Posts Tagged ‘New York’

Ron Arad: No Discipline

Tuesday, August 4th, 2009
Bad tempered chair by Ron Arad through Vitra.

Bad tempered chair by Ron Arad through Vitra.

Since Saturday the Museum of Modern Art (MoMa) in New York has been showing their new exhibition Ron Arad: No Discipline.

Until October 19th visitors have the opportunity to view a varied selection of Arad’s work.

Or in the organisers words:

“…celebrate the designer’s interdisciplinary and “no-disciplinary” spirit. Physical concepts are traced through works in different materials and scales, and objects are grouped in families based on a shared form, material, technique, or structural idea. The exhibition culminates in Cage sans Frontières, Arad’s giant structure that cradles all the other works.”

Bookworm by Ron Arad for Kartell

Bookworm by Ron Arad for Kartell

No Discipline includes, in addition to Ron Arad’s designer furniture and sketches, impressions of his architectural and sculptural works.
And perhaps most impressively the whole exhibition is housed in one, huge Arad creation Cage Sans Frontièrs.

Full details of the exhibits can be found in the checklist pdf.

For all who are or will be in New York this autumn the show looks like being worth the trip. We’ll be back in New York in September and will certainly report back on how we found it.

Tom Vac by Ron Arad for Vitra (Here at CeBIT)

Tom Vac by Ron Arad for Vitra (Here at CeBIT)

For those of you not in and around NYC, at smow.com you can get a taste of what the “Ron Arad: No Discipline” curators call Arad’s “daredevil approach to form, structure, technology, and materials” in work such as Bad Tempered Chair, Tom Vac or his truly iconic Bookworm. All of which are featured in the exhibition.

Ron Arad: No Discipline runs at MoMa New York from 2nd August through October 19th 2009 . The accompanying monograph is published by The Museum of Modern Art and is at MoMAstore.org for $45.00



smow design spring: aufgetischt

Sunday, June 21st, 2009
The NYC Post Police - tailed our every move and word

The NYC Post Police - tailed our every move and word

Your (smow)blog team didn’t become the internationally feared and monitored crew we are simply because we travel the world fearlessly attending opening night parties.
Oh no! We achieved our notoriety on account of our excellent network of contacts among designers, producers, critics and delivery drivers. Nothing but nothing passes us by.

As observant readers may have noticed, during our visit to the ICFF we did spend quite a lot of time complaining about the lack of tables in the press room.

And now we must admit that during ICFF we did solve the riddle.
Magis had of course delivered tables for the press room.

Piggyback by for agis

Piggyback by Thomas Heatherwick for Magis

In addition to supplying Chair First by Stefano Giovannoni Magis also supplied their wonderful Piggyback tables by Thomas Heatherwick.

Magis are serious and reliable partner, why would they not supply tables?

Only the Piggyback tables became damaged during set-up and spent the show stowed in a store room deep in the bowels of the Javits Centre.

And no-one from the ICFF organisation sought to seek replacements.

Behind the scenes there was a lot of talk of unions and “official processes”, but for us the fact of the missing press room tables summed up ICFF beautifully and underlines why for us it was the weakest and worst organised of the events we attended as part of the smow design spring.

Which isn’t to be interpreted as direct criticism of those who are responsible for the press work, they are also merely a partner of the organiser, and it is they who carry ultimate responsible for the shoddiness: Along with the Javits Center management.

Tints by Jason Miller - one of the true stars of ICFF 2009

Tints by Jason Miller - one of the true stars of ICFF 2009

The word on the street in New York was that next year ICFF may do away with the press room all together, which is truly a sad indictment on the show and how seriously it is taken. In addition to the established critics amongst the traditional media – alone the vicinity to the New York Times must, must count – America is home to some excellent design blogs, we name alone Core 77 and design milk as two that we follow and read with interest and which amuse and entertain.

When we think of, for example, Milan where from early morning to late evening texts are written, interviews carried out, pictures edited and videos cut in a dozen languages. And then New York where all too often we sat alone on the floor, or when we had company it was inevitably executives from some B2B publication deciding who to sell advertising space to.

Tablefights  - we know just how they feel

Tablefights - we know just how they feel

Instead of further discouraging reports the ICFF should be actively recruiting those who can bring the products to the masses and so encourage other producers to book space. Or should that ugly, dirty and unkempt space at the back of the hall grow even larger?

We will be back in New York next year, not least because we  want to kick Ami timber at the 2010 Table Fights Championships – if we attend ICFF, however, remains to be seen.

We made a few fantastic discoveries at ICFF not least Jason Miller, Blu Dot and Iglooplay; three discoveries that more or less justified the air fares. But if that alone is worth struggling with a barely functioning Internet and inadequate facilities to promote an event run by an organisation who lack the ability to place two tables is a room – and that despite having rented some 145,000 net square feet to furniture producers – that remains to be seen.



smow design spring: Review

Sunday, June 14th, 2009
Summer on the balcony ... unbeatable

Summer on the balcony ... unbeatable(Photo: Christin Bargel)

Before we start slowing down and head outdoors to enjoy the summer we want to take the opportunity over the next couple of weeks to look back on the smow design spring; namely our trips to Milan, New York, Brühl, Basel and Berlin … as well as to start looking forward to the forthcoming smow design autumn.

And no we won’t just be re-visiting old ground, we have saved a few treats from USM Haller, Vitra, ICFF, DMY Berlin and Salone for those long summer evenings on the balcony with a good beer.

smow design spring adieu ...

smow design spring adieu ...

With the experience of the five very different trips, and the slight pause afforded by the summer, we want to take stock, analyse a little more deeply and for all highlight  those innovations and products that really caught our attention and which we believe are of interest.

There may also be some really, really  weak humour … but we hope not.

In addition we want to  preview a little of what can be expected during the smow design autumn

Not the (smow)blog garden ...

Not the (smow)blog garden, and that with good reason. Details later (or at flickr)....

We will certainly be at the London Design FestivalDesigners Open in Leipzig, Design September in Brussels, Copenhagen Design Week and we also fancy the Cardiff Design Festival, if they ever get round to confirming the dates :)
Further shows, trade fairs and especially trips to smow partner producers and designers may follow.

But don’t think we’ll be slacking off over the summer … although there may be a couple more posts about outdooor furniture, barbecues and seat coverings that are good for sun-burnt backs than normal, we will still be actively searching for – and finding – the very best in designer furniture.



(smow)offline: Thonet 214 x 214

Thursday, June 11th, 2009

To celebrate the 150th birthday of Michael Thonet’s “chair of all chairs” Thonet are running a photo competition: 214×214.

The rules are ridiculously simple; whoever submits the best photo of a Thonet 214 wins a 3 day trip to New York. For the second best there is a trip to Thonet in Frankenberg and the chance to build your own 214.

If you don’t own 214, you could always buy one – or more – from smow.

Alternatively, keep your eyes open when your out and about, 214′s crop up a lot more often than you’d think.

All relevant information can be found at on the Thonet homepage.

Thonet 214 - stable and well balanced

Thonet 214 - stable and well balanced

Thonet 214 - seating and decoration in one

Thonet 214 - seating and decoration in one

Thonet 214 - collapsable, though not recommended

Thonet 214 - collapsable, though not recommended



(smow)offline: Reuse, Recycle, Pollute

Tuesday, June 9th, 2009

Every month Jasper Morrison sends a photo to the Vitra Magazine. And every month Vitra publish it.

Every month we send a photo to the Vitra magazine. And every month they don’t.
Whereas the good Jaspers photos are always entertaining, this months entry was a lot more thoughtful and thought provoking.

PET Chandalier in Pondicherry, India. Photo: Jasper Morrison

PET Chandalier in Pondicherry, India. Photo: Jasper Morrison

Taken in Indian Pondicherry the photo shows a chandelier made from old PET bottles and Christmas lights. “If this was an exhibit at the Salone del Mobile in Milan I wouldn’t give it a second look” comments Morrison, before adding “but far removed from the temptations of designer dreams in Pondicherry, it holds a very different meaning and purpose.”

We don’t know how often Jasper Morrison was out and about in Milan, but we saw at least two lamps made from recycled bottles in Italy, then a couple in New York and yet another at DMY Berlin (in addition to the re-appearance of one we’d already seen in Milan)

Not only that but in Berlin we also found a lamp made out of broken umbrellas.

Discarded consumer goods as lighting is a current topic in contemporary design.

Pendant Lamp made from umbrellas

Pendant Lamp made from umbrellas

Except of course the materials aren’t discarded; rather, they’ve been used out of context to create the impression of a recycled product and so make a statement about first world consumption.

Only the product themselves automatically become an abuse of the uncontrolled consumption we in the north practice. We just call it “the temptations of designer dreams” in order to justify the unjustifiable.

For everyone who knows how much natural resources and energy goes into making one PET bottle also knows that tying it to another dozen to create a lamp is irresponsible waste.

And those who don’t know, should consult the videos by MSLK or check-out the film Tapped

And so where Morrison focuses on the Pondicherry Chandelier as demonstrating the intrinsic quality of good design, for us the more important message is: Stop pretending your recycling. Please.

If you live and work as an industrial or product designer in Europe you have almost limitless possibilities as regards raw materials and production processes. If you genuinely care about creating “green” or “sustainable” design make sure your materials and production processes reflect that concern and minimise impact.

Or actually use recycled products such as with Abfallprodukt by Bastian Müller from Burg Giebichenstein University in Halle.

A PET bottle lamp at DMY Berlin

A PET bottle lamp at DMY Berlin

And if you don’t care about creating “green” or “sustainable” design, then build a chair from asbestos.

When Morrison states “…in Pondicherry, it holds a very different meaning and purpose” he means, and we believe understands, that it is “genuine”. Isn’t created as an artistic exercise by someone with access to libraries, internet, machines and materials in a scale beyond the grasp of most people; rather, by someone who needs to solve a problem, and that with the limited resources that physically lie before him.

There’s a verse in “Holiday in Cambodia” by the Dead Kennedys that goes:

Play ethnicky jazz
To parade your snazz
On your five grand stereo
Braggin that you know
How the niggers feel cold
And the slums got so much soul

The world doesn’t need designers demonstrating to the the worlds poor how clever one can be with a few old plastic bottles and a bit of electric cable. As the Pondicherry Chandelier beautifully demonstrates, the skills exist, the innovation exists, the understanding exists.

And the unfair global distribution of resources exists.

The world needs designers who improve our situation and who understand that PET bottles are part of the problem and incorporating them into designs doesn’t actually help.

We need fewer PET bottles, not more.

Abfallprodukt by Bastian Müller, Burg Giebichenstein

Abfallprodukt by Bastian Müller, Burg Giebichenstein

Sustainability and fairness don’t mean puritan abstinence; they can be fun, aesthetically pleasing and comfortable. And as far as we’re concerned should be. We positively appeal to the designers of the world to make the future for comfortable and safe; and that for all of us from Tipperary to Pondicherry and from Copenhagen to Harare.

Just don’t pretend your recycling for the benefit of the over-fed and the over-paid. And especially not with PET bottles.

And so thanks to Jasper Morrison for the photo, and more of the same please.

More weak, and potentially unfunny, humour about dogs driving delivery vans tomorrow :)