Orgatec Cologne 2014: Vitra

October 21st, 2014

In comparison to the annual IMM Cologne furniture fair the corridors and halls of the Messe Cologne always seems curiously empty at the biennial Orgatec office furniture trade fair. Until that is one reaches the Vitra stand.

And the crowds.

The almost congenital attraction of Orgatec visitors to Vitra is unquestionably related to the high-calibre roster of international designers responsible for the Vitra office programme. At Orgatec 2014  that programme has been extended by, amongst other works, new collaborations with Konstantin Grcic and Antonio Citterio and a re-edition of works by Jean Prouvé.

Orgatec Cologne 2014 Vitra Konstantin Grcic Allstar office chair Hack table

Allstar office chair and Hack table by Konstantin Grcic for Vitra, as seen at Orgatec Cologne 2014

The general theme of the Vitra presentation at Orgatec 2014 is “Workstyles” and consequently the stand has been subdivided into a series of “Workstyles” each of which presents the works of one designer.

The medial highlight will unquestionably be the “Hacker Workshop” featuring Konstantin Grcic’s Allstar office chair and Hack table.

Konstantin Grcic famously worked with Jasper Morrison before setting up his own studio and so it is somehow fitting that just as the Bröhan Museum Berlin is presenting some of Jasper Morrison’s works from the 1980s that Konstantin Grcic should release a chair reminiscent of the 1980s.

For Konstantin Grcic himself the intention with the chair was simple “I wanted to create an office chair that doesn’t have the typology of an office chairs”, he explains, “to get away from this idea of the office chair as a machine and create something that resembles a chair. And so which is perhaps not so challenging and which can be more easily used in various locations”

And at first glance he certainly has achieved that; your first thought isn’t “office chair”. However, its curving form does of course have a little something of the first office chairs from the 1840s. Just as we say, with a little 1980s dust sprinkled over it.

What Konstantin Grcic however has done very well is hide the technology. The Allstar office chair has a height adjustable backrest, adjustable seat depth and height, tilts back and forwards and swivels. You wouldn’t believe it by looking at it. But it does.

In addition Vitra are presenting Konstantin Grcic’s new Hack table concept. Much like they premièred Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec’s Cork Desk concept two years ago. Where however we see the chance that Hack will become available before the Cork Desk is that Hack represents a new concept in office furniture. It’s not a mere product. Folded flat it takes up little space, is a self contained crate. Unpack it and you have a height adjustable desk with its own space divider walls. As such it redefines “flexible” office furniture as it is not just flexible in how one uses it within the office but is flexible in terms of transport and storage meaning that whole new usage concepts can be developed, whole new ideas of what owning office furniture means established and whole new relationships with office furniture formed.

Both Allstar and Hack are of course products that would tend to indicate a move towards a younger market, star-ups and the like. Konstantin Grcic doesn’t necessarily see it that way “I think they are both objects that have their place in modern offices, regardless of how large or new the company is. The modern office world isn’t the office world it was and is changing rapidly. Younger companies are just one aspect, but established companies are also evolving.”

Orgatec Cologne 2014 Vitra Konstantin Grcic Allstar office chair Hack table

Allstar office chair and Hack table by Konstantin Grcic for Vitra, as seen at Orgatec Cologne 2014

Much more classic is the Industrial Workshop and its presentation of a series of Jean Prouvé re-editions, the highlight of which without question is the Fauteuil Direction Pivotant office chair, a truly monstrous construction which is height adjustable, has a weight responsive tilting mechanism and stands in near perfect contrast to Konstantin Grcic’s Allstar. We’re not saying one is better than the other: just that they are very different takes on the office chair.

In addition the new Prouvé collection includes the Bureau Métallique desk, the Fauteuil Direction visitor chair, Petite Potence wall lamp and the table lamp Lampe de Bureau, an absolutely delightful piece of work. And a genuine reminder that good design is often the simplest solution, and that there is no alternative to having a good command of basic craft skills and a good understanding of scale and proportion if you want to create objects that are going to remain relevant for generations to come.

Leave “style” and “trends” to the fashion industry. Focus on your work.

