Monograph: Shiro Kuramata by Deyan Sudjic

Shiro Kuramata (1934-91) was a truly exceptional designer of furniture and interiors. Many of his poetic, precise and unique pieces, like the expanded-metal-mesh How High the Moon Armchair and the acrylic, aluminium and paper-flower Miss Blanche Chair, are still highly prized, collected by museums like MoMA and the V&A and sold at auction. Sadly, however, most of the hundreds of interiors he designed no longer exist, and can only be glimpsed in photographs or described by those who saw them.

This combination of the precious and the disappeared is appropriate for a designer like Kuramata, whose work was neither modern nor nostalgic, neither western nor Asian, but which has a remarkable creative power as well as a sense of endless invention. This compelling and highly influential work is documented here in this beautiful monograph.

Author Deyan Sudjic, the director of the design museum in London and the author of many highly-acclaimed books on design and architecture, tells the story of Kuramata’s life against the backdrop of Japan’s turbulent history from the 1930s to the 1990s. It was a period in which the collapse of the repressive conformism of Japan’s traditionally authoritarian social order released a creative explosion that propelled Japan into the creative forefront in cinema, literature, fashion, architecture and design, and Kuramata’s work occupies a special place in this period.

Designed by Jonathan Hares, and presented in two volumes with a beautiful acrylic slipcase, the book includes all of Kuramata’s work, depicted in never-before-published photographs and drawings from the Kuramata archives. Many projects are represented with images of the design and manufacturing process, appropriate for this very technically inventive work that continues to be of interest to a wide range of designers. Shiro Kuramata is a major figure who richly deserves the wider audience he is just beginning to attract, and this first-ever monograph will be of a quality and beauty to match the work he produced.

Shiro Kuramata, by Deyan Sudjic, 2 volume hardback ediiton in acrylic slipcase, 305 x 238 mm (9 3/8 x 12 in), 416 pp, 600 colour illustrations, ISBN: 9780714845005, Published by Phaidon

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Tom Ford’s New Mexico Ranch by Tadao Ando

Fashion icon Tom Ford, the ardent perfectionist credited with turning around a flagging Gucci and reinvigorating Yves Saint Laurent, is, unsurprisingly, just as exacting about his residences, but has largely kept them out of the limelight. That changed last year when he revealed his Santa Fe ranch in a guest-edited issue of French Vogue. Ford grew up in Austin, Texas, but would travel to New Mexico frequently to visit his grandmother. Evenutally, Ford’s father moved to Santa Fe, and the designer purchased a large tract of land south of town on which he constructed this dreamland of a ranch. Designed by Japanese architect Tadao Ando, the equestrian facility lies amid a 24,000-acre private tract, where classic Westerns like Silverado, Wyatt Earp, and 3:10 to Yuma were once shot. Ford spends roughly a quarter of the year on the ranch.

Tom Ford’s New Mexico Ranch by Tadao Ando, via: Curbed and Full Time Ford
Photography by Guido Mocafico/French Vogue

Buy the book:Ando. Complete Works, Updated Version 2010, Jodidio, Philip, Hardcover, 30.8 x 39 cm (12.1 x 15.4 in.), 600 pages, Published by Taschen, ISBN: 9783836509497
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Winkel w127 Task Lamp by Dirk Winkel for Wästberg

“When I started thinking about the design, I had the desire to challenge the perception and the common preconceptions of a material that is normally known to people just as ‘plastics’. I knew that I would like to go further than what’s the norm not only in terms of function and the look, but about the feel and tactility of the material as well. Soon it was clear that one of the greatest things I was missing in typical designs made of plastic was a significant impression of substance, of materiality. Therefore, the next step could only be a design that celebrated the actual material as it is, straightforward, solid and honest, with a concept of hiding nothing, but showing its innermost values to the outside. No second skin, no paint coat, the true, bold material in its pure form.”
- Dirk Winkel

Winkel w127 is manufactured of solid fiberglas reinforced biopolyamide. The material is recyclable. The mechanical solution is based on micro gas springs, widely used in the automotive and electronics industries. The gas springs have a lifespan of more than 50,000 compressions and give exceptionally good movement patterns. The shade is adjustable for universal direction of the light. The light technology is based on a highly energy-efficient multichip LED solution.

Wästberg Winkel w127, by Dirk Winkel, GOOD DESIGN Award 2012

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Exhibition: A Passion for Jean Prouvé

The Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli presents A Passion for Jean Prouvé, an exhibition devoted to the furniture and architecture by the French designer Jean Prouvé from the collection owned by Laurence and Patrick Seguin.

Laurence and Patrick Seguin discovered the work of Jean Prouvé, in the late 1980s, through his furniture designs. They were immediately struck by the unique aesthetic of these pieces, where the artistic skill lies wholly in imperceptible technical mastery devoted to enhancing the strength of the materials. While at the time very few people had even heard of Jean Prouvé, their enthusiasm for his captivating lines was immediate, a revelation that became a true passion.

The couple then began to take an interest in Jean Prouvé’s work as a whole, of which the furniture is only a part, going on to discover his architectural designs. With the idea that “there is no difference between constructing a piece of furniture and constructing a building”, Jean Prouvé applied the same design approach to both fields, basing all of his work on it.

