In 1960, Danish designer Hans Wegner, now 92, sketched an upholstered chair that was never manufactured. It is finally being produced by Hansen using the originally specified construction and materials, including solid beech frames and hand-sewn piping.
Susanne Happle and Terratorium applied techniques to glass and concrete that cause natural processes (like differences in temperature) to affect the design (for example, causing condense reveal patterns on windows or words to appear when wet on sinks). The possible applications of what they call "solid poetry" are various: either at home in the bathroom, in the garden, in saunas and dance clubs, where the humidity is high or public spaces like bus stops or pavements. All forms of solid poetry have in common that they change the whole setting; they are surprising and have a life of their own.
Every once in a while, a friend of mine (OK, Nicole) will leave a comment on my blog like, "These are too expensive! What planet are you living on?" But, let's face it, if I only wrote about things I could afford, this would be a very dull blog. ;)
That's what I love about the Web - I can think and look and lust without buying. I can research and study and feel a part of the process without spending one red cent. You'd never even guess that I still have the same dining room table that I ate from as a child that my parents gave me many moons ago. Or my couch has chocolate milk stains and black lab hair all over it. And my $200 plastic rocker/recliner from Sam's Club broke after about only two months. (It's only a rocker now unless you physically force the bottom part out and then push it back in - which takes way more effort than I'm willing to put forth just to recline in a chair that may flip me if I go back too far.) The rug in my sitting area is from Fred's.
But I have found a way to meld my two worlds into one - my online vicarious designer life and my real boring Wal-Mart one. Designer chairs. At my house. (OK, in miniature form, but still.)
The Kloud Collection includes a lounge chair (38 inches wide), a two-seat sofa (63 inches wide), and an 86-inch-wide three-seat sofa. All three are 28 inches deep and 30-1/2 inches high. Frame is a laminated wood base with rubber webbing under the fixed cushion. The foam body is supported with a tubular steel frame inside. The seat and back are polyurethane foam covered in Fortrel. Upholstered in leather or fabric.
This USB flash drive by Russian designer Dima Komissarov, the Flashbag (patents pending), has a built-in micropump that expands and contracts the storage device depending on the amount of data it's holding. Even when switched off, the Flashbag stays pumped up, letting you visually estimate how much more will fit onto it.
Die Neue Sammlung, a new collection in Munich, is an ode to everyday design. It showcases 100 years of chairs, ceramics, cars and other everyday items. The collection now holds 75,000 objects and is considered one of the foremost collections of industrial design in the world.
A Gerrit Rietveld sideboard and high chair. A Richard Riemerschmid desk. Fans designed by Peter Behrens. A 1928 BMW motorcycle and a 1928 Pratt & Whitney Wasp Junior radial engine. A Marcel Breuer lounge chair. a Walter Maria Kersting radio. Bentwood and plywood furniture created by Michael Thonet. Quite an eclectic collection.
This last year alone, Die Neue Sammlung added about a thousand objects to its collection. The best will go on display this fall in the Schaudepot - an open storage area that visitors can wander through - and everything else can be seen by appointment.
This week, in my unofficial role as a bookofjoe crackpot research team member, I helped Traci find some information on the Web about Jonathan Ive, who, until then, I had never heard of and didn't connect at all with the iPod or the iMac and the crazy iLife we've all been living since the advent of both of those products. And, from what I've read, Ive would like it that way. (Is it just me or is this man gorgeous?)
Traci wanted to know about his childhood for a book report. She could find information on design aspects but not much on his personal life. There is not much about his childhood out there because he doesn't want to talk about his personal life - he wants to talk about his design work. He has not been very comfortable in the spotlight that has shined down on him as a result of his success at Apple.
Here's what I found for Traci's book report, in case anyone else finds it useful. (I had to walk that thin line between helping her find information and finding all of it for her, though.)
He was born in London in 1967. He grew up in Chingford, Essex.
