Jean-Marie Massaud for FPM

My new article for Cool Hunting.

Founded back in 1946, FPM-Fabbrica Pelletterie Milano is a leather goods brand that has come back in recent years with new captivating projects, with the mission to work “in the name of movement”. With the aim to connect with the world of design, the brand has released collaborations with worldwide renowned figures such as Stefano GiovannoniMarc Sadler and Marcel Wanders.

FPM’s latest collaboration involves French archistar and designer Jean-Marie Massaud, also known for his previous works with B&B ItaliaAxor HansgroheDiorPoltrana Frau , FoscariniLancôme and Renault.

For FPM he has designed a collection of luggage called Globe, due for release in September 2012. The suitcases come in four sizes and are made of 100% pure polycarbonate. The shapes are a synthesis of function and aesthetics, where the technical solutions serve also as visual marks. We had the chance to meet Massaud for an exclusive interview and a preview of the Globe line.

Could you introduce us to Globe?

This project is a collection of luggage for every kind of situation: it’s lightweight, solid, resistant, efficient, high level in terms of quality and looks. We tried to reduce instead of adding elements, both functionally and visually. As a result it looks like the archetypal professional luggage for photography equipment and electronic devices, but redefined for common use. However, in order to enjoy it you don’t need to carry complicated electronics or optical products. The shape is just a parallelepiped with smooth edges, with the addition of some ribs (two horizontal and two vertical) that give a bit of structure to the luggage.

How did you define the concept?

The request from FPM was to have no design, no fashion references, no special attention to fancy colors. That’s why we chose a dark blue that is very close to black, a deep and intense khaki (to stay away from a strong military feel but to give a neat sense of efficiency), a red which recalls Chinese lacquer and a very light and warm grey. There’s also a special edition in white, just because we like white.

FPM wanted to make an affordable product: it’s the less expensive of the collection but not because we sacrificed on quality. For this same reason we also searched for a permanent basic item, meant to stay in the collection for a long time. It didn’t have to look trendy or fashionable—on the contrary, the focus was a simple shape and a large volume, so that we could invest more in the study of details and mechanical fittings. We didn’t want to have a simple basic article without allure or identity, but something meant to be long-lasting as a collection and—from the consumers’ point of view—able to stand the patina of time.

How was the design process developed?

We have designed every single part of the suitcase in the constant quest of efficiency and lightness. We strengthened the structure of the wheels to protect and make them super strong with reinforced plastic and glass fiber. The zipper and the stitches are clearly visible to show how good they are. It’s a strong piece of luggage—efficient and robust—and it has to look like it.

How is the project going to evolve?

We are planning a constant advancement of the project with new materials and innovative production processes, like different fibers for the shell and vacuum-formed neoprene on the inside. This is just a starting point—that’s why we have thought of a very efficient and gimmick-free volume, where the function is the first thing you can read.

At first glance, the surface could recall a sort of monochrome Mondrian painting. In the future development of the project we foresee adding some pockets, to be placed in the central area defined by ribs. They could be used to place magazines and other flat items, and every customer will have the chance to choose the color, so the suitcase will actually look like an abstract painting. Customization is a clear request from the market—it could be spontaneous (like with souvenir stickers) but we are willing to let people choose some elements of their suitcase.

In this project and in other designs you made sure there’s always a rhythm, a sort of visual melody. Do you have any creative relationship with music?

The first piece I did for an Italian company was the Inout sofa for Cappellini. When the press saw it they wrote it was “minimalistic and organic”. I thought, “I never care about style, I focus on content. I strive to find a symbolic approach in terms of shape, able to express what’s inside.” I was a little upset with this interpretation, but then I realized this is how my work could be read.

In general I don’t like soft lines and shapes, but at the same time I don’t like a Cartesian way of thinking, where it’s nature against culture. I’m happy when I find a sensual and natural contour, that could be originated by mechanic needs but at the same time could be considered as the link between what’s hidden inside and what is visible outside, between meaning and structure. A simple parallelepiped with smooth edges is boring, unless you read smoothness as a quality. I like to create this kind of dialogue, and in music it’s the same.

I’m not a big connoisseur of contemporary music, but I have studied piano and classical music. In music you need structure and rhythm—if you have complete freedom you get lost but if you only have beat, then it’s boring, the sound becomes artificial and rigid. The combination of these tensions, both in music and design, shouldn’t be a compromise but a constant dialogue.

