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The Culture of Design

Block by Block Four Freedoms Park Hedi Slimane Valentino 21st-century Japonisme Design & Jewellery Established & Sons Fixperts Faye Toogood Iris van Herpen Parrish Art Museum The Seaboard CODA

Time for a change

16

War paint

Faye Toogood designs make-up

20

Selected Reading

Kengo Kuma’s list of must-reads

22

Four Freedoms Park

Louis Kahn’s design took 40 years to complete

26

end of an era

An analysis of the changes at Established & Sons

30

Come Again?

A look at the phenomenon of furniture re-editions

36

Anatomy of a Press trip

A dissection of this design journalism staple

41

valentino's Glossary of Couture

A detailed view of the house's fashion samples

44

Iris van Herpen

Is she the future of haute couture?

56

The Seaboard

A new silicon-crafted synthesiser

70

180

Party Wall by CODA

An introduction to the winners of MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Programme

184

The Culture of Baking

A sampling of new Portugese cakes designed by the team behind Fabrico Próprio

186

The Fix

Solutions generated by design problem-solvers Fixperts

Parrish Art Museum

188

92

Game-developer Mojang’s initiative with UN-Habitat

191

A strained relationship?

Disegno’s summer salon programme

A museum by Herzog & de Meuron with interiors by Konstantin Grcic

Design and Jewellery

112

anthology

Hedi Slimane captures the late Yves Saint Laurent’s apartment

132

21st-Century Japonisme

The recent trend of Japanese craft in contemporary design

144

Architecture as Image

The historical relationship between architecture and image

150

INTERIORS

Donald Milne’s series of abandoned multistoreys in Dundee

164

Iceland Emerges

An investigation into the developing design culture of Iceland UK £12 EU €15 US $25

Forecast

Introduction

Features

No.4

Exposé

Disegno.

Disegno.

10

Block by Block

Designer Picnics

192

Index

People and brands in this issue

No.4 S/S 2013


The Culture of Design

Block by Block Four Freedoms Park Hedi Slimane Valentino 21st-century Japonisme Design & Jewellery Established & Sons Fixperts Faye Toogood Iris van Herpen Parrish Art Museum The Seaboard CODA

Time for a change

16

War paint

Faye Toogood designs make-up

20

Selected Reading

Kengo Kuma’s list of must-reads

22

Four Freedoms Park

Louis Kahn’s design took 40 years to complete

26

end of an era

An analysis of the changes at Established & Sons

30

Come Again?

A look at the phenomenon of furniture re-editions

36

Anatomy of a Press trip

A dissection of this design journalism staple

41

valentino's Glossary of Couture

A detailed view of the house's fashion samples

44

Iris van Herpen

Is she the future of haute couture?

56

The Seaboard

A new silicon-crafted synthesiser

70

180

Party Wall by CODA

An introduction to the winners of MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Programme

184

The Culture of Baking

A sampling of new Portugese cakes designed by the team behind Fabrico Próprio

186

The Fix

Solutions generated by design problem-solvers Fixperts

Parrish Art Museum

188

92

Game-developer Mojang’s initiative with UN-Habitat

191

A strained relationship?

Disegno’s summer salon programme

A museum by Herzog & de Meuron with interiors by Konstantin Grcic

Design and Jewellery

112

anthology

Hedi Slimane captures the late Yves Saint Laurent’s apartment

132

21st-Century Japonisme

The recent trend of Japanese craft in contemporary design

144

Architecture as Image

The historical relationship between architecture and image

150

INTERIORS

Donald Milne’s series of abandoned multistoreys in Dundee

164

Iceland Emerges

An investigation into the developing design culture of Iceland UK £12 EU €15 US $25

Forecast

Introduction

Features

No.4

Exposé

Disegno.

Disegno.

10

Block by Block

Designer Picnics

192

Index

People and brands in this issue

No.4 S/S 2013


PHOTO arthur arkin, retouching stuart beatty

Subscribe to Disegno. and receive a free set of two Kartio glasses,* designed for Iittala by Kaj Franck in 1958.

disegnodaily.com/subscribenow *The first 100 subscribers that sign up to our 3 for 2 deal (from ÂŁ24), will receive a set of two 400ml, sea blue Kartio glasses (value ÂŁ15).


PHOTO arthur arkin, retouching stuart beatty

Subscribe to Disegno. and receive a free set of two Kartio glasses,* designed for Iittala by Kaj Franck in 1958.

disegnodaily.com/subscribenow *The first 100 subscribers that sign up to our 3 for 2 deal (from ÂŁ24), will receive a set of two 400ml, sea blue Kartio glasses (value ÂŁ15).


ELBLAD SS

48

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w w w. h a s s e l b l a d - l u n a r. c o m


Photography Michel Gibert. With thanks to: Leica X2 édition limitée Paul Smith, www.benoit-vieubled.com

European manufacture.

Voyage Immobile modular sofa system, designed by Studio Roche Bobois. Correspondances shelves and low table.

LONDON HAMPSTEAD – LONDON WANDSWORTH – LONDON HARRODS – WALTON-ON-THAMES – MANCHESTER

See www.roche-bobois.com for store details, catalogues and news.


l’art de vivre by roche bobois


LET ME E T M E SS E E E E , ,LLE T E TM E S E E ME SEE The Global Forum for Design 11–16 June 2013

T M E SE

E,

LE

W

, E M

W O SH

, E M

T M E


, LE T ME S E E, LET M W E, L O E H ET S , ME E S EM E W , LE O TM SH E Design Galleries, Design On / Site Galleries, Design Talks, Design Performances, Design Satellites, Design Awards, Design Log Public Days 11–16 June 2013 New Location Hall 1 Sßd, Messe Basel Switzerland designmiami.com


Disegno.

Intro

It’s time for a small change. Or a big one, depending on your sensitivity to such things. We have left behind the beautiful, uncoated paper that the first three issues of Disegno were printed on, Disegno No.4 is instead made using a smoother, coated stock with a glossy gatefold cover. These are the the kind of luxuries that a magazine with a biannual print schedule can be afforded and we wanted to take full advantage of them. Disegno is not only about what is printed on the paper, but also the phenomenological experience of leafing through its pages. We wanted to keep our readers stimulated and simultaneously reflect our continued growth and development as a creative enterprise. The content however remains consistent. As always, Disegno’s contributors have covered a lot of ground and this issue is filled with contrasts. From the essay on the relationship between design and jewellery that is our cover story, to a look at computer game developer Mojang’s urban planning initiative Block by Block in Nairobi, it has been an interesting six months. An interview with fashion designer Iris van Herpen presents a possible future for haute couture, while our close-up look at Valentino’s couture techniques is a celebration of handicrafts that have kept the industry firmly rooted in the past. Owen Hatherley’s critique of architectural photography is mirrored by an architecture feature on Herzog & de Meuron’s Parrish Art Museum on Long Island; instead of publishing the gleaming official shots of the building, we sent the documentary photographer Janette Beckman on a road trip of the area that inspired the building’s design. Disegno’s salon series also continues to evolve. Following our film nights at RIBA in London, we are now embarking on a new programme with another London institution – Somerset House. This summer we will stage a series of informal talks and workshops on the banks of the River Thames, all relating to the theme of design and food to coincide with Somerset House’s exhibition on Ferran Adrià and his famed Catalan restaurant elBulli. The full schedule of events will be published on our website disegnodaily.com. Now in its second year of existence, Disegno continues to grow and adapt. Changes to the paper we print on may seem minor, but they demonstrate our commitment to remaining contemporary and relevant to the world we report on. This issue documents changes in attitudes, techniques, trends and technologies across design and fashion. It was time we change too. At least, a little. Editor-in-Chief

Johanna Agerman Ross 10 Disegno. intro


Disegno.

No.4 S/S 2013

Editor-in-Chief, Publisher

Johanna Agerman Ross johanna@disegnomagazine.com Creative Director

Daren Ellis/See Studio daren@disegnomagazine.com DESIGN Director

Colin Christie colin@disegnomagazine.com EDITORIAL Assistant

Kristina Rapacki kristina@disegnomagazine.com online editor

Oli Stratford oliver@disegnomagazine.com salon co-ordinator

Manijeh Verghese manijeh@disegnomagazine.com staff photographer

Arthur Arkin

CHIEF SUB EDITOR

Julia Newcomb SUB EDITORs

Rosie Spencer

Advertising SALES

RA Enterprises Ltd Royal Academy of Arts Jane Grylls, Kim Jenner, Paolo Russo sales@disegnomagazine.com Distribution

COMAG Specialist comagspecialist.co.uk

Colour Management

Complete Creative Services completeltd.com Subscriptions

disegnoboutique.bigcartel.com COVER

The cover was photographed by Ola Bergengren. It is a picture of La Corde au Cou necklace by Fernando and Humberto Campana for Galerie Kreo and four bananas. Contact us

12 Disegno.

80 Scotney House Mead Place London E9 6SW +44 (0)20 8986 9687 disegnodaily.com

Words by

Anna Bates, Pete Collard, Mia Curran, Owen Hatherley, Aileen Kwun, Kieran Long, Inês Revés, Catharine Rossi, John L. Walters, Will Wiles. Photos by

Arthur Arkin, Juan Trujillo Andrades, Janette Beckman, Ola Bergengren, CODA, Glamour Et cetera, Peter Guenzel, Richard Haughton, Rita João, Boy Kortekaas, Donald Milne, Rita Platts, Kristoffer Rozental, Hedi Slimane, William R. Staffard, Ronald Stoops, Studio Toogood, Ben Quinton. tHANK YOU

To all our stockists and advertisers, whose support is essential to Disegno’s future. Thank you also to Marcus Agerman Ross, Fredrik Jung Abbou, Tea and Jon Pollock, Jere Salonen, Alice Masters, Anzu Sato, Terry Smith, Dave Sawyer, Stuart Beatty, Jesse Harris, and RIBA London. Our heartfelt thanks also go to Tubby’s Kebab of Hackney Wick, who unfailingly keep the office nourished, and to our favourite feline companions Eames and Reilly. Finally we would like to thank all the designers who contributed to our 12 Days of Christmas project – you helped make a significant contribution to the Article 25 charity. The money raised from the project will fund an Article 25 specialist in Haiti for two months this year. More info can be found here: disegnodaily.com/12daysofchristmas. Paper and print

You might have noticed that the paper has changed. We are now printing on the wonderful Symbol Tatami 115 gsm with a special section on X-PER 120 gsm with a cover on cast coated Splendorlux 250 gsm, all from Fedrigoni UK. We print with the great people at Park Communications. Content Copyright

The content of this magazine belongs to Disegno Publications Ltd and to the authors and artists. If you are tempted to reproduce any of it, please ask first. Disegno publications ltd

Disegno is a biannual magazine published by Disegno Publications Ltd. Please visit our website disegnodaily.com for more frequent updates on news from architecture, design and fashion.


www.disegnodaily.com

Disegno.

NOW

daily www.disegnodaily.com


Exposé

War Paint “Working with make-up is not dissimilar to making furniture and objects. Both involve the manipulation of raw materials,” says London-based designer Faye Toogood of the make-up collection she has created for new cosmetics brand Make. “The concept is cross-disciplinary,” says Toogood.

PHOTO studio toogood

Developed in conjunction with the Japanese make-up artist Ayami Nishimura, the collection is called New Medieval. >

16 Disegno. War Paint


The New Medieval range for cosmetics brand Make has a tactile, primal quality. Here is a study in clay of the colours for the collection

War Paint

Disegno. 17


> The products are highly tactile and intended to be applied with fingers, rather than brushes or sponges. “By combining and contrasting the inherent qualities of make-up – the dry with the moist; the gels with the powders; the rich pigments with the translucent liquids – I was able to put together a palette that expressed the elemental and primal nature of applying make-up,” says Toogood. “I was thinking about the Celts, who coated their faces in woad before battle, and the grinding of pigments on stone. This sense of ritual feels relevant to me now: a New Medieval.” Toogood paid homage to her inspiration by naming one of the dark purplish-blue hues of eye shadow Woad, the plant used throughout the medieval period to produce blue dye. Toogood’s make-up is painterly, a dimension of New Medieval that even extends to the promotional imagery associated with the collection. Rather than focusing on packaging or overt branding, the Brooklyn-based brand’s photography of New Medieval is centred around images of liquids and powders daubed onto blank canvases, and putties pressed into metal chains. The imagery is not gentle or refined; instead, it’s created with a zeal for the colours and 18 Disegno. War Paint

textures available. It is an approach reminiscent of the legendary Japanese make-up artist Shu Uemura, whose distinct transparent packaging put the focus onto his make-up and became an important reference in 20th-century design history. Rather than conceiving of make-up as an invisible

“I wanted to transpose the beauty of the natural landscape to the landscape of the face.” New Medieval however remains primarily a design project. The collection references Toogood’s interests in colour, materiality and expression, borrowing the simplicity of her 2012

As a starting point, Toogood studied the work of Romantic landscape painters. layer applied to subtly bolster appearance, Toogood’s collections lift the idea of “naturalness” to a bolder level: a place where colours suggest landscapes rather than skin tone. As a starting point for the collection, Toogood studied the work of the British Romantic landscape painters J.M.W Turner and John Constable.

Element table and reflecting the intense colouration and mineral-like structure of her 2011 bronze bowl. “For me, make-up is synonymous with self-expression, reinvention, fragility, ornament and femininity,” she says. “The very same qualities that I explore in my furniture.”

.

Manijeh Verghese (see p. 12)

PHOTO studio toogood

Exposé

The collection’s palette is inspired by the natural landscape.


Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, who was recently announced as the architect of the upcoming Victoria & Albert Museum at Dundee in Scotland, is the subject of Thames & Hudson’s monograph Kengo Kuma: Complete Works by Kenneth Frampton. Here, he shares his reading habits and a list of his selected reading. Where is your favourite place to read? In my seat on any aeroplane I am flying on. Where do you store your books? On my desk and on a nearby shelf in my Tokyo office. How do you arrange them? I put the books that I have read most recently closest to my chair. Do you have a favourite bookshop? I like Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. What’s your favourite book? If I am to choose only one, the autobiography of Frank Lloyd Wright from 1943. Do you read books on your iPad or Kindle? I am a heavy user of the iPad but I never read books on it. What’s the basis for your selection? I read book reviews in newspapers, and often go for anything recommended by friends. Why did you decide to do a book of your work? The book is an important means of letting people know about my architectural work. For many people, to see my work in the flesh is not easy. So, I write books for those who are interested in architecture, including my works, but may not be able to visit the actual buildings.

B-Side of Onomatopeic Music by Yuri Suzuki Dent De Leone and Clear Edition & Gallery £23.80 This quirky publication is what is a visualisation of the product and sound designer Yuri Suzuki’s sonic works. Beautifully illustrated, with contributions by DMX Krew, Simone Grant, Tim Hunkin, Momus, Nobumichi Tosa, and Åbäke, it’s essential reading (and viewing) for those interested in sound, art and design. Building Stories by Chris Ware Pantheon Books $50 Building Stories is a graphic novel comprised of 14 printed works by the American cartoonist Chris Ware. The unconventional format includes accordion fold-outs, several comic books, newspapers, and broadsheets, centring around an unnamed, one-legged female protagonist who lives in Chicago. Dogma: 11 Projects by Pier Vittorio Aureli, Gabriele Mastrigli, and Brett Steele AA Publications £25 The Brussel-based architectural firm Dogma is famous for large-scale, citywide projects. This catalogue was published on the occasion of a recent exhibition of the same title at the Architectural Association in London. Kartell: The Culture of Plastics by Hans Werner Holzwarth Taschen £44.99 Since its foundation in 1949, Kartell has been a pioneer of modern design within the medium of plastic. In this book, Hans Werner Holzwarth traces the history of the company and the enduring appeal of the medium.

Kengo Kuma: Complete Work by Kenneth Frampton Thames & Hudson £39.95 In this major monograph, the architectural historian Kenneth Frampton offers commentary on Kengo Kuma’s complete 24 projects, from the Glass House built in 1995 to the Yusuhara Wooden Bridge Museum from 2010. Le Corbusier: Furniture and Interiors 1905-1965 by Arthur Rüegg Scheidegger & Spiess £140 Équipement was Le Corbusier’s term for the essential interior furnishings that preoccupied him throughout his career. Featuring well-known pieces such as the armchairs he created with Charlotte Perriand and Pierre Jeanneret to works that has never before been reproduced, Arthur Rüegg’s book is a richly illustrated, chronological survey of Le Corbusier’s furniture and interior design. A Map of the World: The World According to Illustrators & Storytellers by Antonis Antoniou Gestalten £35 Featuring more than 500 maps by contemporary artists, illustrators and designers, Gestalten’s recent foray into cartography is an arresting and highly informative book on how we shape the world through depicting it. Studio Mumbai: Praxis by Toto Gallery Toto Gallery $65.50 Published on the occasion of Toto Gallery’s eponymous exhibition in Tokyo, Japan, this book explores the thought and practice of Studio Mumbai, one of India’s foremost architectural firms. Studio Mumbai is founded by Bijoy Jain, who promotes the involvement of skilled, local craftsmanship at all stages of the design and build. Understanding Architecture by Robert McCarter and Juhani Pallasmaa Phaidon £49.95 With sections centring around general themes such as space, time, gravity, light, silence, dwelling, memory, and place, this is an introductory text to the core principles of architecture.

.

Thank you to AA Bookshop

20 Disegno. selected reading

PHOTO arthur arkin, retouching stuart beatty

Exposé

Selected Reading

Achille Castiglioni by Sergio Polano Pall Mall £35 This beautifully illustrated monograph provides a chronological overview of the seminal Italian designer Achille Castiglioni from 1938 to his death in 2002.


ExposÉ

Disegno. 21


ExposĂŠ

Four Freedoms Park Minnehanonck. Varken Eylandt. Blackwell’s Island. Welfare Island. Roosevelt Island. No matter the name, the three-kilometre strip of land that splits the East River between midtown Manhattan and southern Queens has always felt out of place.

PHOTO amiaga.com

Neither here nor there, it is easy for New Yorkers to forget it exists. Travelled past from above on the Queensboro Bridge or from below on one of four subway lines (only the F stops there), the island is a place where few people ever step foot. >

22 Disegno. Four Freedoms Park


Louis Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park took four decades to realise and sits at the tip of Roosevelt Island in Manhattan.

Four Freedoms Park

Disegno. 23


Exposé

> Why would they want to? Since the city of New York bought the land in 1828, it’s been relegated to a place for the diseased, destitute and dejected. Home to a penitentiary, a lunatic asylum, a workhouse, and a smallpox hospital, the island has been a place to avoid at all costs. But, with the completion of Four Freedoms Park almost 40 years after it was first commissioned, this is set to change. Architect Louis Kahn was tasked with designing a memorial in 1973 to celebrate former US president Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms Speech of 1941 – calling for freedom of speech and worship, and freedom from want and fear. The memorial was intended as a landmark for the island, which had

continued to gather dust until, in 2003, the success of his son Nathaniel’s documentary My Architect and an exhibition on Kahn’s work at New York’s Cooper Union college in 2005, renewed interest in the project. Former US ambassador William vanden Heuvel came on board in 2005 to lead the capital campaign, helping to raise $53 million. Following seven years of planning, legal negotiations, and construction, the park finally opened on 24 October 2012. The memorial is an unusual space for New York. A refuge in the centre of the city, it is a place for contemplation and meditation. Positioned at the southernmost tip of the island, the 16,200sq/m park juts out, prowlike, into the East River. At the entrance, a set of stairs leads visitors to a grassy promenade flanked by stone walkways and a double row of little-leaf linden trees. The pathways converge, drawing attention to a bronze sculpture of Roosevelt’s head, created by American sculptor Jo Davidson in 1933, sitting at the entrance of the open granite enclosure that Kahn called “the room”. Set deep into a freestanding granite block, the sculpture

contemplate the effects of Roosevelt’s grand notions. As with any posthumous project, especially one realised so long after the architect’s death, elements of the original plan had to be adjusted to bring it up to date. Mitchell/Giurgola Architects, the New York firm that led the project, executed Four Freedoms Park with respect for Kahn’s plans, changing them as little as possible. It added lighting for night-time visitors, the layout and number of trees was altered slightly, the Davidson sculpture added, the gaps between the granite blocks increased minutely, and, to make the site accessible for the disabled, the paths were lined with stabilised crushed granite instead of gravel.

It’s been relegated to a place for the diseased, destitute and dejected. Home to a penitentiary, a lunatic asylum, a workhouse, and a smallpox hospital, the island has been a place to avoid at all costs. Louis Kahn’s pencil scetch of the park as he envisioned it in 1974.

been earmarked for transformation five years previously into a car-free zone of affordable housing, and renamed in Roosevelt’s honour in 1971. However, shortly after Kahn submitted his design to New York mayor John Lindsay in 1974, the city approached bankruptcy, governor Nelson Rockefeller departed for Washington as vice president, and Kahn died suddenly from a heart attack. Architects Philip Johnson and John Burgee’s master plan for the island was modified: the housing developments were realised (with two notable buildings by Spanish architect Josep Lluís Sert) and an aerial tram to Manhattan was built, but Kahn’s plans for the memorial were abandoned. The site remained barren for three decades but the city refused to relinquish the land, turning down numerous commercial proposals to develop the site. Kahn’s plans

24 Disegno. Four Freedoms Park

– one of the few deviations from Kahn’s original plan (which had nothing more than an indefinite squiggle in its place) – avoids the triumphant sentimentality of many such monuments, allowing the abstract nature of the memorial to remain at the fore. Kahn’s fascination with ancient sanctuaries is acutely apparent inside the room – a space whose sole purpose is contemplation and reflection. At the tip of the island, directly across from the United Nations on the Manhattan side and the iconic Pepsi-Cola sign on the edge of Queens, the south side of the room is left open to reveal sweeping vistas of Manhattan, Queens, and the East River. It frames New York in a new way, positioning the viewer outside looking in. It is a vantage point which unveils a more romantic, optimistic view of the city, distinct from any vantage point possible from within it. Turning away from the panorama, one notices thin slits between the granite blocks lining the room. Perhaps the most impressive element of Kahn’s design, only the sides of the stone inside the slits are polished to create a reflective surface that illuminates the narrow views. Standing on the other side of these blocks, yet looking through them, one is most aware of being apart – from the city and from the world. In this shift from the expansive to the minute, visitors might

The whole site was raised 38cm to accommodate climate change, an adjustment that saved it when Hurricane Sandy hit three days after the opening. The strength of Kahn’s design for Four Freedoms Park is the seamless integration of architecture with site. It capitalises on Roosevelt Island’s position within and apart from New York, providing a necessary escape from the city’s chaos. The memorial provides a glimpse of a brighter future for the once forsaken island; however, it does not ignore its sober history. At the entrance of the park sit the ruins of the 1856 smallpox hospital, which will serve as an entry pavilion for visitors, bringing the past into the present.

.

Mia Curran is a curatorial assistant on the the New Building Project at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.


“Other companies looked on in amazement,” says British designer Jasper Morrison, recalling Established & Sons’ early events at Milan furniture fair. “Not even the biggest brands were able to afford such extravagant shows, and then there was a newcomer with barely any products to sell, taking one of the most expensive spaces in Milan and throwing the biggest parties.” But this year, eight years on from its launch, the London-based company will lie low in Milan, focusing on an exhibition of previously shown limited-edition pieces in the courtyard of art gallery Massimo De Carlo in Lambrate. Last October, Sebastian Wrong became the fourth of the five founding members to resign from the company. After half a decade of show-stopping events, the most chatter the brand is likely to generate this year is: what is going to happen to Established & Sons? The brand was founded in 2005 by designers Tamara Caspersz, Mark Holmes, Alasdhair Willis, Sebastian Wrong, and with the financial backing and production expertise of Angad Paul of business group Caparo (a company specialising in steel and engineering products). Their business plan was timely and smart. They were going to tap into a burgeoning market for limited-edition design, while also concentrating on innovative but saleable mass-produced furniture pieces. Along the way, they would foster design criticism through their self-published magazine and gallery events, and boost the profiles of British-based designers. But perhaps their biggest goal was to make products in Britain: “Historically, in this country there was a real sense of pride in being a mechanic for a British company like Aston Martin,” Willis told the Design Museum in an interview in 2007. “So, I guess part of what we are trying to do at Established & Sons is to reintroduce that concept and potentially inspire a pride and value in something being not only designed, but made in Britain.” Launching the year that Britain’s last car manufacturer MG Rover went into administration, the “Made in Britain” sentiment could easily have been dismissed as nostalgic, but E&S delivered it with so much chutzpah it had the design scene convinced. Britain’s highest-profile designers and architects were commissioned: Zaha Hadid, Amanda Levete, Michael Young. And the shows were spectacular to the point of excessive; its not-for-sale installation Elevating Design in

26 Disegno. end of an era

of the found object” and “a wry critique of the seemingly unstoppable production of yet more superficially striking, but purposeless, new objects at a time of environmental crisis”. Others were less impressed: “Why spend big bucks on a designer table that looks like a wine crate when a real one is a fraction of the cost?” asked the New York Times. Either way, various extensions of the basic stackable box idea have launched every year since. Even IKEA produced one. But it was with the less known names that the brand was particularly successful; and Wrong and Holmes established themselves as adept talent scouts. “When we formed the company we

While Established & Sons set out to thrust Britain’s heavy machinery back into action, it inadvertently became the poster child of an era when design existed as pixels. The products didn’t need to materialise to be impactful. were all aware of the great creative talent around us and E&S provided a platform for all that,” says Holmes. Emerging designers Alexander Taylor and Raw-Edges produced work for the brand that earned a place in the Museum of Modern Art’s permanent collection in New York. At last, Britain’s experimental graduates – many from the Royal College of Art in London – had a local manufacturer to produce their work. “I was less than a year out of college when they contacted me,” recalls Shay Alkalay of Raw-Edges. “For us, it was simply amazing. Can you imagine? They were one of the biggest brands. It set up our career.” E&S didn’t make designers rich. Behind the scenes rumours started building that the company had difficulty developing products successfully and fulfilling >

PHOTO Peter Guenzel

Exposé

End of an era

2007 saw the brand realise pieces from its collection in Carrara marble, and elevate them on six-metre-high plinths, simply to spark debate on “design art”. Although there were doubts as to whether it was real marble, the plinths were too high for anyone to tell and everyone involved stuck to the script. Back-lit by paparazzi flashes – thanks to the connections of Willis and his fashion-designer wife Stella McCartney – the brand’s events achieved what no furniture brand had to date: glamour. And with that came all the trimmings; the queue for the openings turned into mosh pits (frequented by even the most high-profile designers); celebrity sightings appeared in the following day’s papers; and as a consequence people who didn’t usually care about design, knew of E&S. Inevitably, critics accused the brand of using its famous connections to generate press, but three years on it was impossible to dismiss the work that E&S produced, it was beginning to establish itself as a serious contender in the international furnituredesign industry. Following a period dominated by Scandinavian minimalism and a rather safe output by many of the previously leading Italian brands, E&S’s tone – “a kind of swinging 60s revival,” Morrison describes, “with a typically British combination of sense of humour and daring” – was just what the industry needed. Its flamboyant, “anything goes” attitude was reminiscent of Italian brand Cappellini in the 1980s, which, like E&S, championed experimental work and individual style regardless of the financial risks. “The objective was not to satisfy a market, but rather to disrupt it,” says British designer Sam Hecht, and E&S certainly wasn’t frightened of causing controversy. Pieces such as Sebastian Wrong’s Buggs light, a Bauhaus-style globe boasting a Bugs Bunny grin, commenting on the greed of boom and bust, was loved or loathed. Even Morrison managed to cause debate when he designed an exact replica of a crate, then priced at £90. It divided critics; Alice Rawsthorn described it as “an interesting addition to the design history


Wrong Wood by Sebastian Wrong and Richard Woods.

end of an era

Disegno. 27


28 Disegno. end of an era

therefore better ways for designers to do business? Tellingly, in 2012 “hackers” stole the show, with several exhibitions exploring new methods of production and distribution – and perhaps experimenting with solutions to the questions asked the previous year. In this environment, E&S, together with many other furniture design brands, has struggled to find its place. “The past couple of years has felt a little bit muddled in the pieces and understanding who they are now, where they’re going and what their trajectory is,” says Hecht. “It’s more that they need to collect themselves and understand what is relevant for them and for design. But I think that’s not a bad thing.” And above all, it seems symptomatic of the industry as a whole.

