Central Saint Martins Craft Fetishism Paulo David K2S Architects Tadashi Kawamata New Domestic Landscapes Harri Koskinen Look, Animals! Murray Moss Miuccia Prada Palmer Harding Elsa Schiaparelli Giambattista Valli Inga SempĂŠ
Design Miami/ Basel The Global Forum for Design 12.–17. June 2012 Featuring the leading galleries presenting 20th and 21st century collectible design Hall 5/ Messe Basel/ Switzerland designmiami.com
Caroline Van Hoek, Brussels/ Carpenters Workshop Galler y, London & Paris/ Cristina Grajales Galler y, New York / Dansk Møbelkunst Galler y, Copenhagen & Paris/ Demisch Danant, New York / Didier Ltd, London/ Dilmos Milano, Milan/ Franck Laigneau, Paris/ Gabrielle Ammann // Galler y, Cologne/ Galerie Anne-Sophie Duval, Paris/ Galerie BSL, Paris/ Galerie Chastel-Maréchal, Paris/ Galerie Downtown – François Laf fanour, Paris/ Galerie Dutko, Paris/ Galerie Eric Philippe, Paris/ Galerie Jacques Lacoste, Paris/ Galerie kreo, Paris/ Galerie Maria Wettergren, Paris/ Galerie Patrick Seguin, Paris/ Galerie Perrin, Paris/ Galerie Ulrich Fiedler, Berlin/ Galleria O., Rome/ Galler y Libby Sellers, London/ Galler y SEOMI, Seoul/ Heritage Galler y, Moscow/ Hostler Burrows, New York / Jacksons, Stockholm & Berlin/ Jousse Entreprise, Paris/ Nilufar Galler y, Milan/ Ornamentum, Hudson/ Pierre Marie Giraud, Brussels/ Priveekollektie Contemporar y Ar t | Design, Heusden/ R 20th Centur y, New York / Salon 94, New York / Todd Merrill Twentieth Centur y, New York /
Design On/Site Antonella Villanova, Florence/ presenting Manfred Bischof f Armel Soyer, Paris/ presenting Pierre Gonalons Erastudio Apar tment-Galler y, Milan/ presenting Vincenzo De Cotiis Granville Galler y, Paris/ presenting Matali Crasset Victor Hunt Designar t Dealer, Brussels/ presenting Humans Since 1982 Maria Pergay, Ring Chair, 1968/ Image cour tesy of Demisch Danant
Plug Lamp Plug Lamp is the latest product by the design studio Form Us With Love for ateljé Lyktan and it does exactly what its name suggests. “This was a really simple idea,” says John Löfgren. “We wanted to create a lamp with the added bonus of an electrical socket.” Plug Lamp has a powder-coated cast aluminium base which supports a bulbous shade in frosted glass. The socket sits centrally on the base. Plug Lamp comes in a variety of colours, from a bright turquoise and a letterbox red, to more muted tones of black, white and grey. Read more at www.atelje-lyktan.se
M E M B E R O F T H E FA G E R H U LT G R O U P
Win a Plug Lamp byAteljé Lyktan The Plug Lamp is a new design by Stockholm-based studio Form Us With Love for Swedish lighting manufacturer Ateljé Lyktan. For your chance to win one of three lamps, simply sign up for the Disegno newsletter online by 1 June 2012. We will pick three winners shortly after that. disegnomagazine.com
Disegno. PROMOTION WITH ATELJÉ LYKTAN
PROMOTION WITH ATELJÃ‰ LYKTAN
ILLUSTRATION FRANÇOIS DUMAS
We featured an illustration in Disegno No.1 by Francois Dumas, but we never said what it was. It looked a little like this and it’s from the same series of water colours – Anemones. Dumas is a French designer based in Amsterdam where he recently launched the art and design collective Krux.
“And you think this is a good time to start a new magazine?” The question was at once inquisitive and hostile, posed as it was by a sales manager of another magazine while lea�ing through the �irst issue of Disegno. Insinuating arrogance or idiocy on my part, it was infuriating, even more so as we were stuck in traf�ic on a bus ferrying �ournalists from the wilderness of a trade fair into civilisation and there was nowhere to go. When is it ever a good time to start anything? The answer is simple. When you’re ready. Even if �inancial concerns are always a worry for new ventures, it’s never a good idea for those concerns to overshadow creativity and originality. At least, not if you are willing to work hard. Maybe that was why, a few weeks later, I was called a Bohemian by architect Emilio Ambasz, the curator of Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, that opened 40 years ago at MoMA. In this issue, we look at its legacy and the myth surrounding it in the history of design exhibitions. Interestingly, it was precisely that exhibition which cemented the reputation of Italian manufacturers at the forefront of furniture innovation and production. And it is these very same brands that now, in this prolonged recession, often �ind themselves turning their backs on innovation and sticking to safer best-sellers and re-editions of design classics. In light of this, we look at �ive new furniture producers that are more than likely going to have to answer similar questions to the one I was asked. We have avoided this by instead opting to understand their motivations for why and how they intend to execute their ideas and in what way they think they will make a difference in the 21st landscape of design. A similar stubbornness to stick to their guns can be sensed in other people featuring in this issue – French designer Inga Sempé, Portugese architect Paulo David, Italian fashion designers Miuccia Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli. They are no strangers to controversy and it’s as if they could all share in a motto we believe strongly in: “I want to be – therefore I am”. EDITOR-IN-CHIEF
Johanna Agerman Ross
No.2 S/S 2012
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The cover illustration is by Ettore Sottsass, courtesy of the Ettore Sottsass archive. It’s an illustration of his environment in the 1972 exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape at MoMA (p. 76). CONTACT US
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Hanna Nova Beatrice, Andrew Bolton, Bengt Brümmer, Pete Collard, Pedro Gadanho, Konstantin Grcic, Alexandra Lange, Magnus Larsson, Madelaine Levy, Justin McGuirk, Kristina Rapacki, Johanna Agerman Ross, Constance Rubini, Inga Sempé, Brett Steele. PHOTOS BY
Arthur Arkin, Iwan Baan, Cecil Beaton, Tim Bies, Thomas Brown, Paulo Catrica, Alexis Dahan, André Durst, Ignazia Favata, Fernando Guerra, Guido Harari, Horst Horst, George Hoyningen-Huené, Ricardo Jardim, Andrea Johnson, Lambert Kamps, Petr Krecji, Veikko Kähkönen, Gabby Laurent, Léa Longis, Gareth McConnell, Duane Nasis, Olivier Pasqual, Toby McFarland Pond, Man Ray, Linus Ricard, Anna Schori, Fabrice Seixas, Will Shannon, David Sims, Hiromi Yokoi. THANK YOU
To all of our new subscribers, your support is crucial at this time in Disegno’s life. Thank you also for the help and encouragement from Marcus Agerman Ross, Per Agerman, Jon and Tea Pollock, Fredrik Jung Abbou, Brent Dzekciorius, Manijeh Verghese, Jon Harrison, Jochem Faudet, Martin Raymond, Colin Christie, Alice Masters, Ray Levy, David Stafford, Hayley Allman and James Pitt. APOLOGY
We are terribly sorry and very embarrassed to have left out the credit for photographer Iñigo Bujedo Aguirre in Disegno no.1 for which he photographed the Cristobal Balenciaga Museoa on p. 28-33. Thank you, Iñigo! PAPER AND PRINT
Yet again we are printing Disegno on X-PER 120gsm with a 250gsm cover. Thank you to the lovely Pari Taylor and Fred Haines at Fedrigoni UK for your support. Also, in this issue, we are printing a special section on Materica Clay, 180gsm by Fedrigoni Italy (p. 153-160). Disegno is printed by Gra�iche Mazzucchelli Spa in Bergamo, Italy. Thanks to Francesco, Silvia and Antonella. 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 �irst. DISEGNO PUBLICATIONS LTD
Disegno is a biannual magazine published by Disegno Publications Ltd. 10 Disegno.
THE ILSE COLLECTION AVAILABLE AT 15 NEW BOND STREET, LONDON W1S 3ST WWW.GEORGJENSEN.COM
A creative cookbook
Murray Moss has moved
Giambattista �alli on his �irst of�icial haute couture collection
2011 was the start of a new century
Harri Koskinen is the new design director at Iittala
Konstantin Grcic shares his reading list
The new design brands are moving in
THE POLITICS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Paulo �avid’s in�luence on Madeira
Has Central Saint Martins settled in?
ITALY: THE NEW DOMESTIC LANDSCAPE
An exhibition with a lasting legacy turns 40
An architectural type under investigation
The art of the shirt
A room for contemplation by K2S architects
Tadashi Kawamata builds a tower of tsunami debris
Wood like you’ve never seen it before.
Elsa Schiaparelli and Miuccia Prada are the subjects of a new exhibition
“I LIKE SCREWS”
Inga Sempé in her own words
Why we yearn for long-lost craftsmanship
The winners of Fedrigoni’s Top Application Awards 2011
Having been a guest for one season, he joined the official ranks on 16 December 2011 when his ”appellation” was announced by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. >
PHOTOS ALEXIS DAHAN
The institution of haute couture is well guarded. There are currently only 11 official members and the Italian-born, Parisbased fashion designer Giambattista Valli was the last to be accepted into this rare circle.
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Backstage at the Giambattista Valli spring/summer 2012 Haute Couture show on 23 January 2012 in Paris.
tempting to look to Valli’s early education in his native Rome’s Vatican schools for the inﬂuences. Because although Valli’s creations reveal quite a lot more than the religious robes of the Vatican, there is something ceremonial about the stiff coats, jackets and skirts that he crafts so eloquently. The concept of haute couture feels prehistoric in an era where the cost of clothing has plummeted and the availability has never been greater. The time and expense spent on these rarities feel surreal in the depth of an economic crisis, but haute couture nevertheless serves as a crucial reminder of the value of clothing. It’s a commodity that we have learnt to take for granted, with an adverse affect on both the environment and the health of the people working with the mass production of clothing. Haute couture is like an organic,
> The recent spring/summer 2012 collection was his ﬁrst in this capacity. Presented during the couture days in Paris in late January, it showcased the full spectrum of Valli’s craftsmanship from meticulously applied paillette patterning and embroidered ﬂoral ﬂourishes to spectacular puffs of ruffled tulle. It’s a day after the show and Giambattista Valli’s showroom on Rue Boissy d’Anglas around the corner from Place de la Madeleine, is busy with “re-sees” – the term the fashion industry uses for looking at a collection up close, after it’s been shown on the catwalk. The looks, presented in the elegant Hôtel de Crillon the night before, are now deconstructed, with each piece carefully hung from gilded rails or placed on mirrored cubes, as is the case with the accessories by jewellery designer Luigi Scialanga. Valli is seeing clients who are being measured for the garments. After all, this is what haute couture is about; made-to-order clothing that requires a minimum of two ﬁttings, created in a Parisian atelier by at least 15 full-time employees. It’s all laid out as law by the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture. One of the outﬁts from the collection, look number 35, is already destined to end up on the frame of a young Hollywood starlet at the Oscars a month later. It’s a good PR 16 Disegno. EXPOSÉ
stunt for any fashion brand. Valli’s ﬁrst official collection was an ode to his education in the higher echelons of fashion and a celebration of the craftsmanship that he has available in his atelier. The pieces relied on an array of couture techniques, making it an evidently labour-intensive collection, sparing no expense to impress its delight at being tagged “haute couture”. Sculptural or ﬂoral embellishments were built up from macramé knotting techniques, or elaborate and sometimes gem-encrusted embroidery. Silk, muslin, and lace were the dominant fabrics. Moving from daywear to evening, the palette went from purest white to black and deep pink and from carefully structured and quite strict to more anarchic ﬂuid shapes. When Valli works with structured volume, he is at his most interesting, and it’s
fair-trade version – you know that each piece is produced with only the best quality materials and by workers who are paid a decent salary. It is an art form that very few ateliers can afford or have the skill to perform. It’s a rarity, that for its very exclusivity and the historic skill that it supports should be protected, as Valli, excitedly proclaimed after the show: “Haute couture ateliers should be declared UNESCO heritage sites.” Studying one of his outﬁts up-close it is easy to understand where he’s coming from. From a distance one of the ﬂowing long gowns looks like it’s simply printed with small ﬂowers on a black background, but in factthe whole dress is covered in sequins creating the ﬂower shapes, each and every one applied individually by hand.
Johanna Agerman Ross (see p. 10)
PHOTOS ALEXIS DAHAN
The time and expense spent on these rarities feel surreal in the depth of an economic crisis, but haute couture nevertheless serves as a crucial reminder of the value of clothing.
This crisp white dress suit has a waistband of embroidered ﬂowers. Opposite: Valli puts the ﬁnishing touches to the outﬁt.
Our current architectural era is being deﬁned by a relentless over-layering of communication-rich information spaces on top of the familiar physical spaces of the architects’ domain. Events during the past year conﬁrm that something strange is happening. It is the result of subtle, seemingly innocuous, technological advancements, all of which architects are well aware of, but to date have shown little interest in. We can now hardly imagine lived space being any other way. Walking down the street with my eyes glued to Google Maps, following the little blue dot on the screen of my phone, tweeting to friends that I’ve arrived, even though they will see me entering the lobby 30 seconds later, typing this piece while tracking incoming emails, checking the weather, listening to the news and waiting for my next Spotify recommendations – if I can’t do all of this, then I’m living in the past, in a time when all this stuff could not be experienced while simultaneously encountering the space of a room, a building or a city plaza, layer upon layer of the real, the architectural and the virtual. In 2011, a tipping point was reached. I know this because I can check it on the devices I carry with me while walking through cities. And while our portable and social worlds evolved, our physical one failed. Three examples will illustrate my point. This was the year in which Frank Gehry’s Guggenheim Abu Dhabi was put on ice, at the announcement in August that even Abu Dhabi’s wealthy local economy can no longer sustain building museums the size of airports. Also in 2011, Rem Koolhaas’s gravity-defying CCTV headquarters (pictured) was “opened” in an urgent, worldwide press release, issued not by the commissioning client, the Chinese government, but by the architects who designed it, OMA. The Chinese had in fact declared the building officially open years earlier, even though it was under construction – indicating a wilful suppression of the publicity potential for the opening of a global architectural icon. So OMA chose last December for its own “opening” of the building to showcase the ﬁnal completion. And 2011 saw the failure of modern architecture with the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan. After the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March – the effects of which overwhelmed the design of the reactor that was supposed to protect people from the consequences of just such an occurrence – we were left wondering if these kinds of failure could be seen as anything other than architectural? The planning and design work was undertaken by the American multinational practice General Electric, which was also responsible for delivering the safety and security standards of the reactor buildings. These standards were intended to keep the events of last March (including partial or full meltdown of the reactors) from ever occurring. In even this cursory glance of architecture in its most celebrated, sponsored or expert forms, 2011 would seem a very bad year. All three examples demonstrate a failure during the creation of what was once (back in the 20th century) imagined to be our most advanced cultural, symbolic, and engineered form of design. Namely, architecture. And all three failures, we might note, struggled to align with the contemporary global realities. Yet, compare these failures to three examples of how the appropriation of built, urban space can
18 Disegno. EXPOSÉ
demonstrate the architectural reality of the world we live in. In each case they were the result of overlaying of physical architectural space with new communication technologies. In January 2011, a few thousand protesters in Tahrir Square quickly mushroomed into more than a quarter of a million people, who occupied the square in Cairo, leading to a stunning and swift demise of a regime that had for decades dictated every aspect of Egyptian lives. What enabled this particular event was the use of Facebook and other social media platforms, where participants, observers and combatants coordinated their messages and aims. Then, in September 2011, the occupiers of a small, little known park in lower Manhattan – Zuccotti Park – offered a different sort of message, spread like a viral video on You Tube (already a prominent channel for disseminating the messages surrounding the movement). The Occupy movement was given life in the preceding months by a carefully planned online promotion originating in the hands of a Canadian anti-advertising and anticonsumer media company, Adbusters (which has since
We have already contributed to this new reality (as we click between links, blinks and messages) whose primary form is invisible. done battle with certain protesters to lay claim to the name and ownership of the movement), which says as much as any commentator might about the complex, contradictory realities of social unrest in advanced global economies today. A ﬁnal demonstration from 2011 of the consequences of our over-wiring of social and public life can be found much closer to the home of Disegno – I refer to the riots of last summer that began in a small neighbourhood in north London, but which quickly spread via social media across the city (and to other UK regions). Events unfolded on the screens of viewers
worldwide, with amorphous crowds of teenagers, young professionals, students and others caught up in moments of ransacking and shoplifting over a few nights last August. The self-proclaimed accomplishments (or unplanned failures) of architecture’s big names or trading concerns can be contrasted with the above three 2011 events to show us how unpredictable our new era of information-based architectural space will be, and under the control of many more people than the architects normally assumed to be the masters of such domains. What we as architects must admit when confronted with a change like this – no longer merely the stuff of science ﬁction or cultural premonition – is that we have all already contributed to the building of this new reality (which we do every day, as we click between a world of links, blinks and messages), whose primary form of experience is invisible. For a ﬁeld like architecture, which has long assumed its form to be the most visible in the world, there’s plenty of challenge ahead. The events of 2011 conﬁrm that cities, like their spaces, structures and buildings, may not look so different, but they will behave in evermore challenging ways. As one ﬁnal reminder, we should recall that it was also in 2011 that the great exhibition Metabolism: The City Of The Future opened at the Mori Art Museum, atop one of Tokyo’s shining skyscrapers. Perhaps the greatest architectural exhibition of our time, it highlighted the short-lived experiments of maybe the last, great modernist movement dedicated to imagining the future of cities. That the show itself was held as a blockbuster museum event, 30 years after the end of the Japanese Metabolism movement, only conﬁrms the degree to which architecture as we know it – even in the work of its most forward-looking protagonists – is truly a thing of the past. Welcome to architecture’s future – ﬁnally here and available for crowds of all kinds to experience (if not easily see) – in this, the ﬁrst year of a new century.
Brett Steele is the director of the Architectural Association School of Architecture. He is also the series editor of Architecture Words and a writer on architectural culture, cities and design.
PHOTO IWAN BAAN
2011 saw physical space overtaken by social pace.
The opening of the CCTV headquarters in Beijing was announced by its architects, OMA, last December, rather than the client.
Its surface is smooth to the touch and years of use have worn the edges down slightly, giving it an attractive patina. He’s pulled it out of his pocket to hand over his new card as the recently appointed design director of Finnish glassware manufacturer Iittala. >
PHOTO VEIKKO KÄHKÖNEN
Harri Koskinen’s business-card holder is rather beautiful. It’s made from two pieces of moulded leather that slot into one another to create a closed container.
20 Disegno. EXPOSÉ
Koskinenâ€™s minimalist studio features a good deal of his work. The Genelec 8040A speaker from 2004 (far left and right); the Fatty container for Schmidingermodul, from 1998 (bottom right); the OMA mug for Iittala is used as a container for pens and a part of the Splint chaise longue from 2008 is spotted far left.
22 Disegno. EXPOSÉ
instant best-seller when it launched in 1996. It verges on kitsch with its glass block, resembling ice, and the shape of a light bulb cut out in its middle, but its design earned it a place in MoMA’s collection in 2000. Having spent a total of eight days in his new role when we meet, he hasn’t
Koskinen’s work has included such diverse jobs as the branding for Finlandia Vodka, textile design for Marimekko and furniture for Artek, but it’s his glass and porcelain that are the most seductive. yet formed his plans for Iittala. “We are going to this lovely place in the countryside tomorrow for a brainstorming session,” he says, leaning back in his orange Eames chair in his sparsely furnished Helsinki studio. The countryside is home to Koskinen. Coming from a small village in the centre of Finland, he regularly goes back for peace and quiet. He even has sheep and is proudly showing pictures on his phone of last year’s spring lambs eating from his hand against the backdrop of green ﬁelds and a red barn. It suits him. And it’s this lifestyle which has made him interested in another,
quite different project – Eat & Joy. It is Finland’s ﬁrst organic food chain and Koskinen has been a co-owner since 2009, when they got him on board to design one of their stores. The latest and biggest branch, the Kauppahalli in the centre of Helsinki, opened last autumn. “It’s great to be involved with this pioneering organisation,” says Koskinen. “Finnish food culture has been appalling, with two big supermarket chains having a monopoly until now.” The Eat & Joy stores sell organically produced food from small, local Finnish producers and sells traditional Finnish food that many of the mainstream supermarket chains no longer carry. For all the talk of nature and organic farming, Koskinen has a precise, minimal, almost industrial design aesthetic. It’s not the brand of Scandinavian design that Alvar Aalto once championed with his organic modernism in the 1920s and 30s, but Koskinen’s latest project for Artek, the Lento lounge chair and table, is maybe the most reminiscent of the company’s founder. Belonging to the already existing family of Lento chairs, the squatter and wider shape of the lounge chair makes its proportions more appealing, and the soft curve of the form-pressed birch veneer back is beautiful. It also comes upholstered in butter-soft leather. In fact, to the touch it’s reminiscent of Koskinen’s business card holder and it would wear just as well.
Johanna Agerman Ross (see p. 10)
PHOTO VEIKKO KÄHKÖNEN
> Up until this point in the interview, the Finnish designer has been taciturn, but when asked about the card holder, Koskinen lights up. “It’s from my favourite store in Milan, Al Pascià, in fact I was over there just two weeks ago buying a new one. I would really like to do a project with them.” The interior of Al Pascià on Via Torino, just around the corner from the Duomo, is everything that Harri Koskinen’s design is not – ﬂamboyant, carpeted, with fake period furniture and highgloss, wood panelled walls. And it’s crammed with products: leather luggage, leather bags, leather golf bags, leather trays, leather purses and, its speciality, pipes. To see beyond the noise of the store’s busy shop display and hone in on this one piece of minimal design is quite a feat. Then again, it’s his intense focus that has landed him the role at Iittala and made him one of Finland’s most famous contemporary design exports, working for brands such as Finnish furniture manufacturer Artek, Italian design brand Alessi and Japanese lifestyle brand Muji. Koskinen started his career at Iittala when the grand old master, Oiva Toikka, hired him in the 1990s. “I was really fortunate to start out as a designer for a company like that,” says Koskinen. “I can see how hopeless it can be for younger designers to make their name in the design world, but I was lucky, I never had to think about that from the beginning.” He left in 1998 to set up his own design agency, Friends of Industry (FOI). “It’s nice to be back,” says Koskinen of his new role, which, still leaves him time to pursue his own work with FOI. “Many of the same people I worked with at Iittala then are still here 14 years later; it’s like family.” Looking back at Koskinen’s work as a designer, which has included such diverse jobs as the branding for Finlandia Vodka, textile design for Marimekko and furniture for Artek, it is possibly the pieces made from glass and porcelain that are the most seductive. The Lantern candle holder for Iittala has a tall and elegant silhouette that recalls a traditional lantern without looking nostalgic. The Air container for Finnish porcelain producer Arabia is a white Tupperwear-shaped container in porcelain with a plastic lid – its simplicity and functionality adding to its allure. The Block lamp for Design House Stockholm became an
The Lento lounge chair and table that Koskinen created for Artek launched in February this year. Opposite: the Kauppahalli in Helsinki is an organic supermarket that Koskinen owns a share in.
24 Disegno. EXPOSÃ‰
PHOTO THOMAS BROWN PHOTO THOMAS BROWN
German designer Konstantin Grcic, creator of the Mayday lamp for Flos and the Myto cantilever chair for Plank, shares his favourite reads from the past six months.
> Where is your favourite place to read? Books like those on this list, I read in my office. I sit on my yellow Box chair (by Enzo Mari) at a large table in the centre of the studio. The best time for such indulgence is at the weekend or late evening. Do you judge a book by its cover? Of course, I do! The best covers are the intriguing ones, those which don’t give anything away. Where do you store your books? Almost all of my books are kept here at the office, as this is where I prefer to read them. Books are the only things I really collect. I buy books all the time, I love it. The problem is that I am running out of space... but that’s a problem of space, not of collecting books. How do you arrange them? By theme, even though I am not pedantic about the order. I like to think that I know all of my books by heart and that I would always have an instinct where to ﬁnd them. Apart from the obvious organisation by design / architecture / art / graphics / photography / fashion / material science I have special categories dedicated to literature on cars, bullﬁghting, Japan and China. Do you have a favourite bookshop? The original bookshop by Walther König in Cologne is always amazing, especially when König is there, himself, to make his personal recommendations. The Libreria dell’ Automobile in Milan is a temptation I cannot resist every time I am in town. The best vintage books are found on the web nowadays, not very romantic, but incredibly efficient. Do you read books on your iPad or Kindle? No. I own neither iPad nor Kindle (yet). Having just said this, it makes me think: I should change this! What’s the basis for your selection? These are books that I have acquired in the last six months, but they aren’t all recent releases.
