architonic – newsletter – 0607

Julho 6, 2007

The Salone Satellite is one of the biggest and probably the most important international platform for young designers who want to be established. This year the Satellite celebrates its 10th anniversary. The designers who are selected by a jury get the chance, on the occasion of the Milan furniture fair, to present their work to a specialist public, get in touch with manufacturers and make important contacts. A further place to discover new designers and labels is Zona Tortona, which features a varied open air journey through the world of design.
We once more discovered a lot of good design this year. Our attention was especially attracted by great design from Belgium, which is characterised by a skilful combination of irony and simplicity. A selection is represented by Les Belges at the Satellite and ABC-Authentic Belgian Creativity at Zona Tortona. A selection can be seen at Cool&Fresh 2007.

Furniture designer Jørgen Kastholm dies in the age of 76

The well-known danish furniture designer, who demonstrated his gifts in the nineteen-sixties in particular with creations such as the Grasshopper Chair, won a number of design awards, including Germany’s first federal ‘Gute Form’ prize in 1969. During his stay in Lebanon a close cooperation with colleague Preben Fabricius produced the Scimitar Chair and the interior furnishing of the local SAS (Scandinavian Airlines) office. His designs can still be seen in more than 120 airports throughout the world.

Kastholm was a trained blacksmith. He received his training in design at the Danish College of Interior Design, after which he worked for the Danish furniture manufacturer Fritz Hansen and then founded his own studio in 1962 together with Preben Fabricius. For eight years the duo showed a great feel for contemporary design in creating seating made of steel and leather. This was an unusual departure for Danish design, which at the time was dominated by furniture made of wood. Within a very short time Fabricius and Kastholm had risen to the level of major designers such as Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen and Poul Kjærholm. In 1970 the studio was dissolved for personal reasons, but individually neither of the two was able to repeat the success they had achieved together. Preben Fabricius became a lecturer at the College of Interior Design, and Kastholm a professor at Bergisch University in Düsseldorf. He continued to work as an architect until shortly before his death.

In 2005 the Grasshopper Chair came to the attention of the young financial consultant and design enthusiast Henrik Lange at the Bruno Rasmussen auction house. Fascinated by its elegance and simplicity he began to research the origins of this long-forgotten piece of furniture. After getting in touch with Kastholm in person he acquired from him the production rights to a number of designs. These rights had reverted to Kastholm after the original manufacturers Kill International went out of business. After almost forty years he began to reproduce a whole range of Kastholm furniture, working not only with the original machinery, which was still located in the former production facility, but even with the assistance of one of the original production staff. Lange gave up his own profession and founded Lange Production. At the present day these design classics with their perfect form are once more receiving the attention which they deserve on the international design scene.
After a serious illness Jørgen Kastholm died on 14 June in the circle of his family.

Here you will find a complete overview of his furniture which is still/once more in production:
Fabricius Kastholm collections

Jørgen Kastholm

Vitra Edition
In mid-June Vitra, after twenty years, once more presented a new Edition– a collection which in the past produced such classics as Little Beaver and How-High-the-Moon. Seventeen major designers and architects are provided with a platform on which they can develop visions of future design with innovative concepts – freed from market-oriented framework conditions and restrictions imposed by production technology.
The result is a range of prototypes which may be formal but unfortunately only partly point to new conceptual directions for design.

The participating designers are only the really big players:
Ron Arad, Jurgen Bey, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, Fernando & Humberto Campana, Naoto Fukasawa, Frank Gehry, Konstantin Grcic, Zaha Hadid, Hella Jongerius, Greg Lynn, Jürgen Mayer H., Alberto Meda, Jasper Morrison, Jerszy Seymour, Tokujin Yoshioka.