“When it came to making an impact we went about it in the right way. All that youthful energy that we were able to come with as a business eight years ago, I don’t discount any of that.” In their new projects, the previous directors have certainly taken very different routes from what they did with E&S. Caspersz and Holmes launched the understated luxury homeware accessory label Minimalux, Willis set up communications agency The Anonymous Partner, offering himself as a “discrete” business partner. And Wrong is in the early stages of a collaboration with Danish furniture brand Hay, which has spent the past 11 years quietly investigating production systems and building up solid relationships with producers and distributors, while a minimum of time and money has been spent on lavish PR exercises or parties. A product of the same time as Established & Sons, Hay has taken a very different route to market. So what now for Established? “I look at it a little bit as going from

adolescence and into maturity,” says chairman Paul. “When it came to making an impact we went about it in the right way, all that youthful energy that we were able to come with as a business eight years ago, I don’t discount any of that, but what we want to do now is to build something that has longevity.” So, instead of a big show in Milan, this is a time for introspection and consolidation for E&S, with a plan formalising for the London Design Festival in September. “Maurizio and I have decided to take a breath and looked at what our liabilities and assets are and how we can create a blueprint for the position as a design leader in the next 20 years.” The chief executive, Maurizio Mussati, with a background at companies like the Italian lighting manufacturer Flos and Dutch furniture producer Moooi, agrees that the time for excess is well and truly over: “We will never be in the position again where we bring 20 new products to Milan, just to see the reaction of people, because it implies spending tens of thousands of pounds without any real feedback afterwards. There was a time for it and possibly that was correct then, but now we have to be much more considered in what we put forward. Our commitment to innovation and experimental approach to materials is a crucial part of the brand and now we need to affirm ourselves, not via excesses but through the potential and strengths we have developed so far.” Established & Sons defined an era and some of its output is already considered classic, but is there still a relevance to the brand today? “Absolutely,” says Hecht. “Established bought an avant-garde realisation that had been missing for so many years. They delivered designers’ ideas physically without compromise – this is essentially how Memphis occurred. They are completely and utterly vital for design, and if they disappear it would be a tragedy. Design needs these companies.”

.

Anna Bates is a design writer based in London. Johanna Agerman Ross (see p. 12)

PHOTO Peter Guenzel

Exposé

> orders. But “it was great for media”, says Morrison. In fact, it was as images in the media – specifically online – that the work really existed. In 2007, as E&S was coming into its own, so were design blogs. It was the perfect match: E&S’s product images, shot clean against a white background and so glossy and ephemeral you couldn’t tell them from digital renderings, glowed on the luminous computer screen. While E&S set out to thrust Britain’s heavy machinery back into action, it inadvertently became the poster child of an era when design existed as pixels. The products didn’t need to materialise to be impactful, they were reaching unprecedented audiences as data. They didn’t even need to be attached to designers. Following a period obsessed with names, designers started to become secondary. Images travelled light, with just a few words attached, and they were liked or dismissed regardless of who designed them. Working with an ever-growing list of young designers – most of whom produced just one piece for the brand – E&S sated a thirsty audience with idea after idea, rarely investing in just one group of designers. E&S seemed to be constantly evolving in its first few years and even the brand’s core identity was subject to change. In 2008 the Made in Britain stamp disappeared from the branding, replaced by just Great Britain. “Ideas evolve and so do businesses,” says Holmes of the change. “The goal was completely genuine,” reflects British designer Alexander Taylor, who watched his Fold series roll off British assembly lines for the brand’s debut range. “The energy at the start was incredible. But they were trying to make really original pieces, and when the financial crisis hit, there were fluctuations in the prices of materials, and the reality started to dawn that Made in Britain is difficult to do.” In 2008 Holmes and Caspersz exited the company. In 2010, chief executive Willis left and Wrong departed two years later. Clearly the departure of the brand’s high-profile directors was of concern to the board. When filing their annual report for 2010 in 2011 (the last complete report that exists at Companies House), the summary stated: “The company’s future success is substantially dependent on the continued services and continuing contributions of its directors. The loss of the services of any of the company’s executive officers could have a material adverse effect on the company’s business.” But the remaining directors certainly didn’t advertise these concerns and although the grand parties and dinners of the first few years were replaced by more low-key affairs, both in Milan and the London Design Festival, it simply seemed to reflect the times. It is telling that the story that really stood out in Milan in 2011 was an online collaborative journalism project, Milan Uncut, asking questions about the furniture design industry. With the world in economic crisis and companies the size of countries folding, fair-goers started to question what was behind the industry’s glossy facade: are manufacturers slaves to the media and their insatiable appetite for new images to feed blogs and news pages? Are designers used as PR fodder without any real intent of ever manufacturing their products? And are there


Stack chest of drawers by Raw-Edges.

end of an era

Disegno. 29


“They are marvellous! They have to be reproduced and marketed again.” This remark was made by a Berlin gallery owner to Lore Kramer at the opening of the exhibition Minimalism and Applied II at the Daimler Contemporary gallery in Berlin in October 2010. >

PHOTO arthur arkin, retouching stuart beatty

Exposé

Come again?

30 Disegno. come again?


The Turbo light by Louis Weisdorf from 1967, now produced by Gubi.

come again?

Disegno. 31


Exposé

Nuage bookshelf from 1950s by Charlotte Perriand (below), now produced by Cassina Maestri.

> It was regarding the furniture of her late husband Ferdinand Kramer, an architect and functionalist designer, who led the way for affordable and easily adaptable furniture in Germany in the 1920s. At that point, Lore Kramer had, after a few attempts that had come to nothing, stopped considering reproducing Ferdinand’s pieces. But the gallery owner continued: “e15 would be the best address for that. Contact them.” So, she did. Last year, at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, the German furniture producer e15 debuted the Ferdinand Kramer Collection with eight of his designs, ranging from 1925 to 1959. This year, at IMM Cologne, the Kramer collection was expanded with the Westhausen sofa, the Weissenhof armchair, the Fortyforty side table and the Senckenberg daybed. “There are many similarities in his philosophy and that of e15,” says Philipp Mainzer, creative director of e15, about the decision to manufacture Kramer’s furniture. “His functional, sustainable and very straight32 Disegno. COME AGAIN?

forward design language very closely resembles ours.” The story is one of many recent re-edition projects. From Finnish manufacturer Artek’s new releases of its co-founder Alvar Aalto’s A23 chair and A26 armchair, to Italian brand Molteni & C’s recent edition of six pieces by the Milanese designer Gio Ponti, it begs the question: why are we seeing such an increase in the production of designs from the early- to mid-20th century? Is it a cash cow, a marketing exercise or an effort to keep furniture by designers that have played a significant role in design history available to a contemporary audience? “Re-editions are popular because of a fashionable

celebration of design history and a nostalgic look back at production methods,” says Jonathan Stephenson, the owner of London-based design gallery Rocket. Together with British manufacturer Benchmark, Rocket own the rights to produce Danish American designer Jens Risom’s furniture, originally designed between the 1950s and 1970s. Ville Kokkonen, design director at Artek has also noticed the trend: “Stylistically modernism has a huge influence on contemporary design and it is sometimes difficult for the uninitiated to understand if something is contemporary or an original from the 1920s.” >

PHOTO arthur arkin, retouching stuart beatty

Why are we seeing such an increase in the production of designs from the early- to mid20th century?


FK12 Fortyforty sidetable Lois Kahn’s Four from 1945 by Ferdinand Freedom’s Park took four Kramer (left), now decades toby realise produced e15. and sits at the tip of Roosevelt Island in Manhattan.


“We have a precious heritage and we must not just preserve it, but also bring it to life again.” In the case of the A23 chair, which Aalto used in the reading rooms of his Paimio Sanatorium in Finland in the 1930s, Artek had to develop new moulds, in order to answer to current health and safety regulations while still attempting get the result that Aalto first achieved in the 1930s. Also known as the Hybrid chair because of its combination of steel tubing and bentwood, it has become a collector’s item. As a result originals are still in circulation and can be easily compared to the new chair. Artek has a long-standing relationship with the Alvar Aalto Foundation to produce Aalto’s furniture, but for a manufacturer without these connections, getting the rights for a design can involve lengthy negotiations and often large sums of money. “If it’s a new company that’s 34 Disegno. come again?

unknown to us, we make a thorough analysis to judge whether or not they can live up to it,” says designer Tobias Jacobsen about requests from manufacturers that want to put his grandfather, the Danish designer Arne Jacobsen’s pieces into production. “If we sense it’s not about the love for the design, but the love for PR, we suggest some sums that make people back out of the project,” says Jacobsen. Some designers’ estates refuse re-editions altogether, like that of another Danish designer, Hans J Wegner. “Wegner was very prolific as a designer, with more than 500 chair designs and as many other designs in his lifetime,” says designer Anders Brun, who works for the Wegner office. “But Wegner was always careful selecting who he worked with, making designs that had the specific expertise of a manufacturer in mind and in many cases the family has stayed with those manufacturers after Wegner’s death.” Wegner’s daughter Marianne Wegner has spoken poignantly about the family’s decision not to actively seek to make re-editions. “She says that she grew up with these designs like brothers and sisters,” says Brun. “She wants to give them a good quality of life, it’s not about selling a design to the highest bidder, but finding someone who will look after the design and do it justice.” Brun himself is tasked with following the production of pieces and controlling the output to see that they follow Wegner’s original drawings. Of course, years of producing the same design still results in incremental changes to it, due to progress in manufacturing and technology. The cabinet makers that originally produced and developed designs with Wegner are long gone and now their specific marks have an appreciation all of their own. “There is a scene of collectors who are specifically after the marks and irregularities that make the piece an original Wegner,” says Brun. “They don’t like the newer and more recently made pieces.” “I personally prefer originals and I select things where the design reflects the moment in which it was made,” says Michael Bruno, founder of 1st Dibs, the New York-based online platform for international antique dealers. “Re-editions and continued editions are for people who want the design look and style, but are not so concerned with the original colour, or material, or method of manufacture,” says Bruno. Francesca Molteni of Molteni & C disagrees. “I think our past is our present,” she says of Molteni & C’s decision to reproduce furniture by Gio Ponti. “We have a precious heritage and we must not just preserve it, but also bring it to life again.” Molteni decided to look into the archive of the Italian master to find pieces that had never before been produced in a series. “We discovered real treasures: sketches, drawings, pictures and notes from the architect, and made an agreement with the Ponti family to reproduce an entire Ponti collection.” The collection, realised with the art direction of Studio Cerri & Associati, includes furniture such as a chair designed in 1935 for the first Palazzo Montecatini, in Milan and a bookcase, chest of drawers, a coffee table, frames, and a rug designed for Casa Ponti in 1956-57. It’s a bizarre feeling looking at re-editions in the halls of contemporary furniture fairs. Their

ability to bring a historical context into an environment where the past seems to be missing altogether is appealing, but at the same time their brand new, off-the-production-line, shiny surfaces raise questions over authenticity. Even though designers often strive to create timeless furniture, it is impossible to ignore the context for and in which the piece was originally designed. The forwardthinking material choices and manufacture of Aalto’s A23 chair don’t ring true any more, so shouldn’t furniture brands instead be preoccupied with finding designs and designers that communicate our contemporary conditions? “It’s important that we do both,” says Kokkonen of Artek’s position. “As a company we have a responsibility to keep Aalto’s pieces in production, not only the best sellers. But we also push designs that are of interest to design history, keeping them alive for a new generation of consumers.” Jacob Gubi, of the Danish brand Gubi considers the process of finding works by lesser known designers from the past just as worthwhile as scouting new talent. The company is relaunching the Turbo lamp by Danish designer Louis Weisdorf from 1967 at this year’s Euroluce in Milan. “We want to give credit to some of the great unknown masters, who in their time maybe never got the recognition they deserved,” says Gubi. “And I also want my business to be credited for this work of discovering.” So what would the originators of these reproductions think of their work still being made, so long after it was first designed? “Ferdinand would have been very happy that there is an international interest in his furniture again,” says Lore Kramer. “But he was very opinionated about colours and probably would not have been pleased about some of them. However I realise that there is a discrepancy between ‘authenticity’ and ‘saleability’.”

.

Johanna Agerman Ross (see p. 12). With additional reporting by Kristina Rapacki, Adam Štěch and Oli Stratford.

PHOTO arthur arkin, retouching stuart beatty

Exposé

> Even if the concept of re-editions seems fairly straightforward, searching an archive to find a design that corresponds with current tastes and ideas, and putting it into production is a fairly complicated series of events. “It’s not necessarily a quick decision or an easy shortcut to take something from the archive,” says Kokkonen. “In some ways it’s comparable to making a new design, but with new projects it’s easy to make adjustments if something doesn’t work as planned. But with pieces that have been in production already, it is harder to make it precisely as it was before.”


Montecatini The granite enclosure chair fromat the far 1935 and end Tea oftable the park fromis referred by 1954-55 to as Gio“the Ponti room�. (left), now produced by Molteni & C.


Exposé

Anatomy of a Press Trip You meet at the airport, or the railway station. One or two of the group might be friends of yours. More will be acquaintances, or people you know only by sight – it’s very possible that you only ever see them in these circumstances. The rest will be strangers. It is typically first thing in the morning, and you will be drinking coffee while greetings and introductions are exchanged. You are all going on a trip together, but there’s a jaded air – over-enthusiasm is the sign of a novice, so most choose to act the seasoned old pro, as if you do this all the time. And it might not be an act; you might really do this all the time. The group will be together for anything from a day to a week. You will

36 Disegno. Anatomy of a press trip

be taken to see something, all expenses paid1, and at the end of the trip you will write about what you have seen for the publication that has commissioned you. Or perhaps you won’t write anything – perhaps you will spend a couple of weeks hiding and not answering the phone. You are an architecture or design journalist, and you are going on a press trip. This is how architecture and design journalism is done, this is where it happens. But press

trips are not talked about. At times, you will see them alluded to in the course of a building study or a review of a design festival – a hint that the writer might be travelling as part of a group of hacks, and that public relations professionals might be involved. Rarely any more than that. To say more appears too insider-y to editors, too selfreferential, too much of a glimpse of the back-room


machinery – a distraction unnecessarily placed between the reader and what they are reading about, that building or that design festival. But we need to talk about press trips. We need to talk about them precisely because they are part of that back-room machinery of journalism, a large and mostly hidden part. Almost a secret. They shape what you read about in print and online. Maybe the reader would prefer to read about that building or design festival, and not how the journalist came to be covering it. But why is it that building on the page, and not another one? Is it down to pure merit, a decision based solely on what’s most important or interesting at that moment? In editors’ dreams it is. In fact, a leading reason you end up reading about one thing rather than another might be because that magazine, website or blog was invited on one press trip and not another. And the influence of the trips, the distortions and eddies they create within architecture and design discourse, doesn’t end there. There’s a fine example of a press trip in English literary fiction. And it’s from the

surprisingly early year of 1967, in Michael Frayn’s Fleet Street novel Towards The End Of The Morning. John Dyson is a lowly hack for a national newspaper, stuck editing the nature column and dreaming of the new opportunities of television and international travel. Press trips – or “facilities trips” in the jargon of the time – give him a small taste of that jet-setting life. Despite being more than 40 years old, Frayn’s description of the trip could have been written yesterday – and in a feat of eerie prescience, he makes the destination Sharjah, part of what would shortly become the United Arab Emirates, destination of some of the most lavish press trips of the boom years. “He could pick out some of the other journalists in the Magic Carpet group sitting about the lounge; they were all, like himself, carrying the folder of publicity material Magic Carpet had issued them with. There was a photographer who had checked in just ahead of him. He seemed to have brought a couple of models with him – badly dressed girls with pained expressions and tragically thin legs. And the tall, cavernous man with the dark blazer and the ex-officer’s moustache – wasn’t he from the Telegraph? The red-faced young man with the thin hair falling all over the place was a humorous writer for somebody – Dyson had seen him on television. There was a man in a blue pinstripe suit, with elegant grey curls, who freelanced food and wine, and an anxious young woman with dark eyes and three strings of beads to chew on who did travel for one of the glossies; Dyson had seen them both on facilities trips before. Oh God, he thought, facilities trips! How awful they were! He could picture the holiday development at Sharjah already – new concrete hotels built too quickly, no amenities, the squalor of the local population beyond the new concrete reserves. It was only the travelling there and back which made them worthwhile at all.” Frayn is bang on the money: the semi-familiar faces you encounter, the continual waiting for a vehicle or another part of the group, the energetic but often invisible PR person, the artifice of the experience, its resounding oddness. And he shows that the press trip is hardly a new phenomenon, nor is it unique to architecture and design journalism. Indeed, colleagues in the technology and games media tell of trips of astonishing decadence and naked meretriciousness, and >

1 On one long-haul trip I enjoyed some years ago, the organisers provided a per diem for our expenses, something like £30 a day, paid straight into the bank account. But once we arrived, transport, accommodation and food were provided – there were no real expenses. That money felt filthy.

Most magazines have budgets that stretch to the occasional EasyJet return ticket to locations within an 800km radius of London, but want to give the reader Tokyo, Miami, Dubai. How do they get there? Someone else pays, of course. Anatomy of a press trip

Disegno. 37


Exposé

Anyone with a shred of decency will feel uncomfortable reneging on The Deal, even though nothing has been agreed – that’s what’s so insidious about it. > it goes without saying that the travel trade press itself used to be considered a plum sector of journalism to work in because you could retire on the air miles, if deep-vein thrombosis didn’t get you first. However, the small world of architecture and design journalism, and its effort to maintain global scope on shoestring resources, makes it especially vulnerable to the influence of the trip. Most magazines have budgets that stretch to the occasional EasyJet return ticket to locations within an 800km radius of London, but want to give the reader Tokyo, Miami, Dubai. How do they get there? Someone else pays, of course. So we come to The Deal. The Deal is: we, the organisation with the substantial marketing budget and the new building/design festival in a far-flung location to show off, will pay for you, the journalist, to come to see it. You will repay us with press coverage. This Deal is very rarely explicit. When it is explicit, and sanctified by signed agreements, it’s called a Media Partnership, which is in essence a form of licensed and largely benign mutual backscratching – benign because it’s out in the open, everyone can see The Deal, both parties boast about it. If The Deal is left implicit, it’s more open to corruption. It might even be intrinsically corrupt. How so? Frayn’s Dyson loves trips because they give him access to the world travel he craves. Press trips are an undeniable perk of a mostly underpaid job, and give journalists access to the kind of swanning about in hotels and departure lounges they would not otherwise be able to afford. (Which is one reason they don’t get talked about to the readers – it looks boastful, and it is.) The organisers are generous, most generous – the best trips are almost indistinguishable from a free mini-break. There are fun parties, delicious meals and swimming pools. One trip I went on included a helicopter ride. Let’s not pretend that this doesn’t resemble bribery, dressed up in social ritual. The duty of guests to the hosts is a deep-rooted cultural instinct: when we enjoy someone’s hospitality, we feel beholden to them. Nothing so overt, so crude, as a payoff. The equation is, in the end, emotional. And the proof that this implicit Deal exists is what happens if you breach it – what happens if you go home and don’t write anything. You are pursued by phone calls from the organisers or their PR people asking what you’re writing and when it’s going to appear. There is nothing remotely threatening about the phone calls, they’re terribly nice, and it takes a heart of solid flint to say that you’re not writing anything at all. Anyone with a shred of decency will feel uncomfortable reneging on The Deal, even though nothing has been agreed – that’s what’s so insidious about it. And those decency-shred-possessing journalists soon realise that it’s best to assess if the object of a trip is worth writing about before agreeing to go – another tacit recognition that The Deal exists. Another way to breach The Deal is to go home and write a negative report about what you’ve seen. Naturally, the implicit assumption of this arrangement is that your coverage will be at the very least neutral. Again, it takes a heart of knotted barbed wire. You might tell yourself that you’re doing the right thing as a journalist, bringing people the truth, but this is balanced by the certain knowledge that you’re writing

38 Disegno. anatomy of a press trip

about a design festival, not the Watergate scandal. The temptation is to reach for the flannel where you might have used vitriol, to euphemise, to damn with faint praise and hope the right people pick up on it, all to avoid repercussions. The more obviously expensive the trip, the more tempting it is to exercise self-censorship. The further from home you venture, the more compelling the emotional pressure. If you’re going to see a new art gallery in the Home Counties, you won’t feel the slightest hesitation before saying what you think, because you could have paid for it out of your own pocket. Outside Europe, it becomes much harder. I’ve tried it, I’ve written negative reports about trade fairs in Las Vegas and design festivals in Singapore, each time consoling myself with journalistic probity, and each time I’ve had to field the hurt phone calls afterwards and have been left feeling like an ungrateful shit. It’s best to insulate against that risk by being careful about what trips to accept – again, recognising the existence of The Deal. Sometimes, that hurt phone call is the only repercussion of breaching The Deal, and sometimes there are no repercussions beyond the journalist’s own conscience. But the consequences can be more serious. Naturally enough, if you’re snotty about a particular festival one year, your chances of being invited back the next year drop a notch or two. In many cases, however, these trips are not organised by the hosts of the festival or the builders of the building, but by the giant public relations firm they have retained. And


there aren’t that many giant PR firms. Breach The Deal in one instance, and your magazine or blog might find itself sidelined from other, unrelated, trips. Public relations firms will deny this happens – it’s not exactly ethical. But it does happen. This is not as blatant as blacklisting (although one hears stories about that), and it can work by positive rather than negative discrimination, so the PRs don’t even have to be conscious they’re doing it. You work for a PR firm and you have the budget to fly five journalists to the Kuala Lumpur Design Festival. The first five names that spring to mind will no doubt be those who wrote nice things about other clients. A sin of omission, not commission, but still pernicious. Not a shred of evil has to exist in the soul of the person making this decision – they are being paid to get a result, which is favourable coverage, and they are doing the right thing by their client. The situation merely reflects the way money has migrated around the media ecosystem in the long term – shifts already detectable in Frayn’s 1967 novel. More people now work in public relations than in journalism. And no one would envy the PR fixer their place on the trip. Towards The End Of The Morning is a comic novel, and the Sharjah excursion is a drink-soaked catastrophe. The situation lends itself readily to farce. These trips are substantial logistical exercises, and journalists are not disciplined people. Any group of more than three of them will be near-impossible to coordinate. At any given time, at least one journalist will have wandered off, delaying the whole group. I missed the first trip I was invited on because I overslept and missed the flight. (This was a visit to a garage door manufacturer in the Netherlands 13 years ago, when I was a junior employee at a construction magazine. It’s not always glamour.) Another excursion was almost derailed by the non-appearance of the architecture correspondent for a national newspaper at the railway terminal, who was later mysteriously spotted from the window of the train standing on the platform of another station on the line. The longer any delay is, the greater the risk that other journalists will drift away. Often they will have lined up their own off-piste interviews and visits on the side in order to wring as much value from their time in a distant city as possible. This is often tough and has to be done on the sly because your time is ruthlessly scheduled – much money

has been spent to get your undivided attention, and they don’t intend to squander their chance. Meanwhile the rest of the group will be demanding things: When will we get to X? When can I speak to Y? Do you have pictures of Z? All that, and the fixer also has to cope with the demands of the client, who is after all bankrolling the whole enterprise. Starfield, the organiser of the Sharjah trip in Frayn’s novel, ends up locking himself in an aeroplane toilet with a bottle of whisky, and frankly you can see his point. What is to be done about press trips? If it’s any reassurance, most journalists are alive to the ethical questions they raise, and strive to keep the readers’ interests at the fore of their minds. But the fact that no one talks about them suggests that we know, on one level or another, that they’re compromised, that they don’t look good, and that’s a problem. Pious abstention is no solution – inevitably that will do nothing more than place impossible strictures on magazines, and unnecessarily diminish them for readers, to the benefit of less conscientious competitors. Maybe a little transparency is all that’s needed – a line of small print stating clearly who paid for a writer’s transport and accommodation. But neither editors nor PR people will be thrilled at that idea. It looks a little grubby, doesn’t it? A little seedy. And that, precisely, is the problem.

.

Will Wiles is an author and a writer on design and architecture for magazines such as Icon and the New Statesman. He is currently completing his second novel.

You might tell yourself that you’re doing the right thing as a journalist, bringing people the truth, but this is balanced by a certain knowledge that you’re writing about a design festival, not the Watergate scandal. anatomy of a press trip

Disegno. 39


The shape that moves. The free flowing shape of designer Alvar Aalto’s vase was a revolutionary statement that created reactions among people when it first came in 1936. Looking like nothing else, it still is. Simple yet rebellious, it’s the shape that moves. iittala.com /iittala




V Valentino’s Glossary of Couture photos Richard Haughton

Valentino: Master of Couture, at London’s Somerset House from 19 November 2012 to 3 March 2013, occupied the long, narrow Embankment Gallery, re-imagined as a catwalk. The exhibition displayed 138 garments from Valentino’s career, sampling both the simple and the extravagant, from a knee-length, minimalist, navy-blue cocktail dress from 1959, to the 1995 lace wedding dress of Marie-Chantal, Crown Princess of Greece.

Valentino Garavani was born in Voghera, Italy, in 1932, and he moved to Paris in 1950 to study at the Chambre Syndicale de la Couture Parisienne. He quickly gained a position at the Paris atelier of Greek couturier Jean Dessès and, in 1957, the French fashion designer Guy Laroche asked Valentino to join his couture salon. After almost a decade in the heartland of couture, he returned to Italy to set up the House of Valentino in 1959. Valentino has dedicated his life to making beautiful and exclusive items. His is a rarified world, one that highlights fashion’s elitism and escapism. It is also a world that has seen rapid change in the past two decades, with production moving away from the fashion capitals in Italy and France, and the skills developed in couture ateliers over the past century slowly disappearing.

In the pages that follow – dispersed throughout this issue of Disegno – the House of Valentino, in conjunction with Somerset House, has given us exclusive access to the fabric samples that document the techniques employed in the making of a couture garment. These techniques also influence the ready -to-wear collections.

They are a testament to Valentino’s appreciation of his craft, but they also present a slightly melancholy view of a dying art form. Valentino Garavani departed the company in 2008, and although these samples form part of the fashion brand’s history, one can’t help but wonder if they will be part of its future. The time, skill and capital needed to create these rarities are no longer valued in a world of fast consumption. But here, we can marvel at their precision, painstaking execution and the wonderful words they have invented. Thank you to the team at Somerset House.