Annunci

Le parole del Salone 2012

Il Salone del Mobile è finito da poco più di dieci giorni e ce ne siamo quasi già dimenticati. Ma forse vogliamo solo rimuovere la fatica e non rimpiangere l’entusiasmo e le belle emozioni di quella settimana meravigliosa e maledetta, che per tutto l’anno aspettiamo e temiamo con la stessa forza. Cosa resterà della Design Week 2012? Oltre alle immagini, quali parole ci ricederemo?

1. Make things not slides

A detta di tutti, è stato “il Salone del fare”: linee di produzione portate nei musei, prototipi da museo in fiera, artigiani in vetrina, orologiai all’opera come parte integrante dell’allestimento, stampanti 3D per produrre dolci, chiodi e martelli laddove fino a qualche anno fa c’erano tartine e prosecco. In questo senso il luogo più memorabile è stato Palazzo Clerici, con la mostra The Future in the Making, meravigliosamente organizzata e allestita da Domus (dove c’era anche Vectorealism, a cui appartiene il memorabile slogan di cui sopra).

 

2. Buy now, keep forever

È più sostenibile un oggetto che muore a breve o uno che resta per sempre e si tramanda come un’opera d’arte. La questione è aperta, ma da molte parti (come da Artek) sembra che la scelta da appoggiare vada in direzione del desiderio di eternità. E non vale solo per le aziende con una storia di generazioni e un catalogo maestoso, ma anche per i giovani che hanno l’ambizione di attingere a piene mani dai serbatoi delle tradizioni. Disegnare per lasciare.

 

3. What if furniture could be downloaded?

Dopo questo Salone si può pensare ad un mondo in cui non si scaricano solo le cose che troviamo in vendita su iTunes, ma anche i file che consentiranno alle nostre stampanti 3D domestiche di realizzare oggetti veri e propri. Oppure inviare i nostri progetti a centri di stampa che li faranno diventare reali. Ma anche le istruzioni per realizzare in casa i progetti dei grandi designer (ma questo lo aveva già detto Enzo Mari qualche anno fa con l’autoprogettazione). Anche se tutto questo non si realizzerà completamente, con ogni probabilità tra qualche anno ci faremo in casa pezzi di ricambio e piccoli oggetti quotidiani. Oggi stampiamo in casa qualche documento e qualche fotografia, ma gli album e le cose importanti le portiamo da stampatori professionisti. Lo stesso avverrà per gli oggetti.

 

4. Past present future

Passato, presente e futuro non sono più allineati e consequenziali. Poco alla volta perdono i pezzi e si confondono i confini tra l’uno e l’altro. Diventa sempre più difficile tracciare i confini tra omaggi al passato e richiami al futuro, tra fatto a mano e prodotto in serie, icona di ieri e nuovo classico di domani. La tecnologia che abbiamo tra le mani tutti i giorni sta lavorando sempre di più sulle capacità predittive (come accade con la composizione dei testi o con la timeline di Facebook): i nuovi designer lo fanno spontaneamente, pensando oggetti e servizi talmente fantascientifici da sembrare arrivati da passato, così contemporanei da essere senza tempo nel momento stesso in cui nascono. Ricordiamo che Star Wars inizia così: “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away“.

 

5. Yes! We can fix it!

Perché scartare quando si può recuperare? La questione è nata con l’ecologismo, ma oggi è diventata culturale. Ci sono talmente tante buone idee in giro che si possono costruire intere carriere partendo dal loro recupero. E lo stesso di può dire per materiali e tecniche. Non si tratta di nostalgia, al contrario: è la consapevolezza che il presente è talmente ricco da permettere un raccolto abbondante, realizzato senza sprechi inutili di energie, per continuare a generare frutti anche nelle stagioni a venire. Il bello sta nel fatto che per mettere in pratica questo meccanismo serve un sacco di ricerca. Ecologia delle idee sostenibili.

 

6. Ascolto dei desideri per la realizzazione dei progetti condivisi

Sicuramente è stato anche il Salone dell’ascolto: ma come quest’anno si sono visti programmi di conferenze e talk, con designer, artisti, architetti, chef, imprenditori disposti a raccontare la genesi dei loro progetti, delle loro idee e del futuro della creatività. Ma non è mancata nemmeno la musica, in particolare con Elita e con feste che avevano per protagonisti deejay e musicisti di fama internazionale.

 

7. Quel est votre objet préferé?

Like, tweet, Instagram: anche queste sono state parole chiave che al Salone di incontravano un po’ ovunque, dalle installazioni ai discorsi a margine. Si sono viste meno macchine fotografiche e più smartphone, a fotografare e condividere gli oggetti preferiti, ma anche gli allestimenti, alcuni dei quali erano veri e propri eye candy progettati per essere iPhoneografati.

 

8. Tì te sè minga chì

E invece no. Il “non sei qui”, ