The marquetry on Zelouf and Bell’sKoi Noir table is not your usual polite decorative borders, it is more like wood tattoos, a bold individual statement. There is a fluidity to this image that is not usually found in marquetry even with images of koi carp. (I know I’ve googled them.) It’s is the second time that they’ve used this pattern, the first time it was a coloured version for a New-York client. This time they wanted to try something more monochrome with naturally stained woods inlaid into bog oak with has been hand lacquered.
Decorative applied arts haven’t really been big in vogue with designers since the art deco period. Having been through a design school myself I understand how modernism made you feel that you were being silly if your design was anything but functional. There is definitely a snobbery about the use of certain styles, which has been gradually loosening up in the last few years, which is a good thing, as art deco never lost it’s popularity amoungst those who hadn’t been taught to look down on decoration.
At the Zelouf and Bell’s exhibition in the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris, I was rather shocked by a comment in the guestbook, accusing them of plagiarism. Apart from the fact that none of their designs are pre-existing, there is no shame in producing designs with an art deco influence. They have made it their own and pushed to the limits of what they are capable of, creating something fresher and finer. This critic would probably accept a contemporary jazz musician playing a cover version of a jazz era tune, and admire what they have bought to it. Using cultural references and an understood language of styles, deepens our connection to a work. Like with fashion houses, Gaultier or Chanel, nothing is a hundred percent new, just some things that are very well expressed and perfected upon.
Shown in the Tools Galerie last year, these simple small lacquered wooden become animated with a life of their own in the hands of Suzy Lelièvre. I often think that her work feels a little worried and nervous though perfectly controlled.
There is something very christmassy about a group of coffee tables that looks like a cross between a starry sky and a flock of sheep. This Carrara marble table with plastic coated steel legs was designed by Olivier Peyricot in 2008. He is one of those uber trendy Parisian designers that has a C.V. that many designers wouldn’t mind finding under the tree with their own name on it. Before turning forty he has already participated in exhibitions in the Pompidou centre in Paris and the Museum of modern art in New York, and of course this herd of interlocking tables that was exhibited in the Tools Galerie in the Marais in Paris.
Hubert Le Gall’s very simple steel table Margurite (daisy) works as a pair with the ombre chinée (mottled shadow) rug, which reminds me of the Persian rugs that represent a garden. This table and rug pair is another example of how Hubert Le Gall’s objects can have a double function, and more importantly to me, how the invent their own site, how they created a sense of place where objects interact with their environment. There is the very obvious level of the shadow of the daisies that is throw on the rug, but there is also the softness and fineness of the flowers even though they are in steel, it is almost a 3D projection of the rug rather than just the object that throws the shadow.
Brad Pitt and Frank Pollaro’s furniture collection was first unveiled a few weeks ago. Not something entirely new for Brad Pitt, as he’s been doodling architecture and furniture designs since he was in college. When Frank Pollaro was installing a desk from his workshop in Brad Pitt’s house in France he saw the actors sketch books and they decided to collaborate.
I keep wondering about the original desk that was being installed chez Pitt, and I wonder if it is a reproduction Rulhmann that Frank Pollaro is so famous for. If so what a massive shame that one of the few people who can afford an original Rulhmann that are available in Paris where they were created , would be importing to France a Frank Pollaro reproduction from the USA. I don’t care how many trees Brad Pitt plants, I find this environmentally twisted on so many levels. So I’m hoping that this desk was in fact one of Pitt’s designs, but then again if that were the case it would probably be a known part of the story.
Frank Pollaro’s studio in New Jersey produces woodwork of the highest level. So it’s is surprising to see these glass and metal pieces coming from his workshop. A lot of the work is based on the idea of the evolution of how a line moves. The tables are limited edition and impressive in their fluid simplicity. They seem easily balanced in their irregularity which is both physically and visually tricky, an exercise which takes a lot of trial and error and rethinking to look casual.
The steel Collage sofa table, made by Bonaldo, was inspired by a bunch of assorted old mirrors that Alain Gilles saw at a flea market, all separate yet operating together as if they were one larger object. The Collage table is in fact two pieces, one individual coffee table and one group of four atatched together, that are articulated around the higher circular table. To understand how it can move around It’s best to watch the video. My personal favourite version of this ensemble is where there is one table with copper paint, a sort of sophisticated bling.
It would be tempting to put a glass top on the Sypder table by Luisa Peixoto so that small objects wouldn’t fall through the web. Yet a series of small round trays to put things on, like little islands, wouldn’t detract from it’s pure sculptural quality. As you touch the metal lines that continuously wind around, it would keep it’s feeling of a trap.
Endless is yet another brilliant Dutch student design project. Inspired by 3D printers in 2005 Dirk Vander Kooij recycled an old industrial robot to extrude a string of recycled plastic, like a piece of spaghetti being laid along a pathway, and gradually building up the shape layer by layer. This technique also means that the design can be adjusted without having to modify a mould, thus it’s possibilities, like the plastic spaghetti that it’s made from, become endless.
It is not surprising that the Swiss designer, Max Bill, who wrote a book in 1949 called “Mathematical thinking in the art of our times”, (La Pensée mathématique dans l’art de notre temps), would design a three legged table like this. Triangulation and curved surfaces are a fundamental part of his style. The Dreirundtisch coffee table is made of wood with a linoleum table-top and is currently available at the brilliantly named Kiss the Design gallery, in Lausanne. An amazing place for post war design.
The simple tables called Simple Table, are spray painted laser cut sheets of steel. Vivian Chiu has named her design well. They appear to be coffee tables but they are actually about a meter high. A sheet of glass wouldn’t go amiss to prevent pens or forks landing on the parquet, but then they would loose their simplicity wouldn’t they?