Valentino’s glossary of couture

Disegno. 41


Budellini This Italian term, which originates from the word for “guts” or “intestines”, is a couture technique specific to Valentino, where double charmeuse silk is rolled and sewn around a looped length of wool. The word also appears in traditional cooking, and, like its use within couture, it appears as strings (of intestines in this case), wrapped around meat or fish.

42 Disegno. Valentino’s glossary of couture




Valentino’s glossary of couture

Disegno. 43


Iris van Herpen The Dutch fashion designer known for using innovative manufacturing technologies has just presented her first prĂŞt-Ă porter collection in Paris, proving that her avant-garde view of fashion production might not be as far away from reaching the masses as it once seemed. WORDS Johanna Agerman Ross PHOTOS Boy kortekaas and Ronald Stoops

44 Disegno. iris van herpen


Photo boy kortekaas

Backstage at Iris van Herpen’s spring/summer 2013 haute couture show, Paris, January 2013.

iris van herpen

Disegno. 45


F 1 The Paris Bourse is the Paris Stock Exchange, known as Euronext Paris since 2000.

Tabacs (tobacco in French) are newsagents that sell tobacco products.

2

Paris Fashion Week is a biannual fashion trade show held in Paris.

3

Prêt-à-porter, meaning ready-to-wear, is massmanufactured clothing produced in standard sizes for the shop floor.

4

Haute couture is handsewn, made-to-measure, bespoke clothing. To qualify as an official couturier, a fashion designer must fulfill a strict set of criteria laid out by the French Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture (see note 7).

5

From 24 March to 23 September 2012, the Groninger Museum in the Netherlands staged an exhibition of Iris van Herpen’s work.

6

7 Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture dates back to 1868 and is one of five trade unions under the Fédération Française de la Couture, du Prêt-à-Porter des Couturiers et des Créateurs de Mode.

These are only some of the criteria, the rest can be found on modeaparis.com.

8

46 Disegno. iris van herpen

riday nights close to the Paris Bourse1 are quiet. The streets are empty and the Tabacs2 are closed. One such Friday night in March, during Paris Fashion Week3, I walk down Rue du Mail and slip into a courtyard behind two large, heavy doors. At the other end of the courtyard lies a fashion showroom displaying next season’s looks. Here, the silence of the street is abruptly broken, by the chatter of PRs, bleeping mobile phones, fashion buyers and agents negotiating, still working at nine o’clock at night. It’s the behind-the-scenes of fashion, the non-glamour, the wheeling and dealing. It is here, rather than on the catwalk, that the next season’s trends will really be set, as this is where the buyers from some of the world’s largest online and off-line boutiques make their orders for what fashion looks will reach the shop floor. Tucked away in the basement, removed from the commerce upstairs, the Dutch fashion designer Iris van Herpen is showing her first prêt-à-porter4 collection. The setting is fitting. It’s six years since she launched her own label, but so far her only collections have been extraordinary haute couture5 shows displaying her unique view of fashion design. Now she is showing how those ideas can be turned into garments that won’t just appear on the catwalk or in exhibitions6. “It feels really natural to be doing a prêt-à-porter collection,” says van Herpen. “Because for my couture collections, I do a lot of development research for techniques, but the audience for this is very small. Few women have the money to afford this,” she says, gesturing to an haute couture dress in laser-cut Plexiglas, weighing between four and five kilograms, displayed on a mannequin to demonstrate the origins of the ready-to-wear collection. The purposefully commercial setting highlights the ambitions of her brand, so how can her conceptuality be turned into a product that sells? Van Herpen has her own ideas about that and, as with everything else she does, it smacks of the future, setting her in sharp contrast to an industry obsessed with the past.

The Hôtel de Ville is a 20-minute walk from the showroom where, earlier that day, the exhibition Paris Haute Couture opened to the press. Containing haute couture garments, sketches and photographs from the past century, it celebrates a craft that is elitist and close to extinction. Protected by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture7, haute couture is a closely guarded art form. In its stipulations, this governing body states that in order to create haute couture, a designer must create made-to-order designs for private clients; have a workshop in Paris that employs at least 20 full-time technical workers; and present one collection of no less than 35 outfits, twice a year8. This is the reason why, with the rise of industrial manufacture of clothing, between 1946 and 1967, the number of couture houses was reduced from 106 to 19. Today, there are 12 Parisian couture houses. It is in this rarified world that van Herpen made her Parisian debut, in July 2011, as a guest of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. >


One of the 11 outfits in van Herpen’s recent couture collection called Voltage, inspired by the theories of Nikola Tesla.


The as yet unnamed material of the 3D-printed garment that Iris van Herpen created with the help of MIT professor Neri Oxman.

48 Disegno. iris van herpen


Photo boy kortekaas

iris van herpen

Disegno. 49


Alexander McQueen (1969-2010) was a British couturier. He founded his label in 1992 and was chief designer for Givenchy from 1996-2001.

9

10 Claudy Jongstra (b. 1963) is a Dutch textile artist who specialises in tapestries and textile installations. Her studio is based in a rural church in Friesland, Netherlands. 11 Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) was an American-Serbian physicist whose theories revolutionised the science of electromagnetism.

The designer Neri Oxman (b. 1976) is assistant professor of Media Arts and Sciences at the MIT Media Lab, where she is the founding director of the Mediated Matter research group.

12

Stratasys Ltd. was founded in 2012, and manufactures 3D printers and materials for 3D print prototyping.

13

Materialise is a Belgian innovation agency that works with 3D printing and software.

14

15 Daniel Widrig is a Londonbased architect. He founded his own cross-disciplinary studio in 2009 and directs a research cluster at UCL’s Bartlett Graduate Architectural Design Programme.

Isaïe Bloch is a Belgian architect and Cg artist.

16

17 Parametric design is the term for design created by inputting parametric data into computer software such as Grasshopper, SoftPlan, and Revit.

Zaha Hadid (b. 1950) is an award-winning Iraqi-British architect based in London. Her projects have a recognisable, sinuous style that has been called parametric (see note 15).

18

Ross Lovegrove (b. 1958) is a Welsh industrial designer who has worked for Sony and Apple, among others.

19

50 Disegno. iris van herpen

“I am very interested in other disciplines and if I look to architecture or product design I feel that they are more open to new things, in fashion it’s much slower.” > “For me, couture is the future of fashion,” says van Herpen, clad in a black leather dress of her own creation. She is small and elfin. “People need a story; they need to understand where things come from. In ready-to-wear you can’t always find it or feel it.” Take, for example, her “splash dresses” which have the appearance of the wearer being splashed in water. The procedure of making them involves transparent acrylic, a hot-air gun, a pair of pliers and, like in all haute couture, a lot of time, but the finished result is unlike any other couture garment. “Haute couture is the only place where development can be made. In ready-to-wear, it’s running so fast that it’s difficult to take new steps forward in terms of material or technique. So haute couture is interesting for this, but sometimes I feel that there is a lack of experimentation as well.”

Van Herpen, who is 29, graduated from the ArtEZ Institute of the Arts in Arnhem, in the Netherlands, in 2006. She set up her own label in 2007 in Amsterdam, following internships with British fashion designer Alexander McQueen9 and Dutch textile artist Claudy Jongstra10. Both designers’ work are referenced in van Herpen’s – the armour-like qualities of McQueen and the material experimentation of Jongstra – but van Herpen examines them through a filter of new technologies and collaborations reaching far outside the world of fashion. “I am very interested in other disciplines and if I look to architecture or product design I feel that they are more open to new things, in fashion it’s much slower,” says van Herpen. “A lot is being done in fashion but there is no real progress, so the only way to make progress is to work with other people, outside of the fashion industry.” It is these collaborations that have made van Herpen a phenomenon noted in both the design and fashion press with her collections being reported on websites ranging from Vogue to Wired.

Her most recent couture collection, Voltage, was shown during the haute couture week in Paris in January. It featured 11 garments inspired by Nikola Tesla’s energy theory11 and two ensembles produced using a 3D printer. One was a skirt and cape made in collaboration with Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Neri Oxman12 and 3D-print specialist Stratasys13, using a material so new that it doesn’t yet have a name. Resembling an exotic under-water coral formation, it’s akin to something grown in a lab and appears organic, almost alive. The second 3D-printed garment, a black dress designed with Austrian architect Julia Koerner, was printed by Belgian firm Materialise14.The lace-like texture of the dress was created through selective laser sintering and helped create a more body-conscious creation. Van Herpen uses architects and designers like Oxman and Koerner as facilitators for her ideas. “I couldn’t work with technology if I didn’t work with an architect or a designer,” says van Herpen. “It’s not that I don’t have the talent or the brain to be able to do it myself, but by opening up to scientists like Neri Oxman, it opens up a new world.” She finds collaborators online and proclaims “the internet makes creativity borderless.” So far, she has produced several 3D garments with the help of London-based architect and former Zaha Hadid employee Daniel Widrig15, while Belgian architect Isaïe Bloch16 assists van Herpen with 3D visualisations. “When I have something in my head, he is the fastest one to translate it,” she says. Her own creative process is more low-tech. She scans her drawings and manipulates them through the cut-and-paste mode in Adobe Photoshop. The meeting between these cutting-edge technological applications and the handcrafted results in garments that feel entirely without history. It is reminiscent of the movement that occurred within design and architecture in the early 21st century, that is often referred to as “parametric”17 and resulted in organic and fluid shapes as a result of the use of new computer software.

But while van Herpen’s designs are gaining momentum within fashion, the concept of parametric design in architecture and product and furniture design is experiencing a backlash. The sweeping curves of Zaha Hadid’s18 buildings or Ross Lovegrove’s19 products date back to a time where the belief in these new computer-aided design technologies gave rise to a new form of design. However, the aesthetic that it created is one that can firmly be placed in the past and recent years’ obsession with the documentation of craftsmanship and truth to material >


The 3D-printed cape and dress by Neri Oman and Iris van Herpen.


READING LIST Iris van Herpen by Jean Paul Cuvain, Mark Wilson & Sue-an van der Zijpp, Groninger Museum/BAI Publishers, 2012.

“People need a story and to understand where things come from. In ready-to-wear you can’t always find it.” > is at odds with the sleek, glossy, computer-drawn lines of that era. Fashion design still seems to be flirting with the look and ideas that these new technologies brought, perhaps because the smaller scale of fashion makes these designs achievable. To 3D print the heel of a shoe or a detail of a dress for ready consumption, is within close reach, while the 3D printing of buildings or even furniture in mass production, is still, to a large extent, a fiction. There is, therefore, a discrepancy between the programmes that help create the designs and the actual execution, which has proven a difficult gap to bridge, making these organic structures in design and architecture seem slightly artificial.

It is here that van Herpen’s ready-to-wear line serves an interesting purpose, not only in making her creations more available at a lower price, but also in applying her ideas about the mass manufacture of clothes. Among the many exquisite pieces on display in the showroom – hung on 3D-printed hangers – there is one that more than any other speaks to this future. It’s a short-sleeved bolero-like garment made from what appears to be black lace. In fact, it’s 3D printed and a direct spin-off from the dress that van Herpen and Koerner made for the Voltage couture show. “The idea is that the customer will install software on their computer that measures them. It calculates 300 points on your body and then you have your own 3D model of yourself, and the garments you order are 3D printed to your measurements. The technology is already there, through Materialise and a software called Poikos. “We are still refining it, but we are basically asking these two companies to combine their software to make it possible,” says van Herpen. And that is how, in the basement of a Parisian fashion showroom, van Herpen is proposing to change the structure of fashion retailing, making these spaces and the dealing that takes place within them, superfluous altogether.

.

Johanna Agerman Ross (see p. 12)

Ronald Stoops and Boy Kortekaas are fasion photographers based in Antwerp. They work independently from one another but have both captured the work of fashion designers like Raf Simons and, here, Iris van Herpen.

52 Disegno. iris van herpen


Photo boy kortekaas

Hydro-Fold, a paper designed Opposite page: backstage by Christophe at ECAL, at theGuberan Voltage show in reacts toParis. the moisture of the This page: the ink black when printed, into dress and that contorts van Herpen three dimensions. made with Julia Koerner.


Drappeggio Meaning “drapery” or “folds”, drappeggio is a couture technique with chiffon and crepe silk draped on the bias*. The Italian artist and interior decorator Piero Fornasetti created a pattern for a furnishing fabric of the same name, mimicking the drapes on the bias. The line taken, in folding or cutting material, diagonally across the warp (threads running lengthwise) and woof (threads running crosswise). The “true bias” is a diagonal line running at an angle of 45˚ to the selvedge (the finished edge). Garments are often cut on the true bias to prevent sagging or twisting to insure a better fit. *

54 Disegno. Valentino’s glossary of couture




Valentino’s glossary of couture

Disegno. 55


The Sea board British designer Roland Lamb has created a new musical instrument. Tactile, intuitive to use, and highly expressive, the Seaboard is an electronic keyboard with skin-like surface, instead of keys. WORDS John L. Walters PHOTOS Juan Trujillo Andrades

56 Disegno. The Seaboard


The Seaboard

Disegno. 57


T 1 The Royal College of Art (RCA) is a London-based public research university specialising in art and design, founded in 1837. It is worldrenowned for its product and industrial design programmes.

Ron Arad (b. 1951) is an Israeli industrial designer, architect and artist. He founded Arad Associates with Caroline Thorman in 1989 and was the head of the Design Products department at the RCA from 1997-2009.

2

3 Harvard University, founded in 1636, is the oldest institution of higher education in the United States, with its campus in Cambridge, Massachusetts. 4 Jurgen Bey (b. 1965) is a Dutch designer. Bey, along with architect Rianne Makkink, founded Studio Makkink & Bey in 2002. He is famous for his collaborations with design collective Droog such as the Gardening Bench.

Martino Gamper (b. 1971) is an Italian designer based in London. Working on a range of projects within exhibition design, interior design, bespoke and massproduced furniture.

5

58 Disegno. The Seaboard

here has been some grumbling among the design community that the word “design” is becoming more noun than verb. And that, as a result, the artefacts and systems that should be understood as the results of a complex, highly nuanced process are reduced to mere designs. So it is refreshing to come across a designer who regards the discipline as something closer to philosophical endeavour – as language, theory, thought, and argument. Roland Lamb is such a man. Moreover, he has turned his original, first-principles thinking into a design for the most innovative new electronic music instrument for years, the Seaboard.

Yet, when Lamb enrolled to study product design at London’s Royal College of Art1 in 2008, he had no idea of himself as a cutting-edge designer, let alone the chief executive of an East London startup. For Lamb, the RCA programme – led by legendary industrial designer Ron Arad2 – was a chance to expand his interests, a staging post between his Harvard3 degree in comparative philosophy (classical Chinese and Sanskrit) and returning to the Massachusetts university for his PhD. “I was looking at design from a conceptual framework, because I’d studied philosophy,” says Lamb. “The world of material culture and technology were becoming intellectually important to me. But it was like a philosophical exercise. And I thought it was going to be something more like an enrichment.” But within months, the soft-spoken academic who played a bit of jazz piano on the side, hit on the idea of a new instrument that would take over his life. Lamb is courteous and formidably intellectual – the fine-grained questioning that comes naturally to a philosopher seems comfortably embedded in his everyday discourse. His spacious workshop in a Dalston cul-de-sac has nice furniture, paintings on the walls, and a light-drenched reception area that doubles as meeting room and exercise space. Vintage reference books are displayed – serving as decoration, inspiration, and a celebration of learning.

In little more than four years, Lamb’s Seaboard has gone from being a student project, to a working prototype, to a commercial product manufactured by his own start-up. The first item to come out of Roli, the company he founded in 2009, is the limited-edition Seaboard Grand, an 88-note polyphonic instrument that can sound like an acoustic grand piano, but which puts many more timbres and performance options at the disposal of the adventurous musician. For the product of a conceptual thought process, the Seaboard is a remarkably solid, beautiful, and tactile object. To fully understand it, you have to touch it and play (with) it. The first three letters of the instrument are significant – they stand for “sensory”, “elastic” and “adaptive”. Lamb explains that the Seaboard name applies to the SEA interface technology on which the instrument is based. But it’s an evocative name too, which reminds you that the keyboard is made up of waves, like the surface of the sea, or the undulating ridges of sand that remain on a beach as the tide goes out. >


Designer Roland Lamb at his East London studio, where he now employs 20 people.

The Seaboard

Disegno. 59


60 Disegno. The Seaboard


Constructing the Seaboard, which is defined by a series of ridges, covered in a case that is almost skin-like.

The Seaboard

Disegno. 61


6 Yamaha is a Japanese multinational corporation that was founded in 1887 by Torakusu Yamaha as a piano and reed organ manufacturer. It now produces electronics, musical instruments and motorcycles. 7 A pitch wheel is a control on a synthesiser that determines how the pitch can continuously vary. It is used to slide a note’s pitch up and down.

Theobald Boehm (1794–1881) was a German musician and inventor. He was influential in establishing the western Concert flute by experimenting with its materiality and the method by which it is played – now called the Boehm method.

8

9 A fret usually refers to the metal ridges or bars on the fingerboard of a string instrument which help determine the notes played. A “fretless piano” would be a continuous surface of different notes without any interruption as opposed to the discrete keys on a typical piano.

Portamento is a musical term which is borrowed from the Italian expression “portamento della voce” meaning carriage of the voice. It is used to describe the pitch sliding from one note to another or the glide function of synthesisers.

10

11 Weighing more than 91kg, the Yamaha CS-80 is a polyphonic analog synthesiser. It was released in 1976 and considered to be the oldest and greatest of its kind. It has several performance features including a splittable velocity and pressure-sensitive keyboard and a ribbon controller that facilitates polyphonic pitch-bends.

Lawrence Roger Fast or ‘Larry Fast’ (b.1951) is a composer and synthesiser expert who is known for his synthesiser music albums from 1975-1987 titled Synergy.

12

13 The keyboardist for the British synth pop/ jazz band, Landscape, Christopher Heaton played alongside fellow members, Richard Burgess, Andy Pask, Pete Thomas and John Walters. The group was formed in 1975 and achieved success with hits like Einstein A-Go-Go and Manhattan Boogie-Woogie in the 1980s.

62 Disegno. The Seaboard

It’s an evocative name, which reminds you that the keyboard is made up of waves, like the surface of the sea, or the undulating ridges of sand that remain on a beach as the tide goes out.

> “I came from this completely different field and I was always interested in music,” says Lamb. “At the RCA, I was looking at a lot of different projects, I was trying to find why I should care about product design. I didn’t just want to make more things.” He realised that he had little “emotional engagement” with the objects that many of his contemporaries were designing: “I like nice chairs, but it wasn’t like I wanted to spend all my time designing chairs. I wondered how I would engage with this world of product design.”

The nudge came from visiting design tutors Jurgen Bey4 and Martino Gamper5, who together with the students were doing a music project with instrument manufacturer Yamaha.6 “I was sitting at the café at the RCA, thinking about instruments and music and what I wanted to do,” says Lamb. “And I was playing the piano there and remembering that when I had been more active as a player, I’d always wanted more expressiveness, to be able to do different things. I saw that desire in myself and figured that a lot of other people would have that, too. Knowing about things like pitch wheels7, which were really bad design solutions, made me think, ‘Oh, there must some sort of opportunity to do something better.’ That dissatisfaction was the root.”

For Lamb, the fundamental aspect of instrument design is muscle memory. Most successful new instruments have built upon the playing conventions established by earlier instruments, usually adding one new element. Theobald Boehm8 added mechanical keys to open-holed flutes; the electric guitar added electrical energy to a well established acoustic instrument. Lamb’s innovation is to retain the layout of the piano while changing its feel. The Seaboard’s keyboard is a spongy, undulating, unbroken strip of silicon that enables the performer to add several new levels of expression. You can strike it hard or caress it; bend notes and squeeze extra sounds by pressing down after the initial attack. Some pianists will find it alien; others will love the idea of a keyboard that promises the expressiveness of a violin or a saxophone.

Glance at the Seaboard and you immediately perceive the black and white keys of the conventional piano, organ or synthesiser. Anyone with a rudimentary piano technique can sit down at the instrument and play it – you know immediately where to put your fingers. But when your fingers fall into place to play your favourite tune, you realise that there’s no mechanical action – the keyboard is smooth, almost skin-like, and defined by a series of wave-like ridges. My first thoughts, when I started playing around on the Seaboard, were that it can be a kind of “fretless piano”9. If you caress the keys from top to bottom (it feels soft and warm to the touch) you can execute a spectacular portamento10, or you can play choppy funk chords by tapping the upper ridges of the waves as if they were keys. The biggest surprise comes when you play a single-note melody with your right hand – the Seaboard enables the player to perform this tune with the expressiveness of a violin or a flute, with changing vibrato, dynamics and timbre.

But there’s another surprise for the unsuspecting Seaboard player – “aftertouch”. When you press down further on a note that you are already playing, the sound can change even more. Aftertouch has been around since the late 1970s – notably on the mighty Yamaha CS-80 synth11 (performed by keyboard experts such as Larry Fast12 and Christopher Heaton13) – but it is rarely used in contemporary synth and keyboard designs. >


The 88-note polyphonic instrument has “aftertouch�, so that when a note is played for longer, the sound will change even more.

The Seaboard

Disegno. 63


The silicon injection machine in the studio’s workshop. The Sound Hive at Roli Labs has been built together with acoustic engineers (below).

64 Disegno. The Seaboard


For the product of a conceptual thought process, the Seaboard is a remarkably solid, beautiful, and tactile object. To fully understand it, you have to touch it and play (with) it.

14 Java is an object-oriented computer programming language released in 1995, having been developed by James Gosling at Sun Microsystems. It is unique in that it allows programmers to write code once and have it run on multiple platforms without having to be recompiled. It is used by more than 10 million people.

> By the beginning of 2009, Lamb had already tested and eliminated two possible approaches to an expressive keyboard. First, he experimented with the idea of having conventional piano keys that moved in additional directions, but soon abandoned that line of enquiry. “The mechanical solutions, where you have physical piano keys that somehow have additional axes, didn’t seem like good solutions to me,” he says. Then, Lamb looked at a screen-based approach, and realised that “a touchscreen-type solution would never work because it relied on a visual feedback loop”. He was looking for something that would enable players to use their muscle memory and feel where their fingers were. He hit on the unusual form of the Seaboard keyboard by using a process familiar to all designers – sketching. He was searching for the answer to the question: “What does that leave, if I can’t have something flat, and I can’t have something mechanical, how am I going to recreate the experience of playing the piano?” Lamb sketched the piano keyboard over and over again, with different angles and different ways of showing what it was. “In these sketches I started drawing over them, until I was at the point where I had smoothed out all the features – I had black keys and white keys but it was like a corrugated set of waves,” he says. “Soon after, I felt there was a solution – where you could play on the tops of these corrugated waves and then slide the pitch by sliding between them. The issue was one of discreteness and continuousness – so you needed to be able to play an array of discrete events when you play the piano. And then I wanted all these discrete events to become continuous events.”

On a trip to India, Lamb took his sketches to some wood carvers in Dehli and asked them to carve the shape for him so that he could experience what it would feel like. He also asked Indian touchscreen manufacturers whether they could build touchscreens on corrugated surfaces. When he returned to London, he developed his idea further by making models from foam and clay, and realised it should be soft. “What really made it click was the name Seaboard, because it characterised the musical instrument so well,” he recalls. “It’s a Seaboard action not a keyboard action.” What he didn’t know was how to make it work.

Lamb hadn’t done anything like modelling, coding, or electrical engineering before. “It was like becoming a child again,” he says. “When I finished Harvard I had done really well, I was very confident and I’d won a scholarship. But at the RCA, I was surrounded by people who were pretty advanced as designers, I felt out on a limb. I had to go back to basics, letting go of a position of strength in one environment and accepting a position of weakness.” In fact, it proved useful as Lamb was able to call on his fellow graduates to help him with the Seaboard’s design, namely Alex Hulme, Hong-Yeul Eom and Heegun Koo. Turning his soundless prototype into an instrument has forced Lamb to reinvent himself as a craftsman, teaching himself the materials science necessary to make the Seaboard’s silicon surface; developing the sensor technology that would turn a musician’s touch into real-time data; and learning the Java computer programming language14 from scratch in a month. By summer he had a concept model. By the end of August 2009 he had a working prototype, the Seaboard 2, which made very basic sounds, and for his graduation the following year, he had finished a version that contained all the elements he had imagined – the Seaboard 3. In the time since he left the RCA in summer 2010, Lamb has raised grant and investment money from the Technology Strategy Board, that has enabled him to turn his one-man operation into a medium-sized company with 18 staff making several versions of the Seaboard. He is now developing ideas for other products that will use his innovative SEA interface. Surveying his >

The Seaboard

Disegno. 65


READING AND VIEWING LIST All Her Own Invention by John L Walters, Eye, issue 76, 2010 (eyemagazine.com/feature/ article/all-her-own-invention). The B-Side of Onomatopeic Music by Yuri Suzuki & Åbäke, Clear Editions and Gallery, 2013. Seaboard keyboard: UK firm develops new sound system, BBC News, March 2013 (bbc.co.uk/news/ technology-21699459).

You can strike it hard or caress it; bend notes and squeeze extra sounds by pressing down after the initial attack. Some pianists will find it alien; others will love the idea of a keyboard that promises the expressiveness of a violin or a saxophone.

> busy workshop, Lamb appears to enjoy his chief executive role as much as he relished the challenges of soldering every connection in his Seaboard prototypes. “I’ve realised that all the things I’ve learnt about materials science, programming, or electronic engineering have been tremendously useful in building a team to turn it into a product and bring it to market. You really need to know about 30 to 40 per cent of a given field to be able to work with people who are more qualified than you. If you know less than that you can’t communicate about it.” Lamb shows me a diagram of what’s involved in the Seaboard project: sound, vision, tactility, interaction, the integration of all these elements, and how they behave over time. “Initially, I was working in all of these areas,” he says. “Materials science, silicon engineering, sensor development, firmware, electrical engineering, software product design, interface design, graphic design, industrial design, design for manufacture, mechanical engineering, sound design, assembly and testing! I knew I needed to recruit people who were better than me in each area, and knew more than I did, but people in different areas might focus more on one or two of these user experience issues, or on certain kinds of components. Maintaining the integration I had [previously] by doing everything myself was quite difficult.” What Lamb is describing is not so different from the musician who starts by writing music at home using computers and makes the leap to working with an orchestra. To design an instrument is to design an interface: the fate of his invention is now in the hands of musicians, literally. Keyboard players, composers, and producers from a variety of genres are already exploring this “sensory, elastic, and adaptive” interface to see what they can make with it. Lamb is critical of the highly conservative way instrument design has progressed over the past decades, focusing on features rather than innovations. Then, there are the new programmes and tools that make it easier for unskilled musicians to make music, which he describes as “one step forward in terms of doing something cool, but two steps back in terms of expressiveness”. Yet whenever there has been genuine innovation in instrument design – the piano, the saxophone, the drum kit, the electric guitar, the synthesiser – there’s been huge impact on music culture. The piano changed classical music; synths transformed pop.

