Monday, April 30, 2007

Milan: Moroso

I am a huge fan of Patricia Urquiola and was dying to see her new work for Moroso in Milan. I was not disappointed. In fact, the whole collection blew me away.

I particularly love how Moroso has delved head first into really interesting fabrics, prints and textures. It was a real visual feast after so many stands of solid colours and standard finishes.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Milan: Ceramica Bella

As you may have already gathered from my posts, I have a soft spot for beautiful ceramics. I love the fact that they come from the earth yet attain such ethereal perfection under the right hands.

Rina Menardi is a new discovery for me. She has a range of vases, bowls and serving plates that strike a beautiful balance between delicate porcelain and rustic pottery. The red pieces were absolute show stoppers.

Seletti has also launched a fun line of ceramics that looks as if it found its inspiration in disposable containers and cartons.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Milan: Pircher and Paola Lenti

There was another prefab installation in the Zona Tortona that was far more interesting than the Loft Cube. It was a prefabricated system by Bestetti Associati for Pircher that is entirely made of glass, wood and iron.

Large rectangular prefabricated rooms can be coordinated to create a variety of home designs. They also claim to be environmentally sustainable and energy efficient.

The interiors inside the Pircher installation were decorated with furniture and rugs by Paola Lenti. Their stunning collections are extremely high quality and come in an array of saturated hues.

I am completely besotted with the whole rug collection and particularly those designed by Patricia Urquiola.

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Milan: Loft Cube

The area outside the Marcel Wanders Studio exhibit was dominated by a full sized Loft Cube. After seeing it in so many magazines over the last year, I was dying to get inside and quickly joined the queue.

Initially in awe of the layout and clever separation of living areas, my disappointment mounted as the practical woman in me kept searching for storage - any storage, but to no avail. I also do not feel that additional storage space would have affected the design concept. For example, the bathroom and kitchen sinks were wall mounted with no cupboards below. Hmm... where to hide those cleaning products? Perhaps the people who come to clean the cube bring them with them...

The choice of white Corian for the kitchen counters, cupboards and sink looked absolutely stunning, but would drive the average person mad trying to keep clean, as every little fingerprint would stand out like a scar on your lovely new kitchen. I was thinking that perhaps a better choice would be a white Corian counter (which is manageable) and cupboards in a wood veneer to match the window frames.

I often think that what differentiates industrial design from fine art is the fact that great design must be beautiful and practical; definitely a hard balance to strike. In fact, what initially drew me to design was that amazing combination of beauty, genius, function and a grounding in the every day that the very best work achieves.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Milan: Avverati

Salone Satellite is one of the most interesting areas to visit at the Salone del Mobile. It is an area for emerging designers and students to display their designs to talent scouts, manufacturers and a curious public. This year an exhibition called Avverati (A Dream Come True) was held in this area to highlight the many successful pieces that have emerged from Salone Satellite since it began in 1998. There were many wonderful designs here; some that I recognized and some that were exciting new discoveries.

Indaco Design created these ceramic boxes in 2003. They function as storage boxes, display objects and ovenproof casseroles.

A star-shaped cut eliminates material at critical points on this tray designed by Suntae Kim in 2006. When fruit is added they reassemble tropical flowers.

Catherine Mui designed this lamp in 2005. It can be maneuvered to into different shapes by sliding the boxes from side to side.

David Trubridge, who is a new discovery for me, currently has a large collection of furniture and lighting that takes its inspiration from natural forms. He originally exhibited the Body Raft at the Salone Sattelite in 2001 and the Reed Light in 2002.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Milan: Marcel Wanders Studio

One of the most exciting exhibits I came across in Milan was in the Zona Tortona, where a large warehouse had been turned into a gallery for Marcel Wanders' personal designs. These are pieces that are perhaps impractical to produce on a mass scale, but are creations that he felt necessary to explore and exhibit. It was very exciting to see a designer create a forum (self-financed) that seeks to challenge and expand our relationship to design.

Enormous painted bells, illuminated from inside, were suspended throughout the room; each bell decorated in a variety of colours and patterns.

The Crochet Chair, which was exhibited at Design Miami, sat in the centre of the room where a back light outlined its beautiful crochet patterns. (It is hand crocheted and coated with a fibre resin)

This white carrera marble console was sand blasted to leave a similar crochet pattern on its luminescent surface.

There were also magnesium etchings and one in particular, depicting a medieval city and an interplay of moving forms and measurement, that I found quite stunning.

