Posts Tagged ‘Konstantin Grcic’

Milan Design Week 2013: Mattiazzi

April 11th, 2013

For us one of the highlights of Saloni Milano 2013 was/is Italian manufacturer Mattiazzi.

And not just because they have managed to eke a chair out of Jasper Morrison that, in our opinion, is one of his better, and certainly more interesting, of recent years.

Milan Design Week 2013 Mattiazzi

Milan Design Week 2013: Mattiazzi

Established in 1978 Mattiazzi is, if we correctly understand, essentially a network of woodworking facilities in Udine. For three decades the company served as a supplier of wooden parts for other furniture manufacturers before deciding in 2008 to invest in their own brand.

The investment has obviously been very heavy, or better put, very, very heavy.

But has also been very successful.

Mattiazzi first reached an international audience with the 2011 Osso Collection from Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.

The positive echo generated by Osso was not just on account of the media friendly connection with the Bouroullec brand, but because, simply put, it is a mighty fine piece of work.

As a project Osso allowed Ronan and Erwan to seriously develop a new dimension to their work, a challenge they met head on and with a result that demonstrates a wonderful degree of technical finesse and aesthetic clarity.

Since the launch of Osso in 2011 the Mattiazzi portfolio has grown steadily and in Milan the company presented the latest results of co-operations with with Sam Hecht, Konstantin Grcic and the aforementioned Fionda by Jasper Morrison.

Effectively a wooden frame with an interchangeable fabric sling, it is really hard to call Fionda a chair, at least in the classical sense.

Apparently inspired by a folding camping chair Morrison bought in Japan, Fionda doesn’t do anything that much different from either “regular” camping chairs or design classics such as the globally copied Butterfly / Hardoy Chair.

Fionda however presents the concept with a rarely seen lightness and assured calm. And as we say with a liveliness that we have missed in much of Morrison’s recent chair work.

In addition, by removing the canvas sling the frames can be easily stacked, thus making Fionda a fairly straightforward outdoor seating option for cafes, ice cream bars and their ilk.

Milan Design Week 2013 Mattiazzi Fionda Jasper Morrison

Milan Design Week 2013: Fionda by Jasper Morrison for Mattiazzi

Equally impressive is Medici by Konstantin Grcic. Originally presented at Milan 2012 Medici is a lounge chair that takes all Konstantin Grcic‘s association with reduced down, unassuming, form languages, picks it up by the scruff of the neck and throws it out the  window.

Yes Medici is a very simple wood construction, a very simple wood construction in many ways reminiscent of the Rood-Blauwe Stoel by Gerrit T. Rietveld.

But it’s not an object you’d want to meet in a dark alley late on a Saturday night.

Much like Waver for Vitra, Medici is not something we know from Grcic. And while the motivation with Waver was largely to define the Vitra outdoor range with a form language far removed from the classic Eames dominated interior furniture; at Mattiazzi Konstantin Grcic had a clean slate. Which means the design comes from somewhere deeper. And indeed reading his comments on Medici you sense the real personal joy he got from developing the project.

Milan Design Week 2013 Mattiazzi Medici Konstantin Grcic

Milan Design Week 2013 Mattiazzi Medici Konstantin Grcic

Ultimately what attracts us to Mattiazzi is the effortless simplicity of their furniture.

You currently can’t move in the European furniture market without bumping into a manufacturer with a new wood chair.
A lot of them very similar. Very generic. Very dull. And very “Scandinavian”

Developments in the furniture industry clearly mirroring those in the TV crime drama world where every station needs a moody Scandinavian detective in a quirky knitted jumper.

And indeed one young designer we spoke to in Milan was quite open that their current works are largely geared towards such a market. And you can’t blame them for that.

What however for us sets Mattiazzi apart is that they obviously care not only about the physical appearance but also the function, the origin, the craftsmanship and the attitude of the piece.

Older readers will associate such with the concept of “character”, an archaic term that is so outdated the Oxford English Dictionary are planning removing it from their next edition.

Mattiazzi obviously still have an old edition at home.

It will be interesting to see how the Mattiazzi brand develops in the coming years. If the investments made can bring a return.

Excellent and interesting as the current collection is, it isn’t necessarily a collection that is guaranteed to guarantee long term financial sustainability. The fact that they have secured Herman Miller as their North American distribution partner is no bad thing. Similarly the agreement with Aram in the UK.  But again these developments alone are no guarantee of sustainable success.

That comes from a product portfolio that is successful across various market sectors and that can keep reaching and exciting new buyers.

And that takes time.

We’ll definitely be keeping an eye on the situation.
And will of course keep you informed.

Milan Design Week 2013 Mattiazzi Collection

Milan Design Week 2013: The Mattiazzi Collection

Milan Design Week 2013 The Mattiazzi Collection

Milan Design Week 2013: The Mattiazzi Collection

(smow) summer tour 2011: Burg Giebichenstein Halle

August 11th, 2011

Following our visits to the Bauhaus University Weimar, Fachhochschule Potsdam, Kunsthochschule Berlin-Weißensee and  Universität der Künste Berlin the final stage of our 2011 summer tour was Burg Giebichenstein Halle.

It may just be us, but we are firmly of the belief that Burg Giebichenstein students complete more, and more varied, seminars than students at any of the other schools we visit.

At least based on the presentations at their end of year show.

Be it designing record sleeves, creating items based on the characteristics of fruits/vegetables or designing the lamp that Isamu Noguchi would design if he were still active today – every room of every building seems to house at least one exhibition.

If not two.

Among those that most caught our attention were “eine Bank für zwei” and “Bodenreform”

Eine Bank für zwei set students the challenge of designing a bench for two prominent “creatives” – be they designers, architects, musicians, actors, whatever. The aim being that the benches should represent both the character’s of the users and their relationship to one another in the form language and material choice.

A lovely little project that allowed the students the chance to explore how they understand the work and character of those people they have as references, which should then help them improve their own  techniques.

And allowed us the chance to enjoy the results.

Aside from delightful solutions for Gerrit Rietveld and Charles Eames or Konstantin Grcic and Dieter Rams the highlight for us was Elias Betka’s bench for Charles and Ray Eames: a double seater RAR. An idea that not only blew our socks off, but much more got us thinking about in how far Vitra can – or perhaps better put would – ever consider further developing the work of the Ray and Charles Eames.

Elias Betka's bench for Charles and Ray Eames, Burg Giebichenstein Halle 2011

Elias Betka's bench for Charles and Ray Eames, Burg Giebichenstein Halle 2011

Although Bodenreform was officially concerned with floors, floor-coverings and exploring the role of such in architecture and design, the project from the seminar that most appealed to us didn’t really seem to fit the remit.

As far as we could see.

A fact which of course didn’t detract from the genius of Hobo by Julian Heckel.

Reminiscent of some Victorian adaption of a painters easel for wandering poets, Hobo is, for us, a small table that folds flat to be carried as a backpack, and when opened can be lent against a tree or other free standing structure.

And used to help you ease your tortured soul by comparing your rejected love to a chaffinch struggling to open seed. Or similar

There is also a small seat. That didn’t appeal to us so much.

The table however is a delightful piece of work.

Elsewhere we really liked Ausgewachsen by Annika Marie Buchberger – with one small proviso.
Created for her masters thesis Ausgewachsen is a series of kids furniture where different elements can be placed on a universal base.

Nice idea, well executed.

Except as far as we could see the base comes in three sizes – and the legs aren’t exchangeable. Which means if you want to vary the heights of the objects, you have to have all three bases.

For us the better trick would be to have interchangeable legs.

Our view, and not one that distracted from our enjoyment of the project.

Another child centred project – and there were a lot of them on show, not sure if Halle is a particularly child heavy town or if Burg Giebischenstein students are just particularly fertile – was Igi by Constanze Hosp.

Igi by Constanze Hosp, Burg Giebichenstein Halle 2011

Igi by Constanze Hosp, Burg Giebichenstein Halle 2011

Parents wanting to travel with a young baby on a bike are limited to a trailer. Or the somewhat risky business of a conventional, body hung, child carrier.

Igi is in essence a hard case child carrier that allows you to cycle with your child securely strapped to your chest.

And not just cycling. Also for travelling in over crowded public transport Igi gives new parents that little bit more security an confidence.

Despite the many highlights at the Burg Giebichenstein exhibition one irritation did cloud our day – where was the product design Graduate show?

OK we’d already seen it at DMY, but had still arrived in Halle looking forward to getting a second chance, and maybe a little more time, to explore some of the products.

But high and wide there was neither sign of the Graduate show nor any one who could direct us to where it was.

Sadly.

However despite that fact the 2011 Burg Giebischetsein exhibition was a more than fitting end to our summer tour – and set us us up nicely for our Autumn marathon.

As is traditional we’ve created  a small facebook gallery at facebook.com/smowcom

And can anyone help us identity this ⇓ ?

An unidentified chair - a regukar sight on the Burg Giebichenstein Halle campus

An unidentified chair - a regular sight on the Burg Giebichenstein Halle campus

Dark Lime Vitra Panton Chair Cocktail Competition: Eckart Maise’s Caipirinha

July 25th, 2011

Until July 31st we are giving readers the chance to win a limited edition Dark Lime Panton Chair.

In effect we are swapping a Dark Lime Panton Chair for a summer cocktail/mixed drink recipe.

The best wins!

In order to give you some ideas and inspiration we have asked several Vitra VIPs for their favourite recipe.

Today Vitra Chief Design Officer Eckart Maise shares his Caipirinha recipe

He obvioulsy can’t win – but he can share a recipe!!!

As the man who commissioned works such as Tip Ton by Barber Osgerby or Waver by Konstantin Grcic, Eckart Maise obviously has taste. And we can assure you his Caipirinha is no exception.

If you want to be in with chance of winning the Limited Edition Dark Lime Panton Chair, simply tell us your favourite summer cocktail/mixed drink recipe.

Full details on how you can enter can be found here

Eckart Maise’s Caipirinha Recipie:

– 6 cl Cachaça
– White cane sugar
– 1 Lime,  unsprayed, unwaxed

Preparation:

Wash the lime and remove the ends. Quarter the lime and place in a long glass.

Add 2 or 3 teaspoons of sugar and mash the sugar and limes together.

Fill the glass with ice and pour in the Cachaça.

Stir and serve with a straw.

Win a Vitra-verner-panton-chair-dark-lime

Win a Dark Lime Panton Chair from Vitra

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Perfect for the balcony or garden

Fuorisalone Milan Design Week 2011: Konstantin Grcic @ Vitra

June 17th, 2011

Among the new Vitra products launched in Milan one of the most eye-catching was Waver by Konstantin Grcic.

Following an initial cooperation in the form of a Vitra Edition project, Waver is Konstantin Grcic’s first commercial product for Vitra. Created for outdoor use Waver borrows heavily from the visual aesthetics of “lifestyle” sports to create a product that not only goes its own way formally but is also remarkably comfortable.

In the second part of our interview with Konstantin Grcic we talked about Waver, the cooperation with Vitra and the importance of Fuorisaloni Milan.

(smow)blog: Starting at the beginning, what is the background to Waver ?

Konstantin Grcic: Waver is part of a much larger project with Vitra, namely outdoor furniture. Vitra have products that can be used outdoors, but no specific outdoor furniture. That was my idea when we started talking to Vitra. We wanted to work together – but on what?  And I was attracted to “outdoors”  because there is also a freedom in the typology. For me the Vitra home collection is so dominated by the classics, which are so strong, that it’s very difficult to compete with them and so I thought I’ll go outside…

(smow)blog: …. so leave Eames in living room and you go in the garden…

Konstantin Grcic: ….Exactly. I’ll go outside and do my thing. And Waver is a individual item. The rest of the collection, on which we are still working, will be more a family. And so as an individual piece Waver has a little more freedom because there is no need to apply the same geometry or grammar to accompanying products.

(smow)blog: We imagine that with such a project as Waver, there must have been a few challenges along the way ….

Konstantin Grcic: … Naturally. The biggest problem is the UV light, which is very aggressive. But obviously we wanted Waver to be a product that can be used outdoors, without the colours fading over time. And so trying to find a material that was both UV resistant and also strong enough, made things very complicated. With Waver the material carries a large amount of the weight; and so we needed something that was up to the job.  However in the end we did manage to to find a suitable material in Italy.

(smow)blog: Can one say, “Konstantin Grcic has finally arrived at Vitra” or was that never so an aim of yours?

Konstantin Grcic: Yeah. A little bit. Vitra is a company that I have always really admired and it was, yes, always a wish or a dream to work with them. And then it happens and its not a dream any more but reality with all the daily problems associated with design.

(smow)blog: And our final question, our standard Milan question. Is Fuorisaloni, Milan Design Week, still important?

KG: I think so, I must however admit I don’t get to see that much simply because I have too little time. But for me I think it is still very important because once a year everyone comes here. And even when it is all such a hype, that makes everything more important that it actually is, it defines the rhythm of the whole industry. We as designers start now in May with preparations for next year, and when Fuorisaloni wasn’t there a lot of things would inevitably fall by the wayside.

Waver by Konstantin Grcic for Vitra

Waver by Konstantin Grcic for Vitra

Fuorisalone Milan Design Week 2011: Konstantin Grcic @ Azucena

April 26th, 2011
konstantin-grcic-azucena-2

Entre-Deux by Konstantin Grcic for Azucena

Among the more interesting co-operations we saw in Milan was the first product from Konstantin Grcic for Azucena.

Entre-Deux is a very simple, reserved screen/divider/barricade – but as we say, the interesting point is the cooperation.

And so to find out more about how it arose and how it could develop in the future we spoke briefly with Konstantin Grcic.

(smow)blog: Starting with the obvious first question, how did the cooperation between yourself and Azucena come about?

Konstantin Grcic: Everything really started with a meeting with the current managing director Marta Sala, who is also the niece of Caccia Dominioni one of the company founders. As a company Azucena has always been relatively low-key and all the products have always been designed by the same three, original, designers, who are now getting older. And so the question obviously arises as to how one proceeds. Does one say that was that, the designs can still be produced but we’re not going to create anything new. Or does one attempt to carry this spirit forward. And somehow my name arose as someone from another generation, and other country, another tradition; but also someone where there are connections and where one has the feeling that they have similar ideas about the objects, as to how they are made and why are made etc. And Marta and myself were introduced last summer and had a lot of conversations during which I learned a lot about the background to the company, the products and from these conversations developed quite naturally the desire, the wish, to work together…

(smow)blog: … and so can one say that in a way you wanted to, lets say, rescue the company?

Konstantin Grcic: Not at all, because it doesn’t need to be rescued. It works as it is. And one could simply leave it as it is and it would continue to work. I’ve known the company for a long time and had always accepted it as a sort of “closed book”. But then I got to know Marta and Azucena is her life; just as it was the life of her uncle or her mother: And for Marta it’s clear that when it is her life that it must go forward and that it needs a “new spirit”. And so over the dialogue, over the time that we spent together came the decision, “come! lets do something together!”.

(smow)blog: This history that stands behind the company, is that something that intimidates you and sometimes makes you think, no, I’d rather not?

Konstantin Grcic: No  but I think that was only because it was communicated to me by Marta so that one understood that it isn’t some invincible, historical item on a marble pedestal but rather so that I understood why these things were created and that they were created for reasons, and owing to situations, that aren’t so different from those faced by designers today.

(smow)blog: And can we presume that there are plans for an extended cooperation?

Konstantin Grcic: Exactly, Entre-Deux is just the very small beginning and the plan is now that I’ll remain working here until I’m at least 94 like Caccia Dominioni…

(smow)blog: … so they’ve trapped you and now there’s nothing you can do…

Konstantin Grcic: There’s no chance of escape…

(smow)blog: Briefly to Entre-Deux. Why the decision for such a form?

Konstantin Grcic: Because it isn’t such a concrete product. I wanted as a first statement, as a first trial, to do something that remained abstract. I use the term furniture, but it is not furniture in the sense of a chair or a table. It is not a piece of primary furniture rather it is something peripheral that only functions together with other objects and then it creates a space. And that is important. But also it enters a dialogue with the other objects, it gives then a stage and reflects them. And these were the main thoughts, commercial considerations were very much in the background. It is a very special, very personal response to that what already exists here . And from this point we go further.

(smow)blog: When we first saw Entre-Deux, our initial reaction was that it shows respect to the other pieces in the Azucena collection. It doesn’t say “I’m Konstantin Grcic and as of now I have the command here…

Konstantin Grcic: ….. Exactly  and its also a modest entrance. If one can say that. So I’m here, but not the centre of attention which was important for me at the beginning. In the coming pieces however it is important to be more self-confident and just as the company founders did back then to say “here we are and this is what we do”. Exactly what comes next is open, but there will definitely be further pieces.

(smow)blog: And finally, when we compare Entre-Deux with some of your earlier work, it comes across as a much more mature piece, not so playful…

Konstantin Grcic: … I am getting older! That’s sadly how it is! However I see that as a positive thing. I’m glad I’m not 25 any more or 30. I’ve definitely matured, I don’t think I’m more conservative, but with getting older comes a lot of experience, a shifting of interests, new things you want to try out, things that you’ve never done before. And I find that positive!

(smow)blog: We couldn’t agree more. And good luck with the future projects.

entre-deux-konstantin-grcic-azucena

The designer and his work in the Azucena Villa in Milan

Fuorisalone Milan Design Week 2011: Azucena

April 17th, 2011
azucena-battibius

Battibius by Luigi Caccia Dominioni for Azucena

The story of Azucena begins in Milan in 1947 when a group of young Milanese architects decided to start producing their own furniture and fittings for their buildings.

Working with a mix of industrial and artisan suppliers to create a collection of modern, and at times highly experimental items, Azucena were one of the first “designer furniture” companies to emerge in Italy.

And arguably Europe.

However, whereas many of those companies who came after them have gone on to achieve global success and become standard examples of “Italian Design Culture”, Azucena have largely remained a Milanese secret; and certainly a company that are off the radar of most Salone visitors.

Which is obviously ironic.

If not symbolic.

Especially when one compares the Azucena collection with many of the products being launched at Salone 2011.

Luigi Caccia Dominioni’s 1959 Battibius, for example, is a delightfully light, bent iron armchair from 1959.

Or Catilina an equally elegantly simple steel and leather chair.

azucena-lampada-poltrona

Lampada Poltrona by Luigi Caccia Dominioni for Azucena

A further highlight for us is Dominioni’s 1979 Lampada Poltrona – in effect a leather strap with an in-built, adjustable, brass lamp. And a switch.

The idea is that Lampada Poltrona can be placed over an a chair, side table or a pillow/cushion and so used as a mobile reading lamp. Genius.

Until now all Azucena products have been designed by just three men, all Azucena co-founders: Luigi Caccia Diminioni, Corrado Corradi Dell’Acqua and Ignazio Gardella.

A fact that was also slowly becoming one of their biggest problems… even designers and architects get older.

And so Azucena have started a co-operation with a new designer: Konstatin Grcic.

From our perspective a potentially very good decision when one compares the existing collection with Konstantin Grcic’s interpretation of reduced, minimal design.

The first fruit of the co-operation was presented in Milan during Fuorisalone 2011.

An elegantly simple anodized aluminium divider/screen, Entre-Deux has been designed to reflect both the tradition of Azucena as well as the existing collection.

It’s meant to be reserved, respectful almost, and for us it is a wonderful introductory piece. Further pieces are in development.

If they are as good as they in theory should be, they will be more than worthy of the name Azucena.

And should ensure that in the future a few more Salone visitors make the trip to Via della Passione.

A fact that is naturally also deeply ironic and symbolic …

More information on Azucena can be found at www.azucena.it

entre-deux-konstantin-grcic-azucena

Entre-Deux by Konstantin Grcic for Azucena

azucena-catilina-luigi-caccia-diminioni-entre-deux-konstantin-grcic

Entre-Deux combined with Catilina Bassa by Luigi Caccia Diminioni

Fuorisalone Milan Design Week 2011 Interview: Eckart Maise, Vitra Chief Design Officer

April 13th, 2011

At the 2011 Milan Furniture Fair Vitra are presenting a range of new products from designers including Konstantin Grcic, Antonio Citterio and Barber & Osgerby. Ahead of the official launch we caught up with Vitra Chief Design Officer Eckart Maise to discuss the new products and the Vitra Home Collection in general.

Jill by Alfredo Häberli for Vitra

Jill by Alfredo Häberli for Vitra

(smow): Herr Maise, before we discuss the new products, and maybe as a little helpful background. How does a company like Vitra develop a collection? Do you go to a designer and say “There’s a gap in our collection, can you fill it?” Or how do new projects develop at Vitra?
Eckart Maise: In essence it all comes together as a consequence of our long-term relationship with the designers. With, for example, Antonio Citterio we’ve been working together for 25 years. Or with the Bouroullecs we’ve now been co-operating for 12 or 13 years. And although there are obviously phases where more happens and phases where less happens we are always in contact with one another. And so most projects arise from a concrete briefing from us that such or such a project would be good, for example a large sofa family or a lounge chair, and then we consider who would be the correct designer. And often we speak to several designers about the same project, and then see who reacts in which way and where what develops. The designers obviously all have their own agenda, have their own mission as it were, and so we need to find projects where there is an overlapping of interests, because that is the best conditions for a successful cooperation. It hardly ever occurs that a designer comes to us and says “So here’s a finished project, do you want it?” It’s always a co-operation and a joint development.

(smow): And in this context, this year you are presenting several products in Milan by, let’s say, “new” Vitra Designers. Are they also the result of long term contacts?
Eckart Maise: Exactly. With Barber & Osgerby, for example, we’ve been in contact for around 6 years and have discussed various projects that then never got further than the very early stages. Which isn’t to say that they are better designers now than for 6 years, rather it simply didn’t come to this overlapping of the interests. With the Tip Ton chair that was different. Similarly with Alfredo Häberli we’ve been in contact for a long time, we already worked on one project together that was quite well developed but never completely clicked and so it was stopped. Which incidentally is something that both Vitra and our designers are always prepared to do: namely even in the later phases of the development to say, no this isn’t right or we’ve not achieved our goal or whatever the reason – let’s stop. The public obviously don’t see that. But it happens. And finally with Konstantin Grcic we first worked together four years ago in the context of a Vitra Editions project, and since then we’ve remained in contact and there are further co-operations with Konstantin in preparation that will come in the future.

Tip Ton by Barber Osergby for Vitra

Tip Ton by Barber Osergby for Vitra

(smow): Which brings us nicely to the next question. From what we know of Vitra we can’t imagine that you’d enter into new projects without planning a longer co-operation?
Eckart Maise: Yes, and in all cases there other projects in development. But it can also develop other than one expects and sometimes it remains with just the one project. But we always enter into a designer cooperation with the aim of it being a long term cooperation.

(smow): Which is perhaps a good moment to discuss Hella Jongerius and the Bouroullecs. Our impression is that up till now they have played the central role in the development of the Vitra Home Collection. Is that so, and if so why?
Eckart Maise: Every designer naturally stands for one position and has their own voice. The Boroullecs are good for the Vitra Home Collection because they think in terms of systems, in terms of collections, plus they have highly poetic expression and they are very good at combining technical solutions with a poetic expression which is very important in the home. In the home you don’t want a product that is purely functional because the decision for a product is never a rational decision alone, rather emotion also plays an important role.
And with Hella Jongerius, for us Hella embodies the decorative, and also the importance of haptic, of the material, the colours. Also she also represents a return to handwork, which obviously plays an important role in the home.
But of course it’s not just the Bouroullcs and Jongerius, also Jasper Morrison plays an important role or Antonio Citterio and then of course we also have the design classics. And so one has altogether this collage.

Grand Repos and Panchina by Antonio Citterio for Vitra

Grand Repos and Panchina by Antonio Citterio for Vitra

(smow): You spoke earlier about soft seating and in that area Vitra is currently well represented, can you say where the Vitra Home Collection will develop in the future?
Eckart Maise: We will continue in the same areas as now but also in smaller objects, accessories such L’oiseau by the Bouroullecs or in dining but it’s not our intention, for example, to move into, as we say in German “Kastenmöbel, so shelving and sideboards. In that area there are other producers who are better equipped.  We have our experience and our competence in seating and in Milan we have, for example, a reclining lounger by Antonio Citterio where he has used his experience in office chairs to develop a lounge chair with a synchronizing technology in which the back tilts and at the same time the seat moves so that you maintain the same comfort regardless of seating position. And that in a very restrained style where the mechanism is not visible, it’s all incorporated in the legs and under the seat.  And in such areas is where we have our strength.

(smow): And a final question. Is the Vitra Milan Collection 2011 a good vintage? As Vitra Chief Design Officer are you confident it will positively received?
Eckart Maise: For us it’s a good year, not least because it is always exciting when you present new co-operations, that is always a large step to take as a producer. But the co-operations are also important as they enrich us, as if the family has enlarged, or the choir has grown and we can now sing new songs. And we’re confident because we have a wide variety of products from a broad range of designers; in comparison to last year where we had a very strong focus on the Suita from Antonio Citterio. This year we’ve got Vitra’s first plywood seat shell from Alfredo Häberli; we’ve further developed the HAL range with Jasper Morrison; we have the new lounger by Antionio Citterio – from our perspectiveve finally a real alternative to the Eames Lounge Chair! And that with a comparable comfort quality. Then with the Tip Ton chair from Barber & Osgerby a chair that is a real innovation in terms of the sitting experience. And in Waver from Konstantin Grcic we have a chair that is something truly new and fresh for Vitra and is an uncomplicated, young form of seating. And so we are looking forward to the reaction.

Jill by Alfredo Häberli for Vitra

Jill by Alfredo Häberli for Vitra

Tip Ton by Barber Osergby for Vitra

Tip Ton by Barber Osergby for Vitra

Grand Repos and Panchina by Antonio Citterio for Vitra

Grand Repos and Panchina by Antonio Citterio for Vitra

Waver by Konstantin Grcic for Vitra

Waver by Konstantin Grcic for Vitra

Christmas is coming the goose is getting fat … here you can hang your Christmas hat

November 26th, 2010

What would Christmas be without hats?
Father Christmas, his elves, Bing Crosby, Frank Sinatra, Dave Hill…. Even the shepherds and wise men.
All bemillinered.

And so what could be a more festive gift than a hat rack and/or hooks.

Hut Ab by Konstantin Grcic for Moormann

Hut Ab by Konstantin Grcic for Moormann

Hut Ab by Konstantin Grcic for Moormann

Hut Ab is both German for “Hats Off” and a genial space saving coat and hat rack by Konstatin Grcic. When not in use Hut Ab can be folded flat and stored.
When in use, Hut Ab offers numerous options for hanging and holding coats, hats, scarves, elves etc…

Hut Ab is available from Moormann in untreated ash or oiled walnut.

Nymphenburg by Otto Blümel through ClassiCon

Nymphenburg by Otto Blümel through ClassiCon

Nymphenburg by Otto Blümel through ClassiCon

For those who prefer their hat stands a little more classic Otto Blümel’s 1908 Nymphenburg is a wonderful example of late Art Nouveau design. From 1907-1914 Otto Blümel was head of the illustration department at the Vereinigten Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk zu München – at the time one of the most important collections of artisans in southern Germany – and it was during this period that Nymphenburg was designed.

Created from nickel-plated brass Nymphenburg passes just as well in a classically styled villa as in a modern loft.

Hang it All by Charles and Ray Eames through Vitra

Hang it All by Charles and Ray Eames through Vitra

Hang it All by Charles and Ray Eames through Vitra

One of the true design classics Hang it All from Charles and Ray Eames was initially developed to encourage children to “Hang All” their belongings up – but it wasn’t long before adults were also drawn to its infectious good humour. A lot larger than you may imagine, Hang it All is perfect for all those looking for an informal hat storage solution.

The USM Haller hat rack - a smow speciality

The USM Haller hat rack

USM Haller Hat Rack.

The true beauty of the USM Haller system is its flexibility. Once you have at least one USM Haller unit your further options are truly only limited by your imagination. And the USM Haller hat rack – a (smow) speciality – is the perfect gift for all hat wearing USM Haller fans. Crafted from standard USM Haller components the USM Haller hat rack can not only be extended to allow storage of coats and scarves – but can also be effortlessly incorporated into any future USM Haller sideboards.

Vienna Design Week 2010

October 4th, 2010

“What, another design week?!”

While the rest of the (smow)HQ tried to work out which city we hadn’t been to this year; we quietly packed our cameras for yes, another design week.

And certainly design weeks are the new film festival – every self-respecting city has to have one.

Which is fine by us.

And this week it’s Vienna Design Week.

The 2010 Vienna Design Week programme features – in addition to the usual array of exhibitions – a series of workshops, installations and talks with and from the likes of Konstantin Grcic, Stefan Sagmeister and droog co-founder Gijs Bakker.

Over the next few days we’ll bring you not only our pick of the Vienna Design Week 2010, but also a few thoughts and opinions on the central issues and topics being discussed and visualised on the banks of the Danube.

Full details of the Vienna Design Week programme can be found at www.viennadesignweek.at

Oh, and the Vienna Film Festival starts on October 21st….

Vienna Design Week team photo - and sadly not the Vienna Design Week Choir as we hoped....

Vienna Design Week team photo - and sadly not the Vienna Design Week Choir as we hoped....

smow am rhein: ClassiCon

January 22nd, 2010
ClassiCon at IMM Cologne 2010

ClassiCon at IMM Cologne 2010

On Wednesday a tweet fluttered into our (smow)twitter from @imm_cologne with the information that the Munich based producer ClassiCon had decided to return to IMM Cologne.

Which in the wake of the shock we received on our first day here in Köln didn’t go unnoticed among the thousands of invites to cocktail parties and sumptuous buffets at some of Cologne’s finer addresses we’re forced to deal with.

Established in 1990 from the dying embers of the 1898 established “Vereinigte Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk” (for the sake of convenience lets just call it a collective of designers) ClassiCon inherited the rights to produce the works of designers such as Eileen Gray or Otto Blümel. Not content to rest on their laurels however, ClassiCon were quick to cooperate with young, emerging talents such as Konstantin Grcic or Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby.

ClassiCon at IMM Cologne - Party!!

ClassiCon at IMM Cologne - Party!!

And it is this mix of established classics and modern innovation that has seen ClassiCon develop and expand over the last 20 years.

And is also one of the reasons a trade fair such as IMM Cologne needs companies like ClassiCon as a counter balance to the mediocre tat being peddled in other halls by men who think an expensive suit and an iPhone somehow makes them important and their products more valuable.

It doesn’t.

It’s not a second hand car show!

But back to quality designer furniture and ClassiCon.

Adjustable Table by Eileen Gray through ClassiCon - detail

Adjustable Table by Eileen Gray through ClassiCon - detail

To celebrate their 20th anniversary ClassiCon are now offering a 20 year guarantee on the Adjustable Table by Eileen Gray. One of the true classics of 1920s design, Gray originally created the Adjustable Table – as with the chair Roquebrune and the Petite Coiffeuse – for her own house in Roquebrune on the Cote d’Azur. With it’s chromium-plated steel tubing frame the adjusting of the Adjustable Table functions via a simple slot/rod mechanism; all beautifully set-off by a small chrome chain.

For such a product one really doesn’t need a 20 year guarantee – an Adjustable Table will outlive it’s owner –  but it is still nice to see ClassiCon standing so squarely behind their craftsmen.

Elsewhere on the ClassiCon stand we were delighted to finally get to see Saturn by Barber Osgerby; and would have loved to have compared it to Otto Blümel’s Nymphenburg, only that was far too high up.

And as ever, there are an awful lot of cheats, crooks and bandits out there and so before investing in design furniture always check that you are buying an officially licensed original. The designs of Eileen Gray, for all the Adjustable Table, the Bibendum Chair or the Non Conformist chair are globally among the most illegally copied furniture designs.

Only ClassiCon however are licensed to produce the works.

And only ClassiCon offer a 20 year guarantee on their craftsmanship.

Below is a small promotional video made by the IMM Cologne team in which ClassiCon boss Oliver Holy explains a little about the company and their relationship to IMM. Clever cats that they are the IMM marketing team have released it on sevenload: and so we’ve not got round to ripping and subtitling it yet… but we’ll get there. But possibly not until we’re back in Leipzig with the better software. And so for now it is only available in German.