The design calendar of 2018 started off with January's IMM Cologne and Maison & Objet in Paris. As we met with some of our favourite designers, we've also discovered some new talents making their way into the REAL WORLD. From new interpretation of craft - thanks to a series of Japanese designers - to making waves (literally) in the 'glocal' arena, our new found love from IMM and M&O has truly made us curious and excited to see how the year will unfold. Next stop: Stockholm!
Last seen at SaloneSatellite, Hiroyuki Morita is back with two of his designs that stemmed from concepts from opposite ends of the spectrum: "Temi" transforms a harvesting tool for sorting grain to a high stool, while "Cellastic" experiments with nylon ropes cast in latex to create an organic looking chair/seat. The former's simple construction will help to reduce material waste by using just bamboo, leather and steel. The latter, on the other hand, will indeed become an editorial gem with its seat pattern that reminds one of the molecular structure of organic cells. Freaky yet mesmerising at the same time.
An ECAL graduate, Takafumi Nemoto's "Bonsay" is a fragrance dispenser that picks up on old knitting techniques and a traditional way of thinking. By mimicking the silhouette of the famous Bonsai tree, its complicated branches are all made of natural materials and entwined per hand emanate not only a fragrance but also luck. In Japanese culture, this knotting and knitting technique is considered to be a symbol for uniting the past and its continuation in the future.
Chinese designer Xiang Guan's "Symbiotic Objects" might be one of the weirdest designs at IMM, but looking closer, they actually consisted of a chair, a table and a lamp that "cling on" to the user so that they all become inseparable and dependable. The concept is to highlight the relationship between human beings and utility objects; one he believes needs to be redefined in our consumer society and throw-away culture. A graduate of Central Saint Martins College of Arts and Design in London, Xiang Guan's work is indeed the most experimental, emotional and interactional that we've rarely seen coming out of China.
After graduating from the Crafts and Design Department of National Taiwan University of Art at 2015, Jo-chieh joined the Fabrica product design team in April 2016, and this new collection produced by Belgium brand Ars Fabricandi is the result of it. HAI - taking the name of 'ocean' in Mandarin - was inspired by nostalgic memories of the gentle Pacific waves found in Taiwan. It is a collection of glass comprised of a vase, bowl and tray. Together they act as a mini scene of relaxation and a reminder of home when we are far away.
For those who are familiar with Japanese lacquerware, the launch of this new brand will definitely be a surprise. Instead of producing a collection of tableware - which design director, Satoshi Yoshiizumi of TAKT Project, found out that most people had some reservations about putting food on them - the final designs have been pivoted to interior products like vases, lightings, storage boxes, trays, paperweights, candle stands and even mirrors.
Our favourite is none other than TOGI, a 3D Negoro-nuri created by 3D digital design and handwork. The uneven form is carefully carved out using computer control and the lacquered surface is then polished by hand. As explained by Yoshiizumi, "Keeping great respect for traditional hand craftsmanship, we are challenged to go forward with a more liberal approach and incorporating modern technology. These things aren't replacements for hand craftsmanship but a challenge to further extend it."
It's hard to believe that the NychairX is a masterpiece designed by a Japanese designer, let alone in 1970. Famously describing this concept as "Making a chair like curry rice", designer Takeshi Nii's (1920-2007) Nychair X was born with the aim of comfortability, foldability, light weight and at a reasonable price point. So in the face of changing lifestyles, this chair also needed a facelift to reintroduce to the new generation - which is where textile designer Rika Kawato comes in.
Her new concept "Shikiri" took inspiration from the diverse types of Japanese partitions - from folding screens to sliding doors and reed blinds. By simply interpreting the dazzling sunlight or the view from outside these partitions, "Shikiri" hence suggests a lifestyle with a closer connection to nature. And in this day and age of concrete jungle living, a NychairX might just do the trick to finding time for relaxing in our own homes: especially with the rocking version!
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