Category Archives: found objects.

m + o 2016: favourite things and new discoveries.

Maison et Objet is the prodigious design fair that occurs bi-annually in Paris as part of Paris Design Week, and I made it back there this September. Below are some favourite things and new discoveries.

Natural materials where strongly evident throughout the show. Netherlands based Ay illuminate produce lighting and accessories hand-woven from bamboo, sisal and other natural (waste) materials, working with artisans in Asia and Africa. The resulting designs are contemporary,  organic and very desirable.

Sika-design have been producing wicker furniture since the ‘50s, and are perhaps best known for their fabulous Hanging Egg chair and simple classic, rattan poufs (which I am supposed to call ’ottoman’).

Italian ceramicist Nina Menardi showed a vast collection of elegantly shaped and coloured ceramics, all inspired by nature. My favourite pots were called Barro, made from black terracotta and designed by Sebastian Herkner, who was also the designer behind some fabulous, smoky glass table lamps called Boule, for German brand Pulpo.

Pulpo was a new discovery for me, with the same designer responsible for a glass ceramic side table made of 100% waste material from industrial glass production in shades of ocean blue, polar white and champagne brown. Pulpo also showed striking containers in tinted and silvered glass, giving way to an iridescent effect; a trend also evident at Tom Dixon.

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Images 1 + 2, 3  Ay Illuminate; Images 4 + 5  Sika-design; Images 6 + 7  Nina Menardi; Images 8, 9, 10  Ceramics display / Barro, design by Sebastian Herkner / Grey, design by Milia Seyppel; Images 11 + 12 Boule lamp / Pulpo display.

Deep, rich hues of green, yellow and blue prevailed, either as a background colour or in the products themselves. I loved Swedish brand Linum’s Big and Bold collection with strong colours and abstract shapes.

Major Dutch brand Pols Potten have been around for 30 years, producing minimal, everyday products. More mainstream than a lot of Dutch design (which is characteristically quirky and playful – think Moooi and Droog); their products are commercial and always current. The French designer Charlotte Juillard showed a set of stunning bedroom pieces – daybed, side table and mirror – the lava stone bases giving a strength and elegance to the design.

Valerie Objects is an Antwerp based design label who work with designers, architects and artists. I always like the work of Muller van Severen (read previous blog posts, here and here), and was again drawn to the simple lines and clear colours of their products.

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I’m always on the look-out for new and interesting lights. Nyta are a young and dynamic German brand with a small but strong capsule collection. Stalwart DCW Editions are always big on architectural style, and showed my all-time favourite lamp, the Mantis lamp, in all its guises – floor, wall and table. This lamp was originally created in 1951 in homage to Alexander Calder. They also showed the latest incarnation of the classic Gras lamp, the poetic Acrobates de GRAS (a suspended version), and another reedit, Bernard Balas’ Here Comes the Sun from 1970.

Another Parisian lighting brand, Henri Bursztyn, showed striking, bold forms. Forestier had a strong presence with their decorative fittings showing a definite 1920s and ’30s flavour. This era was also the influence behind Gubi’s latest collection, with the Danish brand’s stand referencing the architecture of the Schindler House (1921), with geometric lines, free-standing screens and lots of oriental fabrics, black chrome and coloured glass.

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Image 1  Tilt globe, Nyta; Image 2  Mantis, DCW Editions;  Image 3  Here comes the Sun, DCW Editions; Images 4 + 5  Forestier; Image 6  (and feature image) Henri Burstyn

What do you think? Any favourites?

Maison et Objet, Paris, 2-6 September 2016. Next event, January 20-24, 2017.

All photographs, owl’s house london taken with iPhone 6.

fritz hansen objects, subjectively.

This spring, the Republic of Fritz Hansen declared sovereignty of good design with the launch of their first accessories line simply called Objects.

