Category Archives: happenings.

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.

linum-mo2106_ohlpols-potten_ohlcharlotte-juillard-mo16_ohlvalerie-object-mo_ohlvalerie-object02-mo16_ohlImages 1 + 2  Linum; Images 3, 4, 5  Pols Potten; Image 6 Charlotte Juillard; Images 7 + 8, 9 Valerie Objects

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.

serpentine summer.

One of the highlights of summer in London for me is the annual launch of the Serpentine pavilion. Every year, an internationally renowned architect is invited by the Serpentine galleries to create their first built structure in the UK. My personal favourite of the pavilions over the years was the pavilion of Oscar Niemeyer, not least because I managed to score an invitation to the opening night party that year.

Bjarke Ingels’ 2016 pavilion is a beautifully sculpted mass of slender, fibreglass boxes, stacked to form a twisting, tent-like structure. But also this year, four Summer Houses have been added to the program. These architectural follies offer a contemporary interpretation of an adjacent, 18th century Neoclassical summerhouse, Queen Caroline’s Temple. They are on show until October 9th, after which they will be sold off and disassembled. They are for sale, here, with prices ranging from £95,000 to £125,000.

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The Summer House of Berlin studio Barkow Leibinger is designed ‘in the round’ and out of plywood, conceived as a series of structural bands. It’s fun to traverse and sit amongst, with its curving ribbon of wood hovering overhead and twisting back around forming places to rest.

Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi’s summer house is the most literal interpretation of the neo-classical summer house, offering an inverse replica of the original temple in form and proportion. Using prefabricated building blocks of rough sandstone, the composition takes the basic elements of architecture – a room, a doorway and a window – and forms a simple, elegant shelter.

The summer house of Yona Friedman comprises a series of metal rings of differing diameters that can be disassembled and re-assembled to form various compositions. Some of the voids are filled with transparent polycarbonate, most are open. It’s not so much a shelter as a backdrop for display.

Asif Khan has designed his Summer House as a series of undulating vertical posts, whose forms appear to enclose and open up to reveal the view beyond as one passes through. The ground is conceived as a continuous gravel landscape, punctuated by stepping stones. The sound of the gravel offers another dimension to this summer house, which has a wonderful fluidity and to me is the most successful of the four. Though don’t expect it to offer any shelter from this country’s inclement weather.

Serpentine Summer Houses, Hyde Park, until October 9th, 2016.

All images, Iwan Baan, via The Modern House; feature image, owl’s house london Instagram.

 

mvs at gallery valerie traan.

An exhibition of Muller van Severen’s latest skeletal, sculptural forms has just opened at the wonderful Valerie Traan gallery. I’ve previously written about this gallery, which is also home to the gallerist, here (and an interview here).

The gallery comprises a series of indoor and outdoor spaces featuring products by designers and artists, blurring the lines between the disciplines and the environment. The public and semi-private zones are separated by a glass partition and open kitchen, with plywood cabinets, stainless steel surfaces and concrete floor creating a visual transition between the contemporary gallery and the more rustic residence, with that beautiful, original brick herringbone floor.

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Studies for Office KGDVS Solo House, Muller van Severen, until June 25th, 2016
Gallery Valerie Traan, Reyndersstraat 12, 2000 Antwerp, Belgium

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

 

saul leiter in london.

85527. Snow 1960 � Saul Leiter, courtesy of HackelBury Fine Art Howard Greenberg Gallery

An exhibition of Saul Leiter’s wonderful imagery, capturing everyday moments on the streets of mid-century New York, is now showing in London. I previously wrote about his charismatic  photographs here, as well as his colourful paintings, here.

Saul Leiter: Retrospective, The Photographers’ Gallery, 16-18 Ramillies St, London W1F 7LW, until 3 April 2016.

Image: Snow 1960, Saul Leiter, courtesy of HackelBury Fine Art/ Howard Greenberg Gallery

fabulous fendi.

A hotel should be more than a home away from home. Otherwise, why leave? To my mind, a hotel should be fabulous and luxurious and transport one to a different world, far removed from one’s usual habitat.

The newly opened Fendi hotel in Rome combines fabulous with colour, using the most vivid, intense hues. The luxury brand have reconfigured the 17th-century Palazzo Fendi with three separate architecture firms to create a boutique hotel, their largest store, an art gallery space, an apartment, and a restaurant.

Using elements characteristic of the fashion line – geometry and colour blocking, for example – the hotel has an unmistakably Italian aesthetic. Maintaining the original herringbone wood floors and plaster walls, the look is updated with intense hues and jewel tones of blue and green. The interiors were conceived by Milanese Dimore Studio and architect Marco Costanzi, who have created beautiful details using sumptuous materials.

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Classic Italian and modernist pieces abound, too; from a daybed by Gio Ponti, Murano glass chandeliers by Venini, art by Lucio Fontana and Josef Albers.

Fendi Private Suites Hotel via WSJ magazine.

 

looking north for summer.

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Instead of sipping some sad, hand-extracted cabbage juice, January should be spent rejoicing about all the good things to come and planning the summer ahead. Thus we look north to Finland: The Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation continues to celebrate the separate works of husband and wife Wirkkala and Bryk as part of their 2015/2016 centenary programme.

Internationally renowned designer and sculptor Wirkkala (1915-1985) may be the more recognisable name than Bryk (1916-1999), but Rut’s artistic work was just as powerful as her husband’s. Having studied Graphic Design, she joined Arabia  in 1942 and stayed with the company for over 50 years. As a highly skilled ceramics artist her early works depicted folkloric motifs. Her patterns would also at times emerge on tableware designed by Wirkkala for Rosenthal. In her later abstract works, she explored, as the V&A London noted, ‘in totally disciplined manner, opposing positive and negative forces and the contrasting effects of light and shade, surface and depth’, resulting in ceramic reliefs of intense beauty and startling impact.From May until September 2016, the Espoo Museum of Modern Art (EMMA), Finland,  will be celebrating Rut Bryk’s life and work with a dedicated exhibition. Owl’s House London’s Finnish correspondent will be sure to visit and report back.

Whilst most of the events celebrating Wirkkala’s centenary in 2015 have passed, in 2016, the STILL / LIFE – Tapio Wirkkala Retrospective will be touring through Lapland. This Northern part of Finland was Wirkkala’s spiritual home and refuge from ‘European abundance with all it’s side-effects and it’s sweaty smell of egoism and ambition’. The exhibition, curated by designer Harri Koskinen, consists of two parts: LIFE, concentrating on the work and life of Wirkkala and STILL, which explore Wirkkala’s identity as a sculptor and shows his exceptional handiwork skills – he had ‘thinking hands’. The exhibition can be seen at Sámi Museum Siida in Inari throughout the summer months and at the Kaustinen Folk Art Centre in the autumn of 2016, before moving on to EMMA in 2017.

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1. Three Engraved Vases by Tapio Wirkkala for Iittala, 1950s
2. Glass Vase, 1948 by Tapio Wirkkala
3. Porcelain Paper Bag Vases, Tapio Wirkkala, 1979
4. Rosenthal Pollo Vases, Studio Line, Tapio Wirkkala,1970s
All, 1st Dibs

Post by Päivi Kotro-Brenner. Instagram @mepaivi

The Espoo Museum of Modern Art is a local bus ride away from Helsinki. Lapland, well, that’ll be a night train. Travel info: visitfinland.com