“During the development of synthesisers they really were the cutting edge of what was possible technologically,” says Lamb. “And then that became a sound and a style and people have found other ways to do that in software and smaller formats and so on. But I’m not aware of too many endeavours where they say, ‘We have completely new tools now in terms of modern computers and techniques for building interfaces, so let’s apply those to music and see what comes out.’” And that is exactly what Lamb did.

John L. Walters has been the editor of quarterly Eye magazine, The International Review of Graphic Design, since 1999. He is a composer and music producer. Juan Trujillo Andrades is a photographer from Spain currently based in London, who shoots portraiture, design and style for titles such as Icon and Sunday Times Style and a diverse collection of brands.

66 Disegno. The Seaboard


Hydro-Fold, a paperthat designed The workmanship by Christophe Guberan at ECAL, goes into making reacts to the creates moisture a Seaboard a of the ink when andobject. contorts into solidprinted, and tactile three dimensions.

The Seaboard

Disegno. 67


Incrostazioni This method uses sections of cut lace laid on a tulle (fine net) base. The word translates from Italian as “deposits” or “encrustations”, which gives a vivid picture of the relationship between the lace and the base fabric.

68 Disegno. Valentino’s glossary of couture




Valentino’s glossary of couture

Disegno. 69


PHOTO Gabby Laurent/Sebastian Tarek Bespoke Shoes

The double-pitched roof is a key identifier of the Parrish Art Museum.

70 Disegno. Parrish Art Museum


Parrish Art Museum The new building in Water Mill, Long Island, by Herzog & de Meuron with interiors by Konstantin Grcic, is a series of double takes and a positive embodiment of restraint. WORDS Johanna Agerman Ross PHOTOS Janette Beckman

Parrish Art Museum

Disegno. 71


H 1 Hurricane Sandy was the name given to the powerful tropical storm that devastated parts of the Caribbean, the Mid-Atlantic and the north-east of the US from 22-31 October 2012. It is the largest Atlantic hurricane on record, categorised as level 3 at its peak.

The building regulations are there to mitigate damage in the case of a hurricane. They regulate roof and glazing systems, types of building material, foundation, wall and beam construction, structural designs and egress.

2

The East End of Long Island is comprised of five townships within New York’s Suffolk County: East Hampton, Riverhead, Shelter Island, Southampton and Southold as well as Long Island’s North and South Fork.

3

The Long Island Railroad (LIRR) was established in 1834 as a New York-based commuter railway system that stretches from Manhattan along the length of Long Island to the eastern tip of Suffolk County.

4

William Merritt Chase (1849-1916) was an American Impressionist painter and teacher, known for his portrait and landscape paintings.

5

72 Disegno. Parrish Art Museum

urricane Sandy 1 swept the entire eastern coast of the United States – from Florida to Maine – four days before the planned opening of the Parrish Art Museum in Water Mill, Long Island, New York. As a result, on 2 November 2012, instead of a gathering of patrons, local artists and the museum’s architects and designers, there was the whirr of an emergency generator, a handful of security guards and a museum director with a worried and tired look in her eyes, wondering when the electricity would start working again.

At least the building remained intact, having withstood the hurricane force winds and the debris it swept along with it. Sandy was the museum’s second hurricane in as many years and the building is subject to a stringent hurricane code2. “Scientists have been awaiting the hurricane cycle for a while and now it’s starting, so this was a reminder of why the code is in place,” says Terrie Sultan, the Parrish Art Museum director.

It’s an overcast autumn day, but despite the cloud coverage the light is painfully bright as I step from the car outside the Museum. The light is one of the reasons why this place, the East End of Long Island3, has become such a popular destination for artists since the Long Island Railroad extended its services to Southampton in 18704. The East End is only two hours from Manhattan, and the stream of artists heading there has never stopped, starting with the founder of American Impressionism William Merritt Chase5, who established a school for plein-air painting6 here in 1891, and continuing with Fairfield Porter7, Jackson Pollock8, Lee Krasner9, Willem de Kooning10 and Roy Lichtenstein11. Even the contemporary art scene pays attention to the East End, with people like Ross Bleckner12, Eric Fichl13, Chuck Close14 and Elizabeth Peyton15 establishing studios in the area. It is this long list of artists and their relationship to the location that has made the new incarnation of the Parrish Art Museum possible. And yet, for a while, it looked like it wouldn’t happen at all.

The Parrish Art Museum was established in 1898 by the wealthy lawyer Samuel Longstreth Parrish16 in Southampton, 10 minutes by car from Water Mill. Parrish’s museum housed a collection of Italian Renaissance paintings, as was a la mode for the wealthy at the time. Although he donated some of the land for the establishment of Chase’s Shinnecock Hills Summer School of Art, he never collected art by his contemporaries. It wasn’t until the 1950s, with the donation of a collection of American paintings by the then president of the museum’s board Rebecca Bolling Littlejohn, that the museum adopted the focus it has today: modern and contemporary American art from the local area. “We are a regional museum and we are very proud of the region, because who hasn’t worked here?” asks Sultan rhetorically as she walks through the echoing, new museum. The galleries are not yet completely installed and there is a beauty to the half-unpacked crates – some paintings still under wraps, others leaning >


In-Ei, foldable The central spinetextile runs the lampof shades designed by length the building with Issey Miyake for Artemide. the galleries flanking it.

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The Parrish Art Museum measures 187m long and the architect likens it to an extruded barn. The offices are set at one end (right) and the auditorium and main entrance at the other (left).

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6 The Chase School was founded by William Meritt Chase in 1896. The school was established in search of a freer, more dramatic approach to art including plein-air or outdoor painting. Two years later, it changed its name to the New York School of Art. It is now Parsons The New School for Design. 7 Fairfield Porter (1907-1975) was an American realist painter and art critic. He was known for his painting of landscapes, portraits and interiors and was both criticised and revered for failing to adapt to the Abstract Expressionist movement.

Paul Jackson Pollock (1912-1956), known as Jackson Pollock, was a major painter in the Abstract Expressionist movement is recognised for his drip paintings.

8

Lee Krasner (1908-1984) was an American abstract expressionist painter. She was married to fellow artist Jackson Pollock. Known to be very self-critical and prone to cutting up her work to create collages, her surviving oeuvre is small in comparison to other painters from the period.

9

10 Willem de Kooning (19041997) was a Dutch American abstract expressionist artist, who was known for his action paintings. 11 Roy Lichtenstein (1923-1997) was an American pop artist. A leading figure in the new art movement, he was known for his use of the comic strip in his paintings and sculptures.

Ross Bleckner (b. 1949) is an American painter known for his large-scale pieces that deal with themes concerning remembrance, loss and crisis.

12

Eric Fischl (b. 1948) is an American figurative painter, printmaker and sculptor whose works explore the disturbing undercurrents of contemporary American society.

13

Chuck Close (b. 1940) is an American photo-realist painter who is known for his largescale highly-detailed portraits.

14

15 Elizabeth Joy Peyton (b. 1965) is an American painter known for her small-scale exaggerated portraits of boyfriends, friends, celebrities and the European monarchy.

Samuel Longstreth Parrish (1849-1932) was a wealthy lawyer from a family of prominent Philadelphia Quakers. A civic and culturally driven benefactor, he founded the Parrish Art Museum in 1897.

16

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> against the wall – and the primary-coloured tools that come with hanging an exhibition, all mixed into one installation. “All these artists are incredibly well known and all have a relationship to Long Island and that is the beauty of this area,” says Sultan, gesturing to the art works surrounding us.

If it was the proximity to Manhattan that brought the artists here, it was the very same two-hour drive that brought investment bankers, brokers and Yuppies to settle in second homes in the area known as the Hamptons17 in the late 20th century. And both the artists and this wealthy following are crucial to the foundations of the new Parrish Art Museum, as a quick look at the party pictures on the museum’s Flickr page reveals. The original museum building in Southampton was designed by the local architect Grosvenor Atterbury18 in 1897, but a century later it was obvious that it lacked the space and infrastructure needed to show its, by then, rich modern American collection to the public. And so the process to create a new museum on a new site began.

Instead of announcing a competition the museum put together an advisory committee that drew up a short list19 of what architect Ascan Mergenthaler20 of Herzog & de Meuron21 describes as “the usual suspects” for this type of project – a cultural institution that will become sufficiently high profile through association with a well known architect to aid healthy fundraising, while also becoming a tourist pull for the area. None of the firms considered were asked to submit plans. “Instead the selection was decided on how the team and the architects meshed in philosophy and core values,” says Sultan. “It is perhaps a slightly unconventional way to proceed.” At the end of the selection process Herzog & de Meuron was announced as the museum’s architect in 2006 and Mergenthaler became the partner in charge. “We had to come for several interviews and they came to us in Basel to understand how we work. In the end, they didn’t choose a design of a building, but an architect.” But the extraordinarily long and slender building which now sits at a northwards orientation in the landscape is not the project that Herzog & de Meuron first proposed. Instead, the architects suggested a cluster of smaller volumes. “There are four artists in the museum’s collection – Chase, Porter, de Kooning and Lichtenstein – who they call ‘anchors’,” says Mergenthaler. “That triggered something for us, as we have experimented a little with anchors in architecture: do art spaces have to be white cubes or can art spaces be a little bit different? So, as a starting point we decided to go out and visit the artists’ studios on Long Island.” Following the studio visits, the architect concluded that each gallery should be treated as its own building, modeled on the actual studios of the four anchor artists. “This would really relate to the context out there – it’s about individual houses, it’s about small scale,” says Mergenthaler. “We found that the four anchors that they have chosen are also very interesting for looking at prototypes of artists’ studios. Chase was the last one using the studio as a studio, like a type of >


The gallery spaces are lit by skylights and strip lighting. Konstantin Grcic has designed the seating made in reclaimed heart pine. Oppsite page: Outside the cafĂŠ there is an outdoor function space, covered by one of the pitched roofs.

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Konstantin Grcic designed the interiors of the Parrish Art Museum. Here is the lighting system which he designed for the reception area and the staff office, produced by Litelab (top) and the Parrish chair, which is produced by Emeco (bottom).

The extraordinarily long and slender building which now sits at a northwards orientation in the landscape is not the project that Herzog & de Meuron first proposed.

17 The Hamptons is a collective of hamlets and villages in Southampton and East Hampton on the South Fork of Long Island, New York. It is a popular seaside destination for Manhattan’s elite.

> storage facility; Porter really used the north light to paint in the studio; de Kooning collaborated with an architect on his studio; and the last prototype, Lichtentstein, adopted an existing space, in this case a garage,” says Mergenthaler. Herzog & de Meuron took these four anchor spaces and recreated them in abstract form, down to their orientation in the landscape and the way they received the light, clustering smaller buildings around them to hold the auxiliary spaces.

Grosvenor Atterbury (1869-1956) was an American architect, urban planner and writer. His early work consisted mainly of weekend houses for affluent industrialists. His pre-cast concrete panel system that influenced European architects in the 1920s, has led to him being considered a progenitor of the Modernist movement.

18

The Parrish Art Museum declined to share the short list with Disegno.

19

Ascan Mergenthaler (b. 1969) joined Herzog & de Meuron in 1998. He studied at Stuttgart University in Germany and then at The Bartlett, UCL in London. He started out by working for designer Konstantin Grcic.

20

Herzog & De Meuron is a Swiss architecture firm in Basel founded by Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron in 1978. The firm was awarded the highest accolade in architecture, the Pritzker Prize in 2001 and is known for projects like the Tate Modern in London and the Beijing National Stadium.

21

22 The financial crisis of 2007-8 began in the US when the housing bubble burst and default rates on mortgages rapidly increased. It led to the sale of Bear Stearns for fear it would collapse, as was the case for Lehman Brothers who declared bankruptcy in 2008. It is considered to be the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

78 Disegno. Parrish Art Museum

It was a sensitive and attractive proposal, intended to be clad in sand-casted concrete. The construction documents were drawn up and the museum director went in search of additional funding. Then, the 2008 financial crisis happened; Bear Sterns folded, the Bernard Madoff investment scandal broke and Lehman Brothers collapsed, shaking the very foundations of wealth in the US22. The sobering effects of these events meant that what was once a fertile ground for fundraising became less so, and the Parrish Art Museum realised that it would never be able to acquire the funds to build the original design.

“For some strange reason, I was only disappointed for a very short time when we got the news,” says Mergenthaler of the announcement that the first scheme was to be shelved. “You get prepared for this, you wait for years and you think that it might not fly so it doesn’t come as a total surprise. But rather than throwing away the pencil you try to find solutions, that’s what drives us as architects. We like to work on solutions.” The site of the new museum had already been purchased in 2005 and similarly some money had been raised to fund the project. The epiphany for a less costly proposal came to Mergenthaler at a New York steakhouse, sketching on the proverbial napkin: “I don’t know why but, for some reason, I thought, ‘Why don’t we take this typical gallery and extrude it? Make it very linear and repetitive and get the contractors onboard early’, a bit like with product design [where you work with a manufacturer from the start].” The result of that thought is what visitors now encounter in Water Mill. Approaching the Parrish Art Museum from Montauk Highway, it’s easy to mistake it for an industrial barn or warehouse. But after more careful consideration you realise that nothing of an industrial nature would be built as long and narrow, nor designed with two overlapping pitched roofs that, before entering the building, seem simply decorative. This double-take is an interesting proposition, because the building is a double-take on so many levels. Most obviously, it’s a second take on the museum’s design and the use of the site. But many of the elements that make up the building also serve as second takes on a material or process. The cast-concrete exterior walls, for example, are made of cost-effective foundation concrete, that Herzog & de Meuron first encountered in a utility room at a local golf club that was built by the museum contractor. Usually hidden away because of its unsightly marks and rough texture, this concrete serves as the largest visible surface of the building next to the corrugated steel roof. The cedar wood end-walls of the building recall the vernacular building type of the area. Normally, this wood is silvered by age and weather, but the Parrish has blackened its timber through tannen-dying, creating a stark contrast to the light-grey cement. Then, there are the artist studio visits from early in the process. Despite being associated with the first proposal, the concept of archetypes has been carried through into the second version too, albeit in a more subtle fashion. Even the position of the building is a take on the lines created by the site’s original use as a tree nursery. Finally the double-pitched roof is a feature that at first seems preposterous or even comical because of its extreme dimensions in relation to the long and slender building that carries it. As a take on the barn and with its use of standard economical spans it seems it could have been designed around a single pitch spanning the width of the building, but then, as is revealed upon entering, it wouldn’t have created the intriguing spaces that happen underneath it. >


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Button clips by castThis page: The Studio Swine concrete bench runs the length of the building. Opposite page: The car park is designed to reflect the land’s former use as a tree nursery and utilises telegraph poles to hold the street lights.

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An exterior view of Roy Lichtenstein’s studio in Southampton (this page), and the interior (opposite).

There is no doubt that the Parrish Art Museum is a product of its time. Literally shaped by the recession.

23 Konstantin Grcic (b. 1965) is an industrial designer. He trained as a cabinet maker before studying at the Royal College of Art in London and now runs KGID in Munich.

> Driving around the museum the visitor is treated to an interesting visual play – the 187m-long building narrows to a 29m-wide body and then slowly unfolds again, by the time the carpark is reached. A similar play on scale is presented on the pathway to the museum entrance. While the museum seems squat and low from a distance, it suddenly towers above you. The generous roof overhangs the exterior wall, creating a porch-like space heightened by the cast-concrete bench that runs along the two longest sides of the building. Then, the scale is reduced again and the entrance is almost domestic in size, sitting right next to a glass wall that lets you spy the first glimpse of museum interior. “If we instead had set the entrance in this standard, inexpensive store-front system, it would have felt like a store-front in New York,” says Philip Schmerbeck, a project architect from Herzog & de Meuron’s New York office, who is here to check on the building post-Sandy. Now, the blackened cedar-wood door creates a moment of intimacy as you enter the museum. A central spine runs the length of the building, where the two pitched roofs converge. But rather than functioning as a corridor, it’s width and curiously inverted ceiling seems to play on the symbolism of a third extruded barn, squeezed between its larger neighbours. Coming off this central space are a series of 10 skylit galleries with pitched, plywood ceilings measuring nine metres at the highest point, playing on the vernacular of the artist studio. The castconcrete floor and white walls are given warmth by the yellowing plywood and strip lighting gives the rooms a stark and utilitarian quality, like a barn for art.

82 Disegno. Parrish Art Museum

“In the second proposal everything was economised, making it simple and very straightforward,” says German product designer Konstantin Grcic23, who has been involved with the project since its first incarnation when he was asked to design the museum’s interior. Grcic’s original proposal went through a similar transformation to the building itself, starting out as an idea to >


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Details from inside and outside Roy Lichtenstein’s studio in Southampton.

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86 Disegno. Parrish Art Museum


The interioraof Jackson Hydro-Fold, paper designed Pollock’s studio. Opposite by Christophe Guberan at ECAL, page:to The Pollock/Krasner reacts the moisture of the ink House in Eastand Hampton when printed, contorts into (top).dimensions. The floor of Jackson three Pollock’s studio (bottom).

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Herzog & de Meuron made several studio visits in preparation for designing the Parrish Art Museum, some of which have inspired the final design. Janette Beckman captured some of the local artists’ studios on her trip to Long Island. Top to bottom, left to right: Bryan Hunt and Lucy Winton’s studio in Wainscott. Bryan Hunt and Lucy Winton’s house. Bryan Hunt’s work at his house. Bryan Hunt’s studio in his house. Ross Bleckner’s studio in Sagaponack. Eric Fischl and April Gornik’s house in North Haven. Interior of Ross Bleckner’s studio. Interior of April Gornik’s studio.

The East End is only two hours from Manhattan, and the stream of artists heading there has never stopped, starting with the founder of American Impressionism William Merritt Chase.

Donald Judd (1928-1994) was an American artist, however he quickly abandoned painting for sculpture and later, in the 1970s, he worked with furniture, embracing industrial manufacture for his block-like designs.

> collate a range of furniture pieces that would be chrome lacquered to render them as one body. The benches executed in reclaimed heart pine that now grace the galleries couldn’t be further from these glossy beginnings. “It’s something very immediate about the seating, just like setting crates on the floor,” says Schmerbeck. Starting at the entrance with a series of larger crate-like pine structures (reminiscent of Donald Judd’s furniture24), making up the reception and the shelves of the small boutique, it continues through a wall-mounted bench in the entrance lobby and the monolithic seating of the same wood scattered throughout the galleries. The age of the reclaimed wood adds comfort to the otherwise sparse arrangement. “It would have been amazing to see the first proposal in reality, but it showed that there were no constraints then and it wasn’t so much about functionality, rationality or economy, which was one of the strong ideas and obvious necessity of the second proposal,” says Grcic, speaking both of the museum’s architecture and its interior design.

24

Alexander Calder (1898-1976) was an American sculptor known for his kinetic sculptures that are delicately balanced and move.

25

26 Emeco stands for the Electrical Machine and Equipment Company founded by Wilton Carlyle Dinges in Pennsylvania in 1944, and it is known for producing chairs.

READING AND VIEWING LIST Design Real curated by Konstantin Grcic, Serpentine Gallery, Koenig Books, 2009. Parrish Art Museum by Matthew Allen, Domus, issue 965, 2013. Project 349, Parrish Art Museum, herzogdemeuron.com.

Thank you to 1708 House for providing accommodation for Disegno’s photographer. 1708house.com.

Set as a contrast to the solid wooden shapes are the playful lighting structures that Grcic designed for the reception and the staff offices, set at one end of the building – the auditorium bookends the other. They are Calder-esque25 with their multiple branches suspended at various angles and ending in conical shades that can be directed in a multitude of directions. The Parrish chair that Grcic designed specifically for the museum café has a similar lightness and playfulness. A tubular metal arm and backrest arches above a wooden seat without any additional support and connects to the tubular metal legs underneath the seat. Produced by the American manufacturer Emeco26 it sits in flower-like constellations around the circular café tables and on warmer days the doors open onto a vast outdoor function space, shielded by the pitched roof. These opportunities to access the surrounding nature on ground level and the interaction with the sky in the galleries, are crucial to the experience of the museum and its Long Island setting. It’s a reminder of why the museum is here in the first place. There is no doubt that the Parrish Art Museum is a product of its time. Literally shaped by the recession, it’s a reminder that the restraint it had to exercise in terms of material choices and construction became a fertile ground for exploring the inherent values of a building type and the services and experiences it provides. Mergenthaler agrees: “Maybe buildings get better with more constraints.” A week after my visit, the museum opened to the public with both Grcic and Mergenthaler in attendance. Terrie Sultan looked more relaxed and the entrance hall, with the standard storefront system glass walls, was turned into a temporary serving area with folding tables covered in white catering cloths and flower arrangements, partially hiding the design of the space. It was an immediate reminder of the fact that this museum is not only built for displaying art, or telling the story of the area’s art scene, or for containing the ego of an architect. This is going to be a social hub for the local community and the Parrish Art Museum knows very well who it is catering for. When Grcic’s assistant, designer Olivia Herms originally asked how many people they should design the café for, the answer was immediate: “Forty-nine. Fifty people minus the bus driver”.

.

Johanna Agerman Ross (see p. 12)

Janette Beckman is a British photographer based in New York. She is more used to documenting urban street scenes than the Long Island Art Scene, and is well known for her legendary shots of New York’s hip-hop scene in the 1980s.

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Caption

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Nervature The term for the vein pattern in a leaf, or the architectural “rib� structures in a building, for example the ceiling of a Gothic church. In couture, it refers to the line created when double-seamed organza silk is applied in strips to create a rib or vein-like pattern on a dress.

90 Disegno. Valentino’s glossary of couture




Valentino’s glossary of couture

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PHOTO Gabby Laurent/Sebastian Tarek Bespoke Shoes

The Perles de Jaspe necklace by Erwan and Ronan Bouroullec for Galerie Kreo is made from red jasper.

92 Disegno. Design and jewellery


Design and Jewellery A number of recent exhibitions showcasing jewellery by product designers have prompted a debate about the relationship between the two disciplines. This essay explores the origins of this relationship and the effects on contemporary practice. WORDS Catharine Rossi PHOTOS Ola Bergengren

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I 1 The Design Museum was established in 1989 by British designer Sir Terence Conran with Stephen Bayley as its first chief executive.

Unexpected Pleasures: The Art And Design Of Contemporary Jewellery showed from 5 December 2012 to 3 March 2013.

2

Beautiful Objects showed from 22 November 2012 to 26 January 2013.

3

Autor du Cou translates as Around the Neck and was on display from 29 November 2012 to 19 January 2013.

4

Notable recent exhibitions include: SET: 40 Years of Jewellery Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design (12 November to 14 December 2012), and Chamber of Wonder at Gallery S O (7 December 2012 to 27 January 2013), both in London; Van Cleef & Arpels: L’Art de la Haute Joaillerie at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs (20 September 2012 to 10 February 2013), and Pezzi per il Corpo, an exhibition of Gaetano Pesce’s jewellery design at Galerie Basia Embiricos (6 December 2012 to 20 February 2013), both in Paris; and in Vienna, Contemporary Necklaces at the MAK (6 November 2012 to 10 February 2013).

5

94 Disegno. Design and jewellery

wouldn’t call what’s downstairs design, but it’s telling us something about design,” says Deyan Sudjic, director of the Design Museum1 in London, to the audience. He is discussing Unexpected Pleasures: The Art And Design Of Contemporary Jewellery,2 an exhibition deemed so unusual for the museum that a discussion panel was organised to explain this placement of jewellery in a design setting. Also on the panel are jewellery designer Susan Cohn, who curated the show, the Design Museum’s founding director Stephen Bayley, Victoria and Albert Museum curator and craft expert Glenn Adamson, and jewellery designer Solange Azagury-Partridge. Opinions on the panel vary. Azagury-Partridge and Adamson are in no doubt – jewellery is a design endeavour. Sudjic finds some common ground in function, posited as a key design issue. “Both jewellery and design have their starting point in function of a kind,” he says. “But pretty soon that function might become emotion.” Bayley, who has promoted the museum’s agenda of industrial design since its foundation in 1989, is most resistant to the idea of jewellery as design. “Historically, the idea of design and what made it different from craft or art was that the object itself might have very little intrinsic value,” he says, “because it was mass produced and that gave a corresponding greater value to the idea that created it. The pattern of thought I have sees jewellery as being the other way round.” For Cohn, Bayley’s inability to accept jewellery’s design credentials are symptomatic of a larger separation between the two realms: she compares design and jewellery to two people at a party who have never spoken but have a lot in common.

The panel’s lack of consensus confirms how rarely the disciplines of design and jewellery interact, and the misunderstandings that arise when they do. Yet contemplating jewellery as design is a timely exercise – the past few months have seen a number of exhibitions that have attempted just this. In London, aside from the Design Museum’s show, the Aram Gallery staged its first jewellery exhibition, Beautiful Objects3, while in Paris Galerie Kreo commissioned established designers to create jewellery, many for the first time, for Autour du Cou4. Viewed alongside other recent shows devoted to jewellery across Europe, it seems that this overlooked realm is enjoying a rare moment in design discourse5. Although differing in scale, setting and ambition, these exhibitions shared a number of characteristics. Each of the venues was displaying a jewellery exhibition for the first time, and each saw jewellery as a departure from the gallery or museum’s normal design-led remit. As such, they raised a number of questions. Can jewellery be considered design, and what happens if it is? Why are designers turning to jewellery, and what could they learn from doing so? Now that jewellery and design have finally struck up a conversation, what have they got to say to each other? >


Corde textile au Cou in flax In-Ei, La foldable gold by Fernando lamp and shades designed by Humberto Campana Issey and Miyake for Artemide. was part of the Autour du Cou exhibition at Galerie Kreo, Paris.

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Pieces from the Flirt collection by Simone Brewster. Materials include ebony, brass, aluminum and tulipwood.

96 Disegno. Design and jewellery


Design and jewellery

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The exhibition was first shown at the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, where it opened in April 2012.

6

7 Droog, the Dutch conceptual design company, was founded in Amsterdam by Gijs Bakker and design historian Renny Ramakers in 1993. The company works with a wide range of designers, from Marcel Wanders and Hella Jongerius to Jurgen Bey and Piet Hein Eek. 8

see p. 58.

“I am always uncomfortable with jewellery that is unwearable,” says Clémence Krzentowski. “But all these pieces – you can easily wear them.”

Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007) was an Austrian-born designer and architect based in Italy. He studied architecture in Turin, and began a long collaboration with the Olivetti Company in 1958, creating iconic office products such as the Valentine typewriter (1970). He founded the Memphis collective of designers in the early 1980s.

9

10 The Aram Store was established in Chelsea, London, in 1964 by designer Zeev Aram, bringing designs by the likes of Marcel Breuer to the UK market for the first time. It is now in Covent Garden and sells furniture and products by major brands. 11 Argos is a catalogue-based British domestic goods retailer.

French brothers Ronan Bouroullec (b. 1971) and Erwan Bouroullec (b. 1976), based in Paris, design for manufacturers including Vitra, Established & Sons, Ligne Roset, Alessi and Flos. They appeared in Disegno No. 1 pp. 148-169.

12

Brazilian designers Humberto Campana (b. 1953) and Fernando Campana (b. 1961) are based in São Paulo. Notable furniture designs include the Favela Chair of 1991, made from scraps of wood found in a São Paulo slum, and the Banquete Chair of 2002, made from stuffed toy animals.