Vitra Edition
The Exhibition inside a Buckminter Fuller dome

Some of the designs were particularly noticeable for their radical treatment of the subject.
For example Japan’s Naoto Fukasawa has been working for years on the concept ‘without thought’. He analyses to what extent people merge with their environment, make themselves at home in their surroundings and integrate as many objects as possible, if necessary by redesigning their function.
His design series consists of seven chairs which are all similar in their basic form but consist of different materials and have been finished in varying ways. Especially prominent here is the conversion of the classical Rimowa aluminium luggage trolley. Fukasawa skilfully adapts the suitcase into the function for which many travellers already use it anyway – as something to sit on

Naoto Fukasawa’s “Chair”

Tokujin Yoshioka’s design is less practical but all the more poetical. “Having grown up reading manga comics, I guess I’m attracted to flash transformations and instant metamorphoses“ With his Kimono chair Yoshioka shows this influence in a highly perceptive way.
The upholstery of the chair has the form of a kimono and can be quickly folded over the seating area and backrest. The pattern-like slits make it possible to turn the filigree fabric three dimensionally without folds and placing it like a tube over the structure of the chair – which then disappears under it.

Tokujin Yoshioka’s “Kimono Chair”

As a gift from Germany Mr and Mrs Eames requested a pyramid cake (known in German as a ‘Baumkuchen’) because they were fascinated by its form and subtlety – an anecdote which Vitra CEO Rolf Fehlbaum remembered on seeing Lo Glo and a thought with which it is easy to identify.
The installation by Jürgen Mayer H. is a seating unit consisting of a stool, an armchair and a carpet. The starting point is a ‘blob’, which can be squeezed and stretched into various items of furniture – for example the armchair, which can be flattened into a carpet. This results in a homogeneous living area, which impresses by its skilful use of materials. The flexible stool provides back support and is made of vertebra-like elements which are inserted into each other and upholstered with a layer of neoprene.

Jürgen Mayer H.’s “Lo Glo”

Konstantin Grcic’s “Landen”

Jasper Morrison’s “Cork Chair” and Hella Jongerius’ “Office Pets”

With this second Vitra Edition Vitra is joining the general boom. For some time now the phenomenon of the limited edition has been observed in the case of a number of manufacturers. With Vitra the plan is to manufacture the products in a limited quantity of 15 to 30 pieces. This will give them enormous rarity value, with the result that they may soon even appear in auction houses such as Sotheby’s and Philips de Pury. Design objects are progressing from articles of daily use to objets d’art. This also explains the carefully selected time at which the Edition was launched – namely on the occasion of Art Basel. The Design Miami/Basel design fair, which was also part of the programme of the art fair, demonstrates the increasing amalgamation between the design and the art market.

There can be no doubt that such editions featuring famous names are successful. However, the acquisition of unknown design objects by promising young designers – pieces which may never go into series production and of which there will logically never be more than a handful – is of course more exciting and above all more profitable. The development in the price of the Lockheed Lounge by Marc Newson, which fifteen years ago was still gathering dust in design galleries and for which two and a half million dollars has now been paid, shows the enormous potential involved.
Specially produced limited editions, however, give the impression of being an artificially created entry into the art market. At this point it can be stated that design is no longer absolutely bound to a certain degree of practical use and can, entirely regardless of its functionality, suddenly be traded as a capital investment. Unfortunately this has also become apparent in the case of the Vitra Edition.

Vitra MyHome
Jerszey Seymour’s “Living systems”
On 14 June the Vitra Design Museum opened the exhibition ‘MyHome – Seven Experiments for a new Way of Living’ to coincide with the Vitra Edition.

The “Living Systems” installation is the result of a series of experiments with organic plastics developed by Seymour. Seymour began the experiments some time ago in his home town of Berlin, and the latest products of his researches are now on display.
The plastic is produced by extracting the starch from potato, mixing it with milk and heating it to make it liquid. The material, which is biodegradable, hardens on a bed of sand and forms the material base for a range of furnishings. When dyed with food colouring the material can be turned into children’s chairs or daybeds, which look as if they have been cast in brightly coloured icing.

However, what at first looks like a playful experiment is based on a very serious idea. How is it possible today for people to live an autonomous life and take care of their own needs? Seymour, who grew up in Canada, looks for answers at a design level.
After many years of experience as a designer of objects in plastic, which were partly produced with complex moulds, Seymour, who clearly attaches a great deal of importance to freedom, asked himself the question of how designers can free themselves from the restrictions imposed by production. With his do-it-yourself experiments he has released himself from production processes which are becoming ever more complex and opaque, reflecting afterwards on the design autonomy which this provides.

Vitra MyHome
The kitchen lab

The recipe, sand form

The cast chair

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