here comes the sun.

olafur eliasson, contact, 2014
 image © iwan baan

olafur eliasson, contact, 2014
 image © iwan baan

I’m always deeply impressed by industrial designers who design products that function well and look good too, products that you can’t imagine being without (hello, toothbrush! hi, umbrella!). Here’s a chance to create something functional, beneficial, and hopefully, beautiful too. Natural Light is an international competition for design students to create a special edition solar lamp, with the intention of bringing sustainable light to areas in Africa where there is none. The original Little Sun lamp – a simple, vibrant-hued flower lamp – did just that. Thousands of Little Suns were distributed to nine African countries, replacing expensive and polluting alternatives such as kerosene lamps. littlesun_ohl.

Little Sun is a social business who produce sustainable lighting solutions for off-grid African communities; the artist Olafur Eliasson is a co-founder. Eliasson is probably best known for The Weather Project, the dynamic and captivating sun installation that inhabited Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall in 2003-2004 (see his gorgeous current project at the Louis Vuitton Fondation, here) oe_weather-project

The Natural Light competition is a collaboration between Little Sun and Velux. Velux promote sustainable architecture and publish research into daylight, its effects on well-being and the environment. Their informative magazine contains useful information for designers on daylight and sustainable architecture, and of course they produce all manner of blinds.

Further details on the competition, Natural Light, here. disclaimer2

an enigmatic modernist.

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A XI 2011

Crossing the boundary between photography, art and sculpture, German artist Christine Erhard’s work is familiar and ambiguous at the same time. The  architectural subject matter and modernist aesthetic seem familiar, until the unusual viewpoint and use of materials cause the imagery to appear distorted and other worldly.

Initially studying sculpture, Christine Erhard became increasingly interested in the images of the object, rather than the objects themselves, until photography and its ability to manipulate became her primary focus. She explores various movements within Modernism, with the avant-garde architecture of the Russian Constructivists a theme she returns to over and again.

Christine cites artists of the 1920s such as Laszlo Moholy-Nagy as her inspiration; artists who work in various disciplines – painting, poetry, graphic design, photography. Like Moholy-Nagy, there is a strong graphic quality to her work. For me, these works are both familiar and enigmatic, and very appealing.

AXX-Christine-Erhard_ohl.

AXX 2011

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MI II 2012

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QVIII  2012

More of Christine Erhard’s work, here. All images courtesy of the artist.

antwerp house in blue/grey.

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veerle_wenes_en_amberes_202974908_1200x800 veerle_wenes_en_amberes_575021604_1200x800 veerle_wenes-ohlveerle_wenes2-ohlLike Ampersand house (I write about it here and here), this home in Antwerp doubles as a gallery space. The first thing that one notices is the wall colour: an intense, muted grey/green. The second thing is the cobblestone floor and exposed brick. Originally built as a workshop in the 19th century, it translates beautifully into the 21st, with contemporary materials – resin floors and polished concrete elements – adding to the simple fixturing that allow the gallery’s pieces to be shown to best effect.

Much of the furniture is by Muller Van Severen, who describe their pieces as ‘sitting somewhere between art and design’. I love their simple, industrial but elegant aesthetic.

Gallery house in Antwerp via AD. Photographs: Ricardo Labougle

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home of the year 2014.

An eyrie is defined as ‘the nest of an eagle or other bird of prey, built in a high inaccessible place’. A perfect moniker, then, for these two cabins, built on an inlet on the New Zealand coast, and awarded 2014 Home of the Year by Home magazine.

Barely larger than their four sheets of plywood, the cabins are off-grid and autonomous, their outsides burnt black. I love the description of the architects’ vision, a ‘poetic of small boats bobbing in a sea of grass’. There are no doors. One climbs up boulders and in through a window instead. Each comprises a tiny bathroom (both have showers that are outdoors), a kitchen, a sitting area and a sleeping loft. Each has two large windows and wooden hatches that allow ventilation of the bathroom and sleeping areas. A window in the ceiling allows a view of the night sky. The interior of one of the cabins is covered in honey-coloured ply; the other is inky black. A perfect owl’s house.

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Photography, Jeremy Toth (feature image, images 2, 3, 6) and Darryl Ward (images 4, 5)

Eyrie by Cheshire Architects, via. More cabins for living in, here and here

not just copper orange.

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The big news in colour is Copper Orange, Colour of the year 2015. Copper has been an emergent trend for a while now, and shows no sign of waning (the Facade of the Year is also copper).

Colour forecasting is a fascinating world, as I discovered in a workshop I attended this morning given by the paint and coatings manufacturer AkzoNobel. It’s not just about the colours we will be buying into in the year ahead; it is an indicator of the way we live and what we are striving for. The other big ideas behind the colour forecast for 2015 are themes of transparency and layering (refer the House of the Year 2014, a transparent house); his and hers, a celebration of the differences between us; merging and gradient colours and non repeating pattern (no more matchy matchy); noticing the undiscovered and negative space.

Fascinating. More, here. Happy weekend.