel his Kvist is a young design, and as he has had a prominent role in educating the next generation of designers, he is more than deserving of his place. 

The rough copper of Kvist, the warm cork of Boet and the woodwool of Trӓullit made for a very tactile stand and visitors couldn't resist running their hands over them.

Thursday, 28 June 2012


With the move to Battersea more or less complete, SHOW RCA has become a vast, sprawling event. 4 buildings in Battersea and 2 in Kensington Gore means you need your walking shoes on. The new Dyson Building is an impressive space, yet strangely empty, while the Design Products area felt a little hidden and cramped. There seemed to be several strange curatorial decisions with this years show, but perhaps that is simply a case of not being used to all this new space. Here are our Top 5 (in no particular order) from across the 2 venues:

1 Sam Weller Holdfast

Part of the team that made their own money in Milan, Sam Weller presented his own project Holdfast as part of Design Products. Inspired by the humble (but handy) workbench clamp, the metal elements for Holdfast are produced on a computer controlled machine and this single component can be used to form bookshelves, tables or stools.

2 Anton Alvarez The Art of Thread Wrapping 

Using his slightly odd but pleasingly home-made Thread Wrapping Machine, Anton Alvarez presented a whole series of objects, from stools, to benches to lights, all held together purely by glue coated thread. Each piece is unique as a result, a craft aesthetic with an industrial method. 

3 Évelie Moulia Untitled

A new jewellery collection shown in Kensington, this struck us for its utter simplicity yet innovation. Neat, sharp and precise, with the finest chains you are ever likely to have seen this held our attention for some time.

4 Jon Fraser WaterBuoy

Innovation Design Engineering projects had a decidedly social feel - simple ways to improve our communities and society. WaterBuoy is incredibly easy to install and communicates in a very simple, colourful way through "Droplets" how much water a household is consuming (and wasting!). Even though it may feel like it never stops raining, water is a scarce commodity and needs to be used with caution. WaterBuoy acts as a reminder each time we fill the kettle or run the washing machine and was a worthy winner of the Dyson Award. 

5 Stuart White and David Gibson Sharing Bin

Apart from their own projects, Stuart White and David Gibson collaborated on Sharing Bin, a closed network, ideal for creative places like art schools, where people can share the files in their computer's recycle bin. the idea is to encourage recycling and intellectual sharing. The item you have binned may not be the thing you needed, or may be obsolete in your work, but could be just the thing for someone else to spark their creativity. One mans rubbish is another mans gold. 

There was quite a strong social and even political focus in this years show, with an impromptu cafe set up in Kensington where people could sit, chat and share ideas or listen to talks and also a BUY/TRADE shop, where graduates accepted offers in the form of money or services for their work. A piece of art or design in exchange for some advice on setting up your own practise perhaps?

The political dimension came from Minjae Huh and the Future Without PSW project, protesting the governments decision to scrap Post-Study Work visas, which in effect means all students, who will have paid substantial fees to study in the UK, have to leave within 2 months of graduating. To support the protest, Minjae kindly pre-printed postcards addressed to  Damian Green MP. Are we seeing the start of a new overt political activism in our colleges?


Saturday, 2 June 2012

Heatherwick Studio at the V&A

As part of our cultural detours yesterday, we stopped by the recently opened Heatherwick Studio retrospective at the V&A Museum. Designed, presumably, to provide a sense of the working studio environment, it was full to the brim of models, details, prototypes, videos of everything from Doha desert hotel complexes to Christmas cards. A little too much on display, to be honest (something we heard from several other visitors) but once you get lost in the detail, it was fascinating to see the enormous range of projects the studio undertakes.

Image via It's Nice That
Image via It's Nice That
From early projects like Plank, and B of the Bang to more recent (and noticeably larger scale) projects like the multi-faceted skyscraper hotel in China and the celebrated Seed Cathedral, the show is arranged thematically - materiality, technology, collaboration etc.

The new bus for London, an homage to the 1950's Routemaster, and rolls of upholstery fabric designed by Heatherwick for the project sits alongside crumpled steel sheets used in the construction of the Aberystwyth Artist Studios project. 

Autumn Intrusion for Harvey Nichols, 1997
Smaller items such as the Spun chair and the Extrusions bench (which we mentioned way back here) sit on plinths in the centre of the room, along with an enormous chandelier for the Wellcome Trust. The Wellcome commission came after construction of the building on the Euston Road was complete, so the challenge was to design something that would fit through a standard door. Heatherwick went one further, creating a 30 metre high chandelier that could fit through a letter box. 142,000 glass spheres were threaded onto 27,000 steel cables by 3 teams, working 24 hours a day for 4 months. The result is Bleigiessen and can be viewed at the Wellcome trust on the last Friday of every month at 2pm.

Here's a handy hint - the studio have vowed that every Friday at 2pm, someone from the studio will be on hand to demonstrate the working models, including the 7 metre retractable bridge. It's well worth timing your visit to include that.

For added value, spend some time in the V&A central reception area watching kids, young and old, playing with the Spun chairs. You'll never tire of watching their expressions change from trepidation to pure glee.

Serpentine Pavilion by Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei

We decided to take early advantage of the extra long Jubilee bank holiday weekend and took a cultural detour to the new Serpentine Pavilion, designed by starchitects Herzog & de Meuron in association with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, the team behind the Bird's Nest Stadium in Beijing. 

This years commission used the blueprints for the 11 preceding pavilions as its foundations. Digging down to ground water level, as opposed to building a standard structure above ground, and then lining everything in cork, it has the appearance of an archaeological excavation. The mushroom shaped cork stools feel monumental, as if they were hewn out of the rock. Cool and calm, the experience is in stark contrast to the bright red Jean Nouvel pavilion of 2010.

Unfortunately, Ai Weiwei was unable to attend the opening of his own pavilion due to his being under "city arrest" in Beijing. Dezeen have a video interview with Jacques Herzog at the Pavilion HERE.