He studied art and design at Newcastle Polytechnic (now Northumbria University).
His self-taught design skills: "As a kid, I remember taking apart whatever I could get my hands on. Later, this developed into more of an interest in how they were made, how they worked, their form and material." He adds: "By the age of thirteen or fourteen I was pretty certain that I wanted to draw and make stuff. I knew that I wanted to design but I had no idea what I'd design as I was interested in everything: cars, products, furniture, jewellery, boats. After visiting a few design consultancies I eventually decided that product design would be a pretty good foundation as it seemed the most general. I studied art and design at school and went on to Newcastle Polytechnic. I figured out some basic stuff - that form and colour defines your perception of the nature of an object, whether or not it is intended to. I learnt the fundamentals of how you make things and I started to understand the historical and cultural context of an object's design. I wish my drawing skills had improved, but while that bothered me then, it doesn't now."
1967 Born in London, where he spends his childhood.
1985 Studies design and art at Newcastle Polytechnic (now Northumbria University).
1989 Becomes a partner at Tangerine, a London-based design consultancy where he works on a wide range of products from power tools to wash basins.
1992 Moves to San Francisco to join the Apple design team.
1998 Appointed vice-president of industrial design at Apple. Launch of the original iMac, which sells 2 million units in its first year.
1999 Introduction of the Apple iBook, the 22" Cinema Display, PowerMac G4 Tower and iSub.
2000 Launch of the Apple G4 Cube.
2001 Apple introduces the Titanium PowerBook G4 and the iPod portable MP3 player.
2002 Launch of the new sunflower-inspired iMac with 15" and 17" floating screens. Introduction of the eMac, a version of the iMac specially developed for use in the education sector.
2003 Apple launches the 12" PowerBook and the 17" PowerBook, which at 1" thick and 6.8 lbs is the world's slimmest and lightest 17" notebook computer. Wins the Design Museum's first Designer of the Year prize.
2004 Launch of the multi-coloured iPod mini and ultra-slim iMac G5.
2005 Appointed senior vice-president of design at Apple. Launch of the Mac Mini.
Jonathan is a modest and shy person, who often seems uncomfortable with the attention and celebrity his work has generated. When he won the D&AD award it was Steve Jobs that collected the award and made the acceptance speech although Jonathan attended the event. In interviews he seeks to avoid personal questions, preferring to keep the focus on his work, and constantly emphasizing the teamwork that goes into Apple's products.
In contrast to this modesty Jonathan is animated when talking about his work, exhibiting an obsessive passion about design and attention to detail, and an almost geeky interest in the specifics and technicalities of his work.
Reluctance to answer personal questions means very little is known about Jonathan's private life. Jonathan is said to live modestly, inhabiting a two bedroom house near Apple's headquarters in Cupertino, California and his only concession to this lifestyle is a top of the range Aston Martin coupe.
Jonathan's fame has also brought celebrity admirers such as Bono and David Byrne and some of these have turned into friends. Specifically Jonathan is good friends with fashion designer Paul Smith and DJ John Digweed.
Little else is known about Jonathan outside Apple, except, judging by his bulging appearance, he must also spend a lot of time in the gym.
It was an interesting project, and it made me think about how business in this country has an edge of celebrity to it. I'm not talking about the business part, but the people part. And how Ive saying he doesn't want to talk about his personal life, which is his prerogative, only makes reporters want to know about it more. (Like the celebrities saying "I will not answer any questions about X" and the whole time the reporter and the celebrity just bounca around X, tapping lightly, like two boxers in a ring.)
He does have pages and pages of design interviews. He'll talk about design all day. But, of course, all I really want to know about now is what happened between 1967 and 1985...most likely just because he doesn't want to tell me. ;)
In April, about 200,000 design aficionados will hit Milan for the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, the industry's most prestigious furniture show. It's open to the public for just one day, so be sure and get there early on April 9. And fly in early because there will be lots of free design exhibits all around the city beginning April 5.