13

Madrid-born artist-designer Jaime Hayon (b. 1974) has offices in Spain, Italy and the UK. His work came to prominence with the Mediterranean Digital Baroque show at London’s David Gill Galleries in 2003, and recent awards include Maison et Objet Designer Of The Year 2010

14

15 Dutch designer Hella Jongerius (b. 1963) runs her studio Jongeriuslab from Berlin. She graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven in 1993, and many of her early designs were manufactured by Droog.

98 Disegno. Design and jewellery

> Unexpected Pleasures at the Design Museum featured 186 pieces by more than 120 makers from across the world.6 It was curated by Cohn, a respected Australian jewellery designer and maker, with an installation of glass and steel cases by London-based designer Ab Rogers, and bold, large-scale graphics by British graphic designer Jonathan Barnbrook. For the uninitiated, the title of the show could be misleading – this was not a survey of current jewellery practice, but rather a retrospective of the Contemporary Jewellery movement that sprung up across western Europe and North America in the late 1960s. The movement attempted to break the rules of adornment, value and functionality that have historically defined the craft. Reaching its zenith in the 1980s, Contemporary Jewellery as a concept is still practised by many of its original proponents, including the British makers Caroline Broadhead and David Watkins and the Dutch co-founder of Droog,7 Gijs Bakker. In the show Bakker is joined by fellow Dutch designer Ted Noten, along with names that are more familiar to the design rather than jewellery world, such as Ron Arad8 and Ettore Sottsass.9 Beautiful Objects – at the Aram Gallery, a small space at the top of the Aram Store10 in central London, established in 2002 to extend the shop’s support of contemporary design into a gallery setting – brought together 19 UK-based makers, several of whom were also in Unexpected Pleasures. These ranged from established figures such as Broadhead and Hans Stofer, who leads the Royal College of Art’s goldsmithing, silversmithing, metalwork and jewellery programme, to younger names such as Lin Cheung, Mah Rana and Maud Traon – all graduates of the RCA whose work epitomises the college’s conceptual, multidisciplinary approach. Aram Gallery’s curator, Héloïse Parke, shows none of the concern over disciplinary boundaries that caused such consternation at the Design Museum. “I view the pieces I selected for the exhibition as being design objects, which happen to be for the body,” she says. This inclusivity extends to the exhibits themselves, several of which cross into the worlds of product and fashion design. They include Naomi Filmer’s The Ball In The Small Of My Back, a series of silver-plated, blown-glass bubbles commissioned for the British fashion designer Alexander McQueen’s spring/summer 2002 collection, which forced the models to adopt the posture of flamenco dancers as they sashayed down the catwalk.

Parke’s design-led approach was informed by an unfamiliarity with the subject, but also a desire to overcome the elitism and predictability of jewellery displays. She rejected the use of cases, which she sees as promoting desire rather than reflection in the visitor, and she decided not to focus on the relationship between the human body and jewellery. Instead, she adopted the gallery’s hallmark emphasis on process; next to each work was an interview with the maker and a “contextual object” that revealed the ideas and inspirations behind it. In Cheung’s case this was an Argos11 catalogue from spring/summer 1985, its pages open on the cheap, massproduced jewellery she bought as a teenager – and whose boxes she uses as the basis for her neon, nylon-flocked brooches. At Galerie Kreo – established in 1999 by Didier and Clémence Krzentowski as a space dedicated to design-led creative experimentation – Autour du Cou included 18 necklaces commissioned from the stable of art, architecture and design talent the gallery represents, such as Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec12, Humberto and Fernando Campana13, Jaime Hayon14 and Hella Jongerius.15 As befitting the gallery’s commercial remit, all were for sale, produced in a limited edition of 20 each. >


Grapes brooch by Gijs Bakker for Caroline Van Hoek, made from yellow gold, bouton pearl, corundum, diamond tourmaline set on a photo of grapes.

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Button clips by Studio Swine made from 18-carat gold.

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Design’s interest in jewellery is not new, but is part of a larger history of experimentation in this area by artists, architects, and designers alike.

Installation artist Annette Messager (b. 1943) represented France at the 2005 Venice Biennale, where she won the Golden Lion Award.

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17 French architect Dominique Perrault (b. 1953) came to international prominence in 1997 after winning the Mies van der Rohe Prize for his design for the French National Library. Recent projects include the Fukoku Tower in Osaka, Japan (2010).

Modularity is the technique that builds larger systems by combining small sub systems.

18

Italian architect and designer Gaetano Pesce (b. 1939) is based in New York. Notable projects include the 1989 Organic building in Osaka, Japan. Recent furniture designs include the Lake, Ocean, River and Pond tables of 2012.

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> For many of the designers this was their first experience of jewellery design, but the exercise was successful according to Krzentowski. “I am always uncomfortable with jewellery that is unwearable,” she says. “But all these pieces – you can easily wear them.” She is also happy that all those involved created what she calls “a real piece”. In other words, the designers did not simply reproduce their ideas in another scale, but considered jewellery as a specific creative activity. There is no denying, however, that Autour du Cou was still an exercise in design rather than an engagement with jewellery discourse. There was minimal challenge to the idea of material preciousness; while the Campanas used rope for La Corde au Cou (Noose Around The Neck), it was still combined with gold, the material of choice for many designers in the show. Apart from artist Annette Messager’s16 foetus-shaped Mon Kreanet (My Kreanet), jewellery’s emotional and physically intimate relationship with the body appeared largely untapped in the show. Instead, the necklaces demonstrated an exploration of issues pertaining to the world of design, such as structure and joining mechanisms. This was the case with architect Dominique Perrault’s17 hinged Brisé, Fer à Béton (Steel Reinforcement Bar), a solid silver version of the steel bars used for reinforcing concrete in the buildings he designs. The Bouroullecs similarly used white marble, black onyx and red jasper to create necklaces that explore their longstanding interest in modularity.18 These designers have engaged with the body, but in a different way to the makers in Beautiful Objects. In the Bouroullecs’ necklaces the body is a source of structural, rather than emotional, inspiration, although there is an interest in the placement of the object on the body, which was also seen in Cheung and Rana’s work at the Aram Gallery. The way the beads fit together echoes interlocking body parts, which has endowed the necklace with a degree of flexibility when placed over the neck. “This creates a very interesting movement,” says Ronan Bouroullec. “The way it falls depends on the shape of the neck, it has a real elasticity – like a stone inside a stone, like a knee [cap].”

Swiss-born architect Le Corbusier (1887-1965) and his cousin Pierre Jeanneret (1896-1967) collaborated for around 20 years on various projects. Charlotte Perriand (1903-99) started work in Le Corbusier’s studio in 1927, aged 24, and remained for more than a decade.

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The design-led approach to the Autour du Cou jewellery did not make the pieces any less interesting. It did, however, suggest that for most designers, jewellery is still seen as a diversion from, rather than an integral part of, their everyday practice. This is symptomatic of design’s relationship to jewellery more generally. “In the world of design,” says Liesbeth den Besten, art historian and jewellery specialist, “jewellery is viewed as something additional and decorative, not an item worthy of too much thought.” Den Besten isn’t the only one to think this. “I am not sure if design is really interested in jewellery,” says Hans Stofer. He criticises design’s engagement with jewellery as being in the main both superficial and amateurish. He cites Gaetano Pesce19, who, alongside his work in architecture, furniture, and product design, has also been creating resin jewellery for 25 years – the results of which have recently been on show in Paris, at the Galerie Basia Embiricos. For Pesce, these dabbles in jewellery are a weekend pastime in comparison to the rest of his design work. “It’s a little like making cakes,” says Pesce. “I want to make a nice cake, a very good cake. But not a beautiful one.”

As the example of Pesce suggests, design’s interest in jewellery is not new, but is part of a larger history of experimentation in this area by artists, architects, and designers alike. Examples from the early 20th century include French architect and designer Charlotte Perriand, who translated her modernist love of metal and machinery into a necklace made of ball bearings. This was what she wore in the publicity shots for one of her best-known creations, the B306 chaise longue designed with Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret in 1928.20 >

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The New Jewelry: Trends And Traditions by Peter Dormer and Ralph Turner (Thames & Hudson, 1985), p. 7.

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22 Vienna-based architect and designer Hans Hollein’s (b. 1934) current projects include the Helsinki Central Library. Key buildings include the Haas-Haus in Vienna, 1990. 23 American architect Peter Eisenman (b. 1932) is based in New York. Important projects include the Holocaust Memorial in Berlin, 2005.

“Jewellery requires a certain delicacy that is not often in the designer’s vocabulary. It is not a question of millimetres, but a tenth of a millimetre.”

Robert Venturi (b. 1925) is an American architect and founding principal of Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates. He co-authored the influential book Learning From Las Vegas in 1972, and won the Pritzker Prize in 1991.

24

Italian Cleto Munari (b. 1930) opened a studio in Vicenza in 1985 where, in collaboration with architects, artists and designers such as Alessandro Mendini and Mimmo Paladino, he created jewels and objects. His creations are in the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Museum of Modern Art, New York.

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26 Jewelry By Architects by Barbara Radice (Electa, 1987), p. 7.

Otto Künzli (b. 1948) is a Swiss jeweller based in Munich, where he teaches at the Akademie der Bildenden Künste. 27

Glenn Adamson and Jane Pavitt, Introduction In Postmodernism: Style And Subversion 1970-1990, ed. Adamson and Pavitt (V&A Publishing, 2011), p. 38.

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29 Ettore Sottsass in Cartier Design Viewed By Ettore Sottsass (Skira, 2002), p. 9.

> Modernist ideas continued to propel designers’ investigations in jewellery into the 1960s. In the Netherlands during that decade, Bakker and Emmy van Leersum combined their joint training in industrial design and jewellery to disrupt the boundaries between the two – a marriage of craft and design that Bakker would later take into Droog, the pioneering Dutch design collective. The pair used industrial materials to create pieces that blurred the functions of ornament, clothing and sculpture, and attempted to challenge jewellery’s elitist status through their serial production – although the reliance on handicraft techniques only affirmed their crafted, luxury status.

Bakker and van Leersum were part of the Contemporary Jewellery movement from its beginnings in the 1960s. This was an international phenomenon that took on different names and nuances according to its context. In Britain, the craft writers and curators Peter Dormer and Ralph Turner coined the term “The New Jewelry” (sic) to describe this attempt to forge a new jewellery language that broke out of its commodified nature. They identified an attempt to introduce design into jewellery, normally lacking due to jewellery’s market orientation. “In most commercial jewelry the design matters only as a vehicle for gemstones and precious materials.”21 >

In the late 1960s it was precisely jewellery’s existence outside of the design mainstream that made it ripe for countercultural experimentation. Sottsass had first designed jewellery in the early 1950s, as part of a sustained engagement with Italy’s craft traditions. In the late 1960s he did so again, now informed by the search for a design language that communicated alternative values to those of western consumerism. This led to the creation of a series of jewellery pieces that included a circular gold, quartz and onyx necklace from 1967, exhibited in Unexpected Pleasures, which express the same primitivist, ritualistic and mystical qualities as his ceramics and furniture designs from this period.

For the most part, however, designers’ engagement with jewellery has been more commercially minded – Sottsass included. In 1983, he was one of 16 international architects, alongside the likes of Hans Hollein22, Peter Eisenman23, and Robert Venturi24, who were invited by designer and collector Cleto Munari25 to create designs for jewellery. These were then crafted by artisans in Munari’s native Vicenza, a city with a longstanding tradition in silversmithing. Documenting the project was art critic, and Sottsass’s partner, Barbara Radice. “It represents the debut of postmodernism in the jeweller’s craft,” she said, “the first true figurative modernisation of jewellery design as an applied art since the 1920s and 1930s.”26 The project epitomised the state of design more generally in the 1980s, in which avant-garde experimentation had given way to savvy trophy making; a commoditisation that jewellery makers such as Bakker and the German jeweller Otto Künzli27 challenged through a widespread use of plastic and other cheap materials, dressed up to give the appearance of gold and other seemingly expensive materials.28

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Despite his multiple experiences in jewellery, Sottsass later confessed that he still knew little about it. “As an architect and designer, I don’t understand an awful lot about gems,” he said in 2002. “It is evident though that the value of a piece of jewellery does not reside in its design alone, but… how can I say, in the quality of its construction, the quality of the gems, and so on.”29 For Sottsass, when it came to jewellery, it was still values of preciousness and craftsmanship that presided over more design-associated questions of form and function – despite the attempts to overcome this value system by Bakker and others. >


Hydro-Fold, a paper Copper, ebony and designed by Christophe Guberan at ECAL, leather cord necklace reacts to the moisture of the ink from the Ebony when printed, and contorts into Revolution collection three dimensions. and two silver rings from the I.D. collection, both by Simone Brewster.

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This page: N&R Foldings’ Chaos by OrishikiFukasawa glasses case. Naoto in black Opposite: A shirt from onyx. Opposite page: Ann-Sofie Brisé, fer àBack’s béton autumn/ by winter 2012/13 collection. Dominique Perrault in sterling silver. Both appeared in the Galerie Kreo show.

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Quartz mirrors by Study O Portable in quartz, silver and walnut wood, on display at Caroline Van Hoek gallery, Brussels.

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Designers On Jewellery: 12 Years Of Jewellery Production By Chi ha Paura...? by Liesbeth den Besten (National Design Centre Melbourne; Arnoldsche Art, 2008), p. 15.

30

31

See p. 84.

London-based Marc Newson (b. 1963) was born in Sydney. He has designed a wide range of products and spaces, and one of his most famous design is the Lockheed Lounge chair of 1986. 32

“Design is so cross-disciplinary that it would be odd if people weren’t experimenting with necklaces and rings, just as they do with houses, websites and clothing.”

German designer and artist Rolf Sachs (b. 1955), born in Lausanne, Switzerland, but is based in London. Disegno visited his studio for a salon event in May 2012 (see Disegnodaily.com).

33

34

Gijs Bakker in ibid., p. 15.

Ingo Maurer (b. 1932) has showrooms in Munich and New York, and his lighting designs have often focused on the use of LEDs, such as his El.E.Dee table lamp of 2001.

35

36 Chamber of Wonder ran from 7 December 2012 to 27 January 2013.

Benjamin Lignel (b. 1972), based in London and Paris, studied furniture design at the Royal College of Art before turning to jewellery – hence his initial approach to jewellery focused on function and context.

37

British designer Simone Brewster (b. 1983) is based in London. Her jewellery designs feature strong shapes that echo Bauhaus and Art Deco forms.

38

39 Simone Brewster quoted in the Aram Gallery exhibition catalogue for Beautiful Objects, unpaginated. 40 Saskia Diez (b. 1976) is based in Munich. As well as jewellery design she is also known for her Papier bag series, for which she was awarded the German Design Prize 2010.

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> The persistence of such thinking has spurred the most significant attempt to bring design and jewellery together. In 1996, Bakker set up Chi ha Paura…?, an Amsterdam-based foundation exploring the lack of relationship between the two – the name translates as “Who is Afraid of...?”, and is premised on design’s “fear” of contemporary jewellery.30 Since its establishment, Chi ha Paura…? has put Bakker and Van Leersum’s 1960s pieces into production, alongside new works from designers including Arad, Konstantin Grcic31, Marc Newson32, and Rolf Sachs33. Bakker has a clear idea of what he wants for the project. “We look for interesting concepts, unusual choices of materials or functional aspects that are cast in a different light. Designs like this have to have a story, some kind of political or cultural significance or a dash of humour. They also have to have the kind of content that can stand up to multiplication,” he writes.34 Achieving this has not always been easy. “When I started, I really had to work to teach [designers] that it is possible for jewellery to be design,” says Bakker. “Just like any object in our house and our environment. It can have the same approach, the same philosophy.” The biggest challenge for designers creating jewellery seems to be a question of scale. Bakker recalls inviting German lighting designer Ingo Maurer to design a piece for the collection.35 “Maurer told me, ‘What you guys do on a square centimetre is impossible for me’,” says Bakker. Ronan Bouroullec also raises this issue. “Jewellery requires a certain delicacy that is not often in the designer’s vocabulary. It is not a question of millimetres, but a tenth of a millimetre.” For Bakker, it is precisely this challenge that keeps drawing him to jewellery. “Giving content on such a small scale is what makes it so deeply challenging and interesting – the issue of scale and the direct contact with body, the fit.”

Initiatives such as Chi ha Paura…? suggest design’s receptiveness to jewellery as a concept. This makes sense, given the society we now inhabit – we are no longer in Bayley’s industrial condition but a post-industrial one, in which the divisions between the handmade and the mass-produced, and between art, design and craft, are increasingly redundant. “Design in general is so cross-disciplinary and permissive now,” says Glenn Adamson, “that it would be odd if people weren’t experimenting with necklaces and rings, just as they do with houses, websites and clothing.” As Adamson noted at the Design Museum panel discussion, this has also been true at other points in history; in the pre-industrial era, jewellery and design were simply part of a larger culture of object making, one that operated across all scales of production.

Cohn embodies this “anything goes” spirit. She variously makes her own jewellery, employs others to do so in her Melbourne workshop, and has pieces produced far from her own hands, such as the production of her Cohncave fruit bowl, designed in 1992 for Alessi Stofer similarly typifies this desire to overcome disciplinary boundaries. He makes extensive use of readymades to create pieces that demonstrate an irreverent attitude towards ideas of skill and quality of manufacture, two of the main ways in which jewellery has been traditionally evaluated. Yet the relevance of such values is being held up for scrutiny by a number of practitioners today. Christopher Thompson Royds of London’s Gallery S O affirms this idea. He recently curated Chamber of Wonder36, an exhibition of practitioners, including Stofer, conceived to coincide with the Design Museum show. “Concepts such as the presence of the maker’s hand, a central theme within craft, is not of primary concern, and in some cases is barely evident,” he says. He cites Benjamin Lignel37, included in both the Design Museum and


Gallery S O exhibitions, as a maker who combines an interest in jewellery’s emotional and intellectual pull with material and technical exploration. This is evident in Lignel’s Thank God I’m White brooch, included in Unexpected Pleasures, which is identical to any other massproduced pin badge save for its stark social message.

Such disciplinary crossovers and critical approaches are particularly identifiable in the emerging generation of makers. The work of Simone Brewster38 – whose Ebony Revolution collection of bold, geometric wooden necklaces and rings, created between 2009 and 2011, was included in Beautiful Objects – is informed by a strong post-colonial narrative. Brewster does not have a jewellery background – she studied architecture at the Bartlett School of Architecture, London, and then product design at the RCA. The former gives her a strong sense of the spatial and the latter what she calls “a more hands-on approach” and familiarity with industrial processes.39 Her comments are echoed by the German jewellery designer Saskia Diez40, who trained as a goldsmith and then undertook studies in industrial design. The latter has had an influence on her practice. “I like questioning things, I like to rethink solutions, and to solve things in a not so typical jewellery-like way. Even if, in the end, it is jewellery. That is, for sure, something that came with industrial design, because it widened my view on objects and how they’re made.” Yet while design has been important for her conceptual approach, it is the combination of the two experiences that has affected how she makes objects, as she is able to cross between different scales of production. “I like constructing solutions instead of using standard ones. I also focus attention on smart and efficient production, because I want the pieces to be accessible.” There are other benefits to practitioners crossing between the two disciplines, and undoubtedly both jewellery and design practice could benefit from the other’s viewpoint. For designers pursuing the sustainable imperative, the durability of our relationship with jewellery provides clues for how to inject emotional staying power in objects. This would slow down the cycle of production and consumption and force us to think more responsibly about an object’s afterlife. For jewellery makers, there is a recognised need to make ideas and output relevant to a wider audience – a more public platform for thinking and talking about jewellery that settings such as the Design Museum can offer.

READING LIST Unexpected Pleasures: The Art and Design of Contemporary Jewellery edited by Susan Cohn, SKIRA RIZZOLI, 2012. Designers on Jewellery: 12 Years of Jewellery Production by Chi ha Paura...? by Liesbeth den Besten, NATIONAL DESIGN CENTRE MELBOURNE, ARNOLDSCHE ART, 2008. Crossover: Jewelry by Painters, Sculptors, and Architects by Andrea DiNoto, Metalsmith, vol. 28, no. 1, 2007, pp. 30-35. The New Jewelry: Trends and Traditions by Peter Dormer and Ralph Turner, THAMES & HUDSON, 1985. Jewelry by Architects by Barbara Radice, ELECTA, 1987. Cartier Design Viewed by Ettore Sottsass by Ettore Sottsass and Franco Cologni, SKIRA, 2002.

The question of whether jewellery is design depends on the perspective and priorities of whom you ask. Questions of disciplinary difference are not that important in themselves. Where they are significant is in ensuring that practitioners are endowed with sufficient skills to pursue their practice, and are sensitive to the potential of looking outside of their field in order to make meaningful, and relevant objects. Jewellery and design have distinct histories and traditions but they also have much in common. Celebrating these differences, and recognising what each can bring to the other, shows up the value of thinking about jewellery as design, as well as design as jewellery – for creators, critics, curators and consumers alike.

Dr Catharine Rossi is a senior lecturer in Design History at the School of Art and Design History at Kingston University, London. She is a contributor to Crafts and Domus, The Journal of Design History, Design and Culture and the Journal of Modern Craft. This spring she releases The Italian Avantgarde (Sternberg Press, 2013), which she co-edited with Alex Coles.

Ola Bergengren is a Stockholm-based photographer. His first magazine commission was for i-D in 1997 and since then he has worked for Dazed&Confused and Another Magazine among others. He has also collaborated on advertising campaigns with Prada, Louis Vuitton and Acne.

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Pagine This couture technique closely mimics the Italian term, meaning “pages�. It is unique to the Valentino atelier and entails disks of organza piled on top of one another to create a concertina effect, like the pages in an open book.

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Valentino’s glossary of couture

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Anthology Hedi Slimane, creative director of the house of Yves Saint Laurent, shares a series of photographs of objects collected by the fashion house’s late founder. PHOTOS Hedi Slimane “Great images have both a history and a prehistory; they are always a blend of memory and legend, with the result that we never experience an image directly. Indeed, every great image has an unfathomable oneiric depth to which the personal past adds special colour.”

So writes philosopher Gaston Bachelard in his seminal work The Poetics Of Space from 1958, in which he imbues the objects that surround us, and the spaces that contain them, with deep psychological meaning. These words carry a particular resonance when considered in relation to the following photographs, taken by Hedi Slimane in the apartment of the late Yves Saint Laurent on Rue de Babylone, and in Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent on Avenue Marceau, both in Paris. Saint Laurent’s desk, his chair, his bed, his glasses are all captured in the setting where he lived and worked with his partner Pierre Bergé (who still lives and works there) but Saint Laurent himself is no longer present. Slimane’s photographs, captured over a period of time in 2012 are therefore melancholic, but also celebratory. It is a year since the French fashion designer and photographer Slimane was announced as the creative director of the Parisian fashion house Yves Saint Laurent. Since then he has renamed the ready-to-wear line Saint Laurent Paris and produced his first mens- and womenswear collections, drawing on the heritage of the label while also stamping his own mark on it. “He wants to take the codes of the old YSL and go back to the days before Mr Saint Laurent was identified with what he most hated – the bourgeoisie,” wrote fashion critic Suzy Menkes in the The New York Times earlier this year.

Established in 1961 by Saint Laurent and Bergé as a couture brand, the house launched its first ready-to-wear line in 1966 on the Left Bank of the river Seine in Paris. The line was titled Saint Laurent Rive Gauche and was revolutionary for leaving the sophistication of the river’s Right Bank for the more bohemian Rive Gauche. It is this subversive spirit that Slimane is attempting to recapture with his new collections that draw heavily on the music and youth culture of his adopted hometown, Los Angeles. Similarly, Saint Laurent will soon move its ready-to-wear ateliers and salon de couture from their current location on the Right Bank, to the Left Bank. This autumn they will take up residence in a Hôtel Particulier in the seventh arrondissement, just moments away from Yves Saint Laurent’s apartment.

Slimane’s series of photographs suggests not only Saint Laurent’s past, but also how that history might inform a departure for the brand. As the name Anthology hints at, this is a collection of artifacts captured by Slimane to represent his predecessor. Furthermore, the photographs are, as Bachelard suggests, compartments for storing memories of the past, filtered through the Parisian apartment and office where much of Yves Saint Laurent’s identity was shaped. “Memories of the outside world will never have the same tonality as those of home,” wrote Bachelard in The Poetics Of Space. “By recalling these memories, we add to our store of dreams.”

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Page 113 A portrait of the young Yves Saint Laurent, photographed by Luc Fournol, in Pierre Bergé’s office at the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent. Pages 114-115 Monsieur Saint Laurent’s studio at the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent. Page 116 A bouquet of white lilies in the grand salon at Rue de Babylone. Page 117 A fragment of Christ’s head in polychrome carved ivory from the Spanish Philippines, dating from the 17th-century. It stands on a coffee table in red lacquer by Jean Dunand in the grand salon at Rue de Babylone. Page 118 One of the 18 Italian rococo chairs in moulded, carved and regilded wood, upholstered in a bronze damask silk with a floral pattern. They surround the Art Deco dining table in the dining room at Rue de Babylone. “Yves” cardboard petal by Philippe Mugnier, used for table seating placements at Rue de Babylone. Page 119 A statue of Saint Sebastian in carved ivory and ebony, probably a German work, 17th-century, on the window sill of Monsieur Saint Laurent’s bedroom. One of two brass lions, late 16th-century or early 17th-century, that stand on the Art Deco dining table, in the dining room of Rue de Babylone.

Page 120 Detail of Verseuse au Serpent by Vilmos Zsolnay, circa 1894-1900 in the music room of Rue de Babylone. Page 121 Moujik IV Page 122-123 Detail of a carved ivory group representing Cain and Abel, attributed to Simon Trager, from the first half of the 18th-century, in the grand salon of Rue de Babylone. Page 124 Pierre Bergé’s armchair in his office at the Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent. The spectacles that Mr Yves Saint Laurent used to wear, at Rue de Babylone. Page 125 The Schatzkammer, or treasure room, at Rue de Babylone, detail of a Buddha statue in gold and red lacquered wood, from the Chinese Ming dynasty 16th-century. Monsieur Yves Saint Laurent’s bed at Rue de Babylone. Page 126 The hands of Pierre Bergé. Page 127 The door of Pierre Bergé’s office at Fondation Pierre Bergé-Yves Saint Laurent. Page 128 The door of Monsieur Yves Saint Laurent’s dressing room at Rue de Babylone. Thank you to Hedi Slimane and the team at Saint Laurent.

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Pieghe voltate Translated as “turned pleat”, pieghe voltate is double-layered silk with a contrasting colour on the reverse, turned back to create an accentuated fold. In French, the same technique is referred to as “tourner à plis”.

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Valentino’s glossary of couture

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Pieces from Scholten & Baijings’s Colour Porcelain collection for 1616 Arita.

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21st-century Japonisme With a spate of shows, launches, and big-name collaborations promoting traditional Japanese crafts, are we seeing a Japonisme for the 21st-century emerging? WORDS Kristina Rapacki PHOTOS Rita Platts Styling Anzu Sato

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A Japan Creative is funded by several Japanese corporations. It allows for international designers and Japanese manufacturers to work together. 1

Jasper Morrison (b. 1959) is a British designer active in London, Paris, and Tokyo, known for his minimalism.

