Homewood House by Patrick Gwynne

Monday 31 May 2010

The Homewood ©NTPL Dennis Gilbert
The British National Trust is not a organization that you would usually associate with modern architecture and design, however last weekend I was pleasantly surprised to stumble upon one of the two modernist properties within their extensive portfolio of buildings. Homewood House, a modernist mansion just outside Escher in Surrey was built in 1938 by British architect Patrick Gwynne at the tender age of 24.

ICFF 2010 Highlights

Thursday 27 May 2010

Studio Dunn

When it comes to tradeshows, in this tumultuous time in the industry, the first question asked is always about foot traffic. To me, the question isn't "How was the attendance?" But "How was the design?Was this a year of invention, inspiration and resourcefulness?

Blu Dot

In the wake of ICFF the reviews are still streaming in. Attendance was good -- almost 23,000 in total, says  show organizers. The design was good too. Not great, but good. American company Blu Dot stood out, touting both quality of design as well as quantity, with a bevy of well received introductions. Rhode Island-based newcomers Studio Dunn presented a well edited collection of taper legged wood pieces. Both won Editors Awards this year.


Another highlight took place outside of the show at downtown retail giant, ABC Carpet & Home. With an impossibly full schedule, ABC stepped up its Design Week activities to include everything from a shop launch at the new Conran Shop to an inspirational talk from Deepak Chopra. Israeli artist Tal R contributed a patchwork reinvention of Arne Jacobsen's iconic Egg Chair, which is scattered throughout the store and can be seen through the end of May.

Jean Lin
USA Editor, Interiors

Window Displays

Wednesday 26 May 2010

Harvey Nichols Edinburgh, April 2010
A great window display turns heads, tells a story and presents an exciting vision combining products with props. Some retailers have the resources to create outlandish tableau while others opt for concise, realistic presentations incorporating key products. Whatever form they take, the best displays excite and entice, communicating aspects of the brand in an emotive and inspiring way.

Collect 2010

Friday 21 May 2010

Ghost by Kim Simonsson
This was the seventh year of the Crafts Councilʼs annual fair showing contemporary crafts from across the UK and around the world. The event took place at the Saatchi Gallery in west London and filled its ten rooms with decorative objects by more than 400 makers. Since its launch Collect has managed to demonstrate that there is more to craft than the established perception of homely products in traditional materials such as wood, glass, metal or ceramic by showcasing a wide variety of innovative ideas and techniques.

Hidden Brimfield Treasures

Friday 14 May 2010

I am back from two days at the Brimfield Antique and Collectibles Market and left pondering the American take on the importance of aesthetics. The wares on display were as beautiful and interesting as their stage was unsightly.

Set up within mustard colored circus tents, everything from porcelain tea sets to hand-stitched quilts had a sickly yellow glow. Open air booths were no better, as sale items shared shelf space with half finished juice bottles and the booth owner's lunch scraps. No matter how spectacular a certain find was -- I bought an amazing pair of leather loafers for $20 -- it was surely dampened behind a veil of clutter and ugly, which even the keenest of eyes could have trouble seeing past.

This is, however a part of the lure and charm of Brimfield -- come to Massachusetts and find hidden treasures in a heap of junk -- a sentiment that can be applied to any vintage market in middle America. Antiques in the US are just as treasured and beautiful as anywhere in the world, but the aesthetics and attention to detail at the vintage markets are sometimes as hidden as the treasures themselves.

Jean Lin
USA Editor, Interiors

ICFF 2010

Friday 7 May 2010

New York is rounding the corner on its design moment in the spotlight, New York Design Week, which revolves around the International Contemporary Furniture Fair from May 15-18. It is the one week in New York when design is celebrated city-wide. Daytime show goers trawl the streets of SoHo, Meatpacking District and Great Jones Street for product launches they missed in Milan; exhibit openings; and just plain parties. Besides the show, here are some of the events we will be dropping by.

Fabrica: Glass Sausage

Vitra / Creation Baumann
Friday, May 14, 5 - 8 pm
29 9th Avenue
Vitra and Création Baumann join forces to present three events to showcase their newest designs. The collaboration draws on the companies' Swiss origins and the design aesthetic of clarity of composition, functionality and clean, structured lines.

Fornasetti at Barneys New York
Friday, May 14, 6 - 8 pm
A presentation of surrealist couture pieces by Liborio Capizzi and a new collection of limited edition vases.

Saturday, May 15, 7 - 9 pm
The opening party is where the design elite go the first official day of the show. It's great for people watching.

Moss /Maharam /Moroso /Flos
Saturday, May 15, 7 - 9 pm
146 Greene Street
See Patricia Urquiola's new Rift collection along with new designs by Doshi Levien, Philippe Bestenhelder and Rajiv Saini.

May 15-18, 10 am - 8 pm
57 Great Jones Street
Glass Sausage Installation by Sam Baron, combining glamour, handicraft, representation, allegory, fragility, rusticity and humor.

Jean Lin
USA Editor, Interiors

Upcycling and Recycling in Milan

Wednesday 5 May 2010

Saved by Droog, images by Stefanie Gratz via Droog
In the weeks building up to the Milan furniture fair there was much talk in the press of the problems of 'overdesign' and questions such as 'does the world really need another chair?' The seemingly endless exhibition halls of the Fiera Milano cover a staggering 345,000 sq m all crammed to the brim with new design. Each stand is constructed within 3 days, is in use for 6 days and then ripped apart and thrown into a skip in just one day. So inevitably, the world's largest furniture fair is synonymous with the creation of an awful lot of waste, something that doesn't sit that comfortably with the current reflective mood of the industry.

Jens Praet (left) and Laborartorio Contraprogetto
With this in mind, manufacturers and designers have increasingly favoured anything that makes use of reused objects, derelict spaces and found materials. We saw this trend for recycling and upcycling everywhere at the fair this year. One of the most interesting and prominent examples was by Dutch brand Droog who hosted an exhibition entitled ‘Saved by Droog’; a collection of 5135 items saved from liquidation sales that had been revived and given a new lease of life through design. Droog invited 14 designers to approach the items as a raw material ready for creative re-interpretation. The results ranged from a roll on scent made from an old salt shaker and a glass ball to a striking collection of 100 containers that had been coated in a bright blue flock. All of the items were exhibited and sold throughout the week.

Elsewhere the trend was demonstrated through the use of recycled materials with emphasis on process. Studio Jens Praet mixed shredded waste paper with resin to produce a collection of hand cast tables and stools whilst Italian design studio Laboratorio Controprogetto used polished strips of reclaimed wood to create a series of beautifully crafted tables and chairs.

The trend even extended to the choice of exhibition space with Ventura Lambrate Design Distric, a former industrial district to the east of the city centre, making it’s debut as a design district. Initiated by a Dutch event company named ‘Organization in Design’, Lambrate promised to bring the focus back to design content rather than commercially driven PR stunts. The district played host to the RCA and Made in Arnhem who were both situated in old factories while Autofficina, a group of six young independent Dutch designers, took over a garage.

Ali Morris