Lennart Van Uffelen says that functionality kills the fun, but it could also be said that killing functionality is fun, but not, kill the funny functionality.
May 15th, 2013 _ Comments Off _
May 11th, 2013 _ Comments Off _
When I first saw this desk I thought it was a rather gadgety decoration reminiscent of Woody Allen’s film “The Sleeper”. But having had someone walk in and out of the room where I’m working all week I’m now rather tempted by Hella Jongerius design. If I were to tweak it in any way it would be to incorporate lighting, it’s something that would most likely be eventually added and it could work really well or flop. May as well control the gesture. Why not some LEDs along a part of the hemispheres rim?
April 24th, 2013 _ Comments Off _
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.
April 24th, 2013 _ Comments Off _
Zelouf and Bell’s Gazelle desk manages to be both fun and distinguished masculine and feminine all that the same time. The main body of the desk is of quarter sawn and oiled oak, which gives it great texture and strength. The rest is of ebonised walnut legs and wenge on the pulls. Not all woods have the same qualities or behaves in the same way, so it takes some quite serious expertise to play the different woods well. Like with good cooking, the results of this remain largely unseen at a glance, but can begin to be appreciated as you get close up. It is really over time, as it ages well, that is true value can be understood.
One of those close up details that’s pretty rock and roll has to be the hematite pulls, “like nipple rings,” Zelouf and Bell said. These close up details are always a charming discovery with their work. My favorite detail appears on all their work, it’s the way they sign their mark in inlaid polished aluminium, the stamp of style.
April 21st, 2013 _ Comments Off _
The Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris currently had an exhibition of furniture by Zelouf and Bell until April 26th. From their workshop in country Laoise in Ireland they produce an eclectic array of fine furniture. Some work is art deco inspired like this piece, but there is something a little more complex than that going on, and if I had to use some kind of style label for their studio it would be haute goth.
The fan desk is one of those objects that in all simplicity is an elegant tour de force of design and skill, executed in macassar ebony and iced koto. There is a large volume of storage space which doesn’t make it visually heavy. Over all there is a fantastic balance to it, this piece seems to put it’s weight on the central two pairs of legs and then lean outward to rest stabilized on the outer leg. I reluctantly say that it’s feminine as there is nothing girly about it at all.
Zelouf and Bell told me about how the worked with the client, and the room with two columns overlooking the sea that it was made for, and how, just as the desk was finished they weren’t too happy with the tone of the wood inside the drawers, it was too yellowy for their taste, so they ripped it out and did it all again. There’s some dedication to detail for you.
April 15th, 2013 _ Comments Off _
This ultimate transformer table was designed for the Boijmans van Beuningen Museum by the dutch design firm Studio Makkink and Bey. Makkink an architect, and Bay a graphic designer, run a multidisciplinary design studio where boundaries are broken down with lateral thinking that produces original design ideas such as this. A trestle is made to be adaptable and mobile, but this one is even more so. This table has multiple configurations, regular table, extended table, small individual writing table or easel.
The main material is HPL (high pressure laminate) and it comes in different colours. These can be interchanged and joined with metal edge pieces, that extend the multi-functionalism as they can also be used as a pen holder with the easel configuration. The unused parts of the system can be stored away on a stacker system that has the coloured table tops facing outwards like an attractive panel. The HPL legs are another element that looses the corporate feel that tables designed for collective use have,with functional metal tubes.
I imagine that the one big frustration that you’d feel with this poly-functioning system, is when you want to take a table top from the stack, and your favourite colour is at the bottom, so you end up having to make do with another colour instead.
February 20th, 2013 _ 0 comments _
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.
February 19th, 2013 _ 0 comments _
Marjan Van Aubel comes from a family of chemists, So when says that she can make seven tables out of one existing table, I imagine a process like Disney’s Fantasia with alchemy. The actual process is a little less clean and glamorous, with the resultant animation that’s a little more Frankenstein.
The original wooden table is shaved down and these shavings are mixed with a glue and pigments, which foam up irregularly as they are pushed into a shape, then dry into a solid form. This method creates the first six tables and the seventh is from the slivers of wood that could not pass through the machine but I have been unable to find any images of this one.
The original inspiration for this technique was developed with Jamie Shaw using bio-resin to use up the waste wood and sawdust which can account for 50-80% of the original wood in the manufacturing process. It’s a similar inspiration to recycling work-shop waste that was behind the design of Thôrne & Johnsson’s Keep table, which also has a original aesthetic stemming from the way that it’s made.
photos by Wai Ming Ng
January 31st, 2013 _ 0 comments _
Norm Architects from Denmark were inspired by maritime objects when designing the raft table which is constructed of welded steel and sandblasted oak. Yet when ever I saw a publicity photo for it I thought it more akin to sleek podish ifurniture than something found attached to a buoy. But then, when I saw this table at &tradition last week, I was strongly reminded of the garden tools that I knew as a kid. Weather warn darkened wood and robust steel at the intersections, something altogether more warm and homely that will age well. I’m convinced that this three legs at two ends table will be one of those seminal collectible design icons in the future, but who cares if it isn’t, it’s still a brilliant table.
January 30th, 2013 _ 0 comments _
Designed by British Harry Thaler and inspired by the Italian Bar Basso, an institution during the Milan furniture fair, Bar Alto was first presented at the London Design festival in 2011. The tabletop is made up of six boxes which are wonderfully expressed by a simple black around the openings, the same like the table legs. I rather enjoy seeing a bar of this quality which is not fixzd to the ground.