My favourite items were his delft blue porcelain vases and figures. They are a delicate and distinctly modern interpretation of the historic delft blue ceramics. The traditional forms are slightly reinterpreted and the brush strays from the standard outline, splashing out in trails of gorgeous blue over the restrained white classic shapes.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Milan Preview

I am heading to Milan this week for the Salone Internazionale del Mobile and hope to come home with a boatload of information, ideas and inspirations for my posts. To say that I am excited would be a vast understatement! I thought I would start with some of the Milan previews that I find really interesting.

Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec designed these chairs for Vitra (left); and the Pol sofa and Stone light for Kartell and Swarovski.

Foster & Partners are launching these chairs (below) for Emeco called 20-06, which are made from 80% recycled aluminium.

Luce Plan is also launching this beautiful light designed by Inga Sempe (below).

Monday, April 16, 2007

Georgian Dublin

My favourite route through Dublin is to travel up Leeson Street, cross the canal and turn right onto Fitzwilliam. At this point, on a clear day, you have a mile long view of early Georgian town homes that stretches uninterrupted (except for one tragic half block) until it meets Holles Street Maternity Hospital. Coming from a part of the world where most buildings are less than 100 years old, I am in awe of this small stretch of history and it allowed me to understand immediately the current popularity of Georgian homes.

During the 18th century Dublin was transformed from a medieval town into one of the finest Georgian cities in Europe. Peace and stability in the country gave rise to great social and economic activity; and like most eras of economic prosperity, architecture became a huge reflection of this golden period. In the two centuries that followed the year 1800, when the Irish Parliament was dissolved and the MPs moved to England, severe economic decline, terrible tragedy and political upheaval translated into minimal architectural investment. The result of this 200 year period of very little building and development, was the preservation of an incredible number of Georgian homes, streets and squares, which would have otherwise most likely have been demolished in favour of Victorian Gothic style.

What is so striking about early Georgian architecture, is its clean lines and classic scaling. It is characterized by its proportion and balance; simple mathematical ratios were used to determine the height of a window in relation to its width or the shape of a room as a double cube. Large windows, imposing doors and parapets that hide the edge of the roof, all force the eye up off the ground and create a sense of symmetry. When they are placed next to each other and stretch for blocks, as on Fitzwilliam Street, the effect is so dramatic that you can see how the beauty of such precise and streamlined architecture could speak to our modern and contemporary sensibilities.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Aiveen Daly

New upholstery can not only transform a piece of furniture, but also dramatically transform the room it sits in. Recovering vintage furniture from any era is one of the most creative aspects to decorating a room. It is far more interesting than buying everything new and is definitely a more environmentally sustainable approach. Aiveen Daly takes upholstery to a new level, by creating bespoke couture upholstery designs in a luxurious array of original textiles, and with fine details like pleats, ribbon and buttons. Here are some of examples of her work:

This floor to ceiling panel is covered in an early Timorous Beasties fabric.

Here a Victorian ottoman is covered in a retro Swedish union linen. The seat lifts up to reveal storage inside, lined with tangerine cotton.

This chair was a commission for Elle Deco and Liberty of London. It is covered in an eclectic mix of Liberty shirt fabrics.

'Moneypenney', as this chair is called, is upholstered in Herringbone Tweed, with handmade frill, piping and buttoned suit detailing.

This chair was upholstered in Hemp and goatskin for shoe designer Rupert Sanderson's store in Mayfair.

Saturday, April 7, 2007

Ken Shuttleworth

Ken Shuttleworth designed this gorgeous piece of modern architecture in 1996 to replace the family weekend cottage in Wiltshire, England.

The house consists of two crescents that are placed side by side with a gallery space in between. The main crescent consists of a wall of curving glass that faces the garden, with an open plan living, dining, recreation area. Behind it, the other crescent consists of five bedrooms with a solid wall to the rear.

The gentle curve of the glass lends itself to the rural landscape, almost as if two arms were extending into it. Its shape also shields the garden from the wind. Apparently, deer, badgers, pheasants and foxes wander right up to the glass.

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Creation Baumann

Creation Baumann has a wonderful line of sheer curtain fabrics called Cerberus, specifically designed to work with the large amount of glass used in contemporary architecture. It can be very tricky to try and provide privacy and shade without hindering the aesthetic, expansive and luminous effect that these windows and walls have on the interior space.

These fabrics work well because they add a simple elegance and interest to the windows without detracting or adding heaviness to the clean and simple lines of a a large glass wall or window.

The fabrics come in stripe designs, contrast-rich checks, ingenious gauze weaves, distinctive jacquard, textured weaves, elegant plissé fabrics and blended effect yarn to generate a delicate rib effect. The colour range is very simple; white, beige, black, anthracite and grey. The gauze weaves are also available in metallic shades.