Category: Producer


If Milan marks the start of summer, Paris marks the end: the gentle warmth of the Lombarden sun and the fresh alpine breeze blowing over the Saloni ceding as it invariably does, nay must, to the brisk crispness of Maison et Objet.

C’est la vie!

The September 2017 edition of Maison et Objet was a disconcerting mix of baroque revival and picturesque, fantasy, Scandinavian, as if late 1980s Philippe Starck discovered hygge.

And over large stretches Maison et Objet 2017 is/was just as terrifying as that sounds. Our only consolation being the certainty that those responsible are but blindly chasing the shadow of a fashion, ’tis but a trend, and trends always, but always, fade.

Fortunately some objects on show arose from more honest origins. As ever we didn’t see everything, apologies to all we missed, but here our Maison et Objet Autumn 2017 High 4!! And some poppy, late ’90s dance…

Designers are prone to spending inordinate amounts of time shaving a millimetre of a surface thickness. Or trying to increase the distance between two points by a couple of millimetres. Occupations which to the uninitiated can appear just a tick obsessive. In how far however relatively small changes of scale, differences of a few millimetres, can alter not only the physical appearance of a product, but the very character of a product, was elegantly explained by Danish manufacturer Houe at spoga+gafa Cologne 2017.

And that such changes can also have an aural impact, a Click becoming a Clip.

Clips Rocking Chair by Henrik Pedersen for Houe, as seen at spoga+gafa Cologne 2017

German designer Klaus Hackl’s understanding of design is one based on the principle of evolution not revolution, of understanding the context in which a project arises, and of the value, and logic, of craft processes and craft scale production. And of the value, and logic, of craft processes and craft scale production augmented by digital technology.

Keen to learn more, we met up wit Klaus Hackl in Munich….

Flare by Klaus Hackl for Hausgenossen (Foto Eva Jünger, courtesy Klaus Hackl)

With the exhibition Panorama. A History of Modern Design in Belgium, the ADAM, Brussels Design Museum present an exploration of design in Belgium from the 1880s until the 1980s: and in doing so not only explain the development of design in Belgium, but provide for new understandings of that development.

"The Golden Age, as seen at Panorama. A History of Modern Design in Belgium, ADAM Brussels

Dear Judge Tessin:

I will herewith express our delight to have Florence with us this summer. I am sure that it will be good for her to see a little more of the world. We are going to Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Germany, and Holland. We will take good care of her.

Most sincerely yours,

Eliel Saarinen1

And take good care of Florence, Eliel Saarinen did: so much so that she advanced to become one of the most important protagonists in the development of post-war furniture, textile and interior design.

Hairpin Stacking Table by Florence Knoll for Knoll produced 1948-1966. Reintroduced by 2017

When we first viewed the exhibition Full House: Design by Stefan Diez at The Museum für Angewandte Kunst Cologne, it was was still being assembled. Objects were missing, set-ups not in their final composition, lights not yet properly positioned. As such we didn’t get to form an opinion on the final, complete, intended exhibition. Did however mange to take some truly awful photos.

Fortunately we have now had a second chance to view the exhibition.

And it is every bit as good as we assumed it would be from what we had seen.

Prototypes of the 404 collection by Stefan Diez for Thonet, as seen at Full House: Design by Stefan Diez, The Museum für Angewandte Kunst Cologne

There is one song missing from the smow blog playlist: missing for the simple, regrettable, and thoroughly avoidable, reason that it isn’t on spotify.

For din skyld by the Danish singer Birgit Brüel. Denmark’s entry for the 1965 Eurovision Song Contest. And featuring lyrics by Poul Henningsen.

Yes, that Poul Henningsen.

Poul Henningsen

One of the genuine highlights for us at Milan Furniture Fair 2017 was without question the launch of USM Haller E – a new development by which electricity can be supplied to USM Haller units, electricity which can be used to power LED lighting or USB chargers housed unobtrusively in the structural tubes. “Unobtrusively” being the keyword as it means the functionality of the system is extended without altering, adjusting or otherwise impacting on the aesthetics of the system. A genuinely very exciting development and one which extends not just the functionality but also the value the system.

And which got us thinking…….

USM Haller E, as seen at Milan Furniture Fair 2017

Backrests appeared to be a major feature of those new products Konstantin Grcic presented at Milan Furniture Fair 2017. Or perhaps better put, from those new product we saw by Konstantin Grcic, we interpreted the backrest as being central components. But it wasn’t all about backrests, a few thoughts on new products for Magis, Plank, Flos and Mattiazzi.

Noctambule by Konstantin Grcic for Flos, as seen at Milan Furniture Fair 2017

Much as we moan, moan, and moan about Milan Furniture Fair, it is a rare opportunity to get a snapshot of where individual designers are currently at: differing products for differing manufacturers being displayed in relatively proximity allowing for a nice overview. A few considerations on the latest projects by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Vitra, Magis, Flos and Mattiazzi.

Verticale by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec for Flos, as seen at Milan Furniture Fair 2017

In our post The Sedentary Workers: Orchestra Musicians we explored the unique world of orchestra musicians’ chairs. One of Europe’s largest, and most experienced, manufacturers of orchestra and musicians’ chairs is Esslingen based Wilde+Spieth. Who thus seemed an ideal address to learn more about the orchestra chair and the orchestra chair market…..

Musicians Chair by Wilde+Spieth, based on the SE 68 by Egon Eiermann

As older readers will be well aware, little gets us down quite like Milan Furniture Fair. Every year our only wish as we cross the Alps is that we will find something to make us thankful that we did. Milan Furniture Fair 2017 produced more such moments than the average year, which we suppose means we’ll be back next year!!

Our Milan Furniture Fair 2017 High Five!!

Although the evidence is not, yet, conclusive, recent years have seen an increasing confidence in the theory that sitting for too long can have a negative impact on health, and that all whose job involves prolonged sitting should regularly stand, move and generally change their body position.

But what about those workers who can’t? What about those workers whose job is defined by long periods of sitting?

Orchestra musicians at work. Seated. Specifically, the Chicago Symphony Orchestra with Riccardo Muti at the Elbphilharmonie Hamburg, January 2017 (Photo © Todd Rosenberg, Courtesy Elbphilharmonie Hamburg)

Thingness. Noun. [ˈthiŋ-nəs] The quality or state of objective existence or reality1

Thingness. Exhibition. [ˈthiŋ-nəs] A comprehensive Jasper Morrison retrospective currently on show at the Bauhaus Archiv Berlin.

Jasper Morrison. Thingness @ Bauhaus Archiv Berlin

As a fair IMM Cologne 2017 didn’t impress, but one or the other product did. Our IMM Cologne 2017 High Five!! And a few words of comfort from Epictetus.

IMM Cologne

The German architect and designer Ferdinand Kramer didn’t just translate the new principles of construction and design which arose in the inter-war years into his architecture, furniture and industrial designs, he was also a very eloquent writer on such matters, and thus helped, and continues to help, explain the motivations behind, and fascination with, functionalist ideals.

The Kramer Principle Design for Variable Use Museum Angewandte Kunst Frankfurt am Main Chair B 403 Thonet

With the exhibition 5 Years kaschkasch Florian Kallus and Sebastian Schneider aka studio kaschkasch celebrate, well, five years of studio kaschkasch.

5 Years kaschkasch, Cologne

With Holzklasse designer Nils Holger Moormann and VW bus fabricator CustomBus have brought Moormann design to the highways, and for all, the byways.

Master of all he surveys....

One of our highlights of 2016 was without question PrintStool by Munich based designer Thorsten Franck for German manufacturer Wilkhahn. Less because of the object itself and more because of what it represents: the first step by a major furniture producer towards industrial 3D furniture printing. We met up with Thorsten in Munich to discuss PrintStool, 3D printing and the changing role of designers.

PrintStool by Thorsten Franck for Wilkhahn, here as seen at NeoCon Chicago 2016

Back in February we spoke with Richard Lampert and he told us he was planning exhibiting at Orgatec.

Had a few ideas he said.

Boy, did he have ideas………

Orgatec Cologne 2016: Richard Lampert

Miller Lounge Chair by Serener for Functionals, as seen Kazerne Eindhoven, Dutch Design Week 2016

Although one primarily goes to Kazerne Eindhoven to experience experimental, challenging, yet invariably accessible and pertinent design, during Dutch Design

PrintStool by Thorsten Franck for Wilkhahn, here as seen at NeoCon Chicago 2016

Whereas 3D printing is omnipresent in the media, and a ubiquitous tool in contemporary research and development, in most daily

Pip by Daniel Kern for Richard Lampert, as seen at Orgatec Cologne 2016

We must start with a confession . This High Five! is a High Four! Not because there weren’t good products

Pacific Chair by Barber Osgerby, as seen at Vitra - Work, Orgatec 2016

When we spoke with Vitra’s Chief Sales Officer Josef Kaiser at NeoCon Chicago he told us that at “Orgatec 2016

Part of the Wire collection by Muller Van Severen, as seen at Biennale Interieur Kortrijk 2016

On the train down to Kortrijk and the 2016 Biennale Interieur we started drafting this introduction. The talk was of