Orgatec Cologne 2014 Vitra Jean Prouve Lampe de Bureau

Lampe de Bureau by Jean Prouvé through Vitra, as seen at Orgatec Cologne 2014

The third major workstyle installation, the so-called Innovation Workstyle Atelier, is devoted to Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec‘s Workbay family; not a new product, but in many ways a concept that grows on us the more the Bouroullecs add to it. There is an intrinsic logic in such a system and the way the Bouroullecs design it not only makes this logic visible but takes away all arguements for alternative systems.

Beyond the Workstyle installations Vitra are using Orgatec 2014 to present Charles and Ray Eames Soft Pad Chairs in new colours and new premium leather covers, the new Grand Executive office chair from Antonio Citterio, a work developed from his Grand Repos Lounge Chair and, and since we started this quick review with Jasper Morrison, Super Fold Table by a Jasper Morrison, a cafeteria table which can be collapsed with one hand and which is aimed directly at the contract market.

A few first impressions from Vitra at Orgatec Cologne 2014…..

(smow) blog Dutch Design Week Special: TAB Studios – Studio Mieke Meijer, Daphna Laurens, OS ∆ OOS, Studio Maatwerk and Bogaerts Label

October 21st, 2014

For us the passion, indeed interest, for living in a shared flat ended approximately 18 months before we moved out of our last shared flat.
It ceased to be our thing. We needed our peace. We needed our space. We became anti-social.

Some people however remain sociable. Even professionally. Some such as the design studios Daphna Laurens, Studio Mieke Meijer, OS ∆ OOS, Studio Maatwerk and Bogaerts Label who since summer 2014 have shared a space in the so-called TAB Building, somewhat inevitably a former Philips building on a former Philips estate.

Just to be clear the five share a space and occasionally tools, insights and coffee. TAB Studios is the building not a company. Each of the five has their own office, their own projects and their own priorities.

For Dutch Design Week the five studios opened their doors, or at least some of them, and presented a selection of current and older works.

Aside from a chance to revisit projects such as the OS ∆ OOS’ Mono-lights project as premièred at the Dutch Invertuals – Happy Future showcase during Milan 2014, Daphna Laurens still inspiringly titled Chair 01 and Stool 01 from their Vienna Design Week Passionswege project with Wittmann Möbelwerkstätten or Mieke Meijer’s storage/shelving/partitions system Frameworks, Dutch Design Week 2014 also offered the chance to get to know works to which we hadn’t previously been exposed such as the Siren chair collection by Jacob Nitz for Bogaerts Label or Studio Maatwerk’s moiré effect graphic design project in which a wall is transformed into a series of birds and animals who “accompany” car travellers on their way along Eindhoven’s Meerveldhovenseweg.

We could obviously go on listing projects. Or we could publish photos.

Should you be in Eindhoven TAB Studios can be visited at Zwaanstraat 1 a.k.a Venue 13

(smow) blog compact: Martino Gamper – design is a state of mind at the Pinacoteca Agnelli Turin

October 21st, 2014

On Wednesday October 22nd the exhibition “Martino Gamper – design is a state of mind” opens at the Pinacoteca Agnelli in Turin.

Curated by London based, Italian born designer Martino Gamper, design is a state of mind premièred at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery London over the summer of 2014 and is in effect two exhibitions in one.

In the first Martino Gamper presents a series of shelving systems dating from the 1930s to the 21st century; a collection of shelving systems that not only present a concise history of furniture design but also make clear that no one “design” is better than any other, and that ultimately all “designs” compliment each other and augment design as a cultural force. Individual preferences for one era or genre arising from subjective, personal choices rather than an objective understanding.

A position underlined by the second exhibition in which an invited selection of Martino Gamper’s colleagues and friends make use of the shelving systems to present collections of objects which mean something personal to them.

And so, for example, publisher Simon Prosser uses Dieter Rams’ 606 Universal Shelving System to display a collection of second-hand books he has purchased during his lunch hour, British artist Richard Wentworth presents a collection of tools in an IKEA Ivar, while photographer Jason Evans juxtapositions an international collection of wooden spoons with the powder coated steel grace of a USM Haller unit. Thus the installation seeks to explain that those things which mean the most to us aren’t necessarily the most expensive or most outlandish. They’re the things with which we have a relationship and with which we concern ourself on a regular basis and which inspire us.