From the opening of their gallery in Paris in 1989, Laurence and Patrick Seguin began to work in earnest promoting the creations of Jean Prouvé, with the result that the most important international collectors and the most prestigious museums now have works by the French architect and designer in their collections. Indeed today Jean Prouvé is held to be one of the key exponents of twentieth century design.

Laurence and Patrick Seguin are now presenting a number of works from their private collection for the first time: around 40 pieces by Jean Prouvé, most of which are prototypes or extremely rare, from the armchair designed for the University dormitory of Nancy in 1932 to the light armchair created for the University of Antony in 1954, to the furniture produced for Africa.

The same principles of functionality and rational fabrication that the designer applied to furniture often destined for the public sector, can also be found in Prouvé’s architectural designs: the same solid structures feature clever mechanisms for assembly and organisation that enable both the furniture and the constructions to be easily moved, disassembled and modified.

The Maison Metropole (8×12 meters) is now to be mounted for the first time on the Lingotto track. In 1949 this aluminum construction won a Ministry of Education competition for “mass-producible rural school with classroom and teacher accommodation”: a masterpiece of nomadic housing, followed the portico principle patented by Prouvé in 1939. The Ateliers Jean Prouvé built two of them, one in Bouqueval, near Paris, and the other in Vantoux in Moselle, which will be on show in Turin.

Taking four people three consecutive days to assemble, a stop-motion film will be made of the construction process, with video footage streamed over the internet.

A Passion for Jean Prouvé: From Furniture to Architecture, Torino, Italy
April 6 – September 8, 2013, Galerie Patrick Seguin

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Photography: Invasive Species by Dillon Marsh

In 1996 a palm tree appeared almost overnight in a suburb of Cape Town. This was the world’s first ever disguised cell phone tower. Since then these trees have spread across the city, South Africa and the rest of the world. Invasive Species explores the relationship between the environment and the disguised towers of Cape Town and its surrounds.

Invasive Species, by Dillon Marsh

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Books: Rock the Shack: The Architecture of Cabins, Cocoons and Hide-Outs

Rock the Shack takes us to the places we long for. For the first time in the history of humankind, more people live in cities than in the country. Yet, at the same time, more and more city dwellers are yearning for rural farms, mountain cabins, or seaside homes. These kinds of refuges offer modern men and women a promise of what urban centers usually cannot provide: quiet, relaxation, being out of reach, getting back to basics, feeling human again.

Rock the Shack is a survey of such contemporary refuges from around the world–from basic to luxury. The book features a compelling range of sparingly to intricately furnished cabins, cottages, second homes, tree houses, transformations, shelters, and cocoons. The look of the included structures from the outside is just as important as the view from inside. What these diverse projects have in common is an exceptional spirit that melds the uniqueness of a geographic location with the individual character of the building’s owner and architect.

Rock the Shack: The Architecture of Cabins, Cocoons and Hide-Outs, Editors: S. Ehmann, S. Borges, 24 x 30 cm, 240 pages, full color, hardcover, English, ISBN: 978-3-89955-466-3, Published by gestalten
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Netframe by Cate & Nelson for OFFECCT

Cate & Nelson’s idea behind Netframe was to create a piece of furniture that consumes as little material as possible while maintaining a high comfort. “In order to succeed with this challenge we had to turn everything upside down in the development process. We wanted it to be easy to produce with minimal time and material usage”, says Nelson Ruiz-Acal, one half of Cate & Nelson.

Netframe was developed into a very comfortable piece of furniture with extremely low impact on the environment. Cate & Nelson believe it is important to see the wholeness in their design, that the product is responsible at all stages; from production to usage, which is very apparent in their design of Netframe.

Netframe, by Cate & Nelson, for OFFECCT

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Chochin Lamp by h220430

Although Japan boasts of many outstanding traditional craftworks, the majority of these craftworks are endangered. One of them is the paper lantern called “Chouchin”. An effective means to help these lanterns to survive into the future is by utilize them. Here, we designed lighting equipment for the Gifu Chouchins famously known to have a history of about 500 years ago.

For many years an aesthetic called “Innei Raisan” (In Praise of Shadows) had existed in Japan. Nevertheless, we often see light spreading across uniformly at every corner to overcome darkness. In such an environment, it is difficult for Japanese to maintain a keen sensitivity to beauty, which has continuously been passed down from generations to generations.

Strangely enough, the power saving deployed after 3.11 (the Great East Japan Earthquake) reminded the Japanese people of the spirit of “Innei Raisan” (In Praise of Shadows). We now know that the humble and gentle charm of light we rediscovered when saving power is enough for us. In that regard, we designed Chouchin Lamp as we felt it was necessary for light to reflect Japan in such a situation.

In Japan, the idea that worldly things do not last long is now to taking roots. Japan has come to see beauty out of the fragility of temporary things. We incorporated this specific idea into our design and hope that Chouchin Lamp will introduce the beauty of tradition into your living space and bring back the light reflects Japan.

Chochin Lamp, by h220430, Available at Gallery Somewhere, Tokyo, Photography by Ellie

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