2

Inga Sempé (b. 1968) is a French designer. She was awarded the Grand Prix de la Création en design de la Ville de Paris in 2003.

3

Japonisme is a French term coined by Jules Claretie in 1872. It refers to the impact that Japanese imported products had on the fine and applied arts in Europe and the United States.

4

Dr Sarah Teasley lectures the Royal College of Art in London. Her research centres around Japanese products and architectural design from the late 19th century to present day.

5

Ukiyo-e are Japanese woodblock prints produced between the 17th and 20th centuries. They were used for packaging products to the West, where the motifs captured the imagination of artists.

6

7 Katsushika Hokusai (c. 1760-1849) and Utagawa Hiroshige (1797-1858) are considered two of the great masters in the ukiyo-e tradition. 8 Mingei championed local Japanese crafts in the 1920s and 30s.

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piece of unexpected news broke in January: for the first time in decades, the Japanese economy is growing. Or, that’s what Shinzo Abe’s government predicts. If its anticipation of 2.5 per cent growth occurs in the coming financial year, it will mark a welcome change in a country whose finances capsized in the early 1990s and have stayed stagnant since.

Reports of negative growth, and natural and nuclear disaster, have dominated our image of Japan over the past few years. But in the design industry a welcome turn seems to have taken place, with a series of launches, exhibitions, and collaborations promoting traditional Japanese crafts and manufacture for the global market. Visitors at last year’s Milan furniture fair could experience one such project off a quiet side street in the Brera district. In the rooms of the quaint Museo Minguzzi, Japan Creative1 presented its first exhibition, Simple Visions, which featured pieces by international designers such as Jasper Morrison2 and Inga Sempé3. Another enterprise, Japan Handmade – overseen by the Danish creative agency OeO – launched at the Maison et Objet interior design fair in Paris at the beginning of this year. Traditional Japanese wood manufacturers Maruni and Karimoku are also pushing into new markets; the latter especially so with its line Karimoku New Standard, launched in 2009. Japanese crafts were given further exposure in the exhibition 365 Charming Everyday Things, first held at the Bastille Design Centre in Paris in January 2012, and later shown in Tokyo at the Pola Museum Annex. Do these projects herald a new Japonisme4 of the 21st century? The preoccupation with ancient craft certainly seems to suggest so. High-quality, labour-intensive craftsmanship has been associated with Japanese products since the 1860s, after the US navy commodore Matthew Calbraith Perry coerced the Tokugawa shogunate to open Japan’s ports to international trade. “In the 19th century, the Japanese ceramic and textile industries hadn’t industrialised to the same extent as in Britain and France,” says design historian Sarah Teasley5. “So the Japanese government promoters identified craft as Japan’s edge on international markets. When they started exporting things to the world fairs, they exported craft.”

These were the objects that enthralled the western imagination in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, alongside the woodblock prints or ukiyo-e6 by Hokusai and Hiroshige7, whose stylistic features artists Vincent Van Gogh, James Whistler, Gustav Klimt, Edgar Degas and others incorporated into their paintings. A few decades into the 20th century, traditional crafts became the focus of the intensely nationalist folk art movement Mingei8, spearheaded by the Japanese philosopher Yanagi Soetsu9. From the beginning of Japan’s interactions with international markets, ancient craftsmanship has been the stuff of soft power10.

But this emphasis on crafts risks a certain typecasting of Japanese products. An example of this occurred in the US in the early 1950s, when the Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO)11 funded Japan: Design Today, a travelling exhibition organised in collaboration with the Walker >


A Koubei-Gama plate designed by Inga SempĂŠ for Japan Creative (left). On it, a wood tea canister and a bamboo teaspoon. Below, a large plate designed by Scholten & Baijings for 1616 Arita.

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Signs, a coat stand by Big-Game for Karimoku New Standard. The calendar catalogue for the exhibition 365 Charming Everyday Things hangs in the background.

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Has a Danish creative agency buying into Japanese crafts simply found a quick-fix route to all that is desirable in design today?

Yanagi Soetsu (1889-1961) was a philosopher and the founder of Mingei.

9

Soft power describes the force of cultural values rather than the military, coined by political scientist Joseph Nye in 1990.

10

11 The Japan External Trade Organisation (JETRO) is a Japanese government agency founded in Osaka in 1951.

The Walker Art Centre is a contemporary arts centre in Minneapolis, Minnesota, founded in 1879.

12

> Art Centre in Minneapolis . “JETRO were interested in promoting cameras, electronic devices, microscopes, rice cookers,” says Teasley. “The curator said, ‘No, audiences don’t want to see technology from Japan, they want to see craft.’ Consequently, the exhibition was dominated by ceramics and crafts products.” 12

As critic Justin McGuirk persuasively discussed in issue two of Disegno13, the design industry has recently begun to bestow a near-fetishistic status on all things craft-related. Perhaps the Japonisme of the 21st century is simply a fruitful confluence of two trends, one old, one new: the typecasting of Japanese crafts and the new international craft fetishism. The marketing material of initiatives such as Japan Creative and Japan Handmade is certainly in tune with the phenomenon. Lingering lovingly on images of dusty workshops, hardened hands, and careworn tools, the documentary material seems just as important as the finished products. However, the promotion of Japanese craft is not straightforward. With projects such as Japan Creative and Japan Handmade, a certain non-Japanese intervention is involved. Thomas Lykke, creative director of OeO and Japan Handmade, explains his aims in collaborating with the six traditional workshops of Hosoo14, Kaikado15, Nakagawa Mokkougei16, Kohchosai Kosuga17, Kanaami-Tsuji18, and Asahiyaki19: “Two of the businesses we work with are 400 years old, and Kaikado is 200. For two centuries, it’s made tea caddies, and nothing else. New initiatives are needed to make these crafts sexy again. You can’t export a tradition or a ritual, but you can adapt it for a global context.”

This adaptation has generally entailed launching new products with new functions. “Take the metal-knitting workshop Kanaami-Tsuji, for example,” says Lykke. “It’s only made tea strainers and tofu spoons. It’s not possible to make people in the West drink more tea or eat more tofu than they already do. So we launched a concept around wining and dining. Now, Kanaami-Tsuji makes wine stoppers and corkscrews, where the metal knitting is used as a decorative element.”

Making traditional crafts relevant to an international audience is a constructive enterprise. But, arguably, there lies a certain presumptuousness in assuming these businesses require western appropriation to save them from oblivion. One might suspect, given the current popularity for all things craft-related, that a Danish creative agency buying into Japanese crafts has simply found a quick-fix route to all that is desirable in design today: truth to material, authenticity, tradition, and ancient skills.

Japan Handmade prides itself on the centuries-old heritage of the local businesses it represents, and the meditative pace with which the craftsmen learn their trades: “At Kaikado, it takes some 10 years to qualify as a junior craftsman,” says Lykke. However, Japan Handmade only started as a project in August last year, and launched less than six months later. Although its collaboration with the textile-maker Hosoo harks back a bit further, the speed at which the new wine stoppers, lamps, and chairs have been put into production seems slightly at odds with the ancient, contemplative production pace presented in the company’s marketing.

In a similar vein, Japan Creative promotes traditional Japanese workshops while letting nonJapanese designers take care of the creative part. Along with Morrison and Sempé, Peter Marigold20 and Paul Cocksedge21 were some of the designers invited to participate in the exhibition Simple Visions last year. The non-profit show partly responded to the earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear disaster of 2011, engendering much positive media attention. It highlighted local businesses such as the traditional cast-iron foundry Oigen22 and the centuriesold Koubei Kiln32, and became one of the talking points at last year’s Milan furniture fair.

But some feel it’s strange that more Japanese designers weren’t asked to participate. Morrison, who created a series of cast-iron products with Oigen, voices his doubts: “I’m not sure why they haven’t asked any Japanese designers to take part. Perhaps it’s their strategy to promote these Japanese craft industries overseas and they figure that they’ll get a more international audience through working with foreign designers.” Sempé, who worked with the Koubei Kiln, >

Craft Fetishism by Justin McGuirk, Disegno no. 2, 2012, pp. 140-52.

13

Hosoo is a textile manufacturer based in Kyoto, founded in 1688.

14

15 Kaikado was founded in 1875 and makes tea caddies.

Nakagawa Mokkougei (b. 1942) is a Kyoto-based craftsman known for his mastery of cryptomeria, timber whose colour is from being submerged in water or buried in earth.

16

17 Kohchosai Kosuga is a bamboo workshop founded in Tokyo in 1898.

Kanaami-Tsuji is a metalknitting studio north of Kyoto. Established by Kenichi Tsuji, it uses methods that have been used for 10 centuries.

18

The Asahi pottery harks back some four centuries and is based in Uji, the Japanese centre for tea cultivation.

19

Peter Marigold (b. 1974) is a British designer. He studied sculpture at Central Saint Martins and product design at the Royal College of Art.

20

Paul Cocksedge (b. 1978) is a designer based in London. He has worked for manufacturers like Flos and Established & Sons.

21

22 Oigen is a cast-iron foundry established in 1852. It is located in north Japan, where ironware has been made for 900 years. 23 The Koubei Kiln (Koubeigama) was founded in 1804 and makes Mino ceramics.

Founded in 1858 as a kimono store in Japan, the Itochu Corporation now offers trading services and investments.

24

Big-Game is a Lausannebased design studio founded in 2004 by Augustin Scott de Martinville, Elric Petit, and Grégoire Jeanmonod.

25

26 Sylvain Willenz (b. 1978) is a Belgian designer. He has worked for manufacturers including Cappellini and Established & Sons.

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Disegno. 137


138 Disegno. 21st-century japonisme


From left: vintage copper mug, Renge (soup spoon), rice bowls by Yasuko Ozeki, vintage bentwood tea caddy, Oigen cast-iron sauce dish by Jasper Morrison for Japan Creative, boxes from Kaikado for Japan Handmade, porcelain saucer by Scholten & Baijings for 1616 Arita, Gyokusendo tea caddy, vintage tea caddy, Shuro brush, porcelain caddy by Scholten & Baijings for 1616 Arita, wood tray from Habitat, Kanaami-tsuji tea strainer, vintage tokkuri (sake bottle), Duralex glasses, Weck carafe with bamboo charcoal.

21st-century japonisme

Disegno. 139


27 Scholten & Baijings is a Dutch design duo comprised of Stefan Scholten (b. 1972) and Carole Baijings (b. 1973). The studio has worked for clients such as Established & Sons and Droog. 28 Mattiazzi is an Italian wood manufacturer founded in 1978. See Disegno No. 3, pp. 150-169. 29 Thonet is a German manufacturer founded in 1819 by Michael Thonet, who was a pioneer in applying the bentwood process on an industrial scale.

Teruhiro Yanagihara (b. 1979) is a Japanese designer based in Osaka. He is now creative director of pottery 1616 Arita.

30

David Glaettli (b. 1977) is a Swiss designer who acts as deputy of Teruhiro Yanagihara’s studio in Europe.

31

32 Muuto is a Danish furniture maker founded in 2006.

Hay is a Danish furniture brand founded in 2002.

33

34 e15 is a German furniture manufacturer founded in London in 1995 by architect Philipp Mainzer.

Established & Sons is a British design brand founded in 2005, see p. 16.

35

Ron Gilad (b. 1972) is an Israeli designer based in New York.

36

37 Cassina is an Italian furniture manufacturer founded in 1927 by Cesare and Umberto Cassina.

Charlotte Perriand (1903-99) was a French architect and designer whose 1940 trip to Japan had a considerable impact on her work.

38

39 Luca Nichetto (b. 1976) is an Italian designer. He founded his studio, Nichetto & Partners, in 2006, and has worked for manufacturers such as Cassina, Offecct, and Discipline.

READING LIST Japonisme: Cultural Crossings Between Japan and the West by Lionel Lambourne, Phaidon, 2007. Splendors of Imperial Japan: Arts of the Meiji Period from the Khalili Collection, London by Joe Earle, KHALILI COLLECTIONS, 2002. Japan: Design Today by Meg Torbert (ed.), Design Quarterly, Minneapolis, 1952. Thank you to Momoko Muzutani of Momosan Shop, and Risa Sano and Yasu Sakurai of Mentsen.

The speed at which the new wine stoppers, lamps, and chairs have been put into production seems at odds with the ancient production pace presented in the company’s marketing. > doesn’t share Morrison’s view. “I don’t think it’s a problem. It just means the Japanese are open to innovation,” she says. “With our traditional crafts in France, it’s really rare to introduce this type of creativity. Our craftsmen would never work with designers from the outside.” The official line from the creative director of Japan Creative, Masaaki Hiromura, is: “We don’t intend to exclude Japanese designers. There will be a possibility that some will join in the future.”

The natural and nuclear disasters of 2011 serve as a sombre backdrop to some of the projects described, and growing interest in these brands may, in part, be an aspect of a more widespread global sympathy felt towards Japan in the aftermath of these catastrophes. However, the events of 2011 have also brought about a deep-felt introspection within Japan. “People have started turning inwards to look for what’s good, solid, and traditional about Japanese culture now,” says Teasley. “There’s been quite a lot of promotion of old Japanese brands and domestic tourism, highlighting the good, old things of those various locations.”

The exhibition 365 Charming Everyday Objects could, perhaps, be seen as part of this introspective mode. Humble, crafted objects for everyday use were carefully presented with explanatory notes, echoing some of the folksy tenets of 1920s Mingei. Typical pieces were handmade but produced in large quantities, relevant to the daily life of the “masses”, and representative of a regional material or technique. The exhibition was funded by the Itochu Corporation24 alongside a number of other Japanese companies, and its success in Paris has led to some of the pieces being distributed in France.

The high-end international furniture market is of interest to Japanese wood manufacturer Karimoku. With its new line Karimoku New Standard, the company has launched a series of collections with covetable pieces by overseas studios such as Big-Game25, Sylvain Willenz26, and Scholten & Baijings.27 However, it’s debatable whether this type of venture has much to do with Japonisme – rather, it is operating in the same league as manufacturers such as Mattiazzi28 or Thonet29, commissioning work from a stable of internationally acclaimed designers.

Teruhiro Yanagihara30 – the former creative director of Karimoku New Standard (which is now directed by David Glaettli)31 – explains the global outlook of his vision for the company: “The designers we’ve worked with don’t need to conform to the idea of a Japanese brand too much. I think it’s important to give them freedom to design what they want for the manufacturer.” Karimoku New Standard is distributed internationally, and enjoys particular success in the Netherlands, where Scholten & Baijings is based. For Glaettli, the Japanese company has no direct competition. “But we are aware,” he says, “that our stockists normally also sell to brands such as Muuto32, Hay33, e1534, and Established & Sons 35.”

The promotion of all things Japanese is showing no signs of abating. Japan Creative launched a collaboration with Ron Gilad36 and traditional cabinet-makers Fujisato Woodcraft in January at Maison et Objet, and at this year’s Milan furniture fair in April, Japan Handmade presents a number of bamboo products for iPhones and computers with Kohchosai Kosuga. In February, Italian furniture manufacturer Cassina37 launched its Japanese Lessons events series, focusing on Charlotte Perriand38 and Luca Nichetto’s39 shared passion for Japan. And if we are to embrace the Japoniste aesthetic of Karl Lagerfeld’s current Chanel campaign or Vogue’s prediction of a Nouvelle Japonisme for 2013, we’ll be wearing architectural kimono cuts, heavy silks, and crafty embroideries this summer.

Kristina Rapacki (see p. 12)

Rita Platts is a photographer working in London. She has recently worked on the cookbook Sushi Slim (Quadrille). Anzu Sato is a London-based stylist who also works in a variety of crafts-based workshops.

140 Disegno. 21st-century japonisme


HomeRun paperweights by Sylvain Willenz for Karimoku New Standard.

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Disegno. 141


rose Lengths of of silk and nylon tulle that have been turned and modelled to form a rose shape.

142 Disegno. Valentino’s glossary of couture




Valentino’s glossary of couture

Disegno. 143


144 Disegno. architecture as image


Architecture as Image The architecture photography shown in magazines and blogs is often a sterile business of gleaming buildings in perfect isolation. But what of the people that inhabit these spaces, the context, the politics, the rot and decay? WORDS Owen Hatherley PHOTOS Donald Milne

architecture as image

Disegno. 145


M László Moholy-Nagy (18951946) was a Hungarian painter, photographer, designer, and theorist. He was a professor at the Bauhaus school in Weimar, Germany, in the 1920s, later becoming director of the New Bauhaus in Chicago.

1

Hungarian-born photographer Lucien Hervé (1910-2007) moved to Paris in 1930. In the 1950s he started photographing for Swiss architect Le Corbusier (see p. 100), beginning a career creating images for major architects such as Alvar Aalto (see p. 32), Oscar Niemeyer and Jean Prouvé.

2

Henk Snoek (1915-80) was born in Holland and studied at the Hague School of Art. He worked predominantly in Britain, creating arresting images of the buildings of Basil Spence, among others.

3

Chicago-born photographer Ezra Stoller (1915-2004) studied industrial design at New York University, where he began photographing buildings. He went on to work with architects Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Breuer, I.M. Pei, and Mies van der Rohe.

4

British photographer Morley von Sternberg initially trained as an architect, and his portfolio includes images of landmark buildings across the world as well as portraits of major architects.

5

146 Disegno. architecture as image

ost people interested in contemporary architecture will know the feeling. You’re visiting some famous modernist masterpiece, either in an obscure part of the city or in a country you’ve not been to before. You go there with the photographs in your head, taken by László Moholy-Nagy1, Lucien Hervé2, Henk Snoek3, Ezra Stoller4, or Morley von Sternberg5, monochrome miniatures of a gleaming achieved future. You know full well that it’s not going to look exactly like that, so you prepare yourself for the worst, but the surprise happens nonetheless. Perhaps the building has a massive pitched roof, if it’s in Britain, or has been rusticated and coated in classical schlock, if it’s in Russia. If, as it often is, it’s a public housing estate, you may get to enjoy both original signage with letters missing and an advanced state of distress and decay. Public spaces that had children frolicking in the pictures you’ve seen might be depopulated and menacing, or they might be gated off so you can’t get in anyway. If you’re visiting something parametric and computer-aided6, you might be alarmed at tinny cladding materials chosen with little or no thought. As for most new buildings in the UK, the terms PFI7 or Design and Build8 are reminders of the horrors an actual visit might elicit. And, especially if you’re visiting a building by James Stirling9, you could be shocked into mirth by how thin and tiny the building looks compared with the imposing, iconic photograph. But equally possibly, you might find something else. Elegantly empty plazas and walkways might now be full of people socialising and idling. You might be impressed by the physicality and presence of something you’d seen before in only two dimensions. You might find that the building actually looks mature and powerful after some years of weathering and wear. Either way, you’ve found something you can’t find in those photographs – history, change, life, conflict, politics, mundanity, tactility. And, interestingly, you still won’t find it in most architectural photographs today. Can architectural photography ever begin to bring these extraneous things into its hitherto seamless images? Criticising the reduction of architectural imagery into untouched, depopulated, sunkissed blipverts10 is almost too easy and too common, and those criticised know exactly what they’re doing. One of the worst offenders, Dezeen11, recently hired a columnist, Sam Jacob12, to answer criticisms of its wholly advertorial output. The first column was about how awful Dezeen is.13 Meanwhile, attempts at showing real, used spaces too often settle into an increasingly familiar melancholic narrative, as in the panoramas of depopulated post-war slabs that feature in art galleries.

There must be something more than this, so this evaluation will look at whether there are signs of “life” to be found in contemporary architectural photography. And, more specifically, consider the globe-trotting work of Iwan Baan14 and the purely British focus of Donald Milne’s documentary-style photographs.15 With and without people, both photographers seem to be interested in finding a way out of an impasse.


Concrete must still look frozen and impeccable, not the weathered thing you walk past every day. People, where they exist, must look affluent and healthy. Weather must be ruthlessly suppressed.

Parametric or computer-aided design uses algorithm software to design buildings (see p. 50). Pioneers of the form include architects Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid.

6

7 PFI stands for private finance initiative, a way of funding public infrastructure projects with private capital.

Design and Build refers to the method of project delivery whereby the design and construction services are contracted by a single entity.

8

Scottish architect James Stirling’s (1926-92) notable buildings include Leicester University Engineering Building (1963) and the Neue Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart (1984). He was awarded the Pritzker Prize in 1981.

9

10 A blipvert is a television advert that lasts a few seconds. The term was coined in the 1985 film Max Headroom: 20 Minutes Into The Future, in which blipverts could cause people to spontaneously explode. 11 Dezeen is an architecture and design blog founded by former Icon magazine editor Marcus Fairs in 2006.

Sam Jacob is a writer and critic, and co-founder of the London-based architecture and design practice FAT.

12

This comes out of something that could easily seem a historical happenstance – the fact that modern architecture is most associated with the social projects of the post-war welfare state. Public housing, public libraries, new universities, redeveloped city centres – in Europe and the United States especially, these are the legacies of modernism’s period of global hegemony. Many people who have lived in a modernist building have done so because they’ve been tenants of public housing. These social democratic structures have obviously fallen into decline and decay along with the politics that produced them. However, as any mention of words such as concrete or high-rise can still create an instant, knee-jerk response, especially among AngloSaxons, there is the need for some sort of photographic detoxification. Thus, paradoxically, one of the least appealing aspects of modernism – its fixation on the untouched, impeccable image, the Platonic idea of the building rather than its quotidian reality – continues, long after the reformist politics of modern architecture have been jettisoned. Concrete must still look frozen and impeccable, not the weathered thing you walk past every day. People, where they exist, must look affluent and healthy. Weather must be ruthlessly suppressed. All this is familiar enough, and you can see it almost every time you open an architectural magazine or click on Dezeen or ArchDaily.16 Can a conscientious or imaginative photographer find a way out of it?

Curiously, independent film has had no such problems. Documentary film was always one of the arms of the modernist propaganda apparatus, in 1930s shorts such as Hans Richter’s17 New Living (on a modernist showcase in Basel) or Arthur Elton18 and Edgar Anstey’s19 Housing Problems (which sang the praises of Maxwell Fry’s20 1938 Kensal House in London). These still show the virginal image. Yet by now, there’s almost a mini-genre of films that depict modern housing estates by concentrating on all the things – politics, wear, use, experience, history, the unexpected – which are excised from the photographs. On the British capital alone, there’s Rowley Way Speaks For Itself21, made by and about residents at one of Neave Brown’s22 sweeping, dramatic Camden housing schemes; Home Sweet Home, Enrica Colusso’s23 sharp, angry film following campaigners against the demolition of their flats on the derelict Heygate Estate24; or Tom Cordell’s synoptic Utopia London25, which encompasses the entire modernist experiment in the city, from inception to defeat. The Austrian artist Heidrun Holzfeind26, meanwhile, has made a trilogy of films in a similar vein – Corviale, Behind the Iron Gate and Colonnade Park, on housing estates in Rome, Warsaw, and Newark (New Jersey), respectively. What links the residents of Rowley Way, Colusso, Cordell, and Holzfeind is a refusal both of the sparkling original image (no snobbish laments about residents’ ad-hoc adaptations here) and of the Jane Jacobsian27 clichés about modernism’s alleged inability to accommodate street life and historical change. In all of these films, you can find residents talking about their modernist houses as both spectacular and everyday, both special and normal, making some things possible, making others difficult. >

The column began on 24 January 2013, asking: “How can culture exist in a stream of Photoshopped incontinence?”

13

Dutch photographer Iwan Baan (b. 1975) studied at the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. He started photographing architecture professionally in 2005.

14

15 Donald Milne (b. 1969) attended Edinburgh College of Art and Royal College of Art, lives and works between London and Scotland.

ArchDaily (Architecture Daily) is an architecture blog that was founded in 2008.

16

17 German artist and filmmaker Hans Richter (1888-1976) was born in Berlin and moved to the US in 1941. He was one of the original members of the Dada movement.

British documentary producer and director Arthur Elton (1906-73) was associated with the Documentary Movement in the 1930s. He became supervisor of films for the Ministry of Information during the Second World War.

18

architecture as image

Disegno. 147


Edgar Anstey (1907-87) was a documentary filmmaker and producer also associated with the Documentary Movement in the UK. In 1949, he became head of the new film unit set up by the British Transport Commission.

19

Architect Maxwell Fry (1899-1987) was a key figure in the British Modern Movement. He was a close friend of Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius.

20

Made between November 2009 and April 2010, the film was made by a group of residents living on the Alexandra and Ainsworth Estate (often known as Rowley Way). They wanted to examine the actual experience of living in the 1978 public housing complex, the first to be Grade II listed, which features frequently in television dramas and architecture journals.

21

22 New York-born architect Neave Brown (b. 1929) is particularly associated with modernist public housing schemes in London. 23 Rome-born documentary filmmaker Enrica Colusso (b. 1962) released Home Sweet Home in 2012. Filming lasted four years, capturing the transformation of London’s Elephant and Castle area.

The neo-brutalist Heygate Estate was designed by Tim Tinker and built in 1974 in south London’s Elephant and Castle. It was sold for redevelopment for £50m by Southwark Council in early 2013, the council having spent £44m moving residents out.

24

The 2010 feature-length documentary Utopia London is director Tom Cordell’s potted history of key architectural projects in the capital, predominantly housing estates such as the aforementioned Heygate Estate, or Kate Macintosh’s 1972 Dawson’s Heights in East Dulwich.

25

26 Artist Heidrun Holzfeind (b. 1972) created this trilogy of films from 2001 to 2011. 27 American-Canadian writer and activist Jane Jacobs (1916-2006) championed community-based approaches to urban planning. 28 Nadar was the nickname of French photographer Gaspard Félix Tournachon (1820-1910). He began his career as a satirical cartoonist, which influenced his style of capturing the personality of his photographic portrait subjects. 29 OMA (Office for Metropolitan Architecture) is the Rotterdam-based practice co-founded in 1975 by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas.

148 Disegno. architecture as image

> Photography has a problem in taking a similarly complex view of modernist spaces. It won’t do to argue that this is a question of its static nature, as photography has been dealing with change and dialectics ever since Nadar.28 It’s more because of the way it is usually commissioned. Most architectural photography comes alongside an article on a newly opened building, and has been commissioned either by magazine editors or by architects and developers. Accordingly, even before they begin, the photographer is necessarily going to concentrate on a decontextualised art object, rather than a building that will soon be stomped all over by people and history. Specifically hired by OMA29 and others, Iwan Baan, however unconventional he may appear, however much he may strain against the limitations, is no exception. Often there is both more and less than meets the eye in his work. Take, for instance, his series on Zaha Hadid Architects’ Riverside Museum in Glasgow.30 This and several other portfolios can easily be seen on Baan’s unusually accessible and well designed website. Commissioned, typically, for a Goldberger31 profile of Hadid in the New Yorker magazine, most of the images concentrate on the expected things. Sharp images of the metal clothing, close-ups of those billowing and flowing curves, sexy night-time panoramas – the usual architectural pornography, in short. But look closely, and you’ll find photographs where Baan has done things none of his contemporaries, let alone his elders, would consider. The result starts to verge on context and moreover critique, revealing things in the building that are elsewhere effaced. In one image, he has photographed the museum from a distance, on a hill in the adjacent district of Partick.32 The first thing that strikes you is the dramatic urban order of Partick itself, its crisp and metropolitan tenements; and then, behind them, the Riverside Museum’s long metal shed actually appears with the shipbuilding hangars of Govan33, just over the river Clyde – a weird and unexpected exercise in parametric contextualism.