26 Disegno. EXPOSÉ
First Works: Emerging Architectural Experimentation of the 1960s and 1970s edited by Brett Steele and Francisco González de Canales AA PUBLICATIONS £40 This publication showcases projects by ‘starchitects’ such as Rem Koolhaas, Daniel Liebeskind, and Zaha Hadid, carried out long before they became who they are today. Focusing on young architectural practices of the 1960s and 1970s, First Works both chronicles the projects and places them in the context of the architects’ later careers. Roberto Burle Marx: The Modernity of Landscape edited by Lauro Cavalcanti ACTAR €39 The multitalented Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx (1909-94) combined unruly tropical greenery and a modernist architectural aesthetic with the ecological understanding of an expert botanist. This book focuses on Burle Marx’s wide-ranging theory and practice. Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen: Seven Rooms by Moritz Kung HATJE CANTZ €29.80 Office Kersten Geers David Van Severen is a Brussels-based architectural ﬁrm who launched to international acclaim with their contribution to the Belgian pavilion at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2008. Seven Rooms is a compendium of Office’s project to date. The Complete Designers’ Lights (1950-1990) edited by Clémence and Didier Krzentowski JRP/RINGIER €85 Clémence and Didier Krzentowski are the founders and directors of the contemporary design gallery Galerie Kreo in Paris; they have also collected light design for some 30 odd years. This book is an essential catalogue raisonné of nearly 500 works from the 1950s to the 1990s, with a particular focus on work by French and Italian design studios. Also includes an essay by design critic Alex Coles and a discussion between Didier Krzentowski, Constance Rubini and Pierre Doze on 20thcentury light design history. Open Design Now: How Design Can No Longer Be Exclusive by Bas van Abel, Lucas Evers, Roel Klaassen, Peter Troxler BIS PUBLISHERS €35 New technologies and open-source media are changing the world of design. Or at least so the authors of Open Design Now would have us think. This book features essays by critics and practitioners such as Dick Rijken, Johan Thackara and Bre Pettis, as well as a number of case studies that shed light on a range of open-design strategies, from hacking to guerilla gardening. Robin Hood Gardens: Re-visions edited by Alan Powers THE TWENTIETH CENTURY SOCIETY £20 In 2009, the Department for Culture, Media and Sport turned down the Twentieth Century Society’s request to list the Robin Hood Gardens estate in East London. The community responded by collaborating with RIBA on an exhibition and publication devoted to the potential re-developments of Alison and Peter Smithson’s 1972 colossal concrete housing blocks.
Italomodern: Architektur in Oberitalien 1946-1976 by Martin & Werner Feiersinger SPRINGER BOOKS €36 In this book, the architect Martin Feiersinger and his brother, the artist Werner Feiersinger examine the trends and delineations of post-war Italian architecture. With a focus on the buildings in their current state, Italomodern is less of a textbook narrative than a poetic exploration of the buildings’ predicament today. What Technology Wants by Kevin Kelly PENGUIN BOOKS €14 As indicated by the intriguing title, Kevin Kelly argues the case that technology evolves like a living organism, enjoys a certain level of autonomy, and even has a will. Whether or not you agree, the book commends itself for its well-informed analyses of technological change and its impact on our everyday lives. Architecture on Display: On the History of the Venice Biennale of Architecture by Aaron Levy and William Menking AA PUBLICATIONS £7.50 What better time to reﬂect on the history of the Venice Biennale of Architecture, than in the anticipation of the 13th such event this summer? This book is the ﬁrst of two volumes planned as part of an Architectural Association research initiative led by Aaron Levy and William Menking. Les Pieds Sur Terre by Atelier le Balto WALTHER KÖNIG, out of print For more than 10 years, the architects and landscape artists of Atelier le Balto have created and re-shaped green areas in a number of European cities. From the Jardin Sauvage by the Palais de Tokyo in Paris to the gardens at the Villa Romana in Florence, this trio has made a reputation of itself as a leading force in landscape design and art.
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Although he’s not exactly risk averse in business, he takes a lot of care not to get burnt by his hot drinks. Preti, originally an investment banker, is launching Discipline during the Milan Furniture Fair, joining a surprising number of furniture brands that have sprung up over the past year. In most cases the French term “editor” is the most appropriate for these brands, which curate the design content and outsource the manufacturing to craftsmen or factories. Historically, culture often enjoys an upswing in a recession, but what’s different this time is the fact that new technology is opening up more possibilities for innovative thinking around brand building, distribution and manufacture, especially within the design industry. The internet offers both new retail opportunities and new ways of keeping in touch with manufacturers across the globe. Not surprisingly, many new startups, such as Swedish brand Pieces or Paris-based Marcel By, are founded by designers themselves, keen to challenge the prevailing set up of working for companies on a royalty basis, and keen to see if they can redesign the system. “Right now, the young design companies can make full use of the fact that it’s an ‘inbetween’ year,” says Jan Rutensköld, co-founder of Pieces. “Most established furniture brands are lying low and instead of investing in new products, they launch new colours or release new editions of old classics.” And this is when the new wave moves in. Over the next few pages, we take a look at ﬁve new companies that represent a different way of thinking within design manufacturing, each in their own way. Hanna Nova Beatrice is the editor-in-chief of Form, and is currently researching and writing a book on the behind-the-scenes workings of the design industry. Kristina Rapacki (see p. 10)
28 Disegno. EXPOSÉ
A superette, mini-mart, convenience store, or corner shop, depending on your English vernacular, denotes a small supermarket. Unlike big superstores, it is within the proximity of people’s everyday lives. Despite its unassuming size, it rivals the big businesses by being accessible, affordable, and local. Many of these qualities are shared by Super-ette, a Luxembourgbased design manufacturer founded by Stéphanie Rollin in 2010. While subscribing to high quality and visionary design, Rollin also favours the accessible and functional in her choice of products. “It must reach people,” she says. “It’s not gallery-style design.” Rollin’s route into entrepreneurship has been somewhat unusual. After a degree in ﬁne art from London’s Chelsea College of Art and Design, she worked for four years at the Musée d’Art Moderne Grand-Duc Jean (MUDAM) in Luxembourg. During her ﬁrst project there, Be The Artists’ Guest, Rollin became seriously interested in design. The project invited artists and designers to create interventions in the museum spaces. French duo Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec and German designer Konstantin Grcic were involved, among others. Since this project, Rollin’s view has been that art and design must not necessarily be separated into two distinct categories. In 2010, she left MUDAM to set up Super-ette. Originally funded by a private investor, it now receives support from Luxembourg Ducroire. Rollin’s design sensibility remains informed by her background in contemporary art. “For me,” she explains, “it’s not only about form. A design icon is the perfect mix between style, quality, and importantly, a contemporary mood.”
When asked about the ﬁnancial crisis, Rollin answers: “You know, I think this is the best time to start a small business. It’s the big companies that are struggling. They are taking fewer risks and are playing it safe. They’ll launch products and do one in black, one in white, and one in red. The smaller companies have to take risks; both ﬁnancially and in our choice of products. We can dream, the big businesses can’t.” And it’s true, when you look at Super-ette’s current products. Pierre Favresse’s glass-domed clock Jean, Ionna Vautrin’s whimsical lamp Forêt illuminée, and Les M’s irresistibly snuggly armchair Cocoon all playfully push the envelope. There’s no playing it safe here, but plenty of dreaming. Earlier this year, Super-ette booked a stand at the Paris trade fair Maison & Objét (Rollin’s ﬁrst), which was a considerable commercial success. “I took a lot of orders during the Salon; it was a very good launch,” she says. Up until then, there had been a number of showrooms poised to see if Super-ette was going to make it, Rollin explains. The success at Maison & Objét certainly proved the sceptics wrong. How about the future? Rollin avoids mentioning any names but gives some hint as to what is in store: “You’ll ﬁnd that young companies mostly work with young designers. I’m changing this; I have the privilege to have some great and experienced designers on board who trust Super-ette. Also, everyone is looking for a design icon; that’s what we all try to discover. And I think I’ve found it!” >
PHOTO STÉPHANIE ROLLIN
“The advantage of a startup is that you don’t have any background, you don’t have any weight on your shoulders or any infrastructure to support. So you can do what you think is right for the future without having to deal with the past,” says Renato Preti, founder of new Italian furniture brand Discipline, cooling his tea with bottled water.
Super-ette founder Stéphanie Rollin in her office. Also at the table are Jean the clock, designed by Peirre Favresse, and the lamp Forêt illuminée, designed by Ionna Vautrin.
Meet Marcel By. His ﬁrst name is quintessentially French, while his surname is an English preposition that alludes to creativity, process, and making. 30 Disegno. EXPOSÉ
He is not, of course, a person, but a new Paris-based manufacturer and editor of design furniture and interior design. Yet the personiﬁcation of the company chimes well with the humanist principles behind the enterprise. Marcel By favours highly specialised craftsmanship,
local manufacturing, tradition as well as innovation within the ﬁelds of architecture, interior design, and furniture design. The design processes are collaborative throughout each project’s conception, development and production. Whether they are made from traditionally blown glass
PHOTO STEPHAN LANEZ
Stephan Lanez, cofounder of Marcel By, with Jacob+Macfarlane’s Rain Shelves, faceted mirrors by Samuel Accoceberry, and Bougies Russes candle holders designed by Lanez himself.
from Switzerland or ecofriendly rubber manufactured in Brazil, Marcel By’s products are the results of collaborations between local specialists, designers, and producers. “We do things differently at Marcel By,” says designer Stephan Lanez, who founded the company in 2011 with
Jean-Jacques Lejal. “That is why there’s space for us in the market.” Lanez explains the Marcel By mindset. “We are several years into the recession and there’s bad news every day. Lots of numbers are cited. Numbers are made up by people, and products are made by people.
An aspect of Marcel By’s success as a new entrepreneur is due to the coming together of two opposite skill sets.
In our projects, the human side, people working together, is the most important thing. That’s why we made Marcel By.” An interesting aspect of Marcel By’s set-up is the coming together of two opposite skill sets. Lanez, who graduated from the École Nationale Supérieure d’architecture de Versailles in 2004, has six years of experience from working in an architectural practice; he has also been the art director of the rug company Chevalier Édition since 2009, and runs the Stephan Lanez Design studio alongside Marcel By. Lejal, on the other hand, is an economist with a background as strategic consultant. He set up Capital Industrie & Associés in 1997 after 20 years of working in consulting, and is now a founding partner of Marcel By. When it comes to manoeuvring a new business through dire ﬁnancial times, this partnership seems to be ideal. Lejal, asserts Lanez, “knows every detail of the crisis”. Meanwhile, he has years of experience from all three categories covered by Marcel By: architecture, interior design, and furniture design. Marcel By’s current projects reﬂect this breadth of expertise. Samuel Accoceberry’s three multifaceted mirrors Akté, Augé, and Nymphé are functional, as well as sculptural. Noé DuchaufourLawrance’s Bamby chair combines an elegant seat with a dynamic base support; the entire piece achieves a quiet equilibrium of forces. In an ongoing project, the architects Dominique Jakob and Brendan Macfarlane (Jakob+Macfarlane) are engaging in a crossdisciplinary experiment with furniture design. The shelves Rain and coffee table Pool are the current fruits of this collaboration: both pieces toy with positive and negative space; juxtapositions that are just as effective in furniture as they are in architecture. Marcel By’s choice of designers comes down to encounters, conversations, and the development of a mutual understanding. In each project, Lanez has built up relationships that go back years. What is crucial for the company is the human element. A good project, explains Lanez, will always start with a “good understanding”. > EXPOSÉ
Katrin Greiling in her studio with (left to right) the Tata sofa in rattan, Around plates I & II, Around tray, No Time bracelet and wearing Glory morning robe. All available online. The Hat-Hat stool (left) and the Bidoun sofa (right) are not available.
The Stockholm-based designer Katrin Greiling is not alone in contemplating survival within the design profession. 32 Disegno. EXPOSĂ‰
What alternatives are there to the more traditional patterns of working as a designer and how can you survive on a royalty of around 3.5 per cent of the retail price, with little or no compensation for research and development? A year ago, the #milanuncut debate was unleashed by
journalists on Twitter ahead of the Milan Furniture Fair, with the purpose of questioning the royalty system in the design industry and the lack of knowledge that both the public and journalists have about how designers get paid for their work. The debate offered few solutions in the
My work has always bordered on art and what I have produced up until now has never been very commercial. Now I can make my products available worldwide and it’s done on my terms.
end, but in its wake, a number of companies appeared that experimented with how to share the costs and proﬁts of creating products. “Up until now we have adapted to a pattern that means designers work with companies,” says Greiling. “It is often the ultimate ambition
when you graduate from college to get a commission to design a product, and it’s seen as the ultimate way of working as a designer. I don’t say that it’s wrong, only that we need alternatives.” After a three-month research trip to Indonesia, paid for by the Swedish Arts
Grants Committee, Greiling decided to take over her own production and retail through an online shop. Her ultimate goal was to ﬁnd an alternative way of reaching her audience, one that doesn’t go via a manufacturer, and her answer is And Suddenly The Shop Is Open. “It’s like a global shop
window,” says Greiling of the website, which sells her own designs such as the Bird’s Nest rug in wool felt, and a rattan sofa that she designed and developed with local craftsmen in Indonesia. “My work has always bordered on art and what I have produced up until now has never been very commercial,” says Greiling. “It’s been difficult to ﬁnd both design manufacturers and retailers willing to take a chance on me. But now I can make my products available worldwide without anyone between me and the end consumer. It’s done on my terms.” The delivery time on the available products is around eight weeks, as everything is made to order and no stock is kept, but Greiling doesn’t see this as an obstacle. “We are moving into an era where consumers are selecting the things they buy with more care and consideration, so the wait isn’t an issue.” And Suddenly The Shop Is Open is the result of years of travelling and building an international network of contacts with small manufacturers. “My designs are produced where the raw materials and know-how exist,” says Greiling. But at the moment she doesn’t have any huge commercial aspirations for the venture. The original research was funded by an art grant and the future manufacture will be fuelled by the customers purchasing the goods. It’s an extremely simpliﬁed view of production, but at the same time Greiling has few overheads. “The era of mass production is over,” she says. “We are moving into a time when completely new systems for proﬁtability are being invented and with that come different chains of retail and manufacture.” > EXPOSÉ
“Design is a discipline, not a luxury,” says former investment banker and ﬁnancial mogul Renato Preti, of the ethos of Discipline. 34 Disegno. EXPOSÉ
Discipline is an ethical, post-crash furniture brand focusing on high-quality design at a reasonable price. “We’ve been living too long in a time of no rules. But without rules, there is no game to play.” For the launch range, he’s enlisted the talent of 13 designers including
Klauser&Carpenter, Luca Nichetto and Lars Beller Fjetland. The pieces, which are launching at this year’s Milan Furniture Fair, are a restrained affair, purposefully eschewing ﬂamboyant and frivolous details. Discipline has environmentally responsible aspirations, too:
PHOTO RENATO PRETI
Discipline’s founding partner Renato Preti in his office. On the desk stands a stool designed by Lars Beller; beside it lies the timepiece Pieces of Time, designed by Ding 3000. Seen on the right is Tilt, a multipurpose oak ladder designed by Smith Matthias.
I’m doing it all by myself, but mainly because I think that when you’re starting up something you need to follow up the concept; you can’t share the decisions with too many people. I’ve not even tried to ﬁnd investors.
Preti wants tomorrow‘s luxuries to be made from natural renewable materials like cork, ash and bamboo, and this is the palette that the designers have been working with. There are also cost beneﬁts to working with natural materials, which affected which designs were
put into production. “A mould to create a plastic chair for Kartell, for example, is in the range of €200,000 each,” says Preti. “A mould to make the seat of a wooden chair is in the range of €2,000.” After holding top positions in the world of investment banking and private equity,
Preti ﬁrst weighed in on the design industry in 2000; co-founding Opera, an investment fund specialising in Italian lifestyle backed by luxury brand Bulgari. With Opera, he drove major investments in companies including Unopiù, B&B Italia and Moooi. “I’ve invested
in many different design and furniture companies… and looked into many possible acquisitions within the industry,” he says. The experience, Preti says, has made setting up Discipline less of a risky manoeuvre: “It helps a lot when you have to make a decision, because you can get the best of what you have seen and what you know.” In 2008, Preti left to establish the experimental furniture brand Skitsch. When Skitsch debuted at the Milan Furniture Fair the following year, it was in grand style: a 600sq/m showroom on the prestigious Via Monte de Pieta and later one in Brompton, London. In 2010, however, Preti was asked to step down as the company’s CEO. The blow possibly led to Preti’s decision to fund the new brand alone. “I’m doing it all by myself, but mainly because I think that when you’re starting up something you need to follow up the concept; you can’t share the decisions with too many people,” he says. “I’ve not even tried to ﬁnd investors, I just tried to do exactly what I had in mind as fast and as well as I could.” The Discipline range will be mostly manufactured in Italy, in partnership with local producers, while some glass pieces are made in Poland. If the product is successful, the producers share in the proﬁt. If not, they are expected to offer reduced costs. Preti aims to bring the business model to producers in emerging markets like Brazil, the Middle East and China too. “I believe in a partnership where the design company, in charge of design, marketing, distribution and branding, shares the cost and beneﬁt with the producer.” > EXPOSÉ
36 Disegno. EXPOSÉ
Rather than focusing on a quick turnover and uniformity, the company produces furniture with a high level of craftsmanship that is both expensive and time consuming. It thinks long term, has no aesthetic principles and has no reservations about launching
collections that seem to jar with one another. “Of course we want to be proﬁtable with Pieces, but we don’t let that desire inﬂuence our choices or our direction,” says co-founder Jan Rutensköld. “It has to be like a reward for the fact that we are faithful to our ideas. We
PHOTO DAVID ANDRÉN
New wave Swedish design brand Pieces goes against the grain of much current furniture manufacturing practice.
Pieces’ founding members Jan Rutensköld, Gabriella Gustafson and Mattias Ståhlbom. The ﬁrst prototypes from the collection Trotters stand on the table.
are prepared to invest both time and money until we feel it works.” Rutensköld, who has a background in advertising, founded Pieces with design duo TAF (Gabriella Gustafson and Mattias Ståhlbom), which has created products for brands such as Muuto and
Zero. The three designers invested in the company along with a fourth silent partner. “You need quite a bit of ego to be able to deal with this sector,” says Rutensköld. “There are deﬁnitely other investment opportunities that have quicker, higher and more risk-averse proﬁt
margins, if that’s what you are looking for.” Pieces launched during Stockholm Design Week in February with a collection called Trotters, made up of open storage cabinets and tables with large interchangeable feet. The idea is that the objects in the
Of course we want to be proﬁtable with Pieces, but we don’t let that desire inﬂuence our choices or our direction. There are deﬁnitely other investment opportunities that have quicker, higher and more risk-averse proﬁts margins. collection can be conﬁgured in any way the user wishes – by changing the material of the feet (available in wood, marble and white-glazed porcelain) and the table tops and shelves (which come in birch or glass). Small rings of pearl white or orange silicone rest between the feet and the surfaces they support, visible as playful details when under a glass tabletop. “This is furniture that may take some time to get used to,” explains Gabriella Gustavson. “While working on the collection, I’ve gone from being in love with it, to doubting whether I like it or not, and ﬁnally, to loving it again.” Everything is produced by local Swedish cabinet makers, and a bookcase costs around €8,000. In some ways Pieces is the result of a growing demand for authenticity, small-scale production and local know-how within design manufacturing. “We are the opposite of industrial manufacture in Asia,” says Rutensköld. “Instead, we are working with high-quality materials, skilled craftsmen, traditional techniques, and limited-edition production series. Of course, this can be seen on the price tag, but that is part of the philosophy of Pieces; to demonstrate the real cost of something.” The next step for the ﬂedgling company is not set in stone. “We don’t want to feel restricted in any way,” says Gustafson. “Maybe next time we will work with a graphic designer rather than a furniture designer.” The most important thing for Pieces is to build long-term relationships with its collaborators. “We want our collaborations to be in depth and we want to invest in the people we believe in.”
LOOK, ANIMALS! RECIPES Bengt Brümmer PHOTOS Matilda Flodmark, Karin Wallenbäck and Stephanie Wiegner ART DIRECTION Matilda Flodmark and Karin Wallenbäck Look, Animals! is an unconventional picture book and cookbook. Developed by graphic designer Matilda Flodmark and industrial designer Karin Wallenbäck while they were students at Konstfack (the University College of Arts, Crafts and Design) in Stockholm, the book comprises six images with accompanying recipes by chef/designer Bengt Brümmer. The aesthetic is stark, dark and direct, with references to 18th-century Dutch still-life painting; a genre in which ϐish, game and fruit often ϐigure as vanitas symbols. Seeking to counter the highly sanitised visual culture of contemporary cookbooks, Look, Animals! documents the raw materials of cooking rather than the ϐinished dish. Another inspiration behind the work is The Princesses’ Cookbook of 1929 – a famous reference point in Swedish cookbook literature. “Every recipe in The Princesses’ Cookbook starts with a whole animal or part of an animal,” says Wallenbäck. “It tells you what to do to get to the part of the animal that you need to use. We are so detached from that process today.”
Rather than simply serving as illustrations of existing dishes, the images in Look, Animals! became inspiration for new recipes devised by Bengt Brümmer. “This was quite challenging,” he says, with some of the photographs calling for an unusual combination of ingredients. “But it was also an opportunity to be inspired and look at the ingredients in a new way.” Look, Animals! was exhibited in an installation at the Swedish Ambassador’s Residence in London in autumn 2011, as part of Swedish Design Goes London. Industrial designer John Astbury was brought into the project to create a suitable environment for the cookbook, resulting in a table set with French silverware and a wine decanter, where the visitor could sit down and ϐlick through the pages.
Animals, death and food relate to each other in contentious ways, and can give rise to a range of responses. “Food is so political,” says Wallenbäck. “But it is not our intention to moralise about eating meat or not. We just think it’s important that you know what you’re eating.” Kristina Rapacki Karin Wallenbäck, Bengt Brümmer, and John Astbury make up the Stockholm-based design collective What’s What. Matilda Flodmark is a freelance graphic designer. Look, Animals! was displayed at the Swedish Ambassador’s Residence in London as part of Swedish Design Goes London, 17-24 September 2011
EGG The eggs should be fresh but preferably not taken immediately after they are laid, three to four days afterwards is better. If the egg shells are dirty, you can wash them with vinegar before you cook them. POACHED QUAIL EGG WITH SEVRUGA HOLLANDAISE SAUCE Makes 12 canapés 12 quail eggs 2tbsp white wine vinegar Sourdough bread Chives, to garnish FOR THE HOLLANDAISE SAUCE 2 egg yolks 10ml dry white wine 100g unsalted butter, clari�ied 30g sevruga caviar Sugar, salt and white pepper, to season Bring a saucepan of water to the boil. Add the vinegar and simmer. Crack the quail eggs and gently slide them into the water, hold the eggs in shape with two spoons and poach for 2 minutes. Remove and place on a dry towel. Whisk egg yolks with white wine in a Bain Marie and place on top of a pan of hot water. Keep whisking till the egg yolks thicken slightly. Pour the melted butter slowly into the egg yolks while whisking continuously. When all the butter is incorporated into the yolks, take the sauce off the pan and add the caviar. Season with salt, sugar and white pepper. Assemble on toasted croutons of sourdough and garnish with chives.
40 Disegno. LOOK, ANIMALS!
The Casa das Mudas Art Centre, completed in 2004 and nominated for the 2005 Mies van der Rohe Award, lies in Calheta on the west coast of Madeira. Its roof is a platform from which the visitor can observe the sea.
42 Disegno. THE POLITICS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
The politics of sense and sensibility Over the past three decades Madeiraâ€™s economy and population has grown at an incredible rate, yet the consequent expansion in construction lacked a sense of responsibility towards the stunning landscape of this Atlantic archipelago. But the return of native islander Paulo David in 2003 ensured that a new brand of sensitive, topographical design has been integrated into this insular, remote location. Now, he has received the muchprized Alvar Aalto Medal1 for his efforts. WORDS Pedro Gadanho COLOUR PHOTOS Fernando Guerra
THE POLITICS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
P Established in 1967 by the Museum of Finnish Architecture and the Finnish Association of Architects and named in honour of the Finnish modernist architect and designer, the Alvar Aalto Medal is awarded in recognition of a signiﬁcant contribution to creative architecture. 1
Álvaro Siza (b. 1933) is a Portuguese architect, best known for his buildings in his hometown of Porto. He was awarded the Alvar Aalto Medal in 1988, was the recipient of the Pritzker Prize in 1992 and a Royal Gold Medal from the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2009.
aulo David once told me a revealing story. During a visit to Madeira, the remote Portuguese island where David was born in 1959 and has chosen to pursue his practice, a Swiss colleague asked him: “Why did you arrive too late?” The architect was referring to the frantic pace of construction on the island over the past few decades, which led to its current reputation for wild overspending and a major budget de�icit. He was also highlighting the fact that such frenzied transformation was largely pursued with almost no contribution from architects.
As it were, David is one of a handful of Madeira-born architects who, after studying and working on the Portuguese mainland, eventually decided to head back home to the island. On David’s return from Lisbon in 2003, he resolved to add his imprint to the island’s �ierce makeover. Signi�icantly, it was within an adverse and lacking condition that his architecture was to gain international recognition. His work was thus praised as “quiet, serene, lyrical and removed from spectacle”. The jury of the 2012 Alvar Aalto award deemed David’s practice as “locally rooted, yet at the same time universal”, placing his work �irmly within a lineage of architects inspired by the Finnish master, such as Álvaro Siza2, Tadao Ando3 and Steven Holl4.
