V&A Museum London British Design 1948-2012 Innovation in the Modern Age architecture
April 12th, 2012 by smow

At the end of March the V&A Museum London opened the exhibition “British Design 1948-2012. Innovation in the Modern Age”, their major summer exhibition and a central pillar of their celebration of all things British throughout 2012.

Documenting the story of design in the UK since the last London Olympics, “British Design 1948-2012” begins in an era when Britain as a nation was recovering from the trauma of the Second World War, yet understood that in the rubble of the war lay the chance to renew its society and economy and so build for a brave new future.

And walking round “British Design 1948-2012” one is confronted by the inescapable truth that it was this process of renewal that was to lay the foundations for the story of modern British design.

For through the social re-organsiation, massed immigration, youth unemployment, et al the first youth sub-cultures emerged and as the exhibition makes very clear it is culture, specifically youth culture, that has been the biggest definer in the story of British design since the war.

A few years ago John Major famously spoke of Britain being about long shadows on cricket grounds and warm beer. There is no reference to such aspects of the British psyche in “British Design”, save a fleeting if heartfelt appeal from Laura Ashley and a few contemporaries who were obviously struggling to come to terms with the decline of the empire, erosion of social boundaries and uncouth brutalist architecture sweeping the nation.

Their flirtation with a historical revival however is nothing more than an interesting blip on an otherwise uninterrupted trajectory. As Leith’s leading cultural commentator would no doubt put it.

We’re not saying that all British design episodes have had their origins in youth culture.

Nor are we saying that Britain’s best designers were even influenced by the island’s youth. Jasper Morrison, for example, became the designer he is because he visited a Memphis Group exhibition in Milan and then spent time in Berlin with Andreas Brandolini, Axel Kufus and other members of the “Neues deutsches Design” movement.

However what is unmistakable is the thread of youth culture that runs through the story of British design right up to the present day.

Well, no that’s not entirely true.

Somewhere in the late 1990s the thread vanishes, but we’ll come to that….

V&A Museum London British Design 1948-2012 Innovation in the Modern Age london john piper the englishmans home

A section from "The Englishman's Home" by John Piper greets visitors to "British Design 1948-2012: Innovation in the Modern Age" @ the V&A Museum London

Taking a very wide definition of “design” and then squeezing as much as they can out of the sub-categories “British Design 1948 -2012” is reminiscent of an Essex Plaice – much wider than it is deep.

A fact that doesn’t necessarily harm the exhibition or the visitor experience. It is after all a special thematic exhibition.

In a soon to be published interview, the director of a major European design museum tells us that, in effect, the role of museums is to use their collections to tell stories; they just need to decide which stories they want to tell. The V&A has decided to delve into the depths of its British collection to place post-war British design in its social, cultural and historical context

And has done that very well.

From the brutalism of the 1950s over the swinging sixties onto seventies punk, eighties rave, nineties Cool Britannia, and beyond the exhibition presents over 350 exhibits that wonderfully explain the development of design in the UK.

And ultimately poses one very obvious question. The 1948 Olympics and subsequent Festival of Britain kick-started the post-war British economy. What will the 2012 Games bring?

There is a great deal of expectation on the British Isles that the 2012 Olympic Games will also herald a brave new age.

They wont.

All the objects in the early decades of the exhibition were produced in the UK. We suspect largely out of necessity; there was no alternative. Today goods can be produced abroad. And the creations of the leading contemporary designers largely are.

Barber Osgerby currently work with Vitra, Magis, ClassiCon, flos. Benjamin Hubert with De Vorm, De La Espada, &Tradition. Doshi Levien with Moroso, Cappellini, Richard Lampert.

We approve. That’s good. And is a situation that, if we’re all honest, is unlikely to change. But does mean that regardless how successful British designers become, their contribution to the UK’s GDP will remain negligible.

Then there is the nature of British design, for as the exhibition beautifully illustrates, Britain’s “contemporary design tradition” is largely based on creating iconic, stylish and attractive objects. “British Design 1948-2012” doesn’t feature any objects that one could say are truly innovative or started any particular global design movement.

“What about Concorde?” We hear the Daily Mail readers at the front of the class cry.

“Co-developed with the French and while unquestionably an iconic symbol of luxury air travel, what did Concorde actually contribute to modern aviation?” We reply.

And Jonathan Ives may have been knighted for his services to design: but he of course doesn’t create what happens inside apple products. Just ensures that they look good. Or, put another way, creates iconic, stylish objects in the finest British design tradition.

As we’ve often stated, in the decades after the war increasing disposable incomes and social security created a market for consumer goods of the sort the likes of Mary Quant or Terence Conran were producing.

And the British youth with their unfaltering ability to transform harsh social reality into creative energy provided the musical backdrop. British design became part of a British style that was the envy of the world.

First punk and later rave may have superficially torn up the rule book; were in reality still based on standardised iconic symbolism underscored by new genres of music and literature.

Which means that to remain truly distinctive and desirable British design needs its yoof.

Oh, hang on…..

As we said, sometime in the mid 1990s one loses track of the youth culture thread. And while we’d love nothing more than to blame Damien Hirst and his YBA cronies. We can’t

The problem is the internet, a medium that by its very nature snubs out youth cultures before they have a chance to establish themselves. The increased pace of our digital world meaning a mass movement like rave, arguably the last great youth culture and one which catapulted designers such as Tom Dixon into the limelight, will probably never again be possible.

And without the youth sub-cultures….

The “British Design 1948-2012” exhibition design was created by Ben Kelly. Who designed Malcolm McLaren & Vivienne Westwood’s Kings Road boutique SEX. And the interior of the Hacienda.

We can’t think of a more appropriate example for the importance of youth sub-cultures in guiding the fortunes of British designers.

V&A Museum London British Design 1948-2012 Innovation in the Modern Age FAC 51 Hacienda Ben Kelly

Part of the Hacienda interior as created Ben Kelly. And as displayed at British Design 1948-2012 Innovation in the Modern Age. Exhibition design by .... Ben Kelly.

We’re not saying the situation is hopeless. British designers will undoubtedly remain very much in demand. But their careers will become increasingly dependent on foreign producers, producers whose commissioning decisions are based on global marketing and sales strategies rather than the organic, grassroots movements that established British design’s reputation. As such the “British” in “British Design” will become increasingly difficult to define. But that is a question of national pride. Not design theory.

Consequently, “British Design 1948-2012. Innovation in the Modern Age” can either be viewed as the documentation of the past sixty years of British design combined with an attempt to place British design in a global context as the curators intended. Or as the first major retrospective of the Golden Age of British Design.

Either way it is an important exhibition and definitely worth viewing.

British Design 1948-2012. Innovation in the Modern Age runs at the V&A Museum London until August 12th 2012.

V&A Museum London British Design 1948-2012 Innovation in the Modern Age concorde

Getting ready to sail off into the sunset? A scale model of Concorde at British Design 1948-2012 Innovation in the Modern Age

Posted in Designer, Exhibitions and Shows Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , ,

IMM Köln 2012 Richard Lampert Living Outdoor
January 23rd, 2012 by smow

Following on from last years “Kids Only” collection, Richard Lampert was/were back at Cologne 2012 with a collection of new outdoor furniture

And just as “Kids Only” clearly wasn’t. So too can “Living Outdoor” clearly also be used for “Living Indoor”

Which is important if you live north of Alicante and can’t guarantee your summer will be in any way summary.

Featuring four new products from three of the company’s roster of young design talents, the new collection can be seen as an extension of Lampert’s existing garden and balcony furniture range that includes, for example, the table & bench set Ludwig, the side table Flip or the outdoor version of Herbert Hirche’s monumental Lounge Chair.

Following on from last years Pit Stop beanbag for the “Kids Only” collection, Eindhoven Design Academy graduate Bertjan Pot has developed the chair Tie-Break, a chair made from tennis netting.

An admittedly unconventional material but one chosen specifically because it is weather resistant and so allows the chair to be left outside in all weathers.

Now you know us, we don’t dig furniture made from “everyday items” Tie-break however uses tennis netting material as its base rather than simply re-interpreting how one can use a tennis net.

It’s an important difference. And a wonderful example of how designers have to think when choosing materials for projects. Its not all “Form follows function”.

Cologne native and long-time member of the Richard Lampert team, Eric Degenhardt has created a new folding table, Hook. A delightful balcony table that folds to a sort of flat frying pan form that can be hung up on simple screw.

A further long-term Lampert collaborator Alexander Seifried has created two products for the “Living Outdoor” collection. A sun lounger/day bed by the name Dish’s Island and – and for us the highlight of the collection –  the folding chair MASH. When we first saw MASH we initially thought of a tennis line judge’s chair from back in the day. So way back in the day when tennis racquets were still strung with pig gut.

But the real story behind the chair was revealed in our conversation with Richard Lampert…..

(smow)blog: Garden Furniture. We’re assuming that means things are going so well you are planning kicking back and spending the coming summer lounging in your garden…..

Richard Lampert: Exactly! And as every year I expect that we will very soon be enjoying spring sunshine!

(smow)blog: Optimistic. But we’ll give you that! For the”Living Outdoor” collection you’ve recruited some familiar faces…

Richard Lampert: Yes. We have Alexander Seifried who has developed two pieces, a sun lounger and then a folding chair that is a re-make of an old army folding chair that we found amongst some junk and have re-worked and updated. And we’ve called it MASH after the film and TV series.

(smow) blog: So you were cleaning out the cellar, found it and thought….?

Richard Lampert: …fantastic piece, wonderful chair we’ve got to do something with that!

In addition from Bertjam Pot we have a chair crafted out of tennis netting combined with safety belt material from the automotive industry. And we’re still working with a young Swiss architect on a new table with matching chairs. It wasn’t possible to get that ready in time for Cologne so we’ll introduce that in Milan.

(smow)blog: And how strict was the brief this year. Did you say, for example, to Bertjan Pot that you wanted a chair….

Richard Lampert: No this time it was all very free, we said we wanted “garden furniture” and obviously that doesn’t offer so many possibilities as “kids furniture”. I can make a table, a bench, a sunshade, chair, lounger…. then there is not that much more.

(smow)blog: For the second year in succession your launching your new collection here in Cologne rather than in Milan as most other producers choose to. Why?

Richard Lampert:  Here I have 100 sqm in Milan I only get 50. In Milan I can’t show so much and don’t have the space to create such a presentation as we have here. And then there is the simple fact that Germany is my most important market, and where we make the majority of our turnover and so for me it makes sense to launch our new collection here in Cologne.

Posted in Designer, Exhibitions and Shows, imm cologne, Producer, Richard Lampert Tagged with: , , , ,

stockholm february 2011
January 4th, 2012 by smow

On his 2009 album “Waxing Gibbous” Falkirk balladeer Malcolm Middleton included the song “Red Travellin’ Socks” a jaunty – if for us touch too obvious – ode to his love/hate relationship with, well his Red Travellin’ Socks.

Wearing his socks he’s reminded of the freedom of the open road that is currently helping him fulfilling his primitive desires – until such time as the romantic myth of the endless highways explodes and he begins to long for home. The red socks symbolising his frustration and hopelessness.

“Take me home Red Travellin’ Socks”, he demands. “I’m out of money and I’m sick of these songs….”

And then, inevitably, after a period at home his Red Travellin’ Socks sit there in the domestic wardrobe, taunting him and reminding him of what he is missing….

Malcolm’s Red Travellin’ Socks are our Vitra Panton Chair Miniature.

For no obvious reason it began accompanying us a couple of years ago and even featured in our controversial tour of Verner Panton’s Copenhagen. And will inevitably feature in our forthcoming Arne Jacobsen portrait.

Much as we enjoy photographing it, there comes a point in every tour where it sits in the camera rucksack like a lead-lined metaphor for the domestic regularity we’re missing. However, no sooner is it back on the bookshelf….

Our erstwhile travelling companion in front of Arne Jacobsen's former house in Copenhagen.

And so while we admittedly did consider throwing it from the train on the way back from Neue Räume Zürich 2011 – we’re currently polishing it up for Spring 2012.

On January 13th we’re in Cologne for the opening of the exhibition “From Aalto to Zumthor – Architect Furniture” in the MAKK. And of course for IMM Cologne 2012 and the parallel fringe events.

Among the, potential, highlights are a new outdoor collection from Richard Lampert, the exhibition “Made in Sishane” and seeing how the colleges do now that they have left the confines of IMM and will be showing their work at a satellite event in the city.

Early February then sees the opening of the Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec Exhibition “Album” in the Vitra Design Museum Gallery in Weil am Rhein. We missed it in Bordeaux and so are really looking forward to seeing it; and of course finding out how their yacht is coming on!

And then from February 6th were in Stockholm for the annual Design Festival and Furniture Fair. The obvious highlight being Stockholm in February.

But given that the (smow)boss will also expect us to produce some form of “work” from our trip, we’ll be checking out the exhibition The Evolution of Object by Katrin Greiling, pursuing the new tile designs by Claesson Koivisto Rune for Marrakech Design and generally investigating the current state of the designer furniture industry in Scandinavia.

Reports, photos, interviews and reviews will be published here and on Facebook.

stockholm february 2011

Stockholm. February. 2011


Posted in Exhibitions and Shows, imm cologne, Producer, Richard Lampert, smow, Stockholm Design Week, Stockholm Furniture Fair Tagged with: , , , , ,

Vitra Eames Elephants prepare to ambush nordic walking pensioners in Leipzig
February 2nd, 2010 by julius

The last couple of days have seen an endless stream of emails into the (smow)blog bunker asking if we are OK.

And if we’re OK, why aren’t we posting anything?

Can’t we be bothered?

Are we bored?

Have we finally be rumbled by the (smow)boss?

Far from it, the sad truth is we’ve been forced into doing some real work for change.

We know, we can’t believe it either!

(smow) ... in stock and ready to go..

(smow) … in stock and ready to go..

The combination of Christmas holidays and heavy snow throughout Europe has meant that numerous deliveries from a number of (smow)suppliers have been delayed of late.

Delayed deliveries which all arrived on Thursday.

As we arrived at (smow)HQ on Thursday morning, Vitra were already waiting with a lorry full of products from designers as diverse as Charles and Ray Eames, Maarten van Severen or Verner Panton.

Then USM Haller arrived with a lorry full of Haller tables, USM Haller sideboards and roll containers.  And as they left us to head back to Bühl, moooi arrived from Amsterdam.

Sometimes it really is like the EU car park in the (smow)yard!!!

And then with lunch barely digested Moormann, Lampert and lapalma rolled up.

Fantastic as all this was, it did of course mean that someone had to pack all the new deliveries away.

And that task befell us.

But don’t worry, we weren’t actually forced to sweat.

For such tasks we have a team of specially trained and qualified Eames Elephants; we are simply needed to coordinate the whole exercise.

USM Haller being carried by Eames Elephants into the (smow)warehouse

USM Haller being carried by Eames Elephants into the (smow)warehouse

And so we have spent the past few days directing Eiermann desk, Vitra DSR and USM Haller carrying Vitra Eames Elephants through the endless corridors of the (smow)warehouse.

But everything is now – finally – stored away and our Eames Elephants have returned to the Leipzig Ratsholz to continue helping Leipzig City Council rid the public forests of the plague of nordic walking pensioners who have taken up residence there.

Good luck! We’re counting on you!

And we are back to drinking too much coffee and searching out the finest designer furniture stories for your entertainment.

Vitra Eames Elephants prepare to ambush nordic walking pensioners in Leipzig

Vitra Eames Elephants prepare to ambush nordic walking pensioners in Leipzig

Posted in smow Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

August 7th, 2009 by julius
Bauhaus signet

Bauhaus signet

We’re just a touch late with this one, but since July 22nd the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin has been showing the exhibition “Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model“.

For the first time, the three German Bauhaus institutions – Bauhaus-Archiv Berlin, Museum für Gestaltung, Stiftung Bauhaus Dessau and Klassik Stiftung Weimar – are uniting to present a comprehensive Bauhaus retrospective. “Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model” recounts the story of the Bauhaus in a comprehensive presentation of the works of its masters and students – including a number of lesser known and not regularly displayed works. In addition the exhibition looks at principles that dominated the school and it’s work: inter-disciplinary, experimental teaching, the concept of practice-oriented workshops, the pursuit of answers to social questions, the propagation of timeless aesthetics as well as experimentation with new procedures and materials in architecture and design.

S 43F Classic by Mart Stam through Thonet. A classic of Bauhaus design.

S 43F Classic by Mart Stam through Thonet. A classic of Bauhaus design.

Few movements have left such a lasting impression on furniture design as Bauhaus from it’s short inter-war intermezzo.

Designs such as Mart Stams cantilever chair, the Bauhaus Lamp from Wilhelm Wagenfeld or the „Wassily“ chair by Marcel Breuer stand as testament to the quality and ingenuity of those involved. In addition popular (smow) products such as the Eiermann table frame or the new Eileen Gray range from ClassiCon have their roots firmly in Bauhaus and the approach to design and functionality that was developed there.

Eileen Gray (1878 -1976) Didn't Bauhaus but had close contacts with the protagonists

Eileen Gray (1878 -1976) Didn't attend Bauhaus, but had very close contacts with the protagonists

We’ve not seen “Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model” , however for the organisers “the early works of the Bauhaus masters are highlights. They document why Feininger, Klee, Kandinsky et al were summoned to the school as masters. Works by masters and students created during their sojourn at the Bauhus demonstrate the fast-paced creative development of the school. Among other objects, the “Gropius Folder” can be seen, which was presented to the director of the Bauhaus as a birthday gift in 1924. The visitor will be amazed by the “African Chair”, created and constructed by Marcel Breuer and the weaving artist Gunta Stölzl in 1921. For eighty years it was assumed to have been lost, and is quite contradictory to Breuer’s wide reputation as the designer of the steel tube furniture. Breuer’s first “Club chair” from 1926 can also be seen, as well as Johannes Itten’s four-metre-high “Tower of Fire” from 1920. The “Draft of a socialist city” by Reinhold Rossig and the “Bauhaus Dress” by Lis Vogler from 1928 are exemplary representatives of the unknown works that originated in the workshops.”

Which sounds fantastic

If your in or near Berlin, Germany the exhibition “Bauhaus. A Conceptual Model” runs until October 4 and is open daily. More information at http://www.modell-bauhaus.de/

Posted in Exhibitions and Shows, smow offline Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Peter Horn and Michael Majewski: Quality design from Sachsen
July 30th, 2009 by julius
Giorgio by Peter Horn for Lampert

Giorgio by Peter Horn for Lampert

Giorgio by Peter Horn is the chair that almost never was. Having commissioned Horn to create a stackable multi-function chair, the finished design lay for two years in the archive of Stuttgart based designer furniture producer Richard Lampert – in short, although convinced of the quality of the chair, Lampert saw that particular market segment as too crowded. After all how many chair designs does the world need?

And so the story would have ended had not one day a request for help not been received from an architect partner of Lampert’s. They needed stackable chairs for a project, but everything they found was either cheap, and looked it, or excellent but too expensive for the project. Lampert produced a few test versions of Giorgio, and the chair turned out to be just what was required – an excellent, stackable, multi-function chair at an affordable price.
And so some four years after the initial commission and nearly two since the completion of the project, Peter Horn’s Giorgio finally proved its advantages over the competition and was included in the Lampert catalogue.

And so the smow catalogue. Which pleases us.

Fits wonderfully to an Eiermann Table...

Fits wonderfully to an Eiermann Table...

For not only is Giorgio, with its wide seat and stable backrest, an excellent chair for home or office, but Peter Horn is also responsible for the Seesaw office chair, the Turtle children’s chair and the Fixx Roll Container. Making it possible to furnish your complete home/office and/or child’s bedroom in his chairs and storage units. But much more important he’s from Dresden, where, together with his partner Michael Majewski, he runs his studio Horn Majewski Design.

Making them all but a home designers for smow. And among the most successful from round our way at that.

Peter Horn and Michael Majewski: Quality design from Sachsen

Peter Horn and Michael Majewski: Quality design from Sachsen

Horn and Majeski were awarded the bi-annual Sachsen Design Prize in 2001, 2003 and 2007 – were not sure what happened in 2005 – and so, arithmetically at least, 2009 should be their year again. The deadline for entries closes on 14th of August, for all of those who’ve not yet applied. We will keep you updated here of all the  news once the nominations have closed.

Until now Giorgio, however, hasn’t won any prizes, but it has demonstrated that regardless how many chair designs you think there are out there … there is always room for one more.

Which is just as impressive.

Posted in Awards, design in sachsen, Designer, Producer, Product Tagged with: , , , , , ,

The smow polling station - Eiermann II Table from Richard Lampert and an Eames Elephant from Vitra
June 6th, 2009 by julius

As a Europe-wide active business we at smow take Europe very seriously. We must, it is our home.

And naturally for us the European elections are an important event for which we are more than happy to sacrifice a couple of hours of our time in which to go voting.

A typical polling station....

A typical polling station....

But don’t you also agree that polling stations are frightfully dull locations?  We’re not snobs, but, you know, one could at least try to, you know, make a little effort.

So smow spoke to the responsible authorities in Leipzig and they let us furnish our local polling station here in Downtown East Plagwitz Village.

First it was important to get the right table. After careful consideration we opted for Eiermann tables with asymmetric Eiermann II frames from Ricard Lampert. Easy to assemble, height adjustable … and they look great. Perfect.

Kleiner Trommler by  for Moormann

Kleiner Trommler by Sabine Mrasek and Clemens Stübner for Moormann

For the ballot boxes we ideally wanted  Kleiner Trommler from Moormann. Sadly we currently have none in stock, and so, on account of the time limits in which we were obliged to operate, we were forced to choose an alternative.

After a detailed search in the expansive (smow)lager we settled on the wonderful Vitra Eames Elephant – not only can they be relied upon not to reveal how you voted, but as elephants never forget they could, potentially, help should the votes go astray.

And with their simple, natural curves they fit perfectly with Egon Eiermann‘s genial table.

Vitra Eames Elephant in action as a ballot box

Vitra Eames Elephant in action as a ballot box

We were gratified by the positive feedback we received from all the voters who made use of our polling station and are currently working on a concept to furnish all polling stations in Leipzig for the parliamentary elections in September.

Voting is an important and sombre event, but needn’t be a Calvinistic ritual; rather, it can be done in and with a little style.

And as ever smow show the way. And should you need new furniture for our polling station, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

The smow polling station - Eiermann II Table from Richard Lampert and an Eames Elephant from Vitra

The smow polling station - Eiermann II Table from Richard Lampert and an Eames Elephant from Vitra

Posted in smow Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

iglooplay at ICFF - and the closest we got to a table all week....
May 17th, 2009 by julius

There may be no tables in the press room, but there are plenty to be found at ICFF…

Eiermann 1 by Egon Eiermann from Lampert….ahhhhh, if only, if only if only. Polished chrome AND a place to rest your feet at hip level. Hhhhmmmmmm, perfection at work

The Eiermann 1 table frame from Richard Lampert at the German Design Council stand

The Eiermann 1 table frame from Richard Lampert at the German Design Council stand

Oh my God,  a table with its own integrated book holder. Every proofreaders dream. And height adjustable so you can stand or sit to work … Crescendo C2 maximus from stilvoll where have you been since Saturday at 10…

Crescendo C by stillvoll. So simple, yet so complex and so good

Crescendo C2 maximus by stillvoll. So simple, yet so complex and so good

Particularly nasty – access to this Dr Na by Philippe Starckfor Kartell has been blocked for the press corp!!! First they ignored the Geneva convention, now the freedom of the press. Is nothing sacred in Obama’s America?

Dr Na by Philippe Starck for Kartell

Dr Na by Philippe Starck for Kartell

Driven to the edge the (smow)blog team attempt to use a child’s desk from iglooplay.  Gorgeous Eamesesque styling, but far too small for the average north European adult.


The somewhat improbably named Mod Topper and Mod Rocker from iglooplay. Great for kids, rubbish for adults

Posted in New York Tales Tagged with: , , , , ,

First Chair by Stefano Giovannoni for Magis is a quality product.... The press room at ICFF. Apparentl American journalists, as a highly eveolved species, submit their texts by ESP alone
May 15th, 2009 by julius

Not good.

For some reason which escapes us there are no tables in the press room.


And to think we complained in Milan once when the beer in the press room fridge was too warm!!!

Is there not a producer out there who could sponsor a few for next year.

Vitra?  Kartell? Lampert?

The conditions here are worse than at the Magdeburger Volksstimme or any other village rag.

Oh, how we yearn for our asymmetric Eiermann II table…..

As the logical next step in the War on Terror, Tables have been now been banned across Americ

As the logical next step in the War on Terror, tables have been now been banned across America….The (smow)blog office in New York.

First Chair by Stefano Giovannoni for Magis is a quality product.... The press room at ICFF. Apparentl American journalists, as a highly eveolved species, submit their texts by ESP alone

First Chair by Stefano Giovannoni for Magis is a quality product…. The press room at ICFF. Apparently American journalists, as a highly eveolved species, submit their texts by ESP alone, saving the troublesome job of typing

Posted in New York Tales Tagged with: , , , ,

214 by Michael Thonet - a couple of bits of wood and a little skill.
April 28th, 2009 by julius

Despite Lufthansa’s best effort we made it back to Leipzig yesterday evening.

We only hope our luggage will arrive this evening.

And despite the joy at being back in our green oasis with our wonderful view over the romantic historical ruins of East Plagwitz, Milan remains very much in our thoughts and we will continue to intersperse the blog with news and updates.

214 by Michael Thonet - a couple of bits of wood and a little skill.

214 by Michael Thonet - a couple of bits of wood and a little skill.

As we never tire of telling anyone who will listen to us, furniture needn’t be complicated.
The design process can be complicated yes, but not the final product.

The 214 by Michael Thonet, for example, or the S 43 by Mart Stamm both being perfect examples of how simple a good chair can be. And indeed the Thonet stand in Milan perfectly demonstrated not only this maxim, but also how a company such as Thonet can remain innovative and contemporary without losing sight of their heritage. Stools such as the 404 series from Stefan Diez working wonderfully with the Michael Thonet classics such as the 209.

404 H by Stefan Dietz for Thonet

404 H by Stefan Dietz for Thonet

As an addition to the 404 range Thonet now offer it as a delightful, three-legged bar-chair. version; the saddle-shaped seat meaning that seating comfort is guaranteed even over a longer period.

Another German manufacturer who live by the motto that less is more -and certainly more comfortable – is Richard Lampert. The Egon Eiermann table frames, for example, being a fine example of what can be achieved with a few lengths of chrome – if you shape them correctly. On their stand in Milan Lampert reinforced this simple conecpt, and in a similar fashion to Thonet,  also clearly demonstrated how easy good modern design can be mixed with design classics.  Herbert Hirche studied at Bauhaus under Wassily Kandinsky and later worked for Egon Eiermann – and his classic 1950s Lounge Chair shows that he had not only paid attention but also reflected on what he had learnt.

In out by Eric Degenhardt and sidetable Flip by Alexander Seifried both for Richard ampert

In-out by Eric Degenhardt (and sidetable Flip by Alexander Seifried) both for Richard Lampert

In 2006 the German designer Eric Degenhardt slightly re-worked Hirche’s design – a process that obviously left an impression on Degenhardt as can be seen in in his wonderful In-Out chair. Again based on the simple bent chrome concept, in-out may look supiciously like a cheap angler’s chair, but is a wonderfully comfortable, relaxing armchair in which we could well imagine spending a summer evening in the garden or a winter afternoon in front of the telly. And, as the name suggests, one comes easily in and out – your smow(blog) team having tested it extensively.

Posted in smow in Milan Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

April 26th, 2009 by julius

In our entry on the designersblock showcase we mentioned a foldable cardboard chair that had caught our attention.
Now we know as well as everyone else that are our heads are readily turned by free beer and bagpipes (thanks Calum) – and if you throw in some dub and finest Italian ska and we would lie for you in court.
And so we thought we had better wait a day or two before saying anything more about Stuart Miller’s fine folding cardboard chair. In case we found something better. We thought we had last night, but no…

Stuart is a student at Glasgow Caledonian University, and the chair is part of his final year project. And as yet unnamed.

As your smow(blog) team were impoverished, over-worked and under-nourished students at Glasgow Strathclyde University, regardless of much stick we took from the oinks at Glasgow University we could at least take solace in the fact that the Glasgow Tech students were even lower down the social scale than us.

That hasn’t changed, but Glasgow Tech became Glasgow Caledonian University and the industrial design department has also grown up. And there were genuinely a few good works from the Glasgow students on show in Milan, but the pick was Stuart’s chair.

It is comfortable. It is stable. It looks good.

But the important factors are the ease with which it folds flat and its lightness.

Stuart brought two chairs with him in a budget airline – and we all know how strict they are; on account of the weight we once had trouble checking a club sandwich in as hold baggage…

They are light.

And fold flat.

And as such perfect for either keeping in a cupboard in case extra guests turn up unannounced; for putting in the car if your heading-off somewhere and planning camping or stopping for a picnic; or if your flying off to a holiday cottage in the sun and don’t fancy sitting on a cheap plastic chair.

Theoretically you could even strap them to the back of your bike…

The range of uses is almost unlimited – for example, as seating while decorating a room – yet the stability and comfort remains.

And as you can see from the video – they take seconds to assemble.

As we said earlier: “Took a problem, analysed it, solved it. And that with style and comfort. Lovely.”

In terms of the “extra seating market” the folding chair was, until now, the unquestioned king, queen, prince and illicit son idling in exile and planning his bloody revenge …

Until now…

A foldable chair made from a recycled cardboard is a real alternative. And not only because of the space and weight savings – aesthetics are also important.

And so if Moormann, Lampert or SCP are reading…

(P.S. Sorry, we weren’t thinking when we made the film, hence the sideways image :( And sadly here in Milan we have neither the software nor the RAM to change that, but once we’re back in Leipzig…)

Posted in Designer, smow in Milan Tagged with: , , , , ,

Headline by Bellini for Vitra
March 25th, 2009 by julius

In a recent article wired magazine presented their own take on the evolution of office furnishing.

From the introduction of the vast, cattle-shed like offices that characterised early office design through the cubicles and “virtual offices” of the 1980s and 90s and onwards the text makes one thing clear: Too many office workers have suffered through bad office design concepts.

But one needn’t work from home in order to benefit from the advantages of a convivial and stimulating office environment.

System USM Haller

System USM Haller

The Swiss designer USM Haller has been producing its patented – and in the MoMA New York displayed – System USM Haller furniture for over 40 years. Centred around the USM Haller ball the units are not only infinitely expendable but can be designed to suit your individual requirements. And then re-designed as your requirements change. In addition USM Haller tables are available in range of sizes and colours. Or alternatively the Eiermann Table from Lampert also fit wonderfully with System USM Haller units.

Tolomeo Tavalo from Artemide

Tolomeo Tavalo from Artemide

The Italian lighting designer Artemide has been producing high quality, stylish lighting systems since 1958. With it’s floor lamps, table lamps and hanging lamps Artemide has established a reputation for excellent luminescence in timeless designs that fit just as well in a reception area, office or conference room.

Among the pioneers of office furniture design were Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson and many of their classic designs remain in the Vitra collection – including their Aluminium Series of chairs which offer outstanding quality and versatility with the minimum of material and fuss.

Headline by Bellini for Vitra

Headline by Mario and Claudio Bellini for Vitra

And while Vitra “adopted” Eames and Nelson through the collaboration with Herman Miller, the company has established it’s own reputation for high-quality office furnishings. Through, for example, collaborations with Mario and Claudio Bellini, including the award winning Headline Chair or Jasper Morrison with his ATM range onto its new Net’n’Nest concept Vitra is one of the most active and innovative office furnishers on the market.

In addition smow stock the Foster Series of desk accessories by Sir Norman Foster for helit.

And with many items in stock and available for immediate worldwide delivery, you may be able to write your own chapter in the development of office design quicker than you imagine.

Posted in Producer, Product, smow Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

February 1st, 2009 by julius

Eiermann chldren's desk and Turtle chair

Eiermann children's desk and Turtle chair

Attractive, practical and child friendly furniture is rare; the new furniture series from Lampert is a welcome exception – not least because the furniture grows with the children. The Egon Eiermann children’s desk can be set to a height of 550m (for 5 year olds) and then raised as the child grows. Also the Children’s Chair Turtle is height adjustable – being suitable for users between 1,10 and 1,60 m. As companion piece to the desk and chair Lampert also produce the mobile storage container Fixx.

mobile storage container FIXX

In Fixx children can store their toys and school utensils and then roll it into any corner of the room they want or out of the way. And Fixx contains a secret compartment. How one opens it is revealed only to the child in a sealed letter supplied with Fixx. Chair Turtle and Fixx are designed by Peter Horn; the desk by Egon Eiermann.

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Plenty of room for a Eiermann Table inside (Photo: http://www.richard-lampert.de)
January 20th, 2009 by julius

Landed by

Landed by Eric Deghardt for Lampert (Photo: http://www.richard-lampert.de)

At the imm in Cologne the German producer “Richard Lampert” once again proved that they can produce more than just the classic, timeless Eiermann Table. With a prototype of “Landed” by Eric Degenhardt the Stuttgart based company almost completed a leap into architecture. Almost. For while in models and sketches one could easily confuse Degenhardt’s creation with a concept building; close up one realizes that it is in fact an exceptional piece of furniture design. “Landed” with its multiple levels and clever use of height has several possible uses: As a garden house in warmer climates; as a children’s room in a loft flat; or as an isolated work space or relaxing room in an open-plan office – an extension of Vitra’s Net’n’Nest concept, as it were.