In another image of the museum, he has crossed the Clyde into Govan itself, where you can get the most complete view of ZHA’s building. The photograph is literally taken from a wasteland – I know, I’ve taken an infinitely more amateurish photograph on exactly the same spot. Yet Baan has contrived to leave out most of the heaps of shit all around, leaving only a couple of coy plastic bags in the corner of the shot to suggest something awry. There’s being a bit naughty, and then there’s being really annoying. Aside from the obvious charge that Baan’s globecircling CV reinforces architecture as an elite, starchitect thing far away from the actual buildings we live in, work in and walk through, there is still something coy and quasipornographic about Baan’s photography. Sometimes, the contrasts he employs are almost pat, his use of people somehow a little clichéd – but nonetheless, his eye for the abrupt incongruity can offer sudden moments of dialectical clarity. In his photographs of Linked Hybrid, Steven Holl’s34 sweeping, neo-avant garde 2009 housing scheme in Beijing, Baan offers a tension between what is happening inside the new blocks and their securitised courtyards, and what is happening outside. People inside the buildings survey the metropolis through the vast windows, in an image of startling sterility. Outside, well, there are people on bicycles, people selling stuff, people who don’t look particularly wealthy. It all feels a little obvious, at least until you find one image of a street round the back of the blocks, on the other side of a protective concrete wall. People have spread out their goods on the pavement in front of them, lowering their heads in front of the blocks over the road, an image of stark inequality. It’s almost politics. In fact, it offers a much more convincingly political image than do his shots of Torre David35, the famous squatted skyscraper in Caracas, where the unfinished concrete volumes appear indistinguishable from the more artfully untouched concrete spaces in his images of Herzog and de Meuron’s Tate Modern Tanks in London.36 The much-vaunted use of people is still often a bit of a red herring in Baan’s work; most of the time, they are young people and picturesquely unpredictable children walking around in front of shiny things with nothing much around them. This makes it particularly interesting to turn to Donald Milne’s work, as people are a conspicuous absence in his photographs. In a series on the multis – multistorey blocks that command magnificent views of the river Tay in Dundee – Milne captures the emptiness of the building by concentrating on objects; mostly things found in the interiors of the towers that the inhabitants have left as they vacate their homes that are awaiting demolition (see pp. 150-161). The approach suggests some catastrophe has just hit Dundee, an evacuation or a nuclear attack. People have long since fled, taking most, but not all, of their possessions. These are scattered around, photographed lovingly: a pack of Tetley teabags, framed photographs of Jesus or of Marilyn Monroe, a note reminding a former occupant to “remember to take a tablet in the morning”; or there are empty rooms, with mundane, dated or muted wallpaper and fittings. There is misspelled graffiti – “Sandy Loves Lnysey”. In only a couple of the photographs do you see the actual tower block exteriors – two slim towers, focal points on the landscape with mountains behind and tenements in front.

They don’t, at first, appear to be about “architecture” at all, given that they concentrate on precisely the ordinary spaces to which architectural photography is designed as an aspirational alternative. If they are architectural, it’s in the way they make clear that, however much modernism might have managed to genuinely redesign the city, it never quite got as far into the


You’ve found something you can’t find in those photographs – history, change, life, conflict, politics, mundanity, tactility. Can architectural photography ever begin to bring these extraneous things into its hitherto seamless images?

Completed in 2011, the Glasgow Riverside Museum of Transport has an undulating facade with the form of a wave or a pleat.

30

Paul Goldberger (b. 1950) has been the architecture critic at the New Yorker since 1997. He won a Pulitzer Prize for his architecture criticism at the New York Times in 1984.

31

32 Partick is an area in Glasgow on the north bank of the River Clyde.

Govan is on the south bank of the River Clyde, opposite the mouth of the River Kelvin and the district of Partick.

33

34 American architect Steven Holl (b. 1947) is best known for such buildings as the 1998 Kiasma Museum of Contemporary Art in Helsinki, and the 2002 Simmons Hall at MIT, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Torre David (officially the Centro Financiero Confinanzas) is a 45-storey tower designed by Venezuelan architect Enrique Gómez. It was conceived as a high-end office complex in 1990 but never completed, standing vacant until squatters arrived in 2007. See Disegno No.3 pp. 134-143.

35

36

See pp. 70-89.

Referring to the essay Ornament and Crime by Austrian architect Adolf Loos from 1910.

37

interior, except perhaps in the attenuated form of the 1970s formica or recent Ikea furnishings that you can see in the photos. Carpets are still thick, wallpaper is flowery, ornament is not a crime.37 The obvious thing is to assume that this is evidence of a failure, proof that the residents resisted the stark aesthetic imposed upon them, that is now reserved for those who “want” it, the beautiful people of Baan. But then, as anyone who has ever lived in or visited a modernist block of council flats can attest, the one thing that residents of even the starkest blocks will tell you is: “But they’re lovely inside.” Their large, airy interiors offer the space for self-expression that is apparently denied on the elevations; and the views outside can be breathtaking. Milne’s photographs explore what is actually done in these spaces; namely people living their lives, fairly unencumbered by the building. They also document, in the neglect of the communal spaces, how structures like this have been left to rot. At the same time, they record that these blocks’ everyday state has an element of something sublime and transformative within it – those incredible views of the Tay, glimpsed through an open UPVC window (see p. 144). Providing something like this as a right to the tenants of council estates was what modernism was always supposed to be about.

Milne’s work isn’t entirely alone in its attention to spaces like this; in fact, again there’s almost a mini-genre of it, which could encompass Fugitive Images’38 documentation of a condemned, soon-to-be-gentrified estate in Hackney, or Robin Maddock’s39 photographs of hedonism in the planned precincts of post-war Plymouth. Works like these generally exist either in the world of the coffee-table monograph or the quasi-political tract, and do not appear in architecture magazines. At worst, perhaps they can verge on the voyeuristic, the sterile waiting rooms of conventional archi-porn replaced with the excitingly rough and ready flats of poverty porn. Even then, they offer a more convincing way out of the instant architectural blipvert than Baan’s flight schedule. If architectural photography is going to be able to use photographers with eyes as critical, unromantic and original as these, they need to accompany new kinds of architectural journalism. Revisits of buildings, studies of cities, investigations of the politics of housing, interviews with residents, a return to transformations in the everyday rather than monuments at a distance. Then, perhaps, we can finally move on from the familiar disappointment as Platonic image turns out to be an unloved, dilapidated reality.

Fugitive Images, made up of Andrea Luka Zimmerman, Lasse Johansson and David Roberts, grew out of the desire to document the Haggerston Estate, where they live and work, prior to demolition.

38

39 Documentary photographer Robin Maddock (b. 1972) is known for his stark images of everyday British society. His most recent book God Forgotten Face takes a look at the economically and culturally-isolated city of Plymouth.

READING AND VIEWING LIST The New Vision for the New Architecture: Czechoslovakia 1918-1938 by Jaroslav Andel, SCALO, 2006. Privacy and Publicity: Modern Architecture As Mass Media by Beatriz Colomina, MIT PRESS, 1996. Estate (film) by Fugitive Images, 2012. View Iwan Baan’s photography on iwan.com.

Owen Hatherley is a writer and journalist based in London. He is the author of Militant Modernism (2009) and A Guide To The New Ruins Of Great Britain (2010).

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Interiors by Donald Milne This selection of photographs belongs to a body of work that captures the abandoned Derby Street flats in the Hilltown area of Dundee, Scotland. These twin multi-storey blocks have dominated the city’s skyline since 1971. Milne got access to the vacated apartments just before they were handed over to the demolition contractors last year. The buildings are due to come down later this year, forever transforming the silhouette of the city.


Rose di volant This method involves lengths of organza silk cut on the bias and shaped to form intricate open roses. Volant translates from Italian as “frill�, hence the forms are like roses made up of frilled fabric.

162 Disegno. Valentino’s glossary of couture




Valentino’s glossary of couture

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On winter solstice the glow from Vopnafjรถrรฐur village and a touch of the northern lights illuminate the snow covered mountain tops.

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Iceland Emerges Last autumn the remote town of Egilsstaðir in East Iceland was host to Make It Happen, a conference investigating how design can help create an alternative future for this region. This report investigates the growing importance of design in a country that as late as the 1950s didn’t even have a word for design. WORDS Pete Collard and Oli Stratford PHOTOS Glamour Et cetera

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E 1 Iceland’s transport network consists of 12,869km of publicly administrated roads, of which only 5,040km are paved. There is one large ring road, Route 1, which runs along the perimeter of the island connecting its most populous areas. It is 1,339km long and was completed in 1974 to celebrate 1,100 years of settlement in Iceland.

The existence of this mythical sea serpent was first recorded in 1345, in a tale about a girl who put a worm into a magical chest in the hope that her golden ring would grow. When she woke the next morning and realised the worm had grown but not the gold she threw the contents of the chest into the lake – where the worm grew into a serpent that reaches from one end of the lake to the other and harmed people who invaded its space.

2

This hydroelectric plant comprises five dams along the Jökulsá á Dal River and the Jökulsá í Fljótsdal River to create three reservoirs. The central dam, Kárahnjúkastífla, measures 193m tall by 730m wide. It has been a controversial project because of its high environmental impact on the surrounding area and its use of migrant workers.

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gilsstaðir, a town in the far east of Iceland, lies on the banks of the Lagarfljót lake. To drive there from Reykjavik, Iceland’s capital, takes upwards of 10 hours, and during the winter the roads are sometimes impassable.1 Iceland’s largest forest, Hallormsstaðarskógur, sits at the southern end of the lake – in whose waters the Lagarfljótsormurinn monster lurks, as legend has it2 – and snow sits on the mountain tops.

The first houses in Egilsstaðir were built in the 1940s, but there is still no defined town centre for the 2,000 inhabitants who live there now. A decade ago an influx of new workers came to the area to build the nearby Kárahnjúkar Hydropower Plant, the site of the largest dam of its type in Europe3, yet many newcomers stayed only to complete the project before returning home. The national financial crisis that began in 20084 abruptly ended investment in the area, and a newly built housing estate on the northern edge of the town lies largely empty.

Yet from 25 to 28 September last year, Egilsstaðir was the unlikely home to Make It Happen, a design conference where Icelandic and international delegates joined local people for a series of talks, workshops, and presentations about how design might create an alternative future for this East Iceland region. In Egilsstaðir, events took place in local workshops and the Sláturhúsið Cultural Centre – a former slaughterhouse – while each day also saw the participants travel by bus to visit other villages in the area. “We felt it would be much more interesting for people to actually go and see the places rather than present them on a screen,” says project manager Lára Vilbergsdóttir, from the organisers MAKE by Þorpið. “Þorpið means ‘community’. That’s what we’re trying to do here – build up the community of designers and craftspeople. There are only 10,000 people living in East Iceland and we need to work together.” One project, demonstrating this ambition is a workshop facility operated by MAKE by Þorpið in Egilsstaðir, a residency space where both international and local designers and craftspeople, are invited to develop and prototype ideas. These initiatives are indicative of a growing belief in Iceland in the power of design. The 2008 crash of the nation’s banking industry is well documented, but less well reported is the subsequent rise of local design communities, or the development of an Icelandic design culture. Whereas banking was once seen as the future of the country, design now appears ready to offer an alternative. But it is not design intended for the international furniture fairs. Instead, it’s design as an attitude that’s being practised here, one that places it at the heart of communities, and ventures like MAKE by Þorpið and Make It Happen are examples of the grassroots movements that are increasingly common in Icelandic design.

Around 70km south from Egilsstaðir is Stöðvarfjörður, a small village where a former fish factory is being converted into an arts space by Mupimup!, a local design studio. Before its >




Vopnafjörður means “Weapon Fjord” and is located on the north east Icelandic coast.

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The 2008–2011 Icelandic financial crisis was one of the most significant economic and political events in the country’s history, caused by the collapse of all three of its large, privately owned commercial banks. This was caused by their inability to refinance their short-term debt and run-on deposits in the UK and the Netherlands. It is the largest systemic banking crisis yet, relative to the size of the country’s economy.

4

Central Saint Martins is the result of a merger between Central School of Art and Design and Saint Martins School of Art in 1989 and offers degrees in a wide range of creative subjects. See Disegno No.2 pp62-73.

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7 The pre-eminence of Scandinavian design, primarily from Sweden, Denmark and Finland, was established in the 1950s, when it emerged as a globally recognised brand through several state-funded exhibitions and publications.

The Milan Triennale was established in 1930. The 1951 edition, The Form Of The Useful, was a significant event in establishing Scandinavian design. Finnish products won the majority of prizes, and Scandinavian products in general related perfectly to the theme, with their pared-down aesthetic and natural materials.

8

Gunnar Magnússon (b. 1933) is a pioneer in furniture design in Iceland, and has completed several projects for banks, private homes, and commercial institutions in Iceland.

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10 The European Free Trade Association (EFTA) was established in 1960 between a group known as the “Outer 7” (Austria, Norway, Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, Portugal, and the UK). It was an alternative trade bloc to the European Economic Community (West Germany, France, Italy, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands), which has evolved into the European Union. The current EFTA is between Norway, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Iceland.

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> closure in 2005, the factory was the village’s main employer, and in its absence Stöðvarfjörður’s population has dwindled to around 200 people. Now, a lone fishing boat remains moored outside in the harbour. The factory’s restoration falls under the umbrella of MAKE by Þorpið and, in spring 2011, 15 design MA students from London’s Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design5 were invited to join the project. “It’s an interesting time for design in Iceland,” says Anne Odling-Smee, a lecturer at Central Saint Martins who led the students in Iceland. “A lot of design students in London are so saturated with the aesthetic of design that they’ve lost touch with the medium’s practical side. But Iceland is a real eye-opener; everything is focused on the community and applying design to practical contexts.”

That Iceland may now have something to offer international design is a significant development for a nation whose primary export in the 20th century was fishing. When Iceland gained independence from Denmark in 19446, the country’s Labour government invested in new fishing boats, tanning industries and sheep farming. By contrast, its neighbours from across the Nordic region invested state funds into developing and promoting their emerging design industries internationally.7 The Domus review of the 1951 Milan Triennale8 carried 14 pages of Finnish design to cover the multiple awards Finnish designers had received during the exhibition. At that time, Iceland did not have a word in its language for “design”. As the majority of goods were imported, there was little need for one. In spite of this, a small-scale Icelandic furniture industry was able to develop in the 1950s and 60s, thanks largely to the country’s remote location in the North Atlantic Ocean. Iceland’s main airport is Keflavik, a facility built by the US Air Force during the Second World War, yet as late as the 1960s the primary route from mainland Europe to Iceland was a four-day journey by sea. In these conditions of partial isolation, limited competition from European design brands allowed Icelandic furniture manufacturers to gain a foothold on the island in the mid to late 1950s. At this time, the term “Hönnun”, Icelandic for design, began to emerge, coinciding with the country’s first steps towards industrial production.

“During this period, we had a strong industry, good machinery and workshops and the import taxes kept things competitive,” says Tinna Gunnarsdóttir, an Icelandic designer and the daughter of Gunnar Magnússon9, one of the country’s most successful furniture designers. But in 1970, Iceland joined the European Free Trade Association10, a trade bloc that removed trading restrictions between member nations, and the results proved disastrous for local industry. “When the taxes were removed everyone wanted Italian leather sofas and our furniture industry collapsed,” says Gunnarsdóttir. The collapse was exacerbated by an existing trend in Iceland: a lack of students of design. During the 1950s and 60s opportunities to study design in Iceland were non-existent, forcing prospective students to travel to either Denmark to study furniture design or Finland for glass and ceramics. Even today, many students choose to learn abroad. “It’s the Icelandic way,” says Gunnarsdóttir, herself a graduate of the Domus Academy in Milan.11

There are, however, signs that the trend is changing. In 1998, the Iceland Academy of the Arts in Reykjavik was founded12, establishing a domestic institute where students can study design. Gunnarsdóttir leads the institute’s product design department and, since introducing a masters course in design in 2012, its international profile has risen quickly, welcoming visiting tutors such as Dutch designer Jurgen Bey13 and German designer Julia Lohmann.14 Yet, in spite of this international reputation, the academy retains a domestic focus. In recent years the school has launched a series of projects forging links with local industry, most notably Designers and Farmers, a four-year initiative begun in 2007 that was inspired in part by the Icelandic author Andri Snaer Magnason.15 >

PHOTO Vigfús Birgisson (right)

Iceland gained independence from Denmark as a result of the Danish-Icelandic Act of Union expiring on 31 December 1943, after 25 years. Citizens voted over a four-day referendum, resulting in 97 per cent in favour of ending the union with Denmark, and 95 per cent in favour of abolishing the monarchy and instituting the new republican constitution. Iceland formally became an independent republic on 17 June 1944, with Sveinn Björnsson as its first president.

6

The shelf or cabinet is made by a local craftsman in Vopnafjörður (left). A local holding a Prik (stick) designed and made by Brynjar Sigurðarson during recent visit to the area (right). Opposite page: Close-up of Brynjar Sigurðarson’s Prik.


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The village of Vopnafjรถrรฐur has 670 inhabitants. The houses in this picture are typical of the region.

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The needles that Brynjar Sigurรฐarson worked with for his Prik project. Below: Photo archiving is the most popular activity among retired people in Vopnafjรถrรฐur.

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“Some people say that it’s difficult to be a product designer in Iceland as there are few manufacturing companies and hardly any raw materials. But, in the end, this has turned out to be our advantage. It makes things more interesting.”

11 Founded in 1983, the Domus Academy integrates education and research – and foster cultural exchange and design criticism.

Founded through a merger between the Iceland Drama School and the The Icelandic School of Art and Crafts, the academy offers degrees in the visual arts, theatre, music, design, and architecture. It is known in Iceland as Listaháskóli Íslands.

12

Jurgen Bey (b. 1965) is a graduate of Design Academy Eindhoven. He founded Studio Makkink & Bey in 2002 along with architect Rianne Makkink.

13

Julia Lohmann (b. 1977) is a German multidisciplinary designer who graduated from the Royal College of Arts in 2004. She came to prominence with her Cow benches, modelled in leather on the bodies of cows.

14

15 Andri Snaer Magnason (b. 1973) has written books, essays, plays, poetry, and short stories. He is the vice-president of the Icelandic Writers’ Union and lives in Reykjavik.

Dreamland: A Self-Help Manual For A Frightened Nation (2006) takes the reader on a surreal trip through Iceland, with pit stops in Egypt, Jamaica, and Japan along the way. It received the Icelandic Literary Prize.

16

> “In his book Dreamland16, Magnason questioned why we can’t get really good locally sourced food while driving around the country,” says Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir, a professor of product design at the academy and one of the project leaders. “When we read this it seemed very simple, why not team up students with farmers?” The project encouraged designers to work with farmers to develop food products from local produce. “The biggest challenge was proving to the farmers’ community that the idea was worth considering and investing in,” says Sigurjónsdóttir.

The four farms selected to participate in the scheme included one in the highlands of Möðrudalur in Fjöll, 100km west of Egilsstaðir and 500m above sea level. There has been a farm at Möðrudalur for more than 900 years, playing into the project’s billing as a scheme uniting Iceland’s newest profession with one of its oldest. Working and living on the farms, the students learnt about the farmers’ daily routines and materials, while a business consultancy ensured that the ideas generated were economically viable. Two years after the project’s completion the resulting products – sticks of rhubarb caramel, skyr17 sweets, blackpudding cakes and rye-bread desserts – remain on sale in the farms and also in speciality shops around Reykjavik. The project has informed much of Sigurjónsdóttir’s subsequent work. In 2010, she opened Spark Design Space in Reykjavik, a design platform focused on collaborations between designers and other industries. “Some people say that it’s difficult to be a product designer in Iceland as there are few manufacturing companies and we have hardly any raw materials,” she says. “But, in the end, I think this has turned out to be our advantage. It makes things much more interesting.” This lack of raw materials is married to Iceland’s unusual geography. Much of the island’s interior is made up of tundra, lava fields and glaciers picked out with hot springs, volcanoes and geysers. “There’s so much vastness and in the winter it’s so dark because we’re so far north,” says Brynjar Sigurðarson, an Icelandic designer who graduated from Switzerland’s ECAL (École cantonale d’art de Lausanne)18 in 2011. “When you walk around in the wilderness you begin to sense something supernatural around you.”

This sense resonates in Iceland, a country where fables about the aforementioned Lagarfljótsormurinn worm, the Huldufólk of the Álagablettur19, and the giantess Grýla20 remain part of the culture. “The darkness and unspoiled nature feed into a culture of storytelling,” says Sigurðarson. In place of natural materials such as wood21 or iron, Iceland’s storytelling heritage has become the resource that drives Sigurðarson’s work. Prik – a 2012 series of sticks decorated >

17 A traditional Icelandic dairy product that is similar to strained yoghurt.

The ECAL University of Art and Design was founded in 1821 and offers bachelor and masters degrees in the visual arts, product and industrial design, and film.

18

Huldufólk are Iceland’s version of elves and fairies, magical creatures who live in Álagablettur, enchanted spots around the country.

19

Living in the Icelandic mountains, Grýla is said to descend at Christmas in search of naughty children to eat. Legends also describe Grýla as the mother of the Jólasveinarnir, 13 mythical figures who serve as the Icelandic equivalent of Father Christmas.

20

Iceland’s largest forest is Hallormsstaðarskógur. The forest’s larch colony was planted in the 1930s, one of the oldest in the country. The Viking Sagas document that large parts were covered with trees in the 12th century, but years of soil erosion caused by farming and deforestation mean a different landscape today. A desert now covers one third of the country.

21

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22 Whalebone is a traditional Icelandic material. Historically, the rib bones of fin whales were used to form structures for houses, while vertebrae were used as milking stools. 23 The oldest independent architecture school in the UK, the Architectural Association was established in 1848. It offers undergraduate diplomas and graduate degrees and is considered to be one of the most prestigious architecture schools in the world.

This research university specialises in postgraduate art and design degrees. Founded in 1837, it is world-renowned for its product and industrial design programmes.

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Above: A photograph on a wall of Vopnafjörður in summer. Opposite page: A shark drying shelter.

> with leaves, hooks, and float rings – explores the traditional use of sticks as tools and weapons on the island, and references Sigurðarson’s 2008 trip to Vopnafjörður, a rural village in the north east of Iceland. Yet Sigurðarson’s most complete adoption of Iceland’s heritage is Borgþór Sveinsson, a fictional documentary exhibited in 2012 as part of Design Parade 7 at Villa Noailles, in the south of France. The film and accompanying installation told the story of an Icelandic hermit’s quixotic lifelong hunt for a mythological creature. Sigurðarson’s approach is not uncommon. Katrín Ólína is an Icelandic designer who served as director of the Iceland Academy’s product design department between 2000 and 2004. Having worked in Hong Kong, London and Paris with designers such as Philippe Starck, Ross Lovegrove and Michael Young, Ólína returned to Iceland in 2007. “When I went abroad in 1989 to study, I didn’t have much idea what design was,” she says. “My interest was in the arts, but when I discovered design I thought that might be cooler because it involved production as well.”

Like Sigurðarson, Ólína’s design is informed by myth and saga. “If you have a factory working in steel or wood, the collaborative work between designers and that factory creates an identity,” she says. “But in Iceland, we don’t have that culture of production. Our identity, as a nation, lies in stories. It’s in our genes and that can be a great source for design as well as other creative disciplines.”

This story-driven and community-based work is being noticed abroad and as a result, several leading international design schools are organising projects in the country. Following Central Saint Martin’s to Stöðvarfjörður’s fish factory, Brynjar Sigurðarson visited the country in early 2013 with students from ECAL for a project to craft objects out of whalebone22 scavenged from Iceland’s beaches, the results of which will now go on display at Milan’s furniture fair in April. London’s Architectural Association23 and Royal College of Art24 have also joined the trend, both launching student-led projects in Iceland in 2012.

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The Royal College project was led by the French designer Nelly Ben Hayoun, and organised by MAKE and the Icelandic designer and Royal College graduate Thorunn Arnadottir. The scheme asked students to reimagine themselves as the fictional Bureau Odyssey, an adventuring design collective tasked with working with native Icelanders to create new forms of leisure activities – such as shark hunting in the East Iceland Borgarfjörður eystra fjord, or expanding Nauthólsvík, a man-made geothermal beach in Reykjavik. The notion of a proactive organisation working with local communities also chimed with Arnadottir’s wider attitude towards design. “People in Iceland are so open to the idea of working with a designer on new ideas,” she says. “Consumers are becoming more aware of the importance of holding on to local skills and small-scale production, as a part of a healthy economy, as well as being a part of an Icelandic identity.” >




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Covering an area of 103,001 sq/km, an estimate of the population in Iceland, as of February 2013, was 321,857 – of which 92 per cent were Icelandic, 2.83 per cent Polish, and 5.17 per cent from elsewhere. It has a population density of 3.1 per sq/km.

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26 One Icelandic Krona is equivalent to £0.005 or €0.006. 27 The Iceland Design Centre is funded by the Ministry of Education and Culture, and the Ministry of Industry, and was established in 2008 to raise awareness and understanding of design. It is host to the annual festival, DesignMarch.

While other Nordic countries have more established design industries, Iceland is demonstrating that it has a progressive attitude and the desire to establish its own legacy.

READING LIST Dreamland: A Self-Help Manual for a Frightened Nation by Andri Snær Magnason, Citizen Press, 2008. The Sagas of the Icelanders, edited by Örnólfur Thorsson, Penguin Books, 2005.

ABOUT THE PHOTOGRAPHS The images in this feature are from a project called The Curious Case of Vopnafjörður. Last winter Glamour Et cetera went searching for curious stories in a remote fjord on the edge of the arctic circle. The beauty of the mundane moments of life in Vopnafjörður inspired both Brynjar Sigurðarson’s and Thorunn Arnadottir in their design activities, and it’s authentic and humble daily life offers an interesting counterpart to the design community in Reykjavík. Follow the project here: thecuriouscase.is

> These international projects are matched by an increasing domestic awareness of design. Iceland’s design week, the annual DesignMarch event in Reykjavik, which this year took place on 14-17 March, was founded five years ago at the height of the country’s financial crisis. Yet despite its relatively recent creation, government-funded research suggests that 85 per cent of the country’s population is aware of the festival and around 30,000 people attend each year, roughly 10 per cent of Iceland’s population. This awareness is thanks in part to the small size of the country.25 “There are few of us here and it feels easier to do something and go for it,” says Sigurðarson. “In a small country it’s easy to speak to someone and get help. Everything is more local, so it’s hard for an idea to get lost.” This awareness has filtered upwards and a number of government funds and national grants are now available to designers. The Aurora Design Fund, overseen by the charitable Aurora Foundation, was initiated in 2009 to support designers with product development and marketing. Renewed in 2012, the fund is set to award 75m Ikr over the next three years and will soon be joined by an annual 45m Ikr26 government design fund. “Design is seen as a really positive area at the moment by the government,” says Halla Helgadóttir, managing director at the Iceland Design Centre in Reykjavik.27 “We’ve been working on the design policy for the government in Iceland for the past two years and handed in the document yesterday. It’s sitting on the minister’s desk now,” she says.