Creating a new line of home accessories is a bold move – there are already a lot of very good lines available (see: Skandium). As Ikea’s head of sustainability, Steve Howard, said in The Guardian, many consumers have reached ‘peak stuff’ (or maybe just a record low in their bank account?).  But with a history of making quality furniture for over 100 years, we know Fritz Hansen wouldn’t just churn out any random, charm-me-for-a-moment pieces. Fully aware that their design-educated customer base is not only interested in what a piece looks like, but also how it was created and what materials were used – we are, after all, all looking for meaning – a lot of thought went into how a design would or could be used.

Christoffer Back, director at Fritz Hansen Objects, who was present at a casual private view of the line at the Fritz Hansen store in Fitzrovia, London, said: ‘For instance, Jaime Hayón (who designed several pieces in the collection) wanted to create a vase that doesn’t just sit in the cupboard until use, but will be out at all times. Furthermore, Jaime gave the vase cedar wood base which gives off a subtle scent, adding to the ambiance.’

Of the 12 pieces in the line, eight pieces were designed from scratch, including a cashmere blanket, stackable trays and solid brass candleholders. Four items were created using the archives: an officially unreleased tray table from the late fifties, the dot stool by Arne Jacobsen plus an Arne Jacobsen pattern that was used on knitted cushions covers for a 3D effect. Finally, there are miniature 1:6 versions of the Egg and Swan chair, probably for those who have reached ‘peak 1:1 furniture’.

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Ikebana vase, design: Jaime Hayón
Stack trays, design: Wednesday Architecture
Mirror, design: Studio Roso. Cashmere throw, design: Republic of Fritz Hansen
High and Low vases, design: Jaime Hayón

An instant favourite – and a quite possibly a future classic – is the Ikebana vase by Jaime Hayón.  A simple, mouth blown, glass design is elevated with a brass insert. This insert has in turn several holes which hold individual stems in place. At £135/€185 it might not be an impulse buy, but will save the owner money in the long run: even the most unassuming, plucked-off-the-roadside flower will look good. In fact, this writer dares to predict the vase will be a surefire instagram hit in the years to come, since the variations of arranging flowers, grass, bamboo, reed, twigs, sticks and stones, or Danish liquorice strands for that matter, will be endless.

Another mesmerising piece is the mirror made by Studio Roso, a Danish husband and wife team operating from London. Amongst those in the know, the duo is better known for large, dramatic installations – check out the elastic cord christmas tree commissioned by the V&A Museum (here) – and they have stayed true to their style with this smaller piece. The mirror is manufactured from steel, and Studio Roso’s signature polishing technique not only gives it a softer (read: darn flattering) sheen, but also adds interest through a lightly rainbow-coloured effect, appealing to those in touch with their inner unicorn.

New Objects design will be added organically – ‘we don’t want to participate in that never ending new collection / new season cycle,’ said Back – and released when the moment is right. Few will object.

Blog post and all images, Päivi Kotro-Brenner (@mepaivi).

Feature Image:
Tray table, design: Willumsen & Engholm

 

a kaleidoscope of colours, encased in glass.

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Finnish glass, whether for everyday household use or artistic display, is amongst the most covetable and collectable in the world.

While there are few design-lovers today who are not familiar with Kaj Franck’s Kartio glass series for Iittala, pieces by Riihimäen Lasi — a glass factory that operated in Riihimäki, Finland, from 1910 to 1990 — are a little less well known. The factory started out as a producer for packing and window glass, but around 1937 moved into handblown design glass as well. The factory employed a range of designers who produced a large variety of shapes and design. The works of three of them are shown here (from the author’s unassuming collection): Aimo Okkolin, who joined in 1937, Tamara Aladin, who was taken on board in 1959, after she presented her designs for a more lightweight, feminine drinks glass and Erkkitapio Siiroinen, who came to the factory in 1968.

The depth of the colours and the clean lines of the vases satisfy the viewer over and over again, and the heaviness of the glass feels wonderful in the hand. The pieces are made by encasing one layer of coloured glass within the other.