Plenty of room for a Eiermann Table inside (Photo: http://www.richard-lampert.de)

Plenty of room for a Eiermann Table inside (Photo: http://www.richard-lampert.de)

At the moment Landed is still in the development phase and it will be 2010 at the earliest before a finished version is available. When it is you can be certain that smow will be able to supply you with one. Just don’t ask for it to be gift wrapped!!

Posted in Designer, Exhibitions and Shows, Producer, Product Tagged with: , , ,

Eiermann table frame 1
December 21st, 2008 by julius

Within the next 48 hours all christmas presents must be bought. Or else it’s back to writing vouchers for your nearest and dearest. 

And so before it’s all too late a few final gift ideas from smow. In particular we present here the Eiermann desk, the miniature chairs from Vitra and the La Bohème “Vases” from Kartell. Or in other words Christmas gifts for workaholics, designer furniture afficienados and aesthetes…

Eiermann table frame 1

Eiermann table frame 1

Number 1: “Desk perfection”

Designer Egon Eiermann was a perfectionist who placed greatest importance on the proportions of his creations and the fine details of his pieces. The Eiermann table frame 1 is perhaps the purest representation of this passion.

On account of the diagonal supports the Eiermann table frame 1 frame can only be used from one side. The further development, the cleverly named Eiermann table frame 2, is however perfectly suited to double sided use and so can be utilized as, for example, a conference or dining table. With both frames the table top can also be set at an angle if required.

Schaukelsessel No. 9 miniature from Vitra

Schaukelsessel No. 9 miniature from Vitra

Number 2: “Tiny, yet accurate“

The “Miniatures Collection” from Vitra is worldwide unique. Vitra offers the most important design furniture examples in miniature form: Construction, coloration and materials, however, are exactly as in the originals. The Vitra Miniature Chairs are not only valuable collection pieces, but also useful and inspirational pieces for architects, lecturers and all students of fine form.

La Boheme Vases from Kartell

La Boheme Vases from Kartell

Number 3: “La Bohème”

Reminiscent of ancient amphorae “La Bohème” by Phillipe Starck may look like fragile glass objects, are in fact formed from highly durable polycarbontae; consequently, they can be placed indoors as well as outdoors and in homes with lively children and pets. Available in three forms and a range of colours, these elegant “vases” are not vases per se rather have a flat top surface and as such are perfect as stools or as small sidetables.

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Dioscuri und Castore Davolo, Onfale
December 18th, 2008 by julius

To end 2008 some tips – and inspiration? – regarding some of the new products that will be gracing the smow selection in 2009. Sadly we can’t present all our new products here – because at this stage even we don’t know how the year will develop. However, by subscribing to the (smow)blog RSS feed or simply regularly visiting smow.com you won’t miss out.

Rattan chair from Lampert

Rattan chair from Lampert

The rattan furniture from Lampert is the perfect companion for the long winter months. In, for example, the wonderfully functional Rattan armchair E 10 burying yourself in your favorite book with a glass of herbal tea is even more of pleasure. The E10 is now available from smow either with or without a cushion. The accompanying rattan stool can be used as either seat or as a small table, depending on if you want company or a rather place for your tea and biscuits.

Both pieces are creations of the German designer and architect Egon Eiermann. He had a great affinity for rattan and in his youth even designed garage doors from the plant.

Dioscuri und Castore Davolo, Onfale

Dioscuri und Castore Davolo, Onfale

Artemide have a whole department who do nothing more than think up names for their lamps. They don’t really, but we at smow constantly wonder at that creativity that goes into their product  names. At smow.com we have stocked Artemide since day one, and our range recently increased through the inclusion of “Dioscuri Tavolo” . As one expects from Artemide the “Dioscuri Tavolo” is an impressive addition to any room that becomes even more impressive when on turns it one. Formed from thermoplastic resin the “Dioscuri Tavolo” is a stylish globe-shaped lamp which emits a wonderful light. It is available in a range of sizes.

“Castore Tavolo” is a table lamp from Artemide with an ingeneous dimmer in the base. Alternatively one can adjust the intensity by remote control. Part seventies futurism, part fungal spore, part stylized water droplet the “Castore Tavolo” adds that certain Je ne sais quoi to any room.

The table lamp  “Onfale” from Artemide is also characterized by its smokey, milky glass globe; a globe which ,like all the above, emits a a bright light. This classic mushroom shaped lamp is also available in a range of sizes.

New in the smow selection are in addition:

– from Lampert

Work chair Seesaw

Trolley Server

Stacking chair Giorgio

Lectern Milla

Children’s chair Turtle

Eiermann children’s table

Child’s roll container Fixx

– from Artemide

Table lamp Talak

Table lamp Tizio

Table lamp Tizio Plus

Table lamp Tizio Micro

Posted in Product, smow Tagged with: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,