Category Archives: good design series.

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?

a cabin for living.

Diogene is a minimalist living unit that functions as a self-contained system independent of its environment. It is named after the ancient philosopher Diogenes, who is said to have lived in a barrel because he considered worldly luxuries to be superfluous.

Designed by Renzo Piano (who paradoxically also designed Western Europe’s tallest building, the Shard), Diogene is fully equipped with everything one needs to live. The front serves as a living room, with a pull-out sofa on one side and a folding table under the window on the other. Behind a partition are a shower, toilet and kitchen. It is constructed from wood which also informs the interior; the exterior is coated with aluminium cladding for weather protection. With a footprint of 2.5 x 3 metres when fully assembled, it can be loaded onto a lorry and transported anywhere. The house’s simple exterior, corresponding to a child’s image of a house, belies the complexity of photovoltaic cells and solar modules, a rainwater tank, biological toilet, natural ventilation and triple glazing, all required to allow it to exist autonomously. Diogene has many possible uses: It can serve as a weekend house, as a studio, or as an office. It can be placed freely in nature, but also right next to a workplace, even in the middle of an open plan office.

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Renzo Piano cites Le Corbusier’s Cabanon as one of his architectural references. Le Corbusier, who believed a house was a ‘machine for living’, constructed the cabin for his own use in the 1950s in Cap Martin in the Côte d’Azur. Based on human proportions – the walls are 2.26m high, the height of a six-foot man with one arm above his head –  it is for me the ultimate summerhouse. More on Cabanon, here

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Image of Cabanon via Domus

Renzo Piano’s Diogene is installed on the Vitra campus in Germany. What do you think? Could you live in a house this size? Or is this Airstream caravan, with full size bathtub, more your style? (via the wonderful Girl and the Abode)

More good design series, here

composition.

bookshop in day

I think the design of the facade of this bookshop in Sao Paolo is almost perfect. Here’s why:

  1. The entrance is clearly defined and inviting; comprising pivoting, double-sided bookcases, the scale of the facade is brought down to human scale at the doorway, enticing one in.
  2. The signage is clear and dynamic.
  3. The lighting allows it to glitter at night like a jewel box.
  4. The facade is simple and without unnecessary embellishment; it’s all about what’s going on inside – the books.
  5. It is made of concrete; to my mind, a wonderful, expressive material with integrity and strength, the most interesting of materials (evidenced by my most-pinned Pinterest board, ‘I love concrete’)
  6. Composition – it is asymmetrical and follows the ‘one third, two thirds’ rule. The rule of thirds divides a line into roughly 2/3 and 1/3. It is a simplified version of the golden ratio, used in art and architecture to proportion work – especially in the form of the golden rectangle, in which the ratio of the longer side to the shorter is the golden ratio – in the belief that this proportion is aesthetically pleasing. It is also used extensively in photography. I recently attended a photography workshop with the fabulous Emily Quinton (details, here), and this one rule changed the way we shot our photographs. photgraphy workshop2Its use creates a more dynamic composition. Symmetry and balance can be, well, dull, whereas a composition where the elements are placed to one side, adds a tension between the elements and the empty space. It can be applied both horizontally and vertically. The lower third of the bookshop, the opening, could be considered positive, while the upper part is negative. What do you think of this building? Do you like the composition and asymmetry? bookshop at night

More about Livraria de Vila bookshop, São Paulo by Brazilian studio Isay Weinfeld Arquitecto, here

Still life images, owl’s house london.

More good design series, here.

tension and contrast.

This is the first in a series called good design, or, a little ponderance on the art of Good Design. The aim is to discuss and debate design and the creative process, using key words and the wise words of others to analyse and ponder.

Coco Chanel famously instructed: ‘when accessorising always take off the last thing you put on’. This is, to my mind, the essence of the matter: not too much, not too little.

There is no greater exponent of the ‘form follows function’ mantra then the spare lines of the Muji brand. Utilitarian, perhaps in the extreme, nothing is extraneous; even the packaging is just enough to package, not masking what lies within but allowing the form of the product to be clearly expressed. This video, one in a series called Why Design being run by Herman Miller, talks about the design process, and the inspiration of the designers, the founding partners of Industrial Facility. They design for Muji, Established & Sons, and Herman Miller, amongst others. Their work, as evidenced in the Muji brand, is typified by an economy of line, texture, and detail.

For them, the design process is anything but balanced; they talk of existing ‘just on the edge of functioning’ and the fragile existence of living in a big city, where, at any time, one feels the balance could tip. However rather than detract, this inspires: ‘We need tension and contrast to be able to create’. Inspiration comes from Primrose Hill, a place after my own heart, where one can regroup, with the hustling, bustling city pulsating below:

See the full series here.

What do you think; are tension and contrast necessary in order to create? Does your inspiration come from unexpected places?

Feature images, Muji.com