Given the recent and unexpected appearance of Madeira on the European political and economic radar, it would seem timely to explore how David’s practice may allow us to evoke the idea of “aesthetic resistance” as a drive for architecture’s raison d’être. After all, peer recognition and the ensuing media attention should lead us to interrogate an architect’s project beyond his ability to design in a beautiful and coherent manner. Visibility attracts responsibility, so maybe we should take this opportunity to revisit – and depart from – Kenneth Frampton’s take on resistance5 almost 30 years ago.
5, 6 Kenneth Frampton (b. 1930) is a British architect and historian. Well known for his writing on 20th-century architecture, Frampton’s inﬂuential 1983 essay Towards A Critical Regionalism: Six Points For An Architecture of Resistance, proposed that architecture should resist the homogeneity that is inherent in modern society. He instead argued for a reinvigorated regional architecture that explores issues of difference and identity.
A recent calamity on Madeira provides a topographical metaphor that is pertinent to this point and to David’s architecture. The massive landslides that occurred in Funchal, the capital city of the island, on 10 February 20108 unleashed a violent debate on how irresponsible construction had led to catastrophe and irreparable loss. The events made clear that the potential for ecological and economic disaster was invading the stunning landscape of Madeira.
Tadao Ando (b. 1941) is a self-taught Japanese architect, who settled on the profession after studying the early sketches of Le Corbusier. He founded Tadao Ando Architects & Associates in Osaka in 1969.
Famed for his 1998 Kiasma Contemporary Art Museum in Helsinki, Finland, and the 2009 Linked Hybrid complex in Beijing, China, American Steven Holl (b. 1947) was awarded the Alvar Aalto Medal in 1998. Holl received the 2012 AIA Gold Medal from the American Institute of Architects.
President of the Regional Government of Madeira since 1978, Alberto João Jardim (b. 1943) is a controversial personality, infamous for his outspoken remarks about his political opponents.
If the market was once the prime focus of resistance, today the scope for contest may have widened. In the case of Madeira, over the same three decades that separate us from Frampton’s 1983 essay Towards A Critical Regionalism: Six Points For An Architecture of Resistance6, a single populist politician secured every aspect of regional decision-making on the island. As European funds fuelled Madeira’s economic growth, its beloved political leader believed that heavy infrastructure and non-regulation equalled progress. A �ierce fan of Singapore’s regime and growth model, Madeira’s president Alberto João Jardim7 made sure that the island was thoroughly perforated by tunnels, riddled with highways and sprayed with poor quality, favela-like construction. Only much later came one-off opportunities for architects such as David to prove their ability and produce meaningful statements on the island’s transformed landscape. In this case, resistance could surface from the capacity of architecture to produce bold statements that go against the grain of damaging everyday practices.
Faced with such situations, David speaks of a “zero degree”, a “critical moment of impotence”, and asks himself: “How can an architect discover and create beauty within a setting of disaster?” When imbued with a strong sense of integration into the landscape, however, it is architecture itself that becomes a retroactive political manifesto. The fact that David’s context-driven, topographical buildings exude a site-speci�ic yet bold materiality, and the fact that they reveal an assertive yet discrete insertion into the landscape, may suddenly emerge as aspects of a “cultural resistance” that addresses the nature of the powers that be. Let us clarify this argument. >
44 Disegno. THE POLITICS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
The narrow gaps of Casa das Mudas offer unexpected juxtapositions between the buildingâ€™s dark basalt and cliffs, water, or the surrounding cityscape.
THE ARTS CENTRE PUNCTUATES THE LANDSCAPE, PLACING ITSELF ON THE UPPERMOST PORTION OF A CLIFF THAT ENDS ABRUPTLY OVER THE OCEAN. THIS PROTUBERANCE APPEARS AS A LARGE SET OF CARVED PIECES WHERE THE ABSTRACT GEOMETRY HIGHLIGHTS THE INTERVENTION, DRAWING A BUILDING SPECIFICALLY FOR THIS PLACE WHERE IT ACTS SIMULTANEOUSLY AS “NATURAL AND SYNTHETIC”. - PAULO DAVID FROM THE ALVAR AALTO LECTURE, FEBRUARY 2012
46 Disegno. THE POLITICS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Casa das Mudas demonstrates Paulo Davidâ€™s precise control over the potential correlations between architectural and natural space. The art centre nestles in the rich shrubbery, as if hewn into the steep coastal cliffs.
THE POLITICS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Completed in 2006, the Salinas Swimming Pools at CÃ¢mara de Lobos combines natural and man-made water features.
48 Disegno. THE POLITICS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
THE POLITICS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
AT THE FAR END OF THE GEOMETRICAL POOL, THE CREATION OF THE STEPS INTO THE SEA SUGGESTS AN ARTIFICIAL BEACH AND CREATES INERTIA TO THE ATLANTIC UNDULATION. A MAT OF UNTOUCHED LAVA. - PAULO DAVID FROM THE ALVAR AALTO LECTURE, FEBRUARY 2012
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The orderly geometry of the swimming pool provides a contrast to the irregular crags of the Madeiran cliffs. A raised concrete platform protects the complex from aggressive waves. Below: section drawing of the Salinas Swimming Pools.
THE POLITICS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
52 Disegno. THE POLITICS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
The restaurant at Salinas is comprised of a closed, metallic nucleus, connected to a glass dining room encased by wooden slats.
THE POLITICS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
With its glass windows and wooden ribs, the restaurant offers open views onto the Atlantic as well as the nearby gardens. Below: section of the Salinas restaurant.
THIS BODY ASSUMES ITSELF AS A PIECE OF JEWELLERY, DELICATE, FLOATING OVER A RUDE AND AGGRESSIVE SITE. - PAULO DAVID FROM THE ALVAR AALTO LECTURE, FEBRUARY 2012
54 Disegno. THE POLITICS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
The palette of the materials used for the Salinas restaurant mirrors that of the surrounding environment.
THE POLITICS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
“EVERY LITTLE PART OF THE SHAPE OF EVERY LITTLE MUSCLE YOU CAN SEE IN THE CHAIR HAS A REASON. I THINK IT MAKES IT MEMORABLE.” Providing panoramic views of the coastline at Câmara de Lobos, the restaurant balcony is interior space and exterior facade at once.
. . . . .
Forty-two people died and at least 100 people were injured in the ﬂoods and mudslides of February 2010.
David’s best-known swimming pool and community centre is the Do Atlântico Swimming Pools and Das Salinas Promenade (2004).
10 The Casa das Mudas Art Centre (2004) is located on the west coastline of Madeira. Built in locally sourced black basalt stone as an approach to the volcanic landscape, the centre sits upon the top of a cliff that abruptly terminates over the Atlantic Ocean.
> While David seized a few strategic public commissions and competitions, an impression of obstinacy effectively arose from the architectural procedures that he employed to enhance public space and reinterpret the landscape. Each of the programmes he took on – from community centres and open-air swimming pools9 to the striking Casa das Mudas Art Centre10 – af�irmed a subtle critique of the tasteless arrogance that led a once magical island to utter urban unpleasantness.
Casa das Mudas Art Centre, which was received enthusiastically and was nominated for the Mies van der Rohe award in 200511, stood as an intrepid example of David’s attitude towards landscape. Sculpted into a steep cliff, cinematically approached from above, the roof of the building becomes a platform to observe the sea, giving a new, powerful interpretation to Le Corbusier’s notion of a signi�icant �ifth facade12. As you descend into the building via a sort of geological crack, you are invited to discover enclosed patios from where you can access an auditorium, restaurant and library. Casa das Mudas, an extension of a small cultural centre on Madeira’s western coast, offers new, generous spaces for contemporary art, in which the artworks are interspersed with breathtaking panoramas. The architecture is austere in its local basalt cladding, yet this labyrinthine building is also warm and welcoming. At one point, you can appreciate the different proportions of rooms and patios, at another the way nature is framed. Here, you see the ocean through a narrow slit, there you stare at the unexpected juxtaposition of black stone and dark water, and at another
56 Disegno. THE POLITICS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
point you discover a cliff bathed by mist and sunlight. David exercises a precise control over the potential correlations between architectural and natural space, between tactile experience and the impact of the gaze.
Given such spatial sensibility, a concept such as silence, which David frequently evokes when speaking of his works, can translate into a form of “peaceful resistance”. Indeed, one could elicit a form of restrained opposition, which ultimately challenges the brutal, insensitive colonisation of landscape that has taken place in Madeira. This would imply that David’s architecture is not simply silent – quite the contrary. If David’s use of the notion of silence would turn into a refusal to engage with what realpolitik implies and demands, his architecture would obviously be apolitical – and also paradoxical and useless. Instead, his architectural language comes closer to a statement against “loudness,” and thus against the absolute lack of taste that ultimately destroys the coherence and beauty of any given landscape or territorial setting. Furthermore, David recently referred to his architecture as aiming to produce a “suspension”, a “stopping” in a process of acceleration that it is tempting to relate to Madeira’s rapid “arrested development.” When speaking of Casa das Mudas, the architect suggests a romantic inspiration that is driven from the idea of the belvedere, the place from which to enjoy the view. In this sense, the belvedere both >
The Mies van der Rohe Award is granted every two years to acknowledge and reward quality architectural production in Europe. The award consists of a prize of €60,000 and a sculpture evoking van der Rohe’s 1929 German Pavilion.
12 In his 1927 book Towards a New Architecture, CharlesÉdouard Jeanneret (1887-1965), better known as Le Corbusier, announced that all the ground covered by city buildings should be recaputured for the beneﬁt of city dwellers by turning the ﬁfth facade – the ﬂat roof plane – into a great pedestrian space, a piazza in the sky.
THE POLITICS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
PHOTO LEFT PAULO CATRICA; RIGHT RICARDO JARDIM
> represents the moment in which to stop to appreciate the wholeness of a given sight, and also a quintessential motif for much of Portuguese architecture’s relationship to site. More interestingly, however, David also mentions a desire to extract a state of amnesia out of his topographical proposals, and this eventually resonates with a stronger political intent. As he puts it, “architecture has to compensate for a sense of loss, and re-offer other platforms for man-made landscape”.
At Casa das Mudas, while the architecture directs your gaze onto beautiful, untouched scenery, you may be lured into forgetting the atrocities you have witnessed when travelling from Madeira’s capital to the museum’s remote, coastal location in Calheta on the west coast of the island. However, amnesia is essentially a traumatic experience. More than offering the plain comforts of forgetfulness, it helps us bury our most unbearable experiences. Amnesia is a very humane way of dealing with crisis. As such, when David proposes amnesia as an idea that permeates his architectural thinking, something else is triggered. We are crucially led to recognise amnesia as amnesia. By acknowledging that we are invited to a state of amnesia we are led to remember the very origin of a potential psychological trauma. And as we become shockingly aware of successive aggressions towards beauty, pain may �inally unfurl as a vehement reaction. Amnesia becomes charged with a violence that can be channelled into political consciousness. As an architect whose roots lie in modernity, we would not believe that David’s use of the notions of amnesia and silence is complicit with the status quo of the local affairs and conditions we have described here. It is true that a conservative appeal could lure you into simply transforming the last remainders of a scenic landscape into a delicately framed vision. This would be typical of situations in which local politics and identity like to leave their own impressions. As it is, though, we prefer to believe that, in the avant-garde tradition, Paulo David is rather advancing a critique that discretely discloses again the political potential of architectural sensibility.
Pedro Gadanho is a Portugese architect, curator, and writer based in New York. He curates contemporary architecture in MoMA’s Department of Architecture and Design.
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I AM FASCINATED BY THESE TWO PHOTOS. BEYOND THE BEAUTY, THEY DEPICT THE ACTUAL POSITION OF THE PHOTOGRAPHERS. THEY EMPHASISE INFRASTRUCTURES THAT ALLOW US TO ADMIRE, OR NOT, A CERTAIN PLACE. ONE EXPRESSES THE INFRASTRUCTURE OF THE HIGHWAY (LEFT), WHERE THE TERRITORY IS NO LONGER THE FOCUS AS WE DRIVE AT HIGH SPEED. WE LOSE THE ACT OF OBSERVATION, DECOMPOSING THE LANDSCAPE. THE OTHER (ABOVE) EXPRESSES A REGIONAL ROAD WHICH BONDS WITH THE MOUNTAIN. IT IMPOSES A SLOW-MOTION TIME, DELAYING OUR VIEW. A REGIONAL ROAD HAS A LEGACY CAPABLE OF KNOCKING DOWN EAGER SPEEDS AND IT HAS THE ABILITY TO HOLD TIME. THESE ARE TWO PLACES THAT TRANSLATE DIFFERENT SPEEDS. IS IT POSSIBLE FOR ARCHITECTURE TO BE A MECHANISM TO FIND A BALANCE ON THESE SPEEDS? WE FOCUS ON THIS AT THE OFFICE. - PAULO DAVID FROM THE ALVAR AALTO LECTURE, FEBRUARY 2012 THE POLITICS OF SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
FISH To know that �ish is fresh, the skin should always be shiny and bright. The eyes should be clear and prominent, and there shouldn’t be a bad odour. The meat should be �irm and the gills red. Live �ish should be killed, immediately. First, stun the �ish by hitting the head, then cut the spine off at the head. For cooking, the �ish should be as fresh and recently killed as possible. For frying, it should have been killed in the past 10 -12 hours. After spawning, the �ish �lesh loosens and is therefore no longer as tasty. STUFFED SALMON Serves 4 1 whole salmon, head on, cleaned out 1 lemon 5 anchovy �illets 2 cloves of garlic Olive oil Fresh thyme Fresh rosemary Fresh parsley 200g small �ingerling potatoes 1 bulb of fennel 1 carrot 100g spring onions 50g unsalted butter Sea salt and fresh pepper, to season Preheat the oven to 220c. Rinse the salmon with water. Peel the lemon and chop the zest. Mix together with anchovy �illets and garlic. Spread the paste onto the inside of the �ish. Add a generous slug of olive oil and stuff salmon with the fresh herbs. Place the salmon on a large sheet of tin foil. Cut the vegetables to roughly the same size and place around the salmon. Add the butter, salt and pepper to season and fold the foil into a packet. Place the salmon in the oven and cook for around 10 minutes for every 2cm thickness of �ish. When cooked, let the �ish rest for a few minutes before serving.
60 Disegno. LOOK, ANIMALS!
The fashion alumni from Central Saint Martins on Charing Cross Road in London includes Alexander McQueen, John Galliano and Hussein Chalayan. Now, the whole school has been relocated to Granary Square at Kingâ€™s Cross and the current MA fashion students are the ďŹ rst to graduate from the new campus. What legacy will they leave behind? WORDS Johanna Agerman Ross PHOTOS Gareth McConnell
Generously paint-dabbled smocks featured in the collection of Luke Brooks, one of the ďŹ rst MA fashion students to graduate from Stanton Williamsâ€™ new Central Saint Martins campus. Photographed on the roof terrace.
C 1 John Galliano (b. 1960) is a British fashion designer famous for being head designer of the couture houses Givenchy (1995-96) and Christian Dior (1996-2011). He graduated from Central Saint Martins in 1984.
Alexander McQueen (19692010) was a British fashion designer and couturier. He succeeded John Galliano (see note 1) as head designer of Givenchy in 1996, and ran his own label, Alexander McQueen, from his graduation in 1992 to his untimely death in 2010.
Hussein Chalayan (b. 1970) is a British/Turkish-Cypriot fashion designer famous for avant-garde creations that blur the boundaries between art and design. Chalayan graduated from Central Saint Martins in 1995.
Alan Fletcher (1931-2006) graduated in 1951 and later co-founded the design ﬁrm Pentagram.
5 Terence Conran (b. 1931) studied textiles at the college. He graduated in 1950 and eventually started furniture retailer Habitat and the Conran restaurants.
Gilbert Prousch (b. 1943) and George Passmore (b. 1942) met at Saint Martins School of Art in 1967. They graduated in 1970.
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entral Saint Martins’ new campus on Granary Square stands on a 27,000 sq/m site just north of King’s Cross station. It’s a former wasteland made up of train barracks and a Grade II listed building – a grain warehouse from 1851. The development is so large that it has its own postcode: N1C. “But my post doesn’t arrive any more,” says Professor Louise Wilson, the charismatic course leader of MA fashion from her of�ice on the top �loor of the new complex. Wilson’s students are the �irst to graduate from the new campus. It’s a place they have called home for less than six months and this year’s graduates are laying the crucial foundations for a new history of the college. It’s a position they cherish and fear simultaneously. “The old building had a spirit, somehow,” says Icelandic MA fashion graduate Erna Einarsdottir. “It felt like an extra student, like an extra tutor, even. So many past students have gone through it, and you feel like you have to live up to their reputation. But this is a clean start. We are the students that are putting down the legacy here.”
The old building that Einarsdottir refers to is from 1939 and located on a rather run-down, but soon to be regenerated, stretch of Charing Cross Road on the outskirts of Soho. Despite its obvious shortcomings, draughty and cold and with insuf�icient space for the 4,000-plus student population of Central Saint Martins, it holds a special place in many of the students’ hearts. It’s creaky and dark corridors have seen fashion history in the making. It was here that John Galliano1 learnt his trade, where Alexander McQueen2 was discovered for his tailoring skill and Hussein Chalayan3 started making his �irst successful experimentations in the hinterland between art and fashion. But it’s not only the fashion students who are nostalgic about their old premises. Central Saint Martins is in fact only 23 years old, the result of combining Saint Martins School of Art (on Charing Cross Road), founded in 1854, and the Central School of Arts and Crafts, (in the Lethaby building in Holborn) from 1896. It is one of the most famous art and design schools in the world and the illustrious alumni include graphic designer Alan Fletcher4, designer Terence Conran5 and artist duo Gilbert & George6. It’s as if the spirits of both former students and tutors offer comfort and guidance just by the fact that they’ve been there and at some point have battled with the same dif�iculties and shared the same successes. But up until �ctober of last year the different strands of education – architecture, product design, graphics, sculpture, �ine art and fashion design – were spread over various different sites in Soho, Holborn and Clerkenwell. So Central Saint Martins on Granary Square is a new start in more ways than one – it is the �irst time in the history of the college that all disciplines share the same roof. The architects Stanton Williams won a competition in 2002 to redevelop the existing 1896 Lethaby building in Holborn. However, soon thereafter the real-estate developer Argent offered the site at King’s Cross to Central Saint Martins and Stanton Williams were asked to do a feasibility study for the newly proposed location, instead. “The strength of developing the King’s Cross site, was that it had a wonderful footprint,” says Stanton Williams founder Paul Williams. “We had to build vertically in Holborn, but at King’s Cross we could build horizontally and that is often a better orientation for an institution of education.” He �irst visited the site in 2004 when it was still an industrial railway wasteland. “But a very rich wasteland,” says Williams. “There was a physicality and a history there that we wanted to keep, and we were worried that it would get lost in the new development.” Horizontality is certainly a word that springs to mind upon entering the new campus, as well as transparency, but not at �irst approach. In fact, the piazza in front of the campus – Granary Square, that upon completion this summer will become one of London’s largest public spaces, is currently laid out as a labyrinth of metal fences and diggers completing the surfacing of the vast land. The building that greets you is part heritage and part modern of�ice block, as two new additions �lank either side of the 19th-century Granary building. And here is the surprise. You enter through the bowels of the Victorian warehouse and end up in a vast and voluminous space of concrete, glass, steel and lots of light. The entrance works like a tardis, because as you enter it, nothing prepares you for the mass of real estate that sprawls out behind it – 40,000 sq/m to be exact. >
Weaving architectonic blocks into her Chanel-inspired tweeds, Hellen van Rees added a new dimension to the classic tweed suit. Photographed on a balcony over "the street".
Icelandic textiles graduate Erna Einarsdottir built her collection around the reinterpretation of wool. Shapes were kept simple â€“ jumpers and pencil skirts â€“ allowing for the full expression of the intricacies of layered wool and polyurethane. Photographed in the knitting workshop.
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Drawing inspiration from early 20th-century Russian constructivism and contemporaneous fashion, Timur Kimâ€™s graduation collection sought to upgrade denim from coarse workwear material to ďŹ ne eveningwear fabric. Photographed in the MA fashion studios.
IT’S NOT WITHOUT REASON THAT THE NEW CENTRAL SAINT MARTINS CAMPUS HAS BEEN DUBBED “AN ART SCHOOL FOR THE TATE MODERN GENERATION”.
7 Ethylene tetraﬂuoroethylene is is a recyclable plastic designed to be heat and cold resistant and is often used as a replacement for glass. Compared to glass it is 1% of the weight and comes at a much lower cost, while transmitting more light.
Van Nelle is an important Dutch industrial building from the early modernist era. Located in Rotterdam, it was drawn by the Dutch architects Johannes Brinkman and Leendert van der Vlugt, and executed between 1925 and 1931.
Kieran Long, A Very Modern Art School, The London Evening Standard, 21 September 2011.
The Turbine Hall used to house the electricity generators of London's Bankside Power Station, designed by Sir Giles Gilbert Scott (1880-1960) and completed 1963. The building acted as a power station until 1981. Since 2000, it has housed the Tate Modern galleries. 10
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> At the back of the Granary Building lies “the street” a long and high space that has been created between the two new four-storey buildings housing workshops and classrooms. It is 110m long, 12m wide and 20m high with a roof of translucent ETFE plastic7. Above ground level, walkways criss-cross the space. The �irst impression is that it’s like a cruder version of a modernist factory, such as the Van Nelle outside Rotterdam8 where the transportation of workers was achieved via transparent walkways between the building’s different hubs. It’s not without reason that the new Central Saint Martins campus has been dubbed “an art school for the Tate Modern generation”9. The street is like a mini Turbine Hall10 and its usage is meant to be similarly multipurpose. “The building is designed to morph,” says Williams. “That’s what Professor Jane Rapley, head of Central Saint Martins, always asked us for, which was a new scenario for us. The projects that we are best known for are the ones where we create a total architecture, down to the graphics, but it was very different with this. It was more about creating the spaces that will then be handed over to the students and staff to make their own.” This central street is meant to function for pop-up classrooms, catwalk shows, exhibitions and installations and Stanton Williams has left it suf�iciently wide and high to accommodate pop-up structures as and when it’s needed. It is at the farthest corner of the street and all the way up on the top �loor that the MA fashion department has its studios. They are �looded with light and although the �it-outs are all new, it has an “undone” aesthetic. “A lot of the spaces are intentionally left raw, and it’s up to the departments to make it their own,” explains Williams. Maybe most incredibly – it has a view. The contrast couldn’t be bigger from their old studios where the �irst-�loor windows were often so black from the pollution outside, that it was dif�icult to see out. So how has the move to these bigger, better and more streamlined premises affected the students?
“I think everyone is a product of their environment,” says British Craig Green who has been studying at the college for seven years. “We have more space here, a lot of empty space – maybe I was trying to �ill it with all my giant things. Maybe, they wouldn’t be so big if I was in the old building.” Green is referring to his graduation collection of menswear, which featured large nomadic structures, some house-like, others like multiple rucksacks sewn together into an attractive turtle-like shell. Originally, they were meant to become fully functioning pieces of luggage, but he settled on keeping them just as portable sculptures. They are put together in a make-shift way, with cotton fabric stretched over wooden frames which �its like harnesses over the wearer’s shoulders. “After my �irst crit I actually did go home and created these perfect prototypes, but when I came back with them, the tutors said, ‘What have you done? You’ve ruined the whole point of the piece’.” So Green kept it rugged and it works well with the simple tunics and straight trousers in cotton that he as created as part of the collection. There is something of pilgrimage over his graduation show, a purity and simplicity with religious undertones. “Not intentionally,” says Green. “Although I was very inspired by the aesthetic of the 1960 British science �iction �ilm Village Of The �amned.”
“The work is really refreshing this year,” says another MA fashion student Helen Lawrence. “I think that it might have been something to do with the move. Everything is really new in the building so maybe that’s why all our work seems really energetic.” Both her own work and that of fellow graduate in knitwear Luke Brooks could be described in this way. A peculiar energy goes through Brooks’ pieces which use an amalgamation of different knitting and crocheting techniques. He marries contrasting materials and comes up with structures that partly look like they were crafted from leftovers on a rubbish heap, partly look like the most exclusive and wondrous knitwear you could ever see. His Olympic rings headpiece speaks particularly of the time and place of his graduation and has already been touted in fashion blogs and magazines internationally. >
Focusing on seams, joins, and panelling, Helen Lawrence’s collection was partly inﬂuenced by 1970s nail art; speciﬁcally Maurizio Anzeri’s threaded vintage photographs. Photographed in an ad-hoc work space.
Taking her cues from the late 1980s and early 1990s, Yifang Wan produced a minimalist graduation collection. Long, ďŹ‚owing garments in cashmere wool were punctuated by sculptural accessories made from resin and glass ďŹ bre. Photographed in the northeastern stairwell.
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WHEN YOU’VE BEEN SOMEWHERE FOR A VERY LONG TIME THE BUILDING BECOMES A PROTECTIVE SHELL AND YOU HAVE YOUR OWN SYSTEM FOR WORKING THERE.
Thanks to Louise Wilson and Jo Ortmans for organising access to the MA fashion studios and to Kristina Rapacki and Krystof Ondrejek for modelling.