As such Martino Gamper – design is a state of mind can clearly be understood as a further member of the current “spate” of design exhibitions devoted to collecting, a spate that includes, amongst others Okolo Offline Two – Collecting at the Kunstgewerbemuseum Dresden and Source Material which premièred at Milan 2014 and will soon be re-appearing at the Vitra Design Museum Gallery.

And which we opined was too easy, too unfocussed and seemed more impressed with the “celebrities” who had donated objects rather than the significance of the objects themselves.

Design is a state of mind avoids such by showcasing collections rather than individual objects, thus presenting a self-contained narrative which needs no explanation or further intonation; rather than an object which is supposed to represent the “source” of something. And which may be. Or not.

Martino Gamper – design is a state of mind opens at the Pinacoteca Agnelli, via Nizza 230/103, 10126 Torino on Wednesday October 22nd and runs until Sunday February 22nd.

Full details can be found at

Martino Gamper design is a state of mind Pinacoteca Agnelli Turin

Martino Gamper - design is a state of mind at the Pinacoteca Agnelli Turin

(smow) blog compact Dutch Design Week Special: Dirk Vander Kooij

October 20th, 2014

Back in the day when the CD was new and exciting we remember watching a breakfast TV host spread honey on one to demonstrate how indestructible they were. Other CDs were attacked with keys, dowsed in hot coffee and stood on.

These days we all know much better. CDs are destructible. We’ve seen the light.

And at Dutch Design Week 2014 you can can see the light a recycled CD emits.

Or at least the luminescence produced by a mass of recycled CDs in the thoughtfully and intelligently formed Fresnel Suspension Lamp by Dutch designer Dirk Vander Kooij.

Dutch Design Week 2014 Dirk Vander Kooij Fresnel Suspension Lamp Off

Fresnel Suspension Lamp by Dirk Vander Kooij, as seen at Dutch Design Week 2014. Here turned off.

Dirk Vander Kooij first made a name for himself with his Design Academy Eindhoven graduation project “Endless”. Superficially a robotic system for 3D printing chairs from plastic salvaged from old fridges, Endless was in many ways much more about developing new production processes; production processes which removed the constraints of conventional industrial production and which allowed the producer to modify, adapt and improve their products in real time without the expense and inconvenience of having to modify or adapt their production process.

Charming, accessible and universally applicable as the first “low resolution” Endless chairs were, it was always clear that Dirk Vander Kooij was going to have to develop and refine his processes if he was to prove the long term value of his ideas.

At Dutch Design Week 2014 Dirk Vander Kooij is presenting a nice selection of older projects and newer developments which indicate that he is moving diligently in that direction.

Products such as the aforementioned Fresnel Suspension Lamp.

“When we first tried to create transparent objects we used new plastic and although we could achieve forms we were happy with, the objects themselves were for me too clear, didn’t emit an especially pleasant, warming, light” explains Dirk. “Then we started experimenting with various recycled materials, and thankfully discovered recycled CDs as they allow us to produce lamps which give off a light with a much more pleasing colour and tint.”

The tint to which Dirk refers is a light golden hue, a light golden hue which is indeed most pleasing on the eye. As is the lamp itself. Formally based on the Fresnel lens, a type of lens perhaps most famously used in lighthouses and which on account of its concentric construction allows for a more concentrated distribution of light than a conventional lens, the Fresnel lamp allows for a uniform 360 degree illumination of this concentrated light while a cup and ball joint allows it to be positioned as required.

The mix of the concentric construction with the 3D printing process and the recycled CDs meanwhile means that the light literally shimmers in the body of the lamp, as if trapped and trying desperately to find a way out. It’s an elegant, if dirty effect, and a lamp which greatly appeals to us.

Dutch Design Week 2014 Dirk Vander Kooij Fresnel Suspension Lamp On

Fresnel Suspension Lamp by Dirk Vander Kooij, as seen at Dutch Design Week 2014. Here turned on.

Aside from experimenting with new materials Dirk Vander Kooij has also spent his time transforming the relatively 2D Endless printing process into a 3D printing process; development work which has not only resulted in a process which allows Dirk to work quicker but has also allowed him to develop new products with new form languages and more complex structures, such as the RVR Chair and Chubby Chair – according to Dirk the first chairs to be printed in three dimensions, a claim we don’t dispute. In addition this development work has also resulted in one of the genuine highlights of Dirk Vander Kooij’s Eindhoven presentation, the Melting Pot Table.

A highlight less because of what it is, but because of what it represents.

Constructed from 40mm thick plastic the Melting Pot Table is both a stable beast – the table top weighs some 50kg, the base 40kg – and a consequent and logical development of Dirk’s commitment to recycling: the Melting Pot Table is composed of old test pieces, failed production pieces and prototypes from the normal production and research processes.

“Over the past four years as we’ve been developing our printing systems we’ve been collecting the waste and refuse”, explains Dirk, “the idea was to create a solid, unbreakable object from this waste. Which we believe we have achieved. This table has now had three lives: it was a fridge, then a chair and now its a table. And will remain a table!”

A delightfully formed table which receives its unique colouration from the mix of waste that is added to each “pot”. And which is also available in a side table version for all wanting something just as indestructible, but less voluminous.

As we’ve often noted in these pages recycling or indeed upcycling is no solution in itself if all it produces is new products which ultimately have to be disposed of. Nor is using “sustainable” materials if they result in disproportionate levels of waste and use disproportionate levels of resources. One of the pioneers of plastic furniture Anna Castelli Ferrieri believed passionately in plastic as a material and believed it was, if properly handled, more sustainable than wood. And she understood that that meant reusing it; consequently she spent a large part of her career working on ways to recycle plastic. But much as the CD is not indestructible so is recycling not a infinite panacea. It’s not, to remain in Dirk Vander Kooij’s vocabulary, Endless. We need alternatives. And so for us the Melting Pot Table is many ways akin to AU Workshop’s candlestick: it doesn’t create a new process to recycle waste, simply re-uses it.

Dutch Design Week 2014 Dirk Vander Kooij Melting Pot Table

Dirk Vander Kooij at Dutch Design Week 2014. In the middle the Melting Pot Table.

In addition to the Fresnel Suspension Lamp and Melting Pot Table Dirk Vander Kooij’s presentation in Eindhoven features the ever magnificent New Babylon Chair, the Changing Vase, the Satellite Lamp, and the new Soap Cabinet, a sideboard that combines wood with a lightly flowing plastic aesthetic. We can’t claim that we were huge fans of the Soap Cabinet, for us there is something ever so slightly forced about it, for us it lacks the natural ease and formal nonchalance of Dirk’s other works. However having seen the developments Dirk has made since graduating we don’t question for a minute that he knows what he wants to achieve with the project and understands how to realise that.

Following the success with Endless it would have been very easy for Dirk Vander Kooij to have become a one trick designer; to simply create a family of “Endless” products and get fat on the plaudits and commissions. He wouldn’t have been the first. Nor we fear the last. However for Dirk Vander Kooij it has always been about the process as much as the product. About developing new ways of working and so it is to his credit that he has continued to develop and evolve.

His credit and our advantage when one sees the quality of new works on display at Dutch Design Week 2014 and understands the processes, thinking and innovation that led to them. And where they could lead us.

Should you be in Eindhoven Dirk Vander Kooij’s works can be viewed at Kazerne, Paradijslaan 2-8, a.k.a Venue 52

Dutch Design Week 2014 Dirk Vander Kooij New Babylon Chair

New Babylon Chair by Dirk Vander Kooij, as seen at Dutch Design Week 2014

Dutch Design Week 2014 Dirk Vander Kooij Chubby Chair

Chubby Chair by Dirk Vander Kooij, as seen at Dutch Design Week 2014

Dutch Design Week 2014 Dirk Vander Kooij Changing Vase

Changing Vase by Dirk Vander Kooij, as seen at Dutch Design Week 2014

Dutch Design Week 2014 Dirk Vander Kooij Soap Cabinet Satellite Lamp

Soap Cabinet and Satellite Lamp by Dirk Vander Kooij, as seen at Dutch Design Week 2014

(smow) blog compact Dutch Design Week Special: Sectie C

October 20th, 2014

Proving that Eindhoven is full of old factories, but that they are not necessarily all former Philips factories, Sectie C is a former industrial estate on the eastern edge of Eindhoven that has become home to a, seemingly, thriving community of creatives.

Featuring a nice mix of creative genres and small businesses Sectie C’s real charm is the way the tenants have colonised the available space just as vegetation does in derelict industrial estates: offices constructed under the rafters like post-industrial tree-houses, or where interior walls exist these have been built by the tenants themselves with a mix of materials and according to a floor plan based on need not geometry.

And one of the joys of Dutch Design Week is that the designers open their studios, workshops and spaces and invite visitors to have a look and learn a little more about what they do and why.

At most deign weeks “Open Studios” are a special programme section where if you happen to be in town on that day and have time you can visit a designer in their studio. In Eindhoven, in general, the idea of the Open Studio is a central component of the Dutch Design Week philosophy, and that is especially the case at Sectie C.

Which is one of those things that makes Dutch Design Week not only such a pleasure to visit but makes the event a lot more agreeable and more sympathetic than other design weeks.

We don’t like all the work that is produced at Sectie C, not by a long shot, but some of it; and in the next few days we will bring you a few of those projects and designers who particularly caught our attention this year.

But for now a few impressions from Sectie C at Dutch Design Week 2014.

Grassimesse Leipzig 2014

October 20th, 2014

Time was when Leipzig hosted two fayres per year, one at Easter and one at Michaelmas.

The Easter Fair has since given way to a grotesque faux middle ages market. And no we’re not using grotesque as a synonym for the pains and discomforts of the middle ages as reflected in the stalls, shows and characters who compose the market experience. We mean its painful and uncomfortable.

The Michaelmas Fair however has evolved much more agreeably and is now ably represented by the annual Grassimesse.

Established in 1920 by Richard Graul, the then director of the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts Leipzig, the Grassimesse was intended as a platform for craftsmen and which for all should underscore the difference between the products of traditional handicrafts and the mass market products being presented at the Leipzig autumn trade fair.

In the intervening nine decades the Leipzig autumn trade fair has ceased to be but the Grassimesse has gone on to establish itself as one of the premier trade fairs for handicrafts in Central Europe.

For the 2014 Grassimesse some 110 artists, craftsmen and designers will present a range of objects across genres as varied as, for example, jewellery, furniture, and toys.

All hand made. All self made. All for sale

In addition Grassimesse 2014 features a special exhibition focus on design for children, including a presentation of the nominated projects from the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts “Grassi für Kinder” competition which sought ideas on how to make the museum more accessible for younger visitors, and will also present works from silver and goldsmith students at the Hochschule für angewandte Wissenschaft und Kunst Hildesheim, the Akademie der Bildenden Künste Nürnberg and the Hochschule Wismar.

Grassimesse 2014 runs at the Grassi Museum for Applied Arts Leipzig, Johannisplatz 5-11, 04103 Leipzig from Friday October 24th until Sunday October 26th

Full details can be found at

Grassimesse Leipzig 2014

(smow) blog compact Dutch Design Week Special: Blumenampel Edition by Zascho Petkow and Birgit Severin for Atelier Haussmann

October 19th, 2014

It is very rare that one comes across an object where a manufacturer has combined two independently developed products into one.

And even rarer that we like such an object.

Our natural resistance reaction is to say, No. No. Not on our watch. Begone.

We were however instantly taken with the so-called Blumenampel Edition by Zascho Petkow and Birgit Severin for Berlin based Atelier Haussmann.

Possibly because initially we didn’t know its providence. That only became clear in conversation with Birgit Severin.

The Blumenampel is a hanging “room object” created by Berlin based designer Zascho Petkow. In the standard version Blumenampel comes with a plastic vase, and is thus perfectly suited for use as a hanging basket “room object.” Or indeed as a hanging vase “room object.”

In the “Edition” Blumenampel is paired with an Ashes II vase by Birgit Severin, in effect a special edition of the Ashes project which featured in Birgit Severin’s solo exhibition Lifetimes at the DMY Design Gallery Berlin.

To be honest we spent quite along time considering if the use of Ashes II in the composition was sensible. If it was, perhaps, a waste of an object that is more than capable of existing in its own right.

Before deciding the two pieces work together perfectly. Which is of course why we didn’t realise it was two projects in one.

Blumenampel exudes a certain Victorian, pre-industrial romantic that is typical of much of Atelier Haussmann’s portfolio.

The Ashes II vase adds a certain gravitas, a character, that makes the composition grave enough to be endearing.

Its not a happy object. But is a friendly, honest and for all welcoming work. Like a dour Victorian vicar.

This dark character then serving to perfectly highlight the colour, beauty and individual form of whatever vegetation one chooses to place in the vase. Industrial juxtapositioned with natural in an easy, unforced manner.

We’ve never seen the standard Blumenampel and so cannot comment on the comparison, but we are certainly very taken with the “Edition.”

In addition to the Blumenampel Edition Birgit Severin is also showing vases from the original Ashes series, a new jewellery collection created via the same process, objects from the series of rubber coated porcelain as presented at Unter Zwischen im Ampelhaus, Oranienbaum this summer past and a very poetic candle snuffer whose name we sadly/stupidly forgot to note. But will chase up.

Should you be in Eindhoven Birgit Severin can be found in Schellensfabriek, Vestdijk 280, a.k.a. Venue 63.

Dutch Design Week 2014 Blumenampel Edition Zascho Petkow Birgit Severin Atelier Haussmann 100

Dutch Design Week Special: Blumenampel Edition by Zascho Petkow and Birgit Severin for Atelier Haussmann

Dutch Design Week 2014 Birgit Severin

Ashes by Birgit Severin, as seen at Dutch Design Week 2014

Dutch Design Week 2014 Birgit Severin

Candle snuffer by Birgit Severin, as seen at Dutch Design Week 2014

Dutch Design Week 2014 Birgit Severin

Rubber coated porcelain by Birgit Severin, as seen at Dutch Design Week 2014

(smow) blog compact Dutch Design Week Special: Lumist by Teresa van Dongen

October 19th, 2014

In 1951 the German designer Wilhelm Wagenfeld created a glass punch bowl for Württembergische Metallwarenfabrik, WMF: the clou of which is a glass tube which passes through the lid and down to the bottom of the bowl. The ideas being to fill this tube with ice, when the ice, inevitably, melts the resulting water remains separate from the punch, can be thrown away and replaced with fresh ice.
Thus ensuring your punch remains chilled, and unadulterated, until the last drop.

A revolution in its time and painfully obvious, well thought through concept in a genuinely charmingly, well crafted object.

We were greatly reminded of Wagenfeld ‘s punch bowl when we saw Lumist by Teresa van Dongen at the Design Academy Eindhoven 2014 graduate show.

In short Lumist uses the heat produced by a halogen light bulb to heat water, generate steam and so create a combination humidifier-cum-lamp.

In the photo below the humidifier is the narrower tube, the larger, wider bowl is the reservoir from which the humidifier tube is filled.

Obviously we’ve not tested Lumist, only seen it on display, but find the idea simply delightful, not least because Teresa has packaged it in such a charming, understated yet self-confident glass and metal structure,thus giving you,in effect three objects in one: lamp, humidifier and a room sculpture which is just as dignified and elegant when not in service as when in.

In addition what really attracted us to Lumist was the alternative uses for such a concept: one needn’t remain at heating water for steam. Small amounts of controllable heat are needed for all manner of operations, consequently we are sure that if she wants Teresa could easily develop the idea further into a nice range of objects.

Ideally all with the same easy grace.

Dutch Design Week Design Academy Eindhoven Graduation 2014 Lumist Teresa van Dongen

Lumist by Teresa van Dongen, as seen at Design Academy Eindhoven - Graduation 2014

(smow) blog compact Budapest Design Week Special: Lola Women’s Boudoir by Helena Dařbujánová

October 19th, 2014

Ever since Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec released their Alcove Sofa for Vitra in 2006 ever more furniture objects have appeared on the market which promise the owner the opportunity to create flexible room partition solutions. To create rooms within rooms and provide a place in which to separate yourself from a home that is becoming ever more an office. To find safety in the midst of the unending data, information and sensory flood. Or just amongst the kid’s mess.

And with very few exceptions, apart from Ronan and Erwan’s original all have been soulless, characterless and singularly uninspiring.

Lola Women’s Boudoir by Prague based designer and architect Helena Dařbujánová is anything but.

Presented as part of the “meed – Meeting of Central European Designers” exhibition at Budapest Design Week Lola Women’s Boudoir has all the controlled conservative sylvan charm of a rural Victorian cottage. Albeit with an uncompromising 1950s bus station aesthetic.

Yes. That does make sense.

What makes less sense, at least to us, is the fact that Helena Dařbujánová positions Lola Women’s Boudoir as a life long companion, as a place to play and worry in as a child, to relax and unwind as a growing adult and finally to find peace and reflection as a senior citizen….. but only for women.


Or better put.


We know many women who feel at home in their garages tinkering with their cars and building model sailing boats; and we also know many men who like nothing better than curling up with a good novel and a cup of green tea. Some even in the company of a cat. And some who even shed a soft tear when the novel gets sad and starts to mirror their own hopeless downward social trajectory.

So no, we’re not having any of this gender politics nonsense.

What particularly attracts us to the object is the fragility of the work; the moulded plywood frame and stainless steel legs confer the work a vulnerability that belies its robust and sturdy construction. This feeling of exposure also contrasting nicely with the textile arguments most “escape booths” employ to temp us in.

And we know we’d feel more comfortable in Lola Women’s Boudoir than in most of the padded textile options on the market. There is a certain reassurance in its honesty. You simply trust it. And trust protects better than padding. And certainly more durably.

Thus in addition to the obvious domestic and office uses, we can also well imagine Lola Women’s Boudoir working perfectly in any café, hotel lobby, or wherever people meet for a long heart-to-heart and a shared piece of cake.

Or indeed any 1950s bus station.

Budapest Design Week 2014 Lola Women’s Boudoir by Helena Darbujánová

Budapest Design Week 2014: Lola Women’s Boudoir by Helena Darbujánová

Budapest Design Week 2014 Lola Women’s Boudoir by Helena Darbujánová

Budapest Design Week 2014: Lola Women’s Boudoir by Helena Darbujánová

(smow) blog compact Dutch Design Week Special: Design Academy Eindhoven – Graduation 2014

October 18th, 2014

Despite what popular myth may have you believe, the Design Academy Eindhoven is not alone responsible for Eindhoven’s current status as one of the most important design city’s in Europe.

But love it or loath it there is no getting away from the Design Academy’s influence on the development of contemporary European design. And so of course on Eindhoven’s current status as one of the most important design city’s in Europe.

Consequently the annual Design Academy Graduate Show is one of the high-points of the Eindhoven cultural and social year.
And culinary year, if we may be allowed to briefly digress to express our delight and thanks for the excellent pastries at the opening this morning. Believe it was some sort of pistachio cream filling. Regardless, well done to all concerned.

The students projects were, on the whole, less satisfying.

A lot of the projects appeared to be concerned with smell in various contexts. As if the consensus of opinion in Eindhoven is that public, private, commercial and industrial spaces can be no further improved tactilely, visually or acoustically and so its time to turn design’s attentions to the olfactory nerve.

Nothing against that, and we’re certainly looking forward to seeing what emerges.

However on the whole a lot of the projects seemed to be “coasting”. Were fine. Good and competent. But nothing special.

Naturally there was one the other exception. Projects that appealed to us as being particularly special and offering something genuinely interesting.

In the coming days we will bring you a selection of those we particularly enjoyed, but for now some impressions of the Design Academy Eindhoven 2014 graduation show.