While other Nordic countries have more established design industries, Iceland is demonstrating that it has a progressive attitude and the desire to establish its own legacy. Rather than pursuing large-scale manufacturing, its focus remains rooted in Iceland’s storytelling tradition; its output geared towards local design projects such as MAKE by Þorpið and Sigríður Sigurjónsdóttir’s Designers and Farmers. While it is perhaps too soon to speak of an obviously identifiable Icelandic aesthetic, design is clearly in tune with local sentiment. There is an acknowledgement within Iceland that a wider cultural shift has taken place, in part a response to the seismic changes to the national economy. “The awareness of design in society has changed so much, any farmer you meet would know about that Designers and Farmers project,” says Sigurjónsdóttir. “When I graduated most people didn’t even know what a product designer was.”

Pete Collard is a curator at the Design Museum in London where he has most recently curated the Designs of the Year (7 March – 7 July 2013). Oli Stratford (see p. 12).

Glamour Et cetera is a creative agency made up of Viktor Sebastian and Karna Sigurðardóttir that produces documentary film as well as photographs.

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Equally excited and frightened, the children await the appearance of the Julelads, sons of Grýla. Below: A strong sense of place, along with a spirit of DIY inspires the locals in Vopnafjörður to collect, archive and make things - resulting in curious objects such as this, which was the source of Sigurðarson’s Prik.

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Tappeto di ruches A “carpet of ruffles”, the name of this couture technique describes how strips of tulle are sewn on to a base fabric to create a surface of tightly packed ruffles.

178 Disegno. Valentino’s glossary of couture




Valentino’s glossary of couture

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Forecast

Party Wall by CODA Every summer in New York, MoMA PS1 dedicates its outdoor courtyard to the winner of the Young Architects Programme. Behind the wall separating the museum from the street, or sometimes climbing above it, each installation created is unpredictable.

Photo coda

The competition, which has been running since 2000, calls for the design of a low-budget, temporary structure to support recreational activity in outdoor (read: hot) climates. >

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A model of the Party Wall temporary structure by CODA.

Party Wall

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based in Ithaca, New York, takes a theoretical approach to work, with recent projects that include a “self-consuming barbecue pavilion” in which the wooden walls of the structure are used over time to fuel the fire grill contained within. O’Donnell – who balances her job as principal of the CODA studio, with being assistant professor of architecture at Cornell University, and chief editor of the school’s Journal of Architecture – describes her research process: “For Party Wall, we wanted to have a facade that was reactive, and

“We always say architecture is ‘legible’. Just as you can read a painting or music.”

Caroline O’Donnell (right) in CODA’s Ithaca studio.

on an east-west axis, the structure stands tall enough to create a large shadow as the sun moves across the sky, and most optimally, at midday. “We began to ask, ‘How can we make a shade without using a canopy?’” says CODA founder Caroline O’Donnell. “We realised that a wall had never been done before, so that was the first gesture we created. The rest of it is really just slight shifts of posture, moving that original concept.” CODA, an experimental design and research studio

182 Disegno. Party Wall

could change according to different functions. Originally, we had considered making a wall of chairs, but realised that in order to meet the budget, we would have to use cheap plastic chairs that are in no way environmentally friendly.” So, O’Donnell and her team went back to the drawing board and focused their research on alternate materials. The structure’s porous, modular outside wall came about through a fortuitous discovery of wooden offcuts – colloquially referred to as “bones” – from Comet Skateboards, an eco-friendly, Ithaca-based manufacturer. Aside from reducing wind resistance, the skeletal, patterned details formed by the interlinking of these repurposed offcuts allows for transparency through the structure. At night, the wall reveals an illuminated glow from water-filled ballasts, which are lit up at sundown for evening events. Seen from further away, the wall’s

flattened, rectangular exterior fits into the neighbourhood’s larger visual landscape of billboards. Just around the corner from MoMA PS1 is 5 Pointz, one of the largest graffiticovered buildings in Long Island City, and a beacon to its heritage of urban street culture. From the street-side, the Party Wall facade appears to be a standard example of patterned, digital fabrication, or parametric design – a signifier of innovation and forwardthinking technology – but up close, the lower “bones” detach to transform into modular seating, for use in the many configurable interior programming spaces that the structure creates and bisects. Summarising her approach as a three-part consideration of contexts – the visible, invisible, and historical – O’Donnell, who is also writing a book about her practice, states architectural literacy as one of her main goals in both her teaching and work. “We always say architecture is ‘legible’. Just as you can read a painting, or the way a piece of music communicates. Architecture has, or at least should have, the ability to do the same. If it can say something, what is it that it says?” She partially answers her rhetorical question when referring back to a detail about Party Wall’s location and positioning. The patterns between the offcuts will serve to provide an additional, hidden subtext, she explains. Designed for optimal viewing just after noon, on the last day of August when the hot summer sun shines at its final peak, the wall will cast a shadow with a special message on the ground. “You can figure it out if you’re prepared to do a little work in your mind,” she says. “That effort makes you much more engaged with the architecture and activates it, rather than blending into the background so that you don’t even notice it is there.” It is this concern for creating an active, reactionary dialogue with a site that runs central to CODA’s practice, but also a willingness to subvert conventional expectations: ironically, the studio’s next big project involves designing a house with no pre-determined site. “When we got this offer, I thought, ‘No way’. Given how adamant I am about the way we work, it’s an impossible job,” says O’Donnell. “But then, I thought, ‘Maybe we should see this as a challenge to work around.’”

Party Wall opens at PS1 MoMA in summer 2013 Aileen Kwun is communications director of design studio Project Projects and a founding partner of Superscript, a consultancy specialising in strategic content development for designers and architects.

Photo (left) william r staffeld

Forecast

> The brief has expanded significantly in recent years to include a sustainable approach, sensitivity to materials, and multiple configurations that may be adapted to different programming uses. These guidelines have inspired winning entrants to create a lattice of bendy PVC pipes, bungee nets, and beach balls (Pole Dance by SO-IL, 2010); a self-watering, urban farming system made of elevated cardboard tubes (Public Farm 1 by WORKac, 2008), and an electric blue, pollutant-eating, spiked structure that straddled the concrete wall (last year’s Wendy by HWKN). More often than not, however, entries have tended to implement a variety of canopy to fulfill requirement number one: to give us shade. This year’s winning entry, Party Wall, designed by CODA, turns that inclination on its head – or at least its side – with the bold gesture of a vertical structure. However, Party Wall ingeniously provides as much shade as the average canopy. Situated roughly


Book Now

Richard Rogers Inside Out

RA

18 July–13 October 2013 www.royalacademy.org.uk Friends of the RA go free Burlington Gardens


Forecast

Culture of Baking Cakes are a huge deal in Portugal. With a patisserie on almost every street corner, these products are embedded in daily life. Most of the population have a favourite cake, know the best place to find it and even have their own technique for eating it. In the book Fabrico Próprio, first published in 2008, Frederico Duarte, Rita João, and Pedro Ferreira compiled a comprehensive survey of everyday cakes. But this is not just

cakes are identified. So why the need to introduce more? “It’s about promoting change in Portuguese confectionery,” says Duarte. The current selection is looking uninspired and outdated, offering rare opportunity for novelty. This is especially felt by pastry students and professionals, who don’t see everyday confectionery as an interesting field to explore.

as display, packaging, and consumption (literally, in the case of cakes). The development of new recipes began during a two-day workshop in 2008, when professionals from different disciplines – journalism, design and pastry cookery – gathered to talk about cakes. The discussions provided valuable guidelines that Fabrico Próprio’s trio, in collaboration with master baker Paulo Santos, are now developing into seven new cakes. One of the ideas suggested during the workshop was to develop a cake that encouraged sharing while eating. This concept came to fruition in “espetada” (skewer), in which all the elements of the cake are divided into sections on a kebab-style skewer, also enabling easy customisation. The proposal of a savoury cake, something that doesn’t currently exist on the patisserie shelves, resulted in “libertina” (libertine), composed of puff pastry dough combined with cheese

a book about sweet treats. Subtitled “The Design Of Portuguese Semi-Industrial Confectionery”, it looks at the stories behind the cakes and their wider context as a national product. After a sold-out first edition, the second version hit the bookshelves last summer with additional content, and now the project is expanding beyond the book. One such initiative is the development of new cake recipes that the authors hope will be introduced in Portuguese patisseries. In the second edition of Fabrico Próprio – which translates as “Own Production”, an expression used on patisserie signs, windows and packaging – 92 different 184 Disegno. culture of baking

“If you compare designers with pastry chefs, when leaving school a designer wants to make spectacular things, and a pastry chef wants to stand out by making wedding cakes and sugar constructions,” says Duarte. The book makes parallels between the methods of designing and producing a cake and a typical industrial product. In both cases, phases such as design, testing, and production are all part of the life cycle, as well

and marmalade. Another proposal involved the use of suggestive names such as “pagode” (pagoda) and “vulcão” (volcano) as starting points, with the shape and content of the cakes developed in response. “Finger mil-folhas” (finger mille-feuille) adapts an existing cake, reinterpreting its original format to make it easier to take a bite without making a mess. “Castelo” (castle) is a more complex recipe for which a new cast is

Photo Rita João

The book makes parallels between the methods of designing and producing a cake.


The new skewer cake designed for sharing is called Espetada.

For 99 per cent of the cakes sold in Portugal, no authorship is credited. still under development. The goal is to achieve a pastry with plenty of crunchy parts. The much simpler “papiro” (papyrus) can be made with limited resources, as no industrial machinery is needed in its production. “Our recipes are open to new interpretations,” says João. “We want to provide a basis from which pastry chefs and students can adapt. Our goal is to inspire them to apply their skills to this specific kind of confectionery.” The trio is preparing a tour around

Portugal’s hospitality and catering schools to reach confectionary students and let them know about the new recipes. The existing cakes outlined in Fabrico Próprio are made from ingredients such as flour, water, eggs, butter, and sugar, and have no relationship with the places in which they are produced. In response to this, unfamiliar ingredients have been introduced for the new recipes, such as carob flour and fresh fruit, maximising local and seasonal produce. “If these cakes are made fresh every day why not use fresh fruit from the season?” asks Ferreira. One of the things Duarte, João and Ferreira learned from this project is that for 99 per cent of the cakes sold in Portugal, no authorship is credited. So the recipes proposed by Fabrico Próprio are “opensource”, with the hope that they might trigger chefs to appropriate them, reinterpret them, invent their own, and bring a bit of surprise to the country’s patisseries.

Cakes developed with Paulo Santos include Pagode (far left) and Vulcão (left).

For more information, visit fabricoproprio.net. Inês Revés lives in her hometown of Lisbon, where she writes about design and architecture

culture of baking

Disegno. 185


Fixperts is an online platform that invites designers to solve everyday problems in people’s lives. Each Fixperts project is different; its participating designers have, for instance, created a device to help a partially sighted woman thread a needle; improved an auto-injector syringe used to treat anaphylactic shock; and outfitted a cramped Polish kitchen with space-saving devices. The solutions are rough and ready – cheap, smart hacks instead of polished products – each buying into the same ideal: design can, and should, make a social contribution. Fixperts was founded in late 2012 by Daniel Charny, design curator and former industrial designer, and James Carrigan, co-founder of self-setting rubber brand Sugru. The project has no office, no funding beyond Charny and Carrigan themselves, and only runs thanks to the time and effort of volunteers. Hence its founders are meeting at the British library café in London, sitting by the coffee machines at a table just large enough for a laptop and two mugs. “It’s not a company or an organisation,” says Charny. “It’s an idea. Our motivation is to shift how people perceive design.” Carrigan and Charny devised Fixperts as a way to separate design from the world of expensive technologies and high-profile brands, recasting it as a form of basic problem solving. “Fixing removes a lot of the contemporary design distractions,” says Carrigan. “When you’re fixing, it’s about engagement, understanding, solving and iteration.” The platform is now growing, with more than 25 fixes completed and plans to expand internationally to Serbia, Belgium, Spain, and the US. Part of the reason for Fixperts’ success is its simplicity. Each fix consists of two or three meetings in which a designer identifies a problem in someone’s life. They then prototype an affordable solution, before posting a video online to document the process. Carrigan and Charny estimate that each fix, from start to finish, should take little more than five hours. Carrigan’s assessment of Fixperts’ appeal is blunt: “Solving a problem for £5 in a couple of hours makes sense. You can’t argue with that; there’s no contradiction there.” Those helped by Fixperts are typically people found through word of mouth or by chance meetings, and their needs vary – from those with disabilities who require assistance with the demands of their condition, to those who merely need an effective draught excluder for their apartment. One Fixperts designer developed a carrying case for a respirator that can be Velcroed to the bikes of London’s cycling paramedics. The first Fixperts project, undertaken by Carrigan, was an archetypal one. Contacted on behalf of a girl named Foridha, who is

186 Disegno. the fix

September 2012. “Ami would spend every morning in a café in Tel Aviv, so people knew where to find him,” says Charny. “People would come up to his table and he would fix things for them – little things that needed soldering or mending. When he died, hundreds of people showed up to his funeral that his family didn’t know. He is the spirit of Fixperts.” The project went through a pilot phase at design schools like Kingston University and Brunel University in the UK and Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts in Poland, and is now being rolled out to organisations and the wider public. The creative agency Imagination has just completed a fix and Charny is about to go to South Africa and Design Indaba in Cape Town to introduce Fixpert to a country that look at fixes in a very different way to Europe. “There, the

“It’s not a company or an organisation. It’s an idea. Our motivation is to shift how people perceive design.” shop in Islington, London – and Instructables, a website where users upload step-bystep guides to DIY design projects. Yet Fixperts has contributed something new to the movement: a complete focus on video as a medium for sharing designers’ work. “Video demystifies design and shows it in a format where it’s easy to consume,” says Carrigan. “Seeing a designer work, and sometimes fail, makes design more accessible.” This commitment to accessibility runs throughout Fixperts. “The biggest issue that prevents people from making on their own is confidence,” says Charny. “What Fixperts does is provide access to something that may seem very remote.” It aims to democratise design, and at the project’s core is the belief that a branded product might be outperformed by something assembled in a back room from baking foil, wooden offcuts or foam. It is an attitude inherited from Fixperts’ inspiration: the Israeli designer Ami Drach, who died in

culture of fixing is part of people’s lives,” says Charny. “You don’t need to convince people to think like that, they already do. So what is Fixperts relationship with a place like that? Telling the story of those fixes, showing the ingenuity behind them and learning from them is the fix.” Charny and Carrigan hope that Fixperts’ legacy will be a reexamination of design’s role in society. “We live in a First World country and I personally feel a little bit of disenchantment with design,” says Carrigan, almost drowned out by the hiss of the café’s milk frother. “Most design problems aren’t really problems any more; most things a designer does are irrelevant in six months’s time. But fixing lets you get closer to real needs and to real people. You don’t spend your time asking yourself, ‘How smooth is that surface?’ or, ‘How shiny is that box?’ It’s life-changing.”

To find out more, visit: fixperts.org; instructables.com; brightsparksonline.com. Oli Stratford (see p. 12)

Photo Ben Quinton

Forecast

The Fix

confined to a wheelchair because of a muscular disability, Carrigan was asked to fix a snapped joystick control on her chair. Using canary yellow Sugru and stick-on gems for decoration, he devised a more robust, tactile joystick for her. The project embodied the kind of simple, hands-on solution that Fixperts celebrates. “Something that was easy for me was a challenge for Foridha, her minders, her educators, and family,” says Carrigan. “It was about connecting someone who can do something quite naturally with people who may not have that approach.” Fixperts’ approach is part of the wider maker movement, a trend geared towards encouraging grassroots participation in design. As the founders point out, it follows in the footsteps of older groups such as Bright Sparks – a community electrical repair


James Carrigan (left) and Daniel Charny are the founders of online platform Fixperts.

the fix

Disegno. 187


Few people could have predicted the scale of the success of the video game, Minecraft. It wasn’t the first to create a world made of blocks, nor was it the first to give people the opportunity to collaborate online on building things in its world. But since its alpha early version in 2009, and especially after its full release in 2011, Minecraft has become a pop-cultural phenomenon, with one of the most loyal of online communities. Now, a new project by Minecraft’s designer, the Stockholm-based game studio Mojang, is using this community to effect change in the real world. Mojang is collaborating with UN-Habitat, the United Nations’ agency for human settlement on a project called Block by

Block, using the game as a tool to help urban planning in slums across the world. The project harnesses the skill and creativity of Minecraft’s online community to model public spaces that need change and enhancement, using the game’s blocky idiom to consult with residents who have no experience of formal architectural processes. The pilot project is the rehabilitation of a playground in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, Kenya. “The premise is that we want the urban youth in an area to have a say in the public space,” says Lydia Winters, Mojang’s director of fun. “When you play Minecraft, you open up the game and you’re in a randomly generated world – you could be in a forest, or an ocean, whatever. But there’s a way that you can build a map and install it into the game itself. So we talked to some of our community members in the UK, incredible builders with no architectural background, and I said to them: ‘Hey guys, if I send you pictures of this sports field in Kibera, the largest slum in Kenya, can you create this field in the game?’” The result is a strikingly realistic representation of the space, but one composed out of blocks.

188 Disegno. Block by Block

It has already been used as a consultation tool – the architects’ designs for the space can be built in the Minecraft model in a way that’s useful without being prescriptive. Mojang chief

we flew around in the model, eyes lit up in the room – you’re able to walk through it, and it’s at the right scale – the eye level is at the height of an average-sized person, so when you’re walking

operating officer Vu Bui adds: “I went to Nairobi and we presented the new designs in Minecraft to the Nairobi city council, NGOs, and the community members. When

through a door you can see what the view would be.” Minecraft’s block style and comprehensible scale (each block is 1m x 1m in the game) makes it a powerful tool.

Photos of office: Kristoffer rozental, photos from nairobi: Vu Bui

Forecast Introduction of Block by Block in Nairobi (top). The Stockholm offices of Mojang (middle). Images from the trip to Nairobi (bottom and opposite).

Block by Block




This is just the beginning of the project, and Bui says that around 300 projects are planned by 2016 for Ethiopia, Vietnam, Brazil, and elsewhere, many much smaller than the Kibera sports field. The company has committed money to Block by Block (made possible by the huge sales of Minecraft worldwide – more than 20 million copies of the game have been sold so far, at somewhere between £5 and £20 a pop), but what is perhaps more important is how, for the first time, a gaming community’s energy and obsessive creativity is being harnessed and applied to the real world. I first played Minecraft in 2010, when it was still in alpha, in its early, single-

sand, blocks of dirt, blocks of stone. Trees made out of blocks of wood and blocks of leaves. It’s like a lowresolution Lego world. In this version of the game, all seems serene: a watery sun is rising, a verdant landscape stretches out on all sides. No one else is around; the world is seemingly infinite. Music drifts in and out: a romantic, minimal

When we flew around in the model, eyes lit up in the room. player version, and despite wearing its influences on its sleeve, it was an experience like no other in gaming. You arrive in a world that is made entirely of blocks: blocks of

synthesised piano music that makes Minecraft a solitary, dream-like world. The game, in its single player version (called Survival mode), is simply

about staying alive, a kind of romantic survivalism. You have the game’s daylight hours to collect materials and build first a shelter and then tools for yourself. If you are caught outside at night, you find a host of monsters harassing you, trying to destroy you and the things you have built. It is a strange and beautiful world. But this was just one dimension of the game. It was in “Creative” mode where Minecraft began to inspire its following that can only be described as obsessive. This mode allows the player to freely move around the world of Minecraft and to build anything they like without threats from monsters and the like. Minecraft is no longer a game in any goal-orientated or competitive sense, but a virtual construction sandbox without set objectives. Despite its stellar numbers, Mojang still considers itself an ‘indie’ (an independent games studio free of the Hollywood-scale studio system that dominates mainstream games), and that is also the root of the >

Block by Block

Disegno. 189


Scenes from Nairobi, Kenya, where the first Block by Block project aims to rehabilitate a playground.

> loyalty it inspires. Mojang takes care of its community, and involves it at every update of the game. The Minecraft scene on Youtube is worth checking out to understand the scale of the engagement. It was at the end of 2011 that Minecraft was first used to break out of this online world. Mojang allowed Minecraft to be used as a tool for consulting young people about the future of their real, physical environment in real places in Sweden. The Mina Kvarter (My Blocks) project was initiated by the Swedish housing association Svensk Byggtjänst, who used the game to visualise, in Minecraft’s blocky way, public spaces at the heart of troublesome modernist estates in need of improvement. Svensk Byggtjänst made models of the spaces in Minecraft and experimented with how proposed changes might affect the people living nearby. The game made the process accessible, using a medium that young people could understand. Instead of expecting the public to decode architects’

190 Disegno. Block by Block

drawings, the architects involved used the game to bridge a communication gap. Mojang was not heavily involved in these projects, but their success has inspired the company to this new collaboration with UNHabitat. The game’s virtue in

fill in the gaps. This is what makes it a relevant tool for conversations about the city. The world of Minecraft may be abstract and toy-like, but it has a real scale, a sun that rises and sets, weather, and a human first-person perspective. That simple

This is what makes it a relevant tool for conversations about the city. this context is precisely its lack of realism. It is one of the most beautiful, and endlessly adaptable, games in the history of video games. But it uses a simple, pixelated aesthetic that is vague enough as a visual language to allow your imagination to

equation is transforming a community of millions of gamers into a new kind of design tool.

Kieran Long is a senior curator at the Victoria and Albert museum and the architecture critic of the London Evening Standard newspaper.


Design Picnics July–September 2013

This summer join us for a series of six events about food and design at Somerset House. Coinciding with the exhibition about celebrated chef, Ferran AdriĂ and his Barcelona restaurant elBulli, the programme includes talks and workshops that look at the role of design in the creation, display and consumption of food. disegnodaily.com/designpicnics somersethouse.org.uk


Index

1ST DIBS 1stdibs.com

AA PUBLICATIONS aaschool.ac.uk/publications ALESSI alessi.com

ALEXANDER MCQUEEN alexandermcqueen.co.uk THE ARAM GALLERY thearamgallery.org

ARTEK artek.fi

ARTEMIDE artemide.com

BENCHMARK benchmarkfurniture.com BENJAMIN LIGNEL benjaminlignel.com

BRYNJAR SIGURÐARSON biano.is

cappeLlini cappellini.com

CAROLINE VAN HOEK carolinevanhoek.be CASSINA cassina.com

CHI HA PAURA...? chihapaura.com CLETO MUNARI cletomunari.com

COLLECT craftscouncil.org.uk

DENT DE LEONE dentdeleone.co.nz DESIGN MIAMI designmiami.com DROOG droog.com

DURALEX duralex.com DURAVIT duravit.com

ESTABLISHED & SONS establishedandsons.com E15 e15.com

Emeco emeco.net

ERWAN AND RONAN BOUROULLEC bouroullec.com

192 Disegno. index

FABRICO PROPRIO fabricoproprio.net

FEDRIGONI fedrigoni.com

FERNANDO & HUMBERTO CAMPANA campanas.com.br FIXPERTS fixperts.org FLOS flos.com

Galerie kreo galeriekreo.com GESTALTEN gestalten.com GUBI gubi.dk

GYOKUSENDO web.gyokusendo.com HABITAT habitat.co.uk

HASSELBLAD hasselblad.com HAY hayshop.dk

HERMAN MILLER hermanmiller.com

IITTALA iittala.com

INDUSTRIAL FACILITY industrialfacility.co.uk IRIS VAN HERPEN irisvanherpen.com

JAPAN CREATIVE japancreative.jp

JAPAN HANDMADE japan-handmade.com

KARIMOKU NEW STANDARD karimoku-newstandard.jp KARTELL kartell.com

KANAAMI-TSUJI kanaamitsuji.com

KONSTANTIN GRCIC konstantin-grcic.com LIGNE ROSET ligne-roset.com

MAHARAM maharam.com

MAKE weseebeauty.com/make MAKE BY ÞORPIÐ make.is MOJANG mojang.com

MOLTENI & C molteni.it MOMA PS1 momaps1.org MOooi moooi.com

PALL MALL uk.phaidon.com/store/pall-mall PANTHEON BOOKS pantheon.knopfdoubleday.com PHAIDON phaidon.com PICADOR picador.com

ROCHE BOBOIS roche-bobois.com ROCKET rocketgallery.com

ROLI weareroli.com

ROYAL ACADEMY royalacademy.org.uk

SAINT LAURENT ysl.com Saskia Diez saskia-diez.com

SCHEIDEGGER & SPIESS scheidegger-spiess.ch SCHOLTEN & BAIJINGS scholtenbaijings.com SIMONE BREWSTER simonebrewster.co.uk SOMERSET HOUSE somersethouse.org.uk

SPARK DESIGN SPACE sparkdesignspace.com STUDIO SWINE studioswine.com

STUDIO TOOGOOD studiotoogood.com

TASCHEN taschen.com

THAMES & HUDSON thamesandhudson.com TOTO GALLERY toto.co.jp

V&A PUBLISHING vandashop.com VALENTINO valentino.com

YAMAHA yamaha.com


PHOTO arthur arkin, retouching stuart beatty

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The Culture of Design

Block by Block Four Freedoms Park Hedi Slimane Valentino 21st-century Japonisme Design & Jewellery Established & Sons Fixperts Faye Toogood Iris van Herpen Parrish Art Museum The Seaboard CODA

Time for a change

16

War paint

Faye Toogood designs make-up

20

Selected Reading

Kengo Kuma’s list of must-reads

22

Four Freedoms Park

Louis Kahn’s design took 40 years to complete

26

end of an era

An analysis of the changes at Established & Sons

30

Come Again?

A look at the phenomenon of furniture re-editions

36

Anatomy of a Press trip

A dissection of this design journalism staple

41

valentino's Glossary of Couture

A detailed view of the house's fashion samples

44

Iris van Herpen

Is she the future of haute couture?

56

The Seaboard

A new silicon-crafted synthesiser

70

180

Party Wall by CODA

An introduction to the winners of MoMA PS1’s Young Architects Programme

184

The Culture of Baking

A sampling of new Portugese cakes designed by the team behind Fabrico Próprio

186

The Fix

Solutions generated by design problem-solvers Fixperts

Parrish Art Museum

188

92

Game-developer Mojang’s initiative with UN-Habitat

191

A strained relationship?

Disegno’s summer salon programme

A museum by Herzog & de Meuron with interiors by Konstantin Grcic

Design and Jewellery

112

anthology

Hedi Slimane captures the late Yves Saint Laurent’s apartment

132

21st-Century Japonisme

The recent trend of Japanese craft in contemporary design

144

Architecture as Image

The historical relationship between architecture and image

150

INTERIORS

Donald Milne’s series of abandoned multistoreys in Dundee

164

Iceland Emerges

An investigation into the developing design culture of Iceland UK £12 EU €15 US $25

Forecast

Introduction

Features

No.4

Exposé

Disegno.

Disegno.

10

Block by Block

Designer Picnics

192

Index

People and brands in this issue

No.4 S/S 2013

Profile for Disegno

Disegno #4  

War paint with Faye Toogood • Kengo Kuma’s reading list • The development of Louis Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park • A turning point for Establish...

Disegno #4  

War paint with Faye Toogood • Kengo Kuma’s reading list • The development of Louis Kahn’s Four Freedoms Park • A turning point for Establish...