� There are two key points to the campus’s architecture� its �luidity and transparency, aiming to create an interchange and openness between departments, but this year’s MA fashion graduates haven’t really had the time to pursue the building in this way and as a result many see the move as disruptive. “It has been painful,” says Russian Timur Kim, another MA fashion student who has been studying at the college for six years. “When you’ve been somewhere for a very long time the building becomes a protective shell and you have your own system of working in there. I feel like I’ve been dragged out of that and into this new space at a very crucial point of my education.” Kim has been working on his �inal MA project for the duration of his time at the college. The initial idea was to translate the concept of denim from the area of workwear into something more elegant and sophisticated. He has created long robes, tunics and dresses, using panels of denim interchanged with velvet, but treating the denim as a �ine fabric, while using the velvet in a cruder way. This perceived simplicity of fabric and form was also present in the �inal collection of Chinese Yifang Wan who made a collection entirely out of cashmere wool. The colour palette is focused on only black and grey and the dresses, tunics and tops �it loosely on the model. Inspired by minimalist sculpture Yifang added decorative �lourishes with oversized belts and necklaces created from resin and glass �ibre. “Hooking” onto the wearer rather than working as a fastener or for pinning in the out�its, the pieces sit stif�ly around the neck and waste. The overall impression is of that of the garment and its wearer as sculpture – as a piece of art. Fellow womenswear graduate the Dutch Hellen van Rees similarly treats her garments like sculptures – they are like an exploded 3D version of the traditional Chanel suit and require many hours of work. “I weave everything into the shape of the garment – so it’s all in 3D, then I add square foam-blocks made out of the same fabric, so it all looks like one seamless thing, they are all fused together with the help of a heat-press.” Van Rees spent many hours in the fashion studio to achieve the �inished result. “When we moved in I sat here working in the dark some evenings because there was something wrong with the lighting system,” says van Rees. “It was frustrating sometimes.” The portfolio selection and interview process for next year’s MA students is in full swing today and Professor Wilson, always dressed in black, makes brief appearances from her of�ice, to call students. In Wilson, the students have a living legend. Having served as the outspoken course director for the MA fashion since 1992 (except for a stint as head of Donna Karan in New York) she has been instrumental in creating a strong and diverse British fashion scene, feeding young talent through to the international fashion houses and creating quite a few stars along the way. Watching her stride, royally, through these new premises, it seems that the �irst MA fashion students from Central Saint Martins at Granary Square has little to worry about. With her eye for talent, the future legacy of the fashion studios at the new campus are already secured and Wilson’s decisions today on who will and will not be granted a place at the school, will in�luence the future of fashion for years to come. The sun is setting on this fresh spring evening and someone has left the door open to the huge east-facing roof terrace. It is obvious from the excited students that spill out on the terrace that this is a pretty special experience. It’s hard to imagine another educational institution with such splendid views – the city of London – as far as you can see, shrouded in a �ine evening mist.
Our last photograph of the day is set up here, of Craig Green’s black canvas structure. As Green helps adjust it on the models’ back, he shares his thoughts on the future. “I was just interviewed for a really interesting job today,” he says. “I always thought that I would like to pursue my own work, but there’s something really nice about working under constraint as well, and in a team. Maybe it’s just because I’ve been here for so long I’m used to this community atmosphere. I feel like I’m institutionalised and I need therapy back into the real world – re-adjustment therapy.”
72 Disegno. THE MOVE
Inspired by found vintage postcards of Greek luggagecarriers, Craig Greenâ€™s sculptural frames gave his graduation collection an extravagant threedimensionality. Pilgrimage, religious uniform, and workwear also served as points of departure for the collection. Photographed on the roof terrace.
CRAB Medium-sized crabs are the best. They should feel heavy. Crabs are boiled like lobster, but for a bit longer, for about 25 minutes. Add a generous amount salt to the water and also a little cumin, if you like. Clean the crab by breaking the joints and then scraping the meat out with a lobster knife. Go through the meat with your �ingers and remove the �lat tendons that you can feel with your nails. KING CRAB SALAD WITH CHERRIES AND APPLES Serves 4 250g king crab meat 100g Granny Smith apples, chopped 1tbsp lemon oil 1tbsp olive oil 1tsp lemon juice 1tbsp dried cherries 1tbsp walnuts 100g pea shoots 200g lamb’s lettuce Sugar, salt and pepper, to season Toasted croutons, to serve Place the crab meat with chopped apples and lemon oil in a bowl and mix well. Season with salt and white pepper. Mix the pea shoots and lamb’s lettuce with chopped walnuts, dried cherries and olive oil. Season the salad with lemon juice, salt, pepper and sugar. Serve with toasted croutons.
74 Disegno. LOOK, ANIMALS!
PHOTO GEORGE CSERNA (COPYRIGHT UNKNOWN). ACC N IN1004.254Â©2012. DIGITAL IMAGE, THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK/SCALA, FLORENCE
Installation view of the exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, MoMA, New York, 26 May to 11 September 1972.
76 Disegno. ITALY: THE OLD THEDOMESTIC NEW DOMESTIC LANDSCAPE LANDSCAPE
Italy: the new domestic landscape In the summer of 1972, an exhibition on Italian design showed at MoMA in New York. Although short-lived, it has formed a seminal moment in design history. Exclusive interviews with its curator, Emilio Ambasz, and one of the designers, Gaetano Pesce reveal why. WORDS Pete Collard
ITALY: THE NEW DOMESTIC LANDSCAPE
1 Gaetano Pesce (b. 1939) is an Italian architect and designer who has developed products for B&B Italia, Vitra, and Cassina. His architectural projects include the Organic Building in Osaka, Japan.
Emilio Ambasz (b. 1943) is a renowned Argentine architect and industrial designer based in New York. He served as curator of design at MoMA between 1970 and 1976.
Ambasz comments: “I sent Enzo Mari a letter saying you are hereby not invited to design an environment. Because I knew if I invited him he would say no, just to make an ideological point. But we had more products by Enzo Mari in the exhibition than any other designer. He was the only man who could live with the conﬂict of designing the most splendid ashtrays in the morning and then go on television to denounce the consumer society at night.”
Artemide is an Italian lighting design manufacturer founded by Ernesto Gismondi and Sergio Mazza in 1958.
5 Cassina is an Italian furniture company founded by Cesare and Umberto Cassina in Milan in 1927.
Originally conceived by Giulio Castelli as a manufacturer for automobile accessories in 1949, the Milanese manufacturer Kartell began producing home furnishings in 1963. The company has specialised in plastic furniture since the 1960s.
Industrial designer Achille Castiglioni (1918-2002) worked together with brothers Livio and Pier Giacomo in their Milan design studio. His work pushes the boundaries of industrial manufacture in often humorous ways.
Flos is an Italian manufacturer of lighting design. The company was founded in Merano in 1962.
hen I visited the factory to see how the construction of the project was coming along, the workers told me that they didn’t like spending time inside the installation; it had a bad atmosphere. To me, that was a great compliment – it demonstrated the true function of architecture, to provoke emotional responses from people.” Gaetano Pesce1 is recalling the moment he visited the Cassina factory in Italy, in early 1972, to check on the progress of his new work Project For An Underground City In The Age Of Great Contaminations. The piece was about to be shipped to the United States to form part of a landmark exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. Curated by Emilio Ambasz2, Italy: The New Domestic Landscape was to become one of the most provocative shows in the history of contemporary design.
“When I started the exhibition I knew nothing about Italian design,” confesses Ambasz, who is Argentinean by birth, from his of�ice in Bologna, Italy. Ambasz was only 25 at the time and had just submitted a proposal to the MoMA board of directors. “I had read a few magazines and seen beautiful products, so I said we should have an exhibition. It was only when I got to Italy that it became evident to me that the designers were making objects but thinking of environments.” To demonstrate this, Ambasz commissioned a series of prototype environments, installations that would re�lect upon changing domestic living patterns within contemporary society, while also facilitating the explorative use of new materials and multimedia technology. “As I felt that the industry was not able to offer an opportunity to make such environments, because they wouldn’t be able to sell them, I invited a number designers to take part in the exhibition and many of them came up with pretty extraordinary ideas,” says Ambasz. In total, 12 Italian designers and architects participated: Ettore Sottsass, Joe Colombo, Gae Aulenti, Mario Bellini, Alberto Rosselli, Richard Sapper and Marco Zanuso, Gaeteno Pesce, Ugo La Pietra, Gruppo Strum, Archizoom, Superstudio and 99993. These environments were to be presented alongside a selection of examples of Italian industrial design produced during the previous decade, to act as a historical counterpoint for American audiences. “What Ambasz had understood was that design in Italy was moving beyond being an applied art. It was becoming a language capable of making a commentary on reality,” says Pesce, who lives in New York. “The concept was to give the American public the idea of design as having a bigger meaning, not just a banal collection of objects, but exploring existential problems.” Originally intended to travel to museums across the States, the exhibition opened for a single summer in New York before being dismantled and the exhibits returned to Italy. Yet, despite the brevity of its public presentation, the show became a benchmark for future architecture and design exhibitions. “It’s the great ‘myth’ of design curating,” explains London-based Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic, “the show that my generation never saw, but thanks to the catalogue, and the title we regularly refer to it. On one level, the range from Pesce to Bellini did not make sense brought together under one roof, but for spectacle and stylishness, it was the �irst show to really highlight design as a mainstream museum culture concern.” The importance of the original event is such that it has provoked a recent curatorial response of its own, Environments And Counter Environments: Experimental Media in Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, MoMA 1972. Containing extensive archival research from the original show, the exhibition was presented in New York, Stockholm, Basel and Barcelona in the last two years and formed the basis for a series of discussions on the future of curating architecture and design.
Spread across two wings of the museum, Italy: The New Domestic Landscape opened on 26 May 1972, divided into two ideologically separate sections: Objects and Environments. The museum’s Garden Wing played host to the former, and featured more than 150 chairs, tables, lights and other household items from Italian manufacturers including Artemide3, Cassina4 and Kartell6. Archetypal designs such as Achille Castiglioni’s7 Arco lamp for Flos8 and Ettore Sottsass’ Valentine >
78 Disegno. ITALY: THE NEW DOMESTIC LANDSCAPE
PHOTO NEW YORK, MUSEUM OF MODERN ART (MOMA) © 2012. DIGITAL IMAGE, THE MUSEUM OF MODERN ART, NEW YORK/SCALA, FLORENCE
Installation view of the exhibition. It was divided into two ideologically separate sections: Objects and Environments. The museumâ€™s Garden Wing (pictured) played host to Objects and featured more than 150 chairs, tables, lights and other household items from Italian manufacturers like Artemide, Cassina and Kartell.
IT WAS THE BEST-ATTENDED EXHIBITION MOMA HAD EVER HAD, 176,000 VISITORS IN TOTAL, ALTHOUGH THE AMERICAN DESIGN PROFESSION WAS PRETTY UPSET. THEY HAD BEEN BROUGHT UP IN THE BAUHAUS TRADITION.
10 Italian Bel design, or bel disegno, is a phrase used to describe the postmodern and pop styles of the 1960s and 1970s in Italy.
The miracolo economico, or economic miracle, denotes the long period of steady economic growth that occurred in Italy in the post-war period, especially between 1950 and 1963.
12 The 14th Milan Triennale opened in May 1968, coinciding with a concatenation of worldwide student and worker revolts.
Gruppo Strum’s name is short for instrumental architecture, or architettura strumentale. The group was founded in 1971 in Turin by Pietro Derossi, Giorgio Cerretti, Carlo Gianmarco, Riccardo Rosso, and Maurizio Vogliazzo.
Archizoom was a design studio founded by the architects Andrea Branzi, Gilberto Corretti, Paolo Deganello, Massimo Morozzi, and the designers Dario Bartolini and Lucia Bartolini, in Florence in 1966. They collaborated with Superstudio (see note 20).
Ugo La Pietra (b. 1938) is an Italian artist, architect, and designer. His experimental activities in 1960s and 1970s contributed to radical design.
> typewriter for Olivetti9 were presented in tall wooden crate-like structures, arranged in a grid and echoing the visual language of the city skyline above them. Displayed behind glass, as if in shop windows to seduce new American customers, the “parade of exquisitely designed objects” prompted Time magazine to declare “Italian designers dominate their �ield in the 1970s much as New York painters dominated theirs in the 1960s”. Ambasz remembers it well: “It was the bestattended exhibition MoMA had ever had, 176,000 visitors in total, although the American design profession was pretty upset. They had been brought up in the Bauhaus tradition and yet here there were these Italian designers that were using colour, curves and sensuous materials and they saw that the public loved it.”
These examples of Italian Bel design10 also offered a vivid representation of the provocation behind the confrontational political positions taken by several of contributing designers and architects in the Environments section. Despite the miracolo economico11 of the 1960s, wages in Italy were comparatively low compared to the rest of Western Europe meaning that some of the domestically produced objects on display at MoMA remained out of reach for many Italian consumers. In addition, a severe housing crisis was the cause of signi�icant problems for many of the large numbers of Southern migrant workers now living in the Northern industrial cities of Italy. The student-led occupation of the 1968 Triennale in Milan12 had indicated a shifting consensus within architecture and design towards a position of direct action and social implications rather than aesthetics were emerging as the central ideology within contemporary practice. In response to this, several of the invited designers decided not to produce conventional physical installations as requested and instead used the institutional platform that MoMA offered to present alternative manifestos. This was most graphically demonstrated by the three fotoromanzi produced by the Turin-based Gruppo Strum13 for the exhibition and distributed free to museum visitors. The explicit Marxist message contained within the pages caused unease among the museum’s board of directors and outright anger among several members of the public. “I was called by David Rockefeller who was at that time the chairman of the museum board and said to me ‘Mr. Agnelli [head of FIAT] is my friend and you have him on the cover of one these magazines branded as Capitalist’,” says Ambasz. “I replied that I had asked Mr. Agnelli if he would accept this, as otherwise we would remove it and he replied ‘But I am a capitalist. It’s perfectly ok’.”
Other “artful acts of rebellion”, as New York Times critic Ada Huxtable described them, included the Florentine group Archizoom’s14 empty shipping container, into which a recording of a young girl’s voice was played describing what the installation would be like: “Listen, I am convinced this would be an extraordinary place, it would be very spacious and very serene, without any obstructions or intersections. Can you visualise it?” Ugo La Pietra’s15 Casa Telematica (The Domicile Cell: A Microstructure within the Information and Communications Systems) presented a didactic triangular box, similarly devoid of objects and featuring an audio-visual presentation of his concept of design as a tool for experiential methods of communication rather than actual physical production. >
80 Disegno. ITALY: THE NEW DOMESTIC LANDSCAPE
IMAGE ETTORE SOTTSASS ARCHIVE
Olivetti was founded by Camillo Olivetti in 1908, and started as a manufacturer of typewriters. Today, it produces and sells computers and printers.
Illustration of furnishing concept by Ettore Sottsass as featured in the exhibition catalogue. Sottsass produced a series of interchangeable and moveable closets, moulded in grey plastic for the Environments section of the exhbition.
PHOTOS CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT LEOMBRUNO-BODI LAMI, ALDO BALLO, KLAUS ZAUGG, SUPERSTUDIO
Clockwise from left: Richard Sapper and Marco Zanuso’s untitled living environment was made from a standard shipping container; Boalum segmental ﬂexible lamp by Livio Castiglioni and Gianfranco Frattini for Artemide, 1969/70, was part of the Objects section of the show; Gaetano Pesce’s Project For An Underground City In The Age of Great Contaminations was installed in a lift shaft; Superstudio A Life Without Objects.
82 Disegno. ITALY: THE NEW DOMESTIC LANDSCAPE
PHOTOS FROM TOP ALDO BALLO, VALERIO CASTELLI/MARIO BELLINI ARCHITECTS
Clockwise from left: The Moloch ﬂoor light by Gaetano Pesce was exhibited as a prototype; Mario Bellini’s Kar-A-Sutra, mobile living environment was surprisingly, for an exhibition dedicated to Italy, produced with the help of French Citroën.
ITALY: THE NEW DOMESTIC LANDSCAPE
THE EXPLICIT MARXIST MESSAGE CONTAINED WITHIN THE PAGES CAUSED UNEASE AMONG THE MUSEUM’S BOARD OF DIRECTORS AND OUTRIGHT ANGER AMONG SEVERAL MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC.
16 Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007) was an Italian architect and designer. He developed products for Olivetti (see note 7) and Alessi, among others, and founded the Memphis group in the 1980s.
Gae Aulenti (b. 1927) is an Italian architect and industrial designer. Some of her most famous projects include the Musée d’Orsay in Paris and Palazzo Grassi in Venice, both undertaken during the 1980s.
The German industrial designer Richard Sapper (b. 1932) and Italian architect and designer Marco Zanuso (1916-2001) collaborated between 1958 and 1977 in Zanuso’s Milanese workshop. Together, they developed a series of innovative furniture, lamps, and electrical appliances.
19 Joe Colombo (1930-71) began his career as a painter and sculptor before coming to product design in 1963. A number of visionary products earned him a reputation as one of Italy’s most important post-war industrial designers.
Boffi is an Italian luxury kitchen, bathroom, and (since 2010) wardrobe manufacturer. It was founded by Piero Boffi in 1934.
21 Superstudio was an architectural ﬁrm established in Florence in 1966 by Adolfo Natalini and Cristiano Toraldo di Francia. The ﬁrm collaborated with Archizoom (see note 12) on several projects, including the 1966 Superarchitettura exhibition held at the Jolly2 gallery in Pistoia.
Mario Bellini (b. 1935) is a Milanese architect and designer. He is known for a number of products for Olivetti (see note 7), but also his own design practice Studio Bellini, founded in 1973. In 1987, MoMA honoured Bellini with a solo exhibition.
> “It was the beginning of a new form of Bel design, the ability to comment or express ideas about society,” explains Pesce. “In that moment, design had become art, because art is nothing more than that. The idea of design as art, art as design, has been debated for the past 40 years and I believe it comes from this moment.” Ettore Sottsass16 produced a series of interchangeable and moveable closets, moulded in grey plastic to demonstrate anti-commercial qualities and intended to remove the hierarchies found in traditional households. Milanese architect Gae Aulenti17 responded to the words of Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges for her project, a series of �ibreglass architectural furniture typologies; “nothing is built on stone, all is built on sand, but we must build as if the sand is stone”, declaring in her accompanying manifesto that “architecture is made beyond the strife of governments, wars and famine.”
Not all the selected designers responded to the brief from theoretical positions, instead choosing to work using more tangible and utilitarian methods. Richard Sapper and Marco Zanuso18 re-interpreted a standard shipping container, building within it an expandable structure that could be used as emergency temporary housing, responding directly to the problems highlighted by the Gruppo Strum’s publications. Joe Colombo’s19 Total Furnishing Unit, completed a year after his untimely death, compressed all the elements of the suburban home into one fully extendable central plastic mono-block, an expansion of his mini-kitchen for kitchen and bathroom makers Bof�i20, exhibited elsewhere in the show. Visitors were also shown a series of short �ilms, displayed using 8mm cartridges alongside the installations. These allowed for either a pragmatic illustration of the technical features of the design or experimental visualisations of the critical thinking behind the designers’ theoretical approaches. This pioneering use of �ilm within a design exhibition was at the heart of the research undertaken by Peter Lang, Mark Wasiuta and Luca Molinari for their recent exhibition and forthcoming book. The Environments and Counter Environments project was conceived following the rediscovery of much of the multimedia material, which had remained unseen for nearly 40 years. “The �ilms were conceived in tandem with the Environment section,” explains curator Lang. “Ambasz was not aiming for a conventional architectural rhetoric, at least not in making an exhibit of models, renderings or ink drawings; he wanted to get as real as possible. And, in what would be the crucial exercise, he programmed the making of the �ilms, to portray the “rituals and ceremonies” that would bring all these conceptual ideals home to the museum public.” Superstudio21 presented a mock advertisement for the group’s manifesto of an alternative strategy of a life without objects, produced using a mainstream commercial advertising company. Pesce worked with Swiss advertising and fashion photographer Klaus Zaugg to create an anthropological documentary of the lives of the inhabitants of his installation, the one that had so troubled the workers at Cassina. Designed as a future archaeological discovery, Project For An Underground City In The Age Of Great Contaminations was an underground communal space for 12 people who had left the surface of the planet in response to an unknown ecological incident. In an inspired and improvised piece of curation by Ambasz, the exhibit was presented in a lift shaft at the museum, enabling visitors to view the installation from above, as intended. The confrontational nature of Pesce’s piece demonstrated the willingness of Italian manufacturers to participate in projects that allowed them to innovate, experiment and respond to new cultural ideas. The research centre at the Cassina factory also produced Mario Bellini’s22 Kar-A-Sutra mobile living environment while >
84 Disegno. ITALY: THE NEW DOMESTIC LANDSCAPE
86 Disegno. ITALY: THE NEW DOMESTIC LANDSCAPE
IMAGES COURTESY OF IGNAZIA FAVATA, STUDIO JOE COLOMBO, PHOTO VALERIO CASTELLI, G. TIGNELLI
IMAGES COURTESY OF ARCHITECT GAE AULENTI, PHOTO VALERIO CASTELLI
This page: Gae Aulenti took inspiration from Argentine writer Jorge Luis Borges for House Environment, a series of ďŹ breglass architectural furniture typologies. Opposite page: Joe Colombo continued exploring the idea of compact living in the Total Furnishing Unit which was part of the Environments section. Sadly, Colombo died before the exhibition opened.
ITALY: THE NEW DOMESTIC LANDSCAPE
IMAGE COURTESY OF UGO LA PIETRA ARCHIVE
Ugo La Pietraâ€™s Casa Telematica, or A Domicile Cell, presented a didactic triangular box, featuring an audio-visual presentation of his concept of design as a tool for experiental methods of communication rather than actual physical production.
23 Fiat is an Italian car and engine manufacturer based in the Piedmonte region in northern Italy. Fiat was founded by Giovanni Agnelli in 1899, and has since become one of the world’s largest automobile companies. 24 Casabella is an inﬂuential Italian design magazine founded in 1928 by Guido Marangoni.
READING LIST Environments and Counter Environments: Experimental Media in Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, MoMA 1972 by Peter Lang, Mark Wasiuta and Luca Molinari will be published by ACTAR in the autumn.
� Bof�i, car manufacturer Fiat23 and furniture-maker Kartell were other companies to contribute their resources and expertise to the production of several of the environments. “I was more than the curator, I was the impresario,” exclaims Ambasz. “I was able to use the institutional support that MoMA provided to get the architects to produce those environments for the simple fact of vanity. The vanity of the manufacturers who were willing to under-write everything so it would be presented at the Museum of Modern Art.”
The theoretical and politically confrontational position offered by the exhibition failed to placate some of the participants, who felt ill at ease with the commercial motives and ambitions of the show’s headline sponsors – the Italian Government. Archizoom’s Andrea Branzi wrote a highly satirical review for the June 1972 issue of Domus magazine, portraying the Italian designers as celebrities and mingling with Hollywood stars at the exhibition’s opening black-tie gala party. Branzi describes the Italian Ambassador as having tears in his eyes and emotionally declaring that the designers had “saved our country”, suggesting that the exhibition had become little more than a glori�ied trade show. The Government funding had been integral in �inancing the exorbitant costs of the project and Ambasz had waited until the exhibition had opened before announcing that the proposed tour would not be taking place, anticipating the obvious anger this caused.
Yet despite, or perhaps because of, the failure of the exhibition to travel beyond New York, Italy: The New Domestic Landscape has become a seminal moment in design history. The summer of 1972 represented a clear high point in Italian creativity and spontaneity, a moment of unique synergy between the designers and manufacturers. In the years that followed, the con�idence and vision of Italian design was replaced by a mood of introspection and revision. Indeed Ambasz’s exhibition has been referenced repeatedly by other architecture and design projects; Paolo Portoghesi’s Strada Novissima at the Venice Architecture Biennale in 1980 and Alessi’s Tea and Coffee Piazza project from 1983 both followed closely his original curatorial template. Even today, the annual Interni installations at the Università degli Studi di Milano during Salone act as a reminder of how little the landscape of architecture and design exhibitions has changed over the past 40 years. For several of the participating designers the closing of the exhibition marked the end of a theoretical journey; “There followed a kind of a cultural revolution in that so much of the radical content, the nascent green movement, a critical material culture and the conceptual movement in general, literally vanished from discussion to be replaced by the new dogma of autonomy and historicism,” says Lang. “Blame the oil crisis of 1973, the economy, or whatever, but in the year Ambasz staged his exhibition, the movement both achieved its greatest notoriety, �irmly cementing Italy’s global reputation for avant-garde design, and then poof! It’s history.” Ambasz agrees: “For some of the designers, I think Italy: The New Domestic Landscape was a moment that happens to every person, the moment when you realise the extent of your capacity and from then on something changes, not that people’s capacity diminishes, simply that it does not �ly higher.”
Perhaps the most telling commentary on the exhibition was provided by Casabella magazine24. For the June 1972 issue, editor Alessandro Mendini used an illustration of a mountain gorilla, taken from a postcard purchased at the Museum of Natural History in New York. To the postcard Mendini added the words “radical design”, written across the chest of the gorilla; like King Kong, the wild beast of Italian design had been captured and taken to New York for the entertainment of the American public.
Pete Collard is a design writer and curator based in London. He is currently Design Adviser to the British Council’s Architecture, Design, and Fashion department.