Sadly, the production of blown glass was not commercially viable for Riihimäen Lasi and was ceased in 1976. For the would-be collector, the simpler vases are not impossible to track down. A great number were ‘Made for Export’, mainly to Germany, and can now be found there (try ebay.de) as well as in the UK, with simple pieces starting at £30.

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Although a lot of thought and skill went into the making of the vases, one of Riihimäki’s best known designers, Nanny Still, quipped that often the beautiful colours were haphazard, a mere mix of Finnish pragmatism and frugality: the designers used whatever was left over at the factory that day. If you are currently fretting over the exact shade of minimalist greige for your living room wall, take a breather.

Guest post and photographs by Päivi Kotro-Brenner, a Finnish born copywriter and would-be artist living in London. Her living rooms walls are painted in Atkinson Grey by ECOS. 
The Finnish Glass Museum in Riihimäki can be visited year-round except in January. The museum holds a collection of glassworks dating back 4000 years and regularly has exhibitions on contemporary glass design. (‘I often go there’, said one contributor on a Finnish forum discussing Tamara Aladin, ‘Mainly to eat. Good food there’.)

drama and serenity in copenhagen.

Today, I’m drawn to these drop dead gorgeous images showcasing the work of Studio Oliver Gustav.

From a studio, showroom and boutique in central Copenhagen, a carefully curated edit of designers and artists from around the world – Faye Toogood, Michaël Verheyden and Poul Kjærholm amongst others – sit against a monochrome interior. Beautiful pieces and striking lighting create a dramatic, yet intensely serene interior that feels timeless and elegant. I love each piece of the collection, not to mention that knock-out shade of grey used on the walls and ceilings.

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Studio Oliver Gustav, here, via

memphis-styled sound.

I love these images for Bang + Olufsen’s latest range, featuring the work of photographer Phillip Karlberg (it’s worth a look at his portfolio, with stunning photographs for Kasthall, amongst others). The products, all angular shapes and luxe materials – brushed aluminium, oak and black, are styled against a palette of white marble, blush pink, vibrant blue and pale silver.

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There are distinct references to the Memphis movement, which is having a moment in interior and product design, but without the flamboyance. A sort of minimal, refined post-modernism. I think its a great look, what about you?

london grey.

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Inspired by the colours and patterns of their native London (in other words, shades of grey !), these new tiles are by Barber and Osgerby for UK tile brand Domus. They have the most wonderfully apt names – Fog, Soot, Lead and my favourite, Pigeon. I was invited to the launch last week, as part of Clerkenwell Design Week.

The format mimics traditional London floors – herringbone parquet, aged brick, timber boards. Having just spent an inordinate amount of time sourcing a plain grey tile for my own kitchen splashback, I like how these tiles are irregular in tone, so that within each of the colour ways are many differing tones, creating a gradual variation over the surface they are laid on, creating movement and life.

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Mews Tile for Domus, photographs via

butchers and bicycles.

First impressions are of an industrial and inviting creative space, all monochrome finishes and lush greens, regular, white tiled walls and poured concrete floors, dark stained wood, and functional furniture pieces.

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This showroom is home to a new venture and brand, Butchers & Bicycles. Based in the meatpacking district in Copenhagen – hence the name – three young design engineers have developed a new type of cargo bike, Mk1, where the cycling component is not compromised by the ‘cargo’ component. And it’s a beautiful piece of design. I’ve always loved the idea of a cargo bike but am terrified about using one in London, which has nothing of the bike-friendliness of other Northern European cities, like Amsterdam and Copenhagen. But living (as we soon will be) right next to the vast green of Hampstead Heath, it would be a fabulous way of getting the little one as well as the shopping from A to B. And for a bit more money, it even comes with an integrated electric motor… 

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What do you think? Have you ever ridden a cargo bike? More, here. Photographs: Kristine Funch

More found objects, here