90 Disegno. ITALY: THE NEW DOMESTIC LANDSCAPE
PHOTOS CLOCKWISE FROM TOP: IMAGE COURTESY OF UGO LA PIETRA ARCHIVE; IMAGE COURTESY OF CARLO CALDINI ARCHIVE; IMAGE COURTESY OF GRUPPO STRUM
YET DESPITE, OR PERHAPS BECAUSE OF THE FAILURE OF THE EXHIBITION TO TRAVEL BEYOND NEW YORK, ITALY: THE NEW DOMESTIC LANDSCAPE HAS BECOME A SEMINAL MOMENT IN DESIGN HISTORY.
Clockwise from above: A photomontage of Ugo La Pietraâ€™s Electronic Guide; The cover of Casabella issue 367 June 1972 featured a gorilla with the words Radical Design on his chest; The bedroom of Studio 9999 Vegetable Garden House; The fotoromanzo The Struggle for Housing by Gruppo Strum caused an outrage at the exhibition.
ITALY: THE NEW DOMESTIC LANDSCAPE
RABBIT The meat of a young rabbit is tender whereas the ϐlesh of older animals is hard and dry. When killed, hang the rabbit for two to six days before skinning, gutting, washing, drying and cutting up. If the meat is sweet and insipid, it should be cooked with a lot of other ϐlavours. RABBIT FRICASSÉE Serves 4 2kg of rabbit on the bone 200g unsalted butter 500g double cream 12 small shallots, minced 3 cloves of garlic, minced 300ml Riesling wine Fresh thyme Salt and pepper Cut and prepare the rabbit and put it in a saucepan with butter, shallots and thyme. Simmer and let the rabbit pieces caramelise. Add the Riesling and cream. Cover the saucepan and let it cook for 40 minutes. Take out the rabbit pieces and strain the sauce. Pour the sauce over the rabbit just before serving. Serve with blanched green asparagus and toasted sourdough bread.
92 Disegno. LOOK, ANIMALS!
PHOTO CONCRETE CANVAS LTD
Concrete Canvas requires nothing but two people and water to be erected; it consists of a cementimpregnated fabric that stiffens when hydrated. The resultant structure is water-proof, ďŹ bre-resistant and highly durable.
94 Disegno. TAKE SHELTER
The shelter is an increasingly important architectural type in this time of climatic catastrophe, man-made disaster and paranoia. We explore the fascination with refuge structures, not only as protection but also as retreat. WORDS Magnus Larsson
T Architecture for Humanity is a charitable organisation which seeks architectural solutions to humanitarian crisis and brings professional design services to communities in need. Co-founded with Kate Stohr (a former journalist interested in urban planning issues) in 1999, it was Sinclair’s postgraduate thesis on providing shelter to New York’s homeless community, that served as the basis for Architecture for Humanity. In 2009, Sinclair and Stohr were jointly awarded the Bicentenary Medal by the Royal Society of Arts for their work.
Best known as one of the founders of the antiestablishment Dada movement of the 1920s, Tristan Tzara (1896–1963) was a Romanian and French avant-garde poet, writer and performance artist.
4, 5 Frederick John Kiesler (1890–1965) was an AustrianAmerican theatre designer, artist and architect. The Endless House was Kiesler’s vision of a free-form, continuous, human-centred living space synthesising painting, sculpture, architecture, and the environment.
Gaston Bachelard (1884-1962) was a French philosopher, interested in the ﬁelds of poetics and the philosophy of science.
8 Jeff Nichols (b. 1978) is an American director and writer.
96 Disegno. TAKE SHELTER
Two keys have to be turned simultaneously to enter the launch facilities, in locks distanced to make it impossible for a lunatic to single-handedly initiate a nuclear attack on the Soviet Union, or anywhere else within a 15,000-kilometre radius. It would take 58 seconds to launch a Titan II missile, and a couple of these could turn Moscow and its suburbs into a �ine dust. Between 1963 and 1987, the US kept 54 of these doomsday machines on constant alert in similar desert silos.
The silo shelters the missile from the outside world, yet the world also shelters the silo from the missile: without doubt, these Arizona hiding places would have been targets had the super powers come to a nuclear clash. The underground shelters would have been the beginning of the end of the world.
But nuclear war no longer tops the list of contemporary anxieties – that position is held by freak weather. Hurricanes, droughts, �loods, heatwaves, tornadoes – the list of record-breaking meteorological events over the past decades has without doubt had an impact. By 2050, an estimated one billion people will be displaced across the globe. There is now an entire sub genre of architecture devoted to crisis structures. English architect Cameron Sinclair1, who co-founded Architecture for Humanity2 in 1999 and calls design “the ultimate renewable resource”, is one of its most outspoken proponents. Following the Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, he told The Guardian newspaper’s Jonathan Glancey: “Many [architects] feel that sitting at a screen sweating over the design of handrail details for the next cute downtown boutique hotel just doesn’t make sense when more than 150,000 people have lost their lives, more than �ive million people have been made homeless and whole towns have been swept away.”
From advanced blast-out bunkers to the humble blanket fort, shelters are about protection. All humans are born with a natural tendency to satisfy their need for food, shelter, and warmth. This is why we began wearing clothes, learnt how to use �ire, and started seeking shelter. It is also why we worry about what will come next, and in our climate-conscious age, a palpable apprehension about atmospheric conditions in the future can be felt. This is not hysterical: an estimated 200 million people were affected by natural disasters in the past decade. Events such as cyclones and earthquakes leave desperation and despair in their wake. Just ask the 17.2 million affected by the 2010 �loods in Pakistan. According to Austrian psycholanalyst Sigmund Freud, our �irst great trauma in life is the transition from the secure shelter of the womb to the unsheltered world outside. Surrealist writer and performer Tristan Tzara3 described this sheltered, intrauterine space as a pre-visual, tactile sanctuary, a dreamlike place perhaps best architecturally embodied by Frederick Kiesler’s4 idea of the Endless House5 in the 1950s. Philosopher Gaston Bachelard6 talked about the chief bene�it of the house being that it “protects the dreamer” and “allows one to dream in peace”, and French writer Marcel Proust wrote (about one of his bedrooms) that it seemed to be simultaneously “a nest to hide in and a world to explore”. The shelter can also function as a more primal, often peculiarly male, mechanism. The idea of the man pottering about in his shed seems to be an extension of a history of male-protecting shelters: the trapper’s log cabin, the �isherman’s hut, the Finnish sauna. In the 2011 Jeff Nichols8 �ilm Take Shelter, the tormented protagonist hunkers with his family in their storm shelter, the underground bunker he’s built to protect them from the apocalyptic storms of his recurrent dreams and hallucinations – or from himself as he may or may not be slipping into schizophrenia. This scene of a family below ground brings to mind the survivalist hysteria surrounding the Y2K bug, when mass paranoia made people stockpile bottled water and nonperishable food in homebuilt, self-sustainable desert shelters as they prepared for the end of the world as we know it: the expected global computer systems meltdown when calendars switched from 1999 to 2000. >
PHOTO CONCRETE CANVAS LTD
1 Cameron Sinclair (b. 1973) is a British architect who trained at the University of Westminster and The Bartlett School of Architecture, University College London.
he strangest shelter I’ve entered lies in the Arizona desert, about 24 kilometres south of Tucson, just north of the Mexican border. It is a silo sheltering not human beings but an inert Titan II intercontinental ballistic missile from the 1960s. To climb down the 31 metres of spiralling stairs around the nuclear warhead is to step into the heart of darkness.
Spacious and bright, Concrete Canvas Shelters come in two variants; the CCS25 and CCS54, with 25sq/m and 54sq/m of ï¬‚oor space respectively.
BY 2050, AN ESTIMATED ONE BILLION PEOPLE WILL BE DISPLACED ACROSS THE GLOBE. THERE IS NOW AN ENTIRE SUB GENRE OF ARCHITECTURE DEVOTED TO CRISIS STRUCTURES.
PHOTO LAMBERT KAMPS
98 Disegno. TAKE SHELTER
Groningen-based artist and designer Lambert Kamps has produced a number of projects involving inďŹ‚atable structures. The Cozy Shelter is what it says; a snug hiding place from the outside world. From the outside, it looks like a sandbag fortress.
ACCORDING TO FREUD, OUR FIRST GREAT TRAUMA IN LIFE IS THE TRANSITION FROM THE SECURE SHELTER OF THE WOMB TO THE UNSHELTERED WORLD OUTSIDE.
Shigeru Ban (b. 1957) was born in Tokyo, Japan and trained at the Cooper Union’s School of Architecture. In addition to his refugee shelters, Ban is well known for his work on the Nomadic Museum – a purpose-built temporary structure, composed of 156 shipping containers, which serves as a travelling museum.
> The word hysteria comes from the Greek “hystera” meaning “womb”. Now that history has proved them wrong, there is indeed something hysterical about these digitally driven shelter makers. But what if they had been right, what if worldwide failures in computers had seen the electricity grid go dead, food supplies come crashing down, medical facilities be crippled, the stock market plummet, and panic set in? It is this “what if” thinking that makes the shelter as contingency plan and response the �irst of three trajectories that seem plausible for this architectural type. The other two are the shelter as vanishing point and the shelter as retreat, to which we shall return.
100 Disegno. TAKE SHELTER
Disasters occur when hazards meet vulnerabilities, and the shelter makes us less vulnerable. Helping calamity-struck communities recover and rebuild often begins with immediate calls for emergency shelters in the affected areas. This has led to many interesting and innovative projects, including the Concrete Canvas Shelter developed by Peter Brewin and Will Crawford, which was nominated for a Design of the Year Award at the Design Museum in London in 2011. A tent made of cement-impregnated fabric, bonded to an in�latable plastic liner, the structure is delivered folded in a sealed plastic sack. An electric fan is activated which in�lates the plastic inner to lift the structure until it is self supporting, water should then be sprayed onto the canvas which is left to set for 24 hours, creating a hard and weatherproof surface. Other disaster relief shelters include the Liina Transitional Shelter developed by the Aalto University in Finland in 2011 (a transitional shelter made from Finnish wood and designed to be assembled by two people in under six hours with basic tools to house �ive people for up to �ive years), Matthew Malone’s 2008 Accordion reCover Shelter (an inexpensive, oversized origami structure made from 100% recyclable and non-toxic polypropylene), Adrian Lippmann’s 2010 Fold Flat Shelter (a compact, tent-like mini house), and the 2011 QuaDror system by Dror Benshetrit (a space-truss design that can adapt to various conditions and con�igurations). A parallel line of investigation seeks to �ind strategies for the homeless, from artist Michael Rakowitz’s paraSITE project (1997) through to the heated, waterproof, wearable sleeping-bag coats designed by Veronika Scott in (2010) for Detroit’s 18,000 homeless. >
PHOTO AALTO UNIVERSITY WOOD PROGRAMME
Following the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan in 2011, architect Shigeru Ban9 – who has turned the recycled paper tube into a building block for low-cost disaster shelters – invented a simple construction system using cylinders of three different diameters, covered with white canvas sheets held together with safety pins, which provides privacy in each 15 sq/m unit. Onethousand eight-hundred of these updated versions of Ban’s 2005 Paper Partition System for the cities of Fukuoka and Fujisawa were built, at a cost of $300 each, funded exclusively by private donations. Shigeru Ban Architects then went on to stack shipping containers to create temporary homes for displaced victims of the catastrophe, the latest in a series of disaster relief shelters the practice has designed since the Kobe earthquake in 1995 (for which a paper log house on a foundation of secured beer crates was invented). In 1999, Ban made paper pole tents for postgenocide Rwanda, and in 2010 he built a paper emergency shelter for Haiti. While these buildings are by de�inition utilitarian, there is also a streak of poetry to them. As the architect told Time magazine: “A refugee shelter has to be beautiful. Psychologically, refugees are damaged. They have to stay in nice places.”
The Liina Transitional Shelter was designed by students of the Wood Programme at Aalto University, Finland. It comes in a ﬂatpack and can be assembled by two adults in one day using only common tools and a simple visual diagram; a sort of IKEA of shelter architecture. The difference is that Liina has the capacity to house a ﬁve-person family for up to ﬁve years during a post-disaster reconstruction period.
PHOTO SHIGERU BAN ARCHITECTS
Low in cost and quick to assemble, Shigeru Ban Archititectsâ€™ Paper Partitioning System provided temporary homes for thousands of displaced victims during the Japanese earthquake and tsunami disasters in 2011.
102 Disegno. TAKE SHELTER
THE SHELTER AS VANISHING POINT IS A LARGELY UNCHARTED TERRITORY, RESPONDING TO ISSUES OF PRIVACY AND ANONYMITY.
10 Kisho Kurokawa (1934–2007) was a founder of the Metabolist architectural movement in post-war Japan.
Equipped to function as a compact studio residence, each Spacebox unit contains a kitchen, shower and toilet over a surface area of 18sq/m. Stacked units have now been installed at several universities and institutes worldwide.
READING LIST Design Like You Give a Damn: Architectural Responses to Humanitarian Crises by Architecture for Humanity, THAMES & HUDSON, 2006 (second edition out in May 2012) Beyond Shelter: Architecture for Crisis by Marie J. Aquilino, THAMES & HUDSON, 2011 Design for the Real World: Human Ecology and Social Change by Victor Papanek, PANTHEON, 1971
> It could be argued that the age of digital tectonics has given rise to a formal category – that of the scripted canopy, the parametrically controlled surface, the screen of data that is not quite a building yet offers certain protective properties – but our second trajectory offers shelter from data itself. The shelter as vanishing point is a largely uncharted territory, responding to issues of privacy and anonymity. Now that more than half of the world’s population lives in urban areas (a number predicted to swell to almost �ive billion by 20�0), we might think that each person would become anonymous in a vast sea of humanity. But with CCTV, spy drones, and data surveillance of everything from credit cards to internet searches, there could still be a market for shelters that allow for further urban anonymity: scrambled hideouts for the suspicious and the paranoid, maybe camou�laged into seemingly normal components of a larger system. This could perhaps lead to a resurgence for anonymous capsule buildings, such as Kisho Kurokawa’s10 famous Nakagin Capsule Tower (1972), which allows for a separated stacking of retreat shelter units within a metropolitan context, or, for an updated version, Dutch architect Mart de Jong’s lightweight, prefab Spacebox building system (2004)11. The �inal trajectory, the shelter as retreat, is an alternative call for a similar kind of protection, from a life at the speed of what Canadian writer Douglas Coupland calls “proceleration”, the “acceleration of acceleration”. Each new generation lives in a world of unprecedented technical progress, and contemporary life is shadowed by what French cultural theorist and urbanist Paul Virilio calls the “global accident”, which would appear simultaneously to an interconnected world. One way of seeking at least temporary protection against such a threat is to plug out – of the city, of the internet, of the electricity grid – and escape to a retreat.
The retreat shelter is usually found in a scenic landscape. It is a model with a distinct history: Henry David Thoreau’s cabin at Walden Pond in the 1850s; Le Corbusier’s seaside Cabanon in the 1950s. Interesting contemporary shelters of this kind include LEAPfactory’s prefab alpine tube, the New Refuge Gervasutti, airlifted by helicopter to precariously cantilever over the edge of a mountain (2011), and Tham & Videgård’s mirrored-surface Tree Hotel, Harads (2010), a lightweight aluminium structure hung around a tree trunk in northern Sweden.
I hope to one day get to visit the Delta Shelter, but the one sanctuary I would be even more curious to enter is the MIT Fly�ire project, launched in 2010. Though enter might be the wrong word: rather, the shelter would cocoon the space around my body. A swarm of self-organising micro helicopters carrying small LEDs and acting as tiny pixels – or, rather, voxels – would form an electronic �lock similar to the ominous murmuration of birds in Take Shelter, transforming the silent night around me into an immersive and interactive environment. Fluently morphing from one spatiality to another, the whizzing pixels would perform in perfect unison, closing in to provide an intimate space, then slowly out to expand their sheltering volume. In a blink, they would be gone, instantly propelled to a distance where they become one with the stars. All would be quiet. And I would feel safe under the sheltering sky.
Magnus Larsson is a Swedish architect and writer based in London and Stockholm. He has developed a much publicised shelter concept himself - Dune, made from solidiﬁed sand dunes in the Sahara.
104 Disegno. TAKE SHELTER
PHOTO TIM BIES
Perhaps the most published refuge from city life in recent years is Tom Kundig’s Delta Shelter (2005), a steel box on stilts in the remote village of Mazama in the Methow Valley in Washington State, USA. When unused, the whole building can be closed off using hand-cranked mechanical steel shutters. Clad in untreated hot-rolled steel, the exterior will rust and weather naturally. The interior is from low-grade plywood, equally raw in appearance. It is a strangely beautiful, integral structure that somehow manages to melt completely into its surroundings despite its completely industrial materiality. Unsurprisingly, Kundig – who has designed several shelters including the Rolling Huts (2007), also in Mazama, and Chicken Point Cabin (2002) in northern Idaho – describes architecture as “basically shelter” and thinks we have “all of these sorts of shelter needs” that a retreat can support: “The best architects, historically, have been the ones that have understood the home needs, the shelter needs, at its root.”
Completed in 2005, Tom Kundig’s Delta Shelter is located in the village of Mazama in the Methow Valley in Washington State, USA. Kundig describes architecture as “basically shelter”.
PHEASANT Pheasants should hang, with their head up, in a fresh, airy place, for four to �ive days in the autumn and for 8-10 days in the winter, to get the good taste of game. The rooster is considered to be the best. It should not be plucked until it is ready to be cooked. For decoration you can either attach the unplucked head, neck, wings and tail to the roasted bird with the help of wire, or put the tail feathers around the bird. BACON-WRAPPED PHEASANT AND MUSHROOMS Serves 4 4 pheasant breasts, skin on 6 slices of cured bacon Salt and pepper FOR THE MUSHROOMS 1 tbsp butter 1 shallot, minced 1 clove of garlic, minced 200g chanterelle mushrooms White port wine 200ml double cream Fresh parsley, �inely chopped FOR THE PURÉE 300g celeriac, diced 200g russet potatoes, diced 1 shallot, minced 2 tbsp butter Salt and pepper
Preheat the oven to 220c. Wrap the pheasant breasts with the bacon. Season with salt and pepper. Sear the pheasant in a hot, dry pan till golden brown on all sides. Reduce the oven temperature to 180c and cook for 10-15 minutes. Take the pheasant out of the oven and put to one side to rest. While the pheasant is in the oven, put the celeriac in a pan of water, bring to the boil and simmer for around 15-20 minutes, until tender, and drain. Do the same with the potatoes, until soft, and drain. Rinse the mushrooms and dry them on a towel. Melt the butter in a shallow pan and sauté the shallots and garlic until they are translucent. Add the chanterelles and deglaze with port wine. Add cream and reduce for 5 minutes. Finish with salt, pepper and parsley. Add 1tbsp butter to the pan and sauté shallots. Add celeriac, potatoes and shallot to a food processor and purée. Add the rest of the butter, salt and pepper to taste.
106 Disegno. LOOK, ANIMALS!
PHOTO GEORGE HOYNINGEN-HUENÉ, COURTESY OF THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, HOYNINGEN-HUENÉ/VOGUE/CONDÉ NAST ARCHIVE
Elsa Schiaparelli photographed by George Hoyningen-Huené in 1932. Opposite: Miuccia Prada in 1999 photographed by Guido Harari.
108 Disegno. IMPOSSIBLE CONVERSATIONS
The Met’s spring exhibition at the Costume Institute in New York has become a staple in the fashion calendar. This year, the subject is the ﬁctional conversations between two Italian fashion designers Miuccia Prada and Elsa Schiaparelli. Here, one of the the exhibition’s curators talks about the ideas behind the show.
PHOTO GUIDO HARARI, COURTESY OF THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, GUIDO HARIRI/CONTRASTO/REDUX
WORDS Andrew Bolton
Miuccia Prada Bianchi (b. 1949) is an Italian fashion designer and entrepreneur. After gaining a PhD in Political Science, she reluctantly entered into the Prada family’s business of manufacturing luxury leather bags. In 1989, Prada designed her ﬁrst women’s ready-to-wear collection to critical acclaim and in 1992, she debuted the more affordable Miu Miu (Prada’s nickname).
French for “deceive the eye”, trompe l’oeil is an art technique involving realistic imagery in order to create the optical illusion that the depicted object appears in three dimensions.
Christian Dior (1905–57) was a French fashion designer and founder of the eponymous fashion house, now owned by the luxury conglomerate LVMH.
110 Disegno. IMPOSSIBLE CONVERSATIONS
Despite their predilection for provocation, Schiaparelli and Prada are both notoriously reserved. In fact, it’s their shyness that imbues the conversations presented in the exhibition with their poignancy. Presented as a series of videos directed by Australian �ilm director Ba� �uhrmann , the viewer is placed in the role of voyeur, illicitly observing and eavesdropping on the private thoughts of the two women. Their intimacy, however, belies the arti�ice of the exhibition’s premise – a series of �ictional conversations between two women separated by time. These �ictional conversations are based around two concepts that are central to the understanding and appreciation of fashion – namely that of chic and that of the body.
Chic is generally associated with a consensus of fashionability. Schiaparelli and Prada, however, challenge this consensus through subversive, countercultural associations. Three ideas of chic, as articulated by the two designers, are presented in the exhibition. The �irst is �ard Chic comprising designs that reference menswear, military and service uniforms, and industrial materials and fastenings applied with deliberate severity and sobriety. The second is Ugly Chic, and focuses on materials with colours and patterns in discordant combinations that both Schiaparelli and Prada exploit for their unappealing sensibilities. The third is Naif Chic which takes the sugary sweetness of children’s wear and transposes it somewhat disconcertingly to the “not-so-young”.
In terms of the body, the expressive possibilities are limitless, but, again, we chose three ideas that emerge directly from the fertile imaginations of the two designers. The �irst, the Classical Body, alludes to Schiaparelli and Prada’s engagement with antiquity, especially the opposition of Dionysian and Apollonian ideals; that is to say wild, visceral, and ornate on the one hand, and cerebral, restrained, and classicist on the other. The second, the Exotic Body, cites the two women’s attraction to traditions outside the European fashion system, speci�ically references to the styles of Asia and Africa. The third is the Surreal Body which examines how both designers circumvent conventional meanings of dress to assert sexual and psychological connotations through trompe l’oeil3 illusions and unexpected juxtapositions of materials and imagery.
While the themes in the show re�lect shared interests between Schiaparelli and Prada, the conversations often reveal strikingly different intentions, in�luences, and design strategies. Repeatedly, the themes serve as foils to the conversations, which frequently foreground the distinctive philosophies of the two women. �isual af�inities between the fashions of Schiaparelli and Prada often turn out to be deceptive, as both designers articulate radically different design methodologies. This paradox is played out in the fashions on display here, such as the two “sari dresses” (p. 114-115) . While they share formal similarities, the source of inspiration is manifestly different. Schiaparelli’s orange “sari dress” was inspired by the 14-year-old Indian princess Karam of Kapurthala, who enthralled Paris during the 1930s with her striking beauty. Prada’s gold “sari dress” was inspired by Christian Dior4. It was featured in her spring 2004 collection, which was based on the concept of the European traveller who experiences the countries he or she visits from a strictly European perspective, hence Prada’s citation of a “sari dress” seen through the eyes of a European designer. Unlike Schiaparelli’s exoticism, which tends to be direct and literal, Prada’s is more circuitous and conceptual. When she references other cultures, it’s usually a vehicle to express a complex idea or to present a personal narrative. >
COURTESY OF THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, PHOTOGRAPH BY CECIL BEATON ©THE CONDÉ NAST PUBLICATIONS LTD
1 Elsa Schiaparelli (1890-1973) was an Italian fashion designer who lived and worked in Paris and New York. She started out in the fashion business in 1926 and ﬁnally closed her fashion house in 1954. However, Schiaparelli was a self-taught designer as she had studied philosophy at the University of Rome.
airing Elsa Schiaparelli1 and Miuccia Prada2 for this exhibition originally emerged out of rather super�icial similarities, such as their gender, their Italian birthright, and their feminist posturings. Over the course of organising the exhibition, however, more fundamental similarities emerged. For both Schiaparelli and Prada, fashion is a means to express rather complex ideas; ideas that not only re�lect but also respond to the prevailing artistic, cultural, and political attitudes of their respective eras. At the same time, both designers use fashion as a vehicle to provoke, to confront normative conventions of taste, beauty, glamour and femininity.
Wallis Simpson in Elsa Schiaparelli, British Vogue, July 10, 1935.
PHOTO DAVID SIMS, COURTESY OF THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
The exhibition examines Prada and Schiaparelli’s preoccupation with the “Surreal Body”, examining how both designers circumvent conventional meanings of dress. Miuccia Prada, autumn/winter 2002-03.
112 Disegno. IMPOSSIBLE CONVERSATIONS
PHOTO ANDRÉ DURST, COURTESY OF HARPER’S BAZAAR/HEARST COMMUNICATIONS
Elsa Schiaparelli, Harper’s Bazaar, February 1935.
114 Disegno. IMPOSSIBLE CONVERSATIONS
PHOTO HORST HORST, COURTESY OF VOGUE/CONDÃ‰ NAST
PHOTO TOBY MCFARLAND POND, COURTESY OF THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
While the themes in the show reﬂect shared interests between Schiaparelli and Prada, the conversations often reveal strikingly different intentions, inﬂuences, and design strategies, such as in these two dresses. Miuccia Prada, spring/summer 2004. Opposite: Elsa Schiaparelli, Vogue, 1 June 1935.
SCHIAPARELLI’S HISTORICISM IS LITERAL, WHILE PRADA’S IS FANTASTICAL. LIKE MANY OF HER HISTORICAL REFERENCES, PRADA’S CITATION OF THE 17TH CENTURY IS AN EXERCISE IN POSTMODERN SAMPLING OR BRICOLAGE.
During a recent presentation in Milan, The Met showed some of the garments that will be on display at the Costume Institute in May.
5 Schiaparelli’s Zodiac collection from winter 1938-39, had a celestial theme featuring gold sequin and bead embroidery. It also made reference to the French Sun King Louis XIV and Apollo. 5 A construction or creation from a diverse range of available things.
Miranda (1909-1955) was a Portuguese-born Brazilian singer and actress popular in the 1940s and 1950s and famous for her fruit hats.
Popular style of art, architecture and design between 1890-1910.
Beardsley (1872-1898) was an English illustrator known for his grotesque black ink drawings.
Bosch (1450-1516) was a Dutch painter creating heavily detailed oil paintings of religious narratives.
10 American Miller (b. 1957) is known for his Daredevil comics.
116 Disegno. IMPOSSIBLE CONVERSATIONS
> The different in�luences and intentions of the two designers are not only played out in their designs but also in their embroideries. This is especially evident in Schiaparelli’s jacket and Prada’s skirt embroidered with what look like a galaxy of stars. Schiaparelli’s jacket does, in fact, reference the solar system. It was featured in her Zodiac collection5, which was partly inspired by her famous uncle, the astronomer Giovanni Schiaparelli who is best known for his extensive observations of Mars. Prada’s skirt has nothing to do with the solar system. Like so much of her work, it’s simply an exercise in technique – a development of the technique known as “transferred embroidery”, which in practice is similar to taking a cut-out piece of embroidery from one dress and placing it on another. Whereas Schiaparelli’s embroideries tend to be evocative and expressive, Prada’s tend to be abstract and elusive.
The in�luences and intensions of the two designers seem to converge in Schiaparelli’s jacket trimmed with a baroque appliqué of white leather and Prada’s dress collaged with baroque imagery of cupids and cherubs (p.118-119). Schiaparelli’s historicism, however, is literal, while Prada’s is fantastical. Like many of her historical references, Prada’s citation of the 17th-century is an exercise in postmodern sampling or bricolage6. The colours, the styling, and the mixing of other motifs in the collection such as monkeys and bananas evoke the musicals of Carmen Miranda6 just as much as the cupids and cherubs evoke the exuberant style of the baroque. Art Nouveau7 seems to be the prevailing aesthetic reference in the green jacket by Schiaparelli and the green skirt by Prada (above, far right). Again, however, Prada’s citation of Art Nouveau is cluttered with other citations, including the artistic styles of Aubrey Beardsley8, Hieronymus Bosch9 and the American comic book artist Frank Miller10. Schiaparelli’s jacket and Prada’s skirt also re�lect the different zones of the body onto which the two designers project their narrative focus – from the waist up for Schiaparelli and the waist down for Prada. Schiaparelli’s interest in the waist up largely stems from the social needs of her day, or more speci�ically the needs of Café Society and the demands of restaurant dressing. Since women were usually seated in restaurants, decoration from the waist down was redundant. Schiaparelli, therefore, devoted her attention to designs on jackets that framed the face of the wearer and enhanced her photographic possibilities. Prada’s interest in the waist down is more personal and instinctive. She feels that while the waist up is more spiritual and intellectual, the waist down is more basic and grounded. For her, the waist down is connected to the earth, with making love and with giving birth. But there are no guarantees in the world of Prada, as evidenced by her recent autumn/winter 2012-13 womenswear presentation. Contradicting her personal interest in the waist down, she turned her attention to the waist up with elaborate and emphatic embroideries in the tradition of Schiaparelli. >
ILLUSTRATION ROSS KIRTON
Both Schiaparelli and Prada engage with antiquity, especially the opposition of Dionysian and Apollonian ideals. Here, Elsa Sciaparelli in Elsa Schiaparelli, photographed by Man Ray, autumn 1931.
PHOTO CECIL BEATON, COURTESY OF THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART/CECIL BEATON STUDIO ARCHIVE AT SOTHEBY’S
Wallis Simpson wearing a jacket with a white leather appliqué by Elsa Schiaparelli. Photographed by Cecil Beaton for Vogue, 1 June 1937.
118 Disegno. IMPOSSIBLE CONVERSATIONS
PHOTO DAVID SIMS, COURTESY OF THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART
This spread demonstrates the different zones of the body onto which the two designers project their narrative focus â€“ the waist up for Schiaparelli and the waist down for Prada. Prada spring/summer 2011.
SCHIAPARELLI BEFRIENDED VERY FEW OF HER FASHION CONTEMPORARIES. HER RIVALRY WITH CHANEL, FOR INSTANCE, IS LEGENDARY. SCHIAPARELLI CALLED CHANEL “THAT DREARY LITTLE BOURGEOIS” WHILE CHANEL CALLED SCHIAPARELLI “THAT ITALIAN ARTIST WHO MAKES CLOTHES.”
Sandro Botticelli (c.1445-1510) was active in Florence and these paintings can be viewed in the city’s Uffizi gallery.
12 The Prada Foundation was founded in 1993 by Miuccia Prada as an exhibition space dedicated to contemporary sculpture. It was re-organised in 1995 as an interdisciplinary organisation, participating in the creation of site speciﬁc projects with artists, architects and designers.
READING LIST Prada by Miuccia Prada and Patrizio Bertelli, FONDAZIONE PRADA, 2009 Shocking!: The Art and Fashion of Elsa Schiaparelli by Dilys E Blum, YALE UNIVERSITY PRESS, 2003 Fashion and Surrealism by Richard Martin, RIZZOLI, 1996
> The motifs appear on the collar of Schiaparelli’s jacket and the hem of Prada’s skirt. The pieces re�lect both designers interest in the countryside, and are connected through their iconography. The motifs, however, belie very different intentions. Schiaparelli’s suit draws on the mythological paintings of Botticelli, especially his Primavera and The Birth of Venus11. Prada’s skirt, on the other hand, re�lects her attempt to imbue eveningwear with the pragmatism and functionalism of daywear. Prada dislikes the clichés of eveningwear and is constantly trying to subvert them, such as using heavy wool for an evening ensemble, as in this piece.
While Prada is known for her use of heavy fabrics, she is perhaps even better known for her use of unusual materials, as was Schiaparelli. Both women have launched myriads of novelties. Schiaparelli developed fabrics that resembled glass, straw, cellophane, and even tree bark. The black dress pictured here (above, far right) is made from her tree-bark fabric, which in reality is rayon crêpe. In terms of its boldly crinkled texture, it resembles Prada’s dress with feathers protruding from the back (above, second from right), which was the �inale piece in her autumn 2007 collection; a collection that was entirely an exercise in surface and texture. Both dresses have a surrealistic sensibility, a sensibility that Schiaparelli promoted but one that Prada has often rejected. Schiaparelli actively collaborated with the artists of her day, especially Salvador Dali, Marcel Vertes, Christian Bérard, and Jean Cocteau. Prada, on the other hand, has actively refused to collaborate with artists in her fashions, although she does collaborate with them on projects connected to the Prada Foundation12. Indeed, perhaps the most signi�icant difference between the two women is Schiaparelli’s belief that designing fashion is art and Prada’s belief that it is not. In fact, Prada believes that the very de�inition of art is irrelevant today, thus obliterating the hierarchy of all creative processes. It’s beliefs such as these that make for interesting and provocative conversations between Schiaparelli and Prada. Despite the natural reserve of the two women, their opinions are forthright and vociferous. It’s the strength of these opinions that both enliven and illuminate the fashions in the exhibition. In the end, though, what emerges through the conversations is an impression of two strong-willed, independently minded women. In her day, Schiaparelli befriended very few of her fashion contemporaries. Her rivalry with Chanel , for instance, is legendary. Schiaparelli called Chanel “that dreary little bourgeois” while Chanel called Schiaparelli “that Italian artist who makes clothes.” One is left wondering that if Schiaparelli was alive today, would she and Prada be friends.
Schiaparelli and Prada: Impossible Conversations is open at The Met’s Costume Institute 10 May – 19 August 2012. It is curated by Harold Koda and Andrew Bolton and the above remarks were made at a press event in Milan.
120 Disegno. IMPOSSIBLE CONVERSATIONS
COURTESY OF THE METROPOLITAN MUSEUM OF ART, PHOTOGRAPH BY GEORGE SAAD, COPYRIGHT LES EDITIONS JALOU, L’OFFICIEL
The Milan display juxtaposed Prada’s and Schiaparelli’s garments, revealing the similarities and differences between the two designers.
The shoe hat by Elsa Schiaparelli has become part of fashion folklore and perfectly demonstrates Schiaparelliâ€™s surreal tendenciies.
PIG Always cut a whole pig in half along the length of the body. Both the meat and the fat of the pork should be a pale colour. The rind should be thin and not sticky. The head can be trimmed, smoked and lightly cooked, or boiled to make stock, gelatin and aspic dishes. The feet can be cooked and breaded. The shoulder can be salted and cooked or ground into mince or sausages. Cook the rack as cutlets or whole, on or off the bone. The small ϐillets are cooked whole or in slices. Bacon is salted and fried in slices. It can also be cut up to the ribs, when most of the lard has been removed. The buttocks are used fresh or cooked in the oven, trimmed to ham or smoked. If smoked they are cooked whole or cut into slices and fried lightly. WHOLE SUCKLING PIG WITH LINGONBERRIES AND APPLES Serves 8 1 suckling pig, head on, rolled and tied by the butcher Extra virgin olive oil Sea salt, pepper FOR THE APPLES 2tbsp sugar 6 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into wedges 60g butter Fresh thyme FOR THE SAUCE 1tsp sugar 1 litre veal stock 50g lingonberries, fresh Cooking liquid from the pig Salt 60g unsalted butter, cubed and ice cold
Preheat the oven to 180c. Score the skin of the pig lightly, brush it with olive oil and sprinkle with salt. Place the pig in a roasting pan and roast for 1½ hours and turn it every 15 minutes. When the meat is cooked, take it out of the oven and remove the crackling. Return the crackling to the oven, at a higher temperature, to crisp. Let the meat rest under tin foil. In the meantime, caramelise the sugar in a dry pan till golden. Add apples, butter and thyme and sweat for a few minutes. Take off the heat before the apples get too soft. For the sauce, caramelise the sugar in a dry pan. Add veal stock and reduce till the sauce starts to naturally thicken. Add lingonberries and the cooking liquids from the pig and bring to a boil. Season with salt. Add the cold butter to the sauce, just before serving. Serve with sautéed spring vegetables and roasted new potatoes.
122 Disegno. LOOK, ANIMALS!
“I like screws” The French designer Inga Sempé was guest of honour at this year’s Stockholm Furniture Fair. There, she staged one of the week’s most interesting and beautiful exhibitions – a display of sketches and miniature models of her work. Here, she writes her account of the process of making some of her most celebrated designs. INTRODUCTION Johanna Agerman Ross OBJECT TEXTS Inga Sempé PHOTOS Linus Ricard
124 Disegno. "I LIKE SCREWS"
"I LIKE SCREWS"
s 1 The Österlen chair and table launched in 2011 and is produced by Swedish furniture producer Gärsnäs (see p. 134).
The Ruché sofa is produced by French furniture manufacturer Ligne Roset. It launched in 2010 and a bed in the same range launched in 2011 (see p. 136).
Lighting company Wästberg launched W103c in 2010 (see. p.128) and a pendant light in the same series launched in February this year called W103s.
Italian furniture manufacturer Edra made the Brosse shelf in 2003.
READING LIST Inga Sempé by Johanna Agerman, ICON 083, May 2010, iconeye.com Inga Sempé – Illuminated by Wästberg with an introduction by Daniel Golling, WÄSTBERG 2012
wollen and yellow, the winter sun hangs low in the sky, bouncing its rays off the new February snow. It’s painfully bright as every frost-bitten tree branch, snow-covered bush and car roof re�lect the light. �It’s a beautiful day,� concludes Inga Sempé as she sips her morning coffee at Hotel Skeppsholmen in central Stockholm. She’s alone and she looks content. It’s the �ifth day of Stockholm Design Week and the French designer, who is in the Swedish capital as the Guest of Honour of the Stockholm Furniture Fair, is about to pack her bags to go back to Paris. But only after making one last stop – a visit to the Old Town to buy a traditional Swedish sailor-suit dress for her three-year old daughter. It’s navy blue with three rows of white ribbons around the square collar and it comes with a matching bag with an anchor emblem. Nothing could be further away from the week’s many launches of furniture and design products. But then again, despite being one of contemporary design’s most interesting names, design doesn’t interest Sempé very much. Her own apartment is sparsely furnished and her favourite haunts are the �lea markets, second-hand shops and hardware stores of her native Paris.
Being the Guest of Honour at the Stockholm Furniture Fair is a double-edged privilege, because while cementing her status and raising her prospects of getting more commissions, she is also expected to give talks and countless interviews, none of which she enjoys very much. In addition, she is doing a large-scale installation at the fairgrounds and for Sempé this means hands-on involvement. Despite setting up on her own in 2000, her studio still takes up the living room of her apartment and she has just two part-time employees. So the logistics of putting on an exhibition of this size uses up all available resources and time. The display is a 160 sq/m area at the fair’s entrance, competing with information desks, hot-dog stands and newsagents. To avoid this visual noise, Sempé has enclosed the space with a white, translucent fabric, creating a Sempé oasis of Österlen wooden chairs and tables1, the Ruché sofas2 upholstered in bright green and light-blue fabrics, the mushroom-pink desk light W103c3 and Brosse shelves4 with long bristles concealing each shelf. It’s a showcase that proves that Sempé is at the top of her game and rising. But that’s not her only undertaking this week. The view from the breakfast room where Inga is peacefully sipping her coffee is of a peculiar building. It’s called the ice-skating pavilion, but looks more like a miniature castle with a steep roof, turrets and decorative brick work. It’s a remnant of Sweden of old, before design was one of its most famous exports and when an ice-skating craze swept over these shores via the French Emperor Napoleon III and his wife Eugénie in the 1860s. The Swedish Royal skating club was founded in 1866 and in 1882 this permanent pavilion, by architect Adolf Emil Melander was erected. It speaks of class and division, something which the mostly Social Democratic government, has tried to eradicate over the course of the 20th century. Nowadays, this bijou building is used for conferences and parties and on this particular morning it is the venue of a second French vogue – another Sempé exhibition, presented by the Swedish lighting company Wästberg. Smaller in scale than the Stockholm Furniture Fair installation – all the exhibits are scale models, drawings and material samples, the pieces �it into rooms reminiscent of a dolls’ house – it has an intimate feel and it puts the sleek, �inished pieces at the fair into perspective.
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It is this, that Disegno asked Inga Sempé to reveal in the following texts. Curious about language and the use of words, sharply intelligent and always observant, Sempé has a succinct and humorous way of describing her ideas. Indeed, if she wasn’t a designer, she thinks she might have become a script writer. >
Inga SempĂŠ works with two assistants in her Paris studio.
Sempé has worked with clamps in several of her products. Here is the W103c lamp and the Torno containers.
I USED TO LIKE THE SCREWS WITH TWO HOLES IN THE PROUVÉ STANDARD CHAIR, UNTIL I REALISED THEY LOOKED LIKE A PIG’S SNOUT.
W103c lamp for Wästberg, 2010 > I like screws. I began to draw screws in my notebooks at school at around the age of 12, but I never saw my parents using a screwdriver and we did not have a drill. I drew screws, but almost never cruciform ones (those with a cross indent) – I have bad feelings about them, like they could be treacherous. I used to like the screws with two holes in the Prouvé Standard chair, until I realised they looked like a pig’s snout. That made me stop taking them off the canteen chairs at L’Ensci – Les Ateliers in Paris, where I studied.
I wish I would be asked to design a new screw – a new indent pattern for the head, for instance. But it hasn’t happened yet, so I design clamps, which I also �ind very agreeable. I like to look for different types of clamp when I travel. For a long time I’ve been thinking of using an upside-down clamp for a lamp, turning the lamp itself into a screw.
This is what I drew on a paper napkin for Magnus Wästberg, the owner of Swedish lighting manufacturer Wästberg, when we met for lunch in Paris. Casually drawing this up-side-down system in a back-to-front way to look professional was really hard (I heard about an architect who was able to draw perfect perspectives of interiors back to front for his clients). I began another drawing. Aside from the clamp, the idea of this lamp is related to tool-machine lamps such as the Jielde: you unscrew the socket join to change the position of the arms and screw it back when it is in the right place in relation to what way you have to turn or mill. This way you can’t move it by mistake with any sudden movement. On the W103c lamp, there are three holes drilled with different angles on the top of the clamp, so you can screw the lamp in vertically, or leaning it 30 degrees to the left or right.
Torno containers for Materia, 2011
I used this same upside-down clamp system for the containers I designed for the Portuguese company Materia, which is part of the worldwide cork producer Amorim. At �irst, I was not attracted to the idea of working in cork – I still had in mind the cork shop on the Boulevard Montparnasse in Paris, which until the 1980s only displayed objects made in this material, looking cheesy and sad. I am not against shops dedicated to one material – until recently there was a rubber shop on Via Torino in Milan, displaying boots, stoppers, gloves and funnels. It was very interesting because it was using rubber for its material properties. The cork shop was keen to convince us that cork was the most beautiful when sliced into sheets, to cover bags, notebooks and photo frames. It closed down.
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For this project, my aim was to make some small containers to be �ixed with a clamp onto desks, tables and shelves without needing to drill the furniture. They are meant to be like helpers positioned on a higher level above the surface of the desk, for example, as the screw of the clamp is almost 10cm long – so the usual mess on a desk such as mobile phones and glasses can be thrown into this smooth nest. I also wanted to use the smoothness of the cork to pin the containers onto upside-down metal clamps. But after a while, crumbs of cork were cracking off, so the assembly system was changed: magnets are now integrated into the base of the containers to stick onto the metal clamps. They are really strong – I tested them on my desk and even when I bumped into them, they didn’t fall to bits. >
The Balcon shelf is a simple, but genius piece of design that provides a movable storage platform for anything from plants to keys.
I HAVE ALWAYS DREAMT OF HAVING A BALCONY IN MY HOME. OBSESSIVELY LOOKING AT PROPERTY ON THE INTERNET, I FOCUS ON APARTMENTS WITH BALCONIES OR TERRACES, EVEN IF I CAN’T BUY THEM.
Balcon shelf for Moustache, 2011 > Balcon is a small, round, plain beechwood shelf that has a screw integrated into the wood. Balcon means balcony. Since I was a child, I have always dreamt of having a balcony in my home. Obsessively looking at property on the internet, I focus on apartments with balconies or terraces, even if I can’t buy them.
Balcon is really affordable and handy, with no screwdriver needed: the integrated screw allows you to �ix it directly into the wall, and it’s particularly easy if you �ind a hole left by another object. If you are not my parents, you can drill a hole to put a Balcon wherever you need it. You handle the shelf like a wing screw, to bolt it into the bushing (the drilled hole lining).
I �irst had the idea of Balcon while I was doing some research for my cork project, so the initial mock-up was made in this material. It appeared to be too fragile – of course – to resist the torque when the shelf was turned, so the cork got distorted and torn out by the metal insert. The French translation of torque is “couple”, which shows how some French people consider love: a pair of forces of equal magnitude acting in parallel but opposite directions. Two equal forces. When it is not practical, some prefer laws other than physics to organise the world: women still get paid much less than men for example.
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I need to mention that Balcon is made by a French wood turner, as it is so rare to �ind a maker in this country that agrees to work on small or medium-sized series for small companies. >
The miniature models of PO/0202 and Vapeur lamps. Scale models like these are always produced in the studio to achieve the ﬁnal design.
I INVENTED A NAME FOR A FAKE COMPANY, LIKE “IS DESIGN”, SO THAT I COULD TALK TO A TECHNICIAN.
PO/0202 lamp for Cappellini, 2002 > When I was trying to �ind makers for the big pleated lamp for Cappellini, I kept calling French companies to ask for some samples of pleated paper or fabric that they produced. First, when the receptionist asked me the name of my company, I stammered, guiltily: “Hmm, in fact, I am not a company, I am a freelance desi...”. The most common response was, “We just deal with companies!” before hanging up on me. Then, I invented a name for a fake company, like “IS Design”, so that I could talk to a technician. Later, when I was more experienced with the French industry’s distrust, I had to change the name to “IS production” as I was too often told: “We don’t work with design.” Anyway, the next step was to tell them how many employees were at “Sempé Production” (my studio was then six sq/m between the kitchen and the living room), “because we just deal with big companies”. When, eventually, I succeeded in getting information from an engineer, there was another level before being allowed to get samples. “How many 200m fabric rolls will your production use in the future?” I was always an optimist.
When I had successfully passed all the steps, an of�icial letter was requested. I needed a good archiving system as I had invented many company names during those six months of research. As I was often called back three months after I had left the �irst message, I had to check in my book, recording all phone calls, dates, companies called, technicians required, the pseudonym I used for each… “Inga Sempé International” sounded serious, but I was afraid that they could check in the telephone directory that at 4 Rue Doudeauville, 75018, there was no one of that name. I only received around 10 samples from France, whereas when calling Swedish or Dutch companies, samples arrived within a few days without any questions. The Cappellini lamp could also be produced because I learned everything about pleating techniques and textile �inishing. Understanding all of the processes, I could then talk to an Italian textile �inisher about how to treat a sailboat fabric, before being pleated by an Italian specialist I found near the Cappellini of�ice in �rian�a. Without that research, my �irst ever product would never have existed.
Vapeur lamp for Moustache, 2009
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You would think that it was easy to design the Vapeur lamp for new French company Moustache, with all the experience I had in pleats. It was not, because Cappellini’s pleated lamp is made in polyester fabric, and Vapeurs are made with Tyvek®, a type of fake paper made from plastic. Many pleaters would refuse to try their machines with this unknown material. We lost time because we were naively thinking we could help France’s economy by producing the pleated part in France. We met pleaters used to working in fashion who treated us as ignorant and gave us ridiculously high price quotations. When they understood that we wouldn’t work with them, they offered an 80 per cent discount, which remained high compared to the price given by a German pleater. For the metal base, many metalworkers changed their quotations when Moustache ordered a �irst batch of 100 pieces. For a new company such as Moustache, I wanted to design lamps that would be highly recognisable and simple to produce. On the second point, I was wrong. It is complicated to make simple things. At least for me. It is complicated to make things in France, to �ind makers for small series unless you are a big company such as Ligne Roset. >
The Österlen chair took two years to create, from ﬁrst drawing to ﬁnished product and involved a burnt-down factory and disobedient wood.
BENT WOOD IS LIKE A PERSON WITH RHEUMATISM – IF THEY DON’T DRY OUT ENOUGH THEY TWIST AND GET DISTORTED.
Österlen chair for Gärsnäs, 2011 > When Swedish company Gärsnäs asked me to design a sofa for them – at the Stockholm furniture fair in 2008 (while I was breastfeeding my newborn daughter at every booth I could stop at) – I accepted. In fact my secret aim was to design a wooden chair, something that no French company would ever ask for (because the wooden furniture industry in France prefers to concentrate on fake, old-style furniture, nostalgic for a time when the French were “kings of the world”).
Gärsnäs chief executive Dag Klockby invited me to visit the factory, where I learnt a lot about woodwork – I didn’t know anything about it, of course. During my studies at L’ Ensci – Les Ateliers, we had no lessons on carpentry, and the wood workshop was dedicated to building moulds for plastic models. I discovered that bent wooden parts are not bent into their �inal shape as a whole, but parts of the shape are put into a much larger mould that is removed once the wood is dry and then assembled to make the �inal, complete shape.
From this point, I built the �sterlen chair, using �lat cut-outs on the bent and round parts of wood to add comfort. It was almost two years between the �irst drawing and the �irst prototype – one of the Swedish bending factories burnt down and it took time to �ind another good one for this delicate technique. Eventually, we found a Danish factory. Bent wood is like a person with rheumatism – if they don’t dry enough they twist and get distorted. Every time I arrived from France by plane to check a new prototype, I felt totally depressed – why had I sent strange and heavy drawings to be prototyped? I didn’t recognise my chair – like when you �ind a friend looks different and odd because they’ve had a nose job without telling you.
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It took many visits for me to understand that the prototypes had different dimensions because they were made with bent parts that had arrived from Denmark, and kept changing from one day to the next, so the carpenter in Sweden tried to adapt the parts he had built to �it the pieces arriving from Denmark. The difference in size from my drawings was as much as �0mm. I �inally checked everything with a ruler, which I normally never do because I trust a prototype maker to follow my drawings. It was hard work correcting a wrong prototype to be replaced by another wrong one. Dag was always positive and he thought that the chair looked ideal for Swedish churches. I thought he was kidding, as in France if you didn’t put traditional-style chair in a church it would be a scandal, even if no one goes there any more. Dag also insisted on applying just the slightest varnish to keep the beauty of the natural wood. >
The Ruché model looked very different from the ﬁnished version – an elegant tall sofa on a wooden frame.
THE FIRST PROTOTYPE WAS SO UGLY (BECAUSE OF MY OWN CHOICES) THAT I WANTED TO STOP THE PROJECT.
Ruché sofa for Ligne Roset, 2010 > One of the greatest things about collaborating with Ligne Roset is that the prototype workshop is in the same building as the series production, so the head of the prototype workshop can go and check with the specialists working on tool machines to see if the detail we just tried out could work in a series. Around 10 people work on prototypes, including upholsterers and seamstresses, and they know a lot about foam. The world of foam is really much bigger than you would think: the yellow foam that everybody has in mind (because of old leaky sofas abandoned on pavements) is just a small continent in the world of foam. Like people, foams react in unexpected ways: when two foams meet, the couple they produce when glued together can be a surprise. Like tiramisu, adjusting layers is part of the secret of making comfortable sofas.
Owning your production machines seems ideal at �irst, but it also means there are some constraints for a company: you need new objects to be produced using those machines and workers. How do you choose a new sofa that will be successful enough to keep the factory running without spoiling the level of design of the brand? There’s an important issue for designers that is almost never discussed in the press: projects we design involve workers’ jobs, and the life of a factory. �or the Ruch� sofa, I �irst sent to Michel Roset (creative director and co-owner of Ligne Roset) some sketches and really naive models that I made myself without any care, twisted as if I had sat on them. (When I was at college, I was really good at making precise models using lathes and milling machines. But since then, as I work in my apartment and can’t have these noisy machines, I have to use unprofessional tools such as scissors and glue. When I use them, I really don’t concentrate, building models as if they are sketches: the legs of a chair are not the same height, glue points look like snot.) I sent pictures of these lousy models to Michel’s summer home in July. He stayed silent until September, when he said that the sofa was too odd to be made. But then in October, he called me and said: “Let’s do a prototype.”
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The �irst prototype was so ugly (because of my choices) that I wanted to stop the project. Often, I see that things are wrong, but I don’t know how to improve them. I need time, but I don’t have it. It’s especially hard when you come from Paris to spend one or two days at the prototype workshop with two upholsterers, whose whole day is dedicated to working with you, and they are waiting for your immediate comments to be applied to the prototype. Should they cut 100mm of the upper cushion? Should we change the section of the foot? Should we sew it another way? So many possible changes, with professionals waiting, and I can’t �ind a new direction. We had many painful prototypes to get through, from the �irst metal structure that was changed to wood to the boring �irst �uilt, which was �lat and common until I discovered the special reduced stitches found on the only machine I have at my studio: the sewing machine I got when I was 14. >
Inga did some market research before settling on the shape of the IS01 risotto spoon.
I AM USUALLY TOO PROUD AND TOUCHY TO TAKE PART IN COMPETITIONS AND RISK LOSING.
IS01 risotto serving spoon for Alessi, 2012 > I got in contact with Alessi through a competition that last year. They asked �ive designers to take part in a competition to design a risotto serving spoon. I am usually too proud and touchy to enter into competitions and risk losing. But I like spoons and I like Italy, and I am often the victim of bad risottos cooked by French people that think they are specialists because they have the patience to stir a spoon in a pan for 20 minutes.
To understand what an ideal risotto spoon should be, I called a Roman friend, Paolo, to get some precise information. I had already consulted him about objects I made for an exhibition in Milan called Souvenir d’Italie, for which I designed a colander and a cheese grater using the shape of Italy for the holes and reliefs. He gave great advice about a detail on which I took too much liberty (as most French people would). If I had used the shape of France, I would obviously had an easier and cleaner design, removing Corsica like a disturbing crumb. I thought, evidently I could do the same with Sardinia and Sicily. My Roman friend was shocked by my proposal, so I put them back, but brought Sicily closer to the point of the boot, and decreased the size of Sardinia. Paolo had a lot to say about the way risotto should be, and the way it should be poured onto a plate. But I also checked the opinion of Alessandro Sarfatti, head of Luceplan, whose father Riccardo had cooked a risotto in front of me at Lake Como. Alessandro was stunned that I had �irst asked a Roman about a typically northern Italian meal. He also had lots of advice to give me. I called Paolo back to laugh at him, as if I had discovered he was a cheat. Disgraced, he asked me to call Alessandro back to tell him that his grandfather was from Turin – an even more northern city of Italy and the cradle of risotto. My think tank worked – I won the competition.
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Today, we crave the artisan touch and local authenticity has superseded global mass-production in desirability. But why have we fallen in love with craft?
PHOTO GABBY LAURENT/SEBASTIAN TAREK BESPOKE SHOES
WORDS Justin McGuirk
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The hands of luxury shoe designer Sebastian Tarek, beautifully tarnished by his craft.
Launched in spring 2010, the Levi’s Made & Crafted collection has a design ethos rooted in classic American clothing. The inspiration for each collection draws upon traditional American workwear, sportswear and military uniform styling. The pieces are designed for a contemporary ﬁt and then executed in high-quality materials.
Well known for his detailed paper cut-outs, Rob Ryan (b. 1962) is a London-based visual artist who also specialises in screen printing, drawing and painting.
In his 1867 book Das Kapital, Karl Marx (1818-83) refers to commodity fetishism as the outcome of a capitalist society, when people begin to treat commodities (objects/products made through human labour) as if value is inhered in the objects themselves, rather than in the amount of real labour which was expended to produce the object.
5 The Centennial Professor of Sociology at the London School of Economics, Richard Sennett (b. 1943) is renowned for his studies of the development of cities, the nature of work in modern society, and the sociology of culture.
The Craftsman (2008) by Sennett is divided into three parts: the ﬁrst focuses on the craftsman at work and a history of workshops. The second part explores the development of skill, knowledge ained in the hand through touch and movement. In the ﬁnal part of the book, Sennett argues that motivation in regards to crafts is more important than talent and ability.
Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) is a German philosopher whose magnum opus was Critique of Pure Reason from 1781.
John Ruskin (1819-1900) was a poet, artist and writer, very critical of the effects of industrialisation on society.
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n Shoreditch, east London, the fashionable young men about town are telling us something without them realising it. You’ll see them wandering around in blue worker’s jackets with full beards or waxed moustaches – graphic designers dressed as artisans of old. Others sport outdoor gear, but not the technical variety (the North Face hoodies) so popular a few years ago; instead they prefer waxed cotton parkas and handstitched quilted jackets, like adventurers from Captain Scott’s day. ��icionados will recognise this vintage machismo as the Nigel Cabourn1 look, a world of recherché replicas. This is not nostalgia for a historical period as such but for a quality – the quality of long-lost craftsmanship.
“Craft”, a word once much derided, has taken on magical properties. It is the marketer’s shortcut to authenticity, to credibility. Levi’s Made & Crafted2 presents one of the most mass-produced items of clothing in the world – jeans – as a piece of craftsmanship. The other day a McDonald’s delivery truck passed me, its side advertising “100% beef”. The advert has every letter and detail hand cut out of paper in a demonstratively crafty style, similar to the style of Rob Ryan’s work3. McDonald’s plus craft equals corporatism with a human face. With rather more justi�ication, the luxury brands are at it, too. Gucci normally pushes its wares with expensive-looking women wearing giant sunglasses and too much bronzer. Then, suddenly it rolled out the Gucci artisan campaign, where artisans travelled to Gucci stores demonstrating how the the iconic handbags were made. Instead of an aspiration – the man or woman who is everything you wish you were – Gucci is selling process, heritage, and quality.
These examples are merely manifestations in the broader culture of a state of affairs that is predominant in the world of design. It is a truism to point out that most designers graduating today – or the ones who manage to capture any media attention, at least – do so by virtue of craftsmanship. It is not that young designers have given up the aspiration to design for industry; it is just that such an outcome has become so unlikely that they no longer plan their careers around it. The fact that so many designers now make their own work – as “designer-makers” or with craftsmen – is symptomatic of the fact that they have little alternative. On the other hand, this is not merely pragmatism. It would be a mistake to underestimate the new ethos that prevails among this emerging generation. The mass-produced globalised product is no longer the idol that it once was to the aspiring designer – it has lost some of its sheen. Increasingly, self-suf�iciency is what their work alludes to. Small-batch production, closed-loop material systems, and a communitarian spirit – the local supersedes the global. Sometimes, the work is nostalgic for a lost rural idyll; sometimes it reintroduces the village mentality into the metropolis. None of this is invalid, it is merely the way designers interpret their post-industrial condition. I have given this revival of the handmade the label “craft fetishism”. What do I mean by that term? On one level, it is merely an easy bastardisation of Marx’s notion of commodity fetishism4, in which consumers project their desire onto a material thing (or, in Freudian terms, displace their sexual desire from a member of the opposite sex to an object). Fetishisation – a routine aspect of life in a consumer society – might be stimulated by advertising, by invidious comparison, by dissatisfaction with one’s working life, you name it – I’m no psychoanalyst. The point I am making by coining the term was merely that, increasingly, we are being encouraged – by advertisers and by all those “behind the scenes” photo shoots in magazines of people in leather aprons toiling with chisels and such – to fetishise the handmade. It is speci�ically the trace of the hand that endows quality. Why? Because in the West, we no longer manufacture many of our own goods, even by machine, let alone by hand. In a context where labour is prohibitively expensive, the handmade acquires genuine cachet. For the sociologist Richard Sennett5, craftsmanship is not merely a quality; it is a way of being, and a noble one. In The Craftsman6, he sets out to prove Kant’s7 dictum that, “The hand is the window on to the mind”. For Sennett, genuine thinking happens through making and repeating – the craftsman’s muscle memory is inscribed with thought. But Sennett’s argument is also social. He invokes the Victorian critic John Ruskin’s8 argument that artisans who eschewed mechanical production had a greater claim on society’s respect. Unlike Ruskin, though, Sennett is not reactionary, he is more interested in the constructive bene�its of doing something well for its own sake. The book, by the way, is not a response to the return of overt craftsmanship (of the leather apron variety) to consumer culture. It just happened to be incredibly timely. >
PHOTO ANDREA JOHNSON
Nigel Cabourn (b. 1949) is a British fashion designer, renowned for his vintageinspired designs, often based on military uniforms. 1
Swedish Folkform's Industrial Intervention collection features vases cut by hand as well as mechanically.
PHOTO WILL SHANNON
London-based designer Will Shannon's mobile cabinetmaking workshop is equipped for producing papier mĂ˘chĂŠ cabinets and furniture.
THE BEAUTY OF CRAFTSMANSHIP, HOWEVER, IS THAT WE CAN LUST AFTER IT WITH NO INNER CONFLICT.
Published in 2004 in Critical Inquiry 30 by the University of Chicago.
Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) was a German philosopher well known for his works on phenomenology, for example in Being and Time from 1927.
12 Reyner Banham (1922–88) was an architectural critic and writer best known for his 1960 theoretical text Theory And Design In The First Machine Age and Los Angeles: The Architecture Of Four Ecologies in 1970. 13 Banham’s term for unnecessary household gadgets which he also referred to as “symbols of affluent futility”. Published in Household Godjets, Arts in Society, 1970. 14 Lars Spuybroek (b. 1959) is a Dutch architect, artist and writer. A graduate of the Technical University Delft, Spuybroek is the sole principal architect of NOX.
Lars Spuybroek, The Sympathy of Things: Ruskin And The Ecology of Design, (V2_Publishing, 2011).
16 Refer to John Ruskin, Modern Painters: Part II, (1846).
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> The French philosopher Bruno Latour9 might argue that we are once again seduced by the “thingness” of things. In his essay Why Has Critique Run Out Of Steam?10, he extrapolates German philosopher Martin Heidegger’s distinction between objects (Gegenstand) and things11. He writes: “The handmade jug can be a thing, while the industrially made can of coke remains an object. While the latter is abandoned to the empty mastery of science and technology, only the former, cradled in the respected idiom of art, craftsmanship and poetry, could deploy and gather its rich set of connections.” So we have a distinction here between the mute machine-made object and the poetic handmade thing. Does this distinction help us?
First, let’s just understand where it stems from. Heidegger makes much of the etymology of the word “thing”, which in numerous European languages originated as the word for meeting or assembly, and later became the matter (thing) to be discussed by that assembly. Thus, he felt, the thing is something we arrive at searchingly, organically, through dialogue with a material (imagine clay in a potter’s hand), whereas the object is a closed loop, a cold fact. I believe this is a tad romantic. For one thing, industrially made objects are necessarily collaborative, requiring a designer and a manufacturer to go back and forth in an interactive process, while the craftsman may have autonomy in the exercise of his own individual hand skills. Furthermore, there was a period in the mid 20th century when Heidegger’s prejudice would simply not have been shared by the majority of the new bourgeoisie, enjoying the liberating effects of their washing machines and other household gadgets. Can you imagine architectural critic Reyner Banham12 writing about “things”? No, it was objects all the way: air conditioning, outboard boat motors, gizmos and (a terrible pun, this) “household godjets”13. And it’s not as though we can pretend today that we are no longer in the thrall of such idols. We continue to worship our �latscreen T�s, i�hones and X-boxes. For all our love of craftsmanship, technology remains an “object” of our desire.
However, without relinquishing our Chinese-made smart phones, we are being encouraged to reprise the moral superiority of craftsmanship. For Heidegger, Ruskin and Sennett, this is indeed a moral position. For Sennett, this has a partly sociological basis, since craftsmanship embodies social ties and rituals that he values, not to mention its salutary effects on the individual – pride in a task well done is conducive to self-esteem. To some extent this is a Ruskinian view, as, one suspects, is Heidegger’s. The architect Lars Spuybroek14, in his recent book The Sympathy Of Things15, attempts to reconcile Heidegger’s “thingness” with Ruskin’s notion of “sympathy”16. For Ruskin, the pleasure we take in any spatial form is a product of its sympathy. Reprising Latour’s example of the jug and the can of coke, Spuybroek writes: “For Ruskin, the gift does not lie in what the jug does qua jug, because it does so habitually, but in how it is made, and how it is to be made precious and delicate, namely by being cloaked in something useless.” That “something useless” would be, for instance, gothic decoration. In other words, ornament – ie craftsmanship – is a gift. The can of coke, meanwhile, cannot have sympathy. But, argues Spuybroek, Coca-Cola does everything in its power, through branding and advertising (through uplifting jingles and images of people holding hands), to endow it with some.
Thus far, craftsmanship has been a peg on which we’ve hung fashion, nostalgia and morality. The question of fetishism arises, I believe, from the way those three aspects are sewn together in advertising and the media. On the one hand, craftsmanship appeals to us in this period of “ethical” consumption, small carbon footprints and, let’s not forget, austerity. Invoking craft through advertising is a way of mitigating the associations with polluting factories, sweatshop labour and unnatural materials. On the other hand, craftsmanship tugs at those aspirational consumer instincts that only a few years ago (before the crash) were embodied by the words “limited edition” and “luxury”. The close-up on the stitching around the sole of that burnished leather brogue. When I say that we are fetishising the handmade, it is this aspect, in particular, that I’m referring to. >
PHOTO HIROMI YOKOI
Bruno Latour (b. 1947) is a French sociologist and anthropologist, noted for his books We Have Never Been Modern (1991) and Science in Action (1987).
BCXSY's ongoing Origin project focuses on traditional crafts from various cultural backgrounds and disciplines. Origin Part I: Join explores the traditional Japanese wood joinery technique Tategu.
PHOTOS PETR KRECJI
Individually hand-made and entirely unique, each vase produced as part of Phil Cuttance's Faceture project has been cast in a water-based resin into a handmade plastic mould. On Cuttance's website, several images and a video document the elegant simplicity of the process.
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A machine of sorts â€“ although entirely hand-driven â€“ this construction is workbench, shelving unit, and aid to the casting process at once. Its wheels allow for easy transportation around the studio.
PHOTO ANDREA JOHNSON
The mould for Folkform's Candle Collage, the product of which will be exhibited at the Poldi Pezzoli museum in Milan this spring.
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CRAFTSMANSHIP APPEALS TO US IN THIS PERIOD OF “ETHICAL” CONSUMPTION, SMALL CARBON FOOTPRINTS AND, LET’S NOT FORGET, AUSTERITY. INVOKING CRAFT THROUGH ADVERTISING IS A WAY OF MITIGATING THE ASSOCIATIONS WITH POLLUTING FACTORIES, SWEATSHOP LABOUR AND UNNATURAL MATERIALS.
Closely related to postmodernism, poststructuralism refers to the work of a series of French intellectuals who attracted international prominence in the 1960s and 1970s. Writers such as Jacques Derrida (1930-2004), Michel Foucault (1926-84) and Gilles Deleuze (1925-95) rejected the Structuralist movement of the early 20th century (based on the idea that human culture could be understood by means of a structure, ie modelled on language) and sought to interrogate the binary oppositions, which Structuralism posited.
READING LIST The Craftsman by Richard Sennett, ALLEN LANE, 2008. The Craft Reader by Glenn Adamson, BERG, 2009. The Sympathy of Things: Ruskin and the Ecology of Design by Lars Spuybroek, V2_ PUBLISHING, 2011.
> But let’s look again at that piece by Latour, Why Has Critique Run Out Of Steam? One of the reasons why he takes up this battle of the object versus the thing is because he is concerned by how easily the object is critiqued. Latour argues that the easiest way to undermine those who cling to the object – and here, he doesn’t just mean physical objects but scienti�ic facts – is to accuse them of fetishism. The critic accuses these “naive believers” of worshipping idols. In other words, the critic’s role becomes one of iconoclasm, or simply “anti-fetishism”. For Latour, this is proof that criticism is in a bad way. He sees it as a facile technique, and uses it to mock the critic – more, he accuses the critic of something far more unexpected: indecency. “To accuse something of being a fetish is the ultimate gratuitous, disrespectful, insane and barbarous gesture.” Now, this is something of a rhetorical �lourish from Latour – you can sense that it amuses him to exaggerate in this way. But he is frustrated, embarrassed even, by the legacy of (French) poststructuralist theory17, which enables any position to be so easily, so callously, undermined. What he’s saying is, is nothing sacred any more? “Not one of us readers would like to see our own most cherished objects treated in this way.” No doubt about that. However, in my defence (since I am now using Latour to attack myself), I do not use the term “craft fetishism” to demean or belittle anyone who desires beautiful, handcrafted things. Let’s be clear, I desire them myself. My point is that, while we still desire our shiny machine-made technological objects, we feel con�licted about them. Our consumption is more self-aware, more neurotic than it used to be – we know some Chinese labourer has probably been exploited in its production, we know it’ll end up as land�ill, but it’s worth it. The beauty of craftsmanship, however, is that we can lust after it with no inner con�lict. �s a society, we too place craft on a pedestal (along with Heidegger, Ruskin and Sennett) but partly because it makes us feel better about ourselves. I still see this as a displacement of one fetish by another. The clue is not in our lust, it is in the techniques that marketing departments deploy to sell their nominal craftsmanship to us. We can debate whether or not we consumers are willing fetishists, but we know all too well how susceptible we are to the persuasions of the marketers and their unctuous advertising campaigns. Would Latour accept this defence? It depends, I suspect, whether he was in a generous mood. If he really stands by his rhetorical ire, then I am a mere iconoclast, a symptom of everything that is wrong with the critical landscape.
Justin McGuirk is the design journalist and critic of The Guardian newspaper. He is currently working on a book about activist architecture and social housing in Latin America.
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Fedrigoni Top Applications Award White-gloved guests perused the ﬁnalist entries of the Fedrigoni Top Applications Award at the Triennale Design Museum in Milan in March. Here, we proﬁle the winners.
FEDRIGONI TOP APPLICATIONS AWARD
nce again the competition proved that inspired design, intelligent paper speciϐication, and good printing make beautiful objects and powerful communication,” says Top Applications Award jury member Simon Esterson, graphic designer and founder of Eye magazine. There were more than 800 entries to this year’s awards, held by Italian paper manufacturer Fedrigoni for the past seven years and dedicated to the best applications of the company’s paper stock. Guests at the March event sported the unusual accessory of white cotton gloves, worn to handle the delicate sample entries displayed at the Triennale Design Museum, where prizes were awarded in the categories of Corporate Publishing, Book Publishing (Hardback), Book Publishing (Softback and Magazine), Packaging, and, as a new category for the 2011 award, HP Indigo Digital Printing. Established in 1888, Fedrigoni is an industrial manufacturer of ϐine paper and boards for quality publishing, packaging, and stationery. Based in Italy but with a wide international distribution network, the company is steeped in the country’s rich tradition of quality and design, while highlighting the importance of sustainable production and innovative applications.
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The Top Applications Award reϐlects these values, with the HP Indigo Digital Printing category reinforcing Fedrigoni’s commitment to promoting the potential of new technologies. “Entries in the new HP Indigo Digital Printing category clearly demonstrated that this technology has a bright future ahead of it,” says jury member Séverine Sueur, production manager for the Hermès publishing department. Alongside Sueur and Esterson, jury members included illustrator and designer Javier Mariscal, graphic design consultant and Alliance Graphique Internationale president Paula Scher, and Leonardo Sonnoli, who develops visual identities for private and public organisations such as the Venice Biennale and the Palazzo Grassi. The following pages showcase the 2011 winners of each category. The winning entries originate from a range of nationalities and cover a wide array of topics; however, all have utilised Fedrigoni paper in creative, rich, and communicative ways. To give our readers a real sense of the qualities of Fedrigoni paper, this section is printed on the company’s recently launched Materica paper (see p. 160).
BOOK HARDBACK PUBLISHING
Photo, Femmes, Féminisme 1860 -2010
PUBLISHED BY Paris Bibliothèques GRAPHIC DESIGN Line Célo PRINTING Art & Caractère PAPER Constellation SnowE/E 49 Country 130g/m2, Sirio Colour Vermiglione 140g/m2, Freelife Vellum White 140g/m2
More than 200 photos narrate the history of female emancipation, with the impressive visual material organised in logical, chronological chapters. The images are in black and white or period sepia tones on the natural paper used for the entire book, which harmonises them against a soft background. The page layout is well balanced, alternating the presentation of the photos in rapid sequences with full- or double-page images. The titles and captions are in red, as well as some of the text, which offsets the rigour created by black and focuses attention on the topic.
FEDRIGONI TOP APPLICATIONS AWARD
HP INDIGO DIGITAL PRINTING
Being Brave Four
CLIENT Studio Brave GRAPHIC DESIGN Studio Brave PRINTING Bambra Press PAPER Splendorgel Ew, Extra White 160g/m2
Studio Brave – the Australian visual communication and design studio – uses this presentation brochure, with its dramatic appearance, to convey in just a few pages a number of communication and advertising projects for public and private clients in the studio’s bold style. The pure white, smooth paper chosen for this project (the company’s fourth studio publication), printed digitally on an HP Indigo system, proves to be an effective support in bringing together the contemporary vision and expressive strength of Studio Brave.
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BOOK CORPORATE PUBLISHING
Moroso world’s travel guide
CLIENT Moroso Spa GRAPHIC DESIGN Studio Montanari PRINTING Officine Graﬁche Muzzio Ogm spa PAPER Arcoprint 1 Extra White 110g/m2, Sirio Colour Lampone 350g/m2
The format, binding and elastic fastening of this book create the feel of a notebook or travel journal. This expansive book explores the most signiϐicant stages in the journey that Moroso undertook around the world over its ϐirst 50 years of projects and research, designing sofas, armchairs, and accessories. It is an evocative journey that accompanies us through a huge repertoire of images, sketches and maps to give life to 365 pages, one for each day of the year. Each page is different from the next thanks to a wealth of graphic material that makes browsing the catalogue so enjoyable. The choice of natural paper to soften the chromatic richness of the photos is excellent, and overall it is a work implemented in an impeccable and highly communicative way.
FEDRIGONI TOP APPLICATIONS AWARD
BOOK SOFTBACK & MAGAZINE PUBLISHING
Twenty Years of Fourth Floor
PUBLISHED BY Fourth Floor GRAPHIC DESIGN North PRINTING The Colourhouse PAPER Arcoprint 1 Extra White 170g/m2, Sirio Colour Limone 80g/m2, Oikos Extra White 100g/m2, Symbol Freelife Gloss Premium White 115g/m2
Fourth Floor celebrates its ϐirst 20 years of operation with this indeϐinable publication – just as the organisation itself is indeϐinable and untitled, being merely the physical description of its location. Not just a hair salon, but also the source of a range of gorgeous hair products and temporary art exhibitions, Fourth Floor is based in fashionable Clerkenwell. Its innovative vision runs through the booklet – a tour around ideas, artistic input, travel and inspiration. North, the agency that coordinated this graphic and publishing project, interpreted this philosophy by creating a lightweight structure that allows movement through the various narrative areas in a coherent way.
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(FRA / ITA)
CLIENT Patyka Cosmetics GRAPHIC DESIGN House of Gonzague PRINTING Cavalieri & Amoretti PAPER Sirio Pearl Ice White 120g/m2
Patyka is a cosmetics brand in the heart of Paris that offers products based on natural and organic formulations. Attentive to the quality of ingredients and all production aspects, from conservation to distribution of its products, Patyka has also paid close attention to the development of its packaging, which is sophisticated and sustainable. This round box, conceived as a versatile and universal container, is an object destined to become memorable and collectable. The interior is printed with optical, art deco motifs, and the exterior is ϐinished with luminous, pearlised paper. The ϐinely worked cover has a beautiful relief, and every part of the product is enticing for the eyes and hands.
FEDRIGONI TOP APPLICATIONS AWARD
This section is printed in CMYK on Materica in Clay, 180 gsm from Fedrigoni. Donâ€™t forget to enter your own Fedrigoni product for the Top Applications Award. The next opportunity to register is in September 2012. You can Ď?ind all details of the event and registration here: paperideas.it/ topapplicationsaward/
160 Disegno. FEDRIGONI TOP APPLICATIONS AWARD
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PHOTO ARTHUR ARKIN
The Disegno magazine stand was designed by Faudet-Harrison to hold and display copies of Disegno. It was especially commissioned for the launch of Disegno No.1 in December 2011. To see more of FaudetHarrisonâ€™s work, visit faudet-harrison.com.
The walls are lined in creamy tile, the ceiling edged with gold paint, the elevator encased in marble-pattern laminate. Moss, dressed as always in a white shirt, black jacket, looks as out of place here as he would on the Garment District street outside, where neighbours include an office furniture mart, a maker of batik maxi-skirts, and a corner kiosk where a rainbow array of rubber iPhone covers sway in the breeze. But take the elevator to the 10th ﬂoor and the view becomes more rareﬁed. Between a pair of gold-anodised window frames sits a frame worthy of Snow White’s Queen: Studio Job’s 2008 Bavaria marquetry mirror, rosewood doors inlaid with laser-cut barns, bluebirds, roosters and blossoms. There’s a Bavaria cabinet, too, and a grandfather clock burned by Maarten Baas in 2006 (from Smoke, a collection of burnt pieces of furniture, preserved with a clear epoxy coating), but in between there are Apple Mac monitors, keyboards, task lamps and desk chairs. Moss, the store, closed on 17 February, and it was born again as Moss Bureau on 1 March. On the wall is a portrait of the Bureau’s founder, Merton Lyman Moss, dated 1865. “The developers made it up – the name, date, everything. It’s fake,” says Moss of his building’s new-old architecture, but he could just as easily be talking about this founder. “My partner Franklin Getchell and I think the state of affairs in our sector of design is a mess. How far back do you have to go before the mess started? I thought 1865; to a time when people were >
162 Disegno. FORECAST
PHOTO ANNA SCHORI
The lobby of Murray Moss’s new enterprise is a far cry from the white-on-white-onwhite minimalist eponymous design emporium over which he presided, on Soho’s Greene Street in New York, for 18 years.
Murray Moss’ eponymous design emporium has been located in SoHo’s Greene street since 1994. On 17 February 2012 it closed.
164 Disegno. FORECAST
Design is a small subject that shrunk. Its audience has gotten smaller. Moss wrote a “middle-ofthe-night-in-my-underwear response”, published on website Design Observer, that said, “Design-related businesses, including my own, are suffering… I resent the tone of comeuppance in Mr Cannell’s article, his condescending, parochial-school-matronly, Calvinistic reproach of the design that ﬂourished during what he refers to as the “economic boom”. (I would use the term Renaissance.) “Look at what happened: Steuben closed, Baccarat was sold, Iittala was bought up and is now owned by Fiskars,” Moss says, today. “Our iconic houses have all become available, through crisis, at the same time. They were all bought, it didn’t work, and many have now been transferred to smaller investors. But they need help. The Bureau had to take both of our 18 years
of experience and make that available as the new product that we are selling – our guidance.” The Bureau is a result of the suffering, but also a new possibility. The brochure isn’t ﬁnished yet, but when I ask Moss what he’d like the business to do, the list goes on and on. There will be “a stream” of invitation-only conversations, scheduled to start at 11pm. “This is extracurricular. When do you read? When do you have the conversations? I don’t want to squeeze this in the 6pm to 8pm slot any more.” There will be consulting for manufacturers and for designers, the latter on a sliding scale. “If you’re a one-man studio in Long Island City you can buy 15 minutes,” Moss says. “In 15 minutes, I can be extremely useful.” He would like to help retailers buy and collectors collect. He wants in at the best design and architecture schools, and is in discussions to teach a graduate-level seminar. There is curatorial work, with a gallery booked in London for September. He’s signed up with a speakers’ bureau. He’d like to do interior design. “How many times have I put this next to this? Your eyes get tired, so you bring me in to look at what you already have.” And ﬁnally, he’d like to ﬁx the deadly dull lobbies of the world: “I can tell you furniture to use that will be as classical as the Mies piece or Le Corbusier reproduction you are currently using.” And he’ll still be selling, from the Bureau and online. If it wasn’t time for me to leave, he’d probably have more ideas for his newly liberated time. But I have to ask about the white porcelain tree on the conference table, protected by a glass bell. “It’s Nymphenberg,” he says, “a combination of a cast piece, which is the trunk, and then the leaves are made like cookies and put on by hand with tweezers. To me it is like Bonsai – an idealised version of what a perfect tree would be. As soon as you make it you want to remake it because it has led you to a new plateau.” He pauses. “That’s why there are so many chairs.”
Alexandra Lange is a journalist and architectural historian based in New York. Her work has appeared in The Architect’s Newspaper, Metropolis, Icon, and The New York Times.
PHOTO ANNA SCHORI
Moving on > addressing the same issue: What are we going to do about all this product?” Eighteen years ago, when Moss opened the store, he had to call it a gallery, since Soho landlords wanted to preserve the neighbourhood as an art district. He accordingly styled it like a museum. If he put a wastebasket in the window it was a wastebasket by Italian designer Enzo Mari: a sculpture that also hides your rubbish. When I moved to New York in 1994, I saw the store as a place to see the industrial design greats I had only read about, classic Finns and Italians, new Dutch and Belgians, forever Brits. When I got married in 2003, registering my wedding list there was a rite of passage. I imagined that in my new grown-up life I would have only the best things, and Moss seemed like it carried the best of everything for the modern modernist. I could get Iittala homewares and Jasper Morrison’s furniture elsewhere, but the website would be ugly, the wrapping frilly. For design geeks, Moss was Mecca. “The store was a theatrical metaphor – it was a stage,” says Moss, showing me around the Bureau, where we squeeze past a corridor of young men on computers. The store was never a place of work: objects were in glass cases or on white plinths with detailed labels. He signals at the computers, the ﬁling cabinets: “This always existed. But now, the backstage is where you go. This is the truth of it. Design is a small subject that shrunk. Its audience has gotten smaller. This is what is affordable, we believe, in order to present these works. In order to buy the clock for $44,000 this is where you need to go. It is not shabby, but it is not a museum.” The disappearance of Moss from Soho can be seen as a series of largely fortunate events. Unfortunately, it’s fortunate for others. In those early years, Moss sold products at a variety of prices, from one-of-a-kind Hella Jongerius vases to humble Kaj Franck glasses. The industrial design manufacturers saw how well they sold in New York and other homeware designers such as Alessi, Kartell and Cassina opened up down the block, in some cases literally. “When the rents go up to $70,000 a month you can’t afford to sell this glass for $7,” Moss says, gesturing at the Kartio glass in front of us. “After you’ve put it in the bag you’ve lost $2.” And, then, there was the
internet. “People would come to the store and then go online and buy it cheaper.” Online vendors, with no overhead and no inventory, could always undersell. He says, “We became a free showroom for internet vendors.” Meanwhile, at the high end, art patrons discovered design and found it a relative bargain. The New York auction houses began selling not only the work of 20th-century designers such as Charlotte Perriand and George Nakashima, but also of 21st-century designers like Marc Newson and Ron Arad. If Moss had started as a gallery and become a store, now it began selling like a gallery again. “There were new patrons, and they intuitively noticed the non-functional content” of work by design studios Maarten Baas, Studio Job, and the rest. “We were so pleased to have this audience, but the art market is a volatile and tenuous one. When the recession came this was the ﬁrst sector to be dropped.” In 2009, Moss was stung by an article written by former New York Times House & Home section editor, Michael Cannell, which declared, “design loves a depression”.
Murray Moss, dressed in signature white shirt and black jacket, on the last day of the old SoHo gallery space.
Imagine a rack of shirts. Simple, white, well-cut shirts. Then, step closer and notice that many of them aren’t actually white, but a very pale shade of turquoise. Lift one up, and realise that its ﬁtted arm is made up of complex spiral-pleating ready to unfold into an angel’s wing. Take a look behind the back and you’ll discover a gap in the fabric, and behind it a warped and twisted corset structure. Even now, you haven’t discovered all the hidden qualities of a Palmer Harding collection; inside the deceptively straightforward wardrobe staples are layers of mesh, elastic straps or corrugated metal hidden in pleating. The designers behind this meeting of the considered and the casual are Levi Palmer and Matthew Harding, a young fashion duo who place the shirt at the core of their brand – and clash it with the intricacy of haute couture. British designer Harding met Palmer at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in 2007. “In the ﬁrst year of the course, you have to do a shirt project,” says Harding. “I really struggled with how to put one together. Levi rocked up with ﬁve different, absolutely perfect models. That’s when I realised the shirt could actually be at the core of a fashion brand.” Palmer was brought up in Texas, America – a place that fed his obsession for shirts from an early age. (Obsessed is deﬁnitely the word: he and Harding are the kind of people who will spend a week choosing a collar, swoon over hand-crocheted strips that hold bra straps in place, and say things like “that draping would have been even more beautiful if it weren’t for physics”.) More surprisingly, perhaps, Texas is also where the pair picked up their couture inﬂuences. “Dallas is the Saudi Arabia of America,” explains Palmer. “There’s cattle, there’s oil, there’s money – and there are a lot of women who buy very expensive dresses. And once they’ve worn a dress to a social event, they don’t want to be seen in it again. But they also don’t want to see it on a homeless person.” Donations from said society ladies and from luxury department store Neiman Marcus (which originated in Texas) mean that El Centro College, Dallas – where Harding learnt pattern cutting – has an impressive selection of more than 150 couture dresses. The University of North Texas has been even more fortuitous, gathering a 1,500-piece archive dating back to the 1700s and including original Charles Worth, Balenciaga, Dior, Charles James and Madame Grès pieces.
166 Disegno. FORECAST
Texas is where the pair picked up their couture inﬂuences. Dallas is the Saudi Arabia of America. There’s cattle, there’s oil, there’s money – and there are a lot of women who buy very expensive dresses. This is where Palmer and Harding spent time researching their autumn/winter 2012 collection, which, apart from the artful shirts (in an earthy brown/beige/aubergine/white/ black colour scheme), includes a few shirt-inspired jackets and coats and the duo’s ﬁrst skirts. The silhouette is slightly longer than in their neatly cut, debut spring/summer 2012 collection
(pictured) – Harding cites Kurt Cobain as well as Edwardian nightgowns from his own extensive shirt collection as references. Far from the madding crowd of young London designers hoping in vain to sell appliquéd dresses for £4,000, Palmer Harding represents a new wave of recession graduates sticking to a far more sensible business model and catering to both men and women. Even the most complex of the duo’s pieces retail at around £800 (most around £300). When I remind them that their beloved couturier Madame Grès – Harding’s MA collection referenced her heavily – once likened prêt-a-porter to prostitution, Palmer replies, without missing a beat: “Well, in that case, I guess we’re real whores.”
Madelaine Levy is a fashion journalist. She is the editor-atlarge at Bon magazine.
Palmer Hardingâ€™s shirts are deďŹ ned by the intricate pleating and detail. These shirts are from the spring/ summer 2012 collection.
The snow is knee-deep and the temperature, -20c in the commercial centre of Helsinki in Finland. But within the womb-like structure of the Chapel of Silence you are protected from both the forces of nature and commerce, battling for attention outside. The chapel is a few months away from completion, but architect Mikko Summanen of K2S architects is giving a tour of the structure while visualising the completed building. “We are standing in front of what will be the altar,” says Summanen, gesturing towards an empty space at the end of the chapel. “It’s made from a massive wooden block and there will be a small silver cross standing on top of it, but it’s minimal and subdued.” The chapel will be open to everyone in May and there will be no religious symbol to put people off from entering. Although the commission came from the city and the parish of Helsinki, the focus is much more on giving people a space for contemplation and silence rather than worship. Positioned on the Narinkka Square, just a few metres from the entrance to the Kamppi indoor shopping centre, it’s as if the chapel is looking to console disillusioned shoppers, because if they can’t ﬁnd satisfaction in there, in what the French 19th-century writer Émile Zola called the “cathedrals of commerce”, they might ﬁnd it here. “The starting point was the idea of creating a silent space,” says Summanen. “The kind of atmosphere we wanted to create needs to be physically silent but also visually silent, we don’t want the noise of the commercial world outside.” As a result, the freeform oval-shaped chapel has no windows apart from a circular roof light which reveals only the sky above. The curved wood façade is made from CNC (computer numerical control)-milled spruce, mounted on a Glulam frame. “It’s like Lego pieces in a way; very precisely milled, so there is little work on site,” says Summanen. The interior walls are lined with CNC-milled alder planks, also glued in place, and sandwiched in between the two walls is a sound barrier. “We weren’t able to eliminate all the noise from outside with just the wood, so we had to add a layer,” says Summanen. Even now, with scaffolding taking up most of the rotund room and pieces of alder planks scattered on the ﬂoor, there is a peace to the place, the alder giving it a warmth and a comforting acoustic. It is easy to imagine that once the wooden benches are installed, many a weary shopper would rest here. Even for a chapel, this space is unique. Devoid of any semiotic noise it is an anomaly in contemporary urban culture. It will hopefully serve as a reminder that more is needed.
Johanna Agerman Ross (see p. 10) The Chapel of Silence opens at the end of May 2012 as part of World Design Capital Helsinki.
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Intended as a space for contemplation rather than worship, K2S Architectsâ€™ Chapel of Silence opens in the Finnish capital this spring as part of World Design Capital Helsinki.
Located on the bank of the Sumida River, in front of the Tokyo Sky Tree broadcasting tower by Tadao Ando and sculptor Kiichi Sumikawa, the artist’s wooden construction was built with the local community as a response to the imposing 634m-high tower that has transformed Tokyo’s landscape. Kawamata’s temporary Shioiri Tower, ephemeral like much of his work, was to be the starting point for a three-year project. But the tsunami shattered it all and the artist had to rethink. Back in Paris, where Kawamata lives with his family and works at L’École des Beaux-Arts (the School of Fine Arts), he couldn’t stop thinking about how to react. Deeply affected by the catastrophe, he felt guilty for the people suffering in Japan while he was back in Europe. “Following this environmental disaster, a whole area is now totally dead, for at least 30 or 40 years,” says Kawamata when we meet at Paris gallery Kamel Mennour. He chooses his words carefully, trying to express difficult feelings about a disaster that seems far away in this comfortable setting. “Everything in Tokyo was very quiet and sad when I left. I was deeply touched and was wondering, how can I represent this feeling? I had to do something.” Kawamata describes the images he saw of a huge pile of detritus ﬂoating in the sea near Hawaii – wreckage from the houses the tsunami destroyed, underneath which he could imagine dead bodies – a layer of scrap drifting on the ocean that will return to be scattered on the Japanese coast. This image inspired his ﬁrst passionate reaction – almost an intuitive answer that took shape at Kamel Mennour early this year. He created the large-scale installation Under The Water of old broken furniture and scrap materials, bolted together and ﬂoating above visitors’ heads as they traversed the interior and exterior spaces of the gallery. Kawamata’s next thought was to build a monument that would ﬂoat between various countries – reﬂecting the idea that the whole planet, not just Japan, is affected by this environmental catastrophe. In Miyako City (Iwate Prefecture), a ﬁshing port badly hit by the tsunami, he collected scrap material remaining from coastal houses carried along by the water. The artist planned to build fragments of broken lives, the ﬁrst ephemeral monument to the disaster, in Tokyo’s Place de Paris. But it was too early for that – it felt almost exhibitionist and people in the local neighbourhood were against the project (fearful, perhaps, of the contamination of the materials). So Kawamata continued with his idea for the next stage of the ﬂoating monument, to take place in Place de Tokyo in Paris. Next to the Palais de Tokyo contemporary art museum, he is going to build, with the help of local residents and visitors, a large tower that can be entered. The idea is to offer a sensitive experience – surrounded by scrap wood from Miyako City
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that is infused with sea salt, visitors will be able to smell the sea, smell the tsunami. Rather than showing the violence of the drama, Kawamata aims merely to provoke feelings. Light will penetrate the gaps between the wooden panels and visitors will be able to see the surrounding urban landscape and the river Seine. The shape of the tower may evoke a nuclear chimney, but for the artist the form is less important than the concept. The idea is that the monument will allow each person to experience it in their own way. As with many of Kawamata’s previous projects – such as Sur la voie (made in 2000), where he constructed a wooden walkway linking Second World War monuments in the city of Évreux, France, with the help of students, volunteers, prisoners and specialised workers – the tsunami monument requires the involvement of a large number of people. He has made initial models out of small pieces of wood, but the ﬁnal work will shape itself in situ, depending on the people who collaborate, the climatic conditions and the fragments
What interests me is to touch the political, social and economic dimensions of the problem. of material that can’t be completely controlled. “The ﬁnal shape is not that important,” says Kawamata. “Of course, I drive people in a direction, but what I appreciate the most is to experience the pleasure of working together. I really enjoy the public process of this physical action. My project is only action.” He elaborates on this idea: “All my projects are conceived in situ. The meaning of the project comes from the site. The art is the ﬁnal result of the research and study of the site. In an art project, what interests me is to touch the political, social and economic dimensions of the problem.” Collectivity and the ephemeral are two characteristics that place Kawamata’s work within an eastern cultural tradition. He’s not concerned by the individual place of the artist, he’s a man
who likes to take a back seat and collaborate with others. “If you say artist, you have the idea of someone who’s quite independent, individual, who works from his own ideas,” he says. “For me, ‘artist’ is not that. It has more to do with working together. It’s more a system of collaboration. It’s like the way the Toyota company works – they involve the workers, the neighbourhood and the community to try to make better conditions. The worker is not only a single worker, but part of the Toyota community. It’s a very traditionally Japanese way of working, very different to the western style.” The concept of memory is also very important to Kawamata’s work. His commitment lies in the construction of a monument that is, paradoxically, temporary. He believes that by provoking a new sensation linked to the event, our memories will be anchored. It’s a matter of experience. For Kawamata, memory is often much more potent than objective visual experience. Memory has a power and so has a work of art. After a few months, the Paris monument will be dismantled and ﬂown to Tokyo, to be rebuilt there on the bank of the Sumida River. To celebrate the anniversary of the tsunami, Kawamata will invite people from Miyako to come and share, along with other volunteers, the phases of construction of the new ephemeral tower. He explains how, in Japan, ancient wooden temples are rebuilt every 200 years. On the occasion of their dismantling, people celebrate, cutting the wood of the temple into thousands of chopsticks to be distributed to those who worshipped there. Nothing is permanent, everything is ﬂeeting, everything is fragile. Architecture, like humans, doesn’t last forever. The strongest action is to share feelings. This is the core of the tsunami monument.
Constance Rubini is a curator, design historian, and writer based in Paris. She works at the Musée des Arts décoratifs. Under The Water was at the Kamel Mennour gallery in Paris, 10 December 2011 – 18 January 2012. The Tower Of Japan In Paris is due to open in Paris in September 2013.
PHOTO FABRICE SEIXAS
The earthquake shook Tokyo on 11 March 2011, just before Japanese artist Tadashi Kawamata was to celebrate the opening of his Shioiri Tower.
An installation shot of Tadashi Kawamataâ€™s Paris Project model no. 1 (2011), displayed at the Kamel Mennour gallery in Paris as part of the exhibition Under The Water last year.
It had been part of a research project lasting almost a decade, devoted to the challenge of densifying wood, to produce simulated hardwood products from cheaper woods. Led by Parviz Navi, currently professor at the Architecture, Wood and Civil Engineering department of Bern University of Applied Sciences, the project had achieved successful results with small, 4x4cm samples, but had halted by 2006, due to the faculty changing. >
PHOTO LÉA LONGIS
A few years ago in a lab at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL), a massive, tubular machine was gathering dust while awaiting the scrap heap.
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Before and after: a new process for densifying wood developed by the EPFL+ECAL lab in Lausanne, Switzerland, makes it possible to render light continental spruces up to three times as dense and six to eight times as hard.
> However, in 2010, the machine was rescued from redundancy by a team of scientists, engineers, and designers from EPFL and the University of Art and Design Lausanne’s collaborative unit (the EPFL+ECAL lab), keen to explore how the technique of densifying wood could become part of the design process. This multidisciplinary lab, whose agenda it is to bridge scientiﬁc research with design and social utility, resumed the project with a new design-oriented inﬂection. Throughout the past two years, designers and engineers have worked to explore the possibilities of the densiﬁcation process. The result is a new material or rather, an ancient one – wood – modiﬁed in a radically new way. The ﬁrst fruits of the project are pieces designed by Paris-based Normal Studio, Swiss BIG-GAME and French designer Léa Longis. What does the densiﬁcation of wood involve? “The idea is really quite simple,” says Nicolas Henchoz, project leader and director of the EPFL+ECAL lab. “It’s how you go about it that’s difficult.” Unlike compacted or ratiﬁed wood, densiﬁcation compresses, moulds, and hardens samples from fast-growing and inexpensive spruces while successfully retaining the original mechanical properties of the wood. No chemicals or resins are added. In other words, the result is still 100 per cent wood, only it is up to three times as dense and six to eight times as hard as the original sample. To achieve this, a unique combination of pressure, heat, and moisture is applied mechanically. This innovation has several beneﬁts. First, it can achieve the density of slow-growing tropical tree species from cheaper, fast-growing, and more accessible ones. “This eco-friendly aspect has been one of the driving forces behind the project,” explains Henchoz. It also explores the potential of the light spruces of the northern hemisphere, and, uniquely, allows for the wood to be moulded as part of the process. Wood has traditionally been given form by cutting or carving. With densiﬁcation, it is now possible to modify the shape – natural-ﬁbre formations permitting – in the process itself, arriving at a fully stable sample that is still purely wood. 174 Disegno. FORECAST
The ﬁrst three projects each explores a different aspect of the densiﬁcation process. Grégoire Jeanmonod, Elric Petit, and Augustin Scott de Martinville from the Lausannebased design studio BIGGAME have contributed with a door handle. It demonstrates the variability of densiﬁcation levels possible in one and the same wood sample, with a heavy density at the joint and a lighter, softer density for the
The result is still 100 per cent wood, only it is up to three times as dense and six to eight times as hard as the original sample. part of the handle gripped by the hand. Jean-François Dingjian and Eloi Chafaï from Normal Studio have created a pair of headphones that make full use of the ﬂexibility allowed by the moulding process. Made of pine, this wood sample pushes the moulding process to its extreme by forming an elegant and seemingly effortless arc. Paris-based designer Léa Longis collaborated with the EPFL+ECAL lab as part of her diploma at the École nationale supérieure de création industrielle in Paris (ENSCI-Les Atéliers), familiarising herself with the process in the early
stages of the project. The three boxes she has created demonstrate the textural variety and precision made possible through the densiﬁcation of wood. One of the lids gleams like cut crystal, its faceted surface more reminiscent of a precious stone than wood. “I wanted to bring regular and inexpensive wood into a luxurious atmosphere,” says Longis. Astonishingly, no polish has been applied to the boxes – their textures were created entirely through densiﬁcation processing. The projects are small in scale, and that is no coincidence. The largest, ﬁnished densiﬁed sample produced by the machine measures 8x24cm at most, limiting the scope of current design possibilities. The next step in the project relies on industrial partnerships, with a particular focus on the luxury goods market. A number of new collaborative projects are to be launched within the coming months, although the design studios involved are yet to be ﬁnalised. Most importantly, says Henchoz, “we need to develop new machines; ones that are faster, more efficient, and can produce bigger samples.” The old machine may have to be scrapped afterall, but only to be replaced by new ones, geared for production rather than pure experimentation.
Kristina Rapacki (see p. 10)
PHOTO LÉA LONGIS
Paris-based designer Léa Longis’ boxes demonstrate the textural richness of densiﬁed wood.
PHOTO OLIVIER PASQUAL/EPFL+ECAL LAB
Normal Studioâ€™s headphones push the moulding process to its extreme.
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PHIL CUTTANCE philcuttance.com
GIAMBATTISTA VALLI giambattistavalli.com
AND SUDDENLY THE SHOP IS OPEN andsuddenlytheshopisopen.com ARTEK artek.�i
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Salons S/S 2012
Our spring and summer programme is focused on making and will take us to the London studio of Rolf Sachs atop a car park and to the classroom for an iPad lesson with Norwegian designer Daniel Rybakken. Sign up to our newsletter and visit our website for details on how to register.
ROLF SACHS STUDIO, LONDON
MAY A visit to Rolf Sachsâ€™ studio rolfsachs.com JUNE An iPad lesson with Daniel Rybakken danielrybakken.com JULY See website for updates
Giambattista Valli's couture debut • The architectural legacy of 2011 • Harri Koskinen's arrival at Iittala • Konstantin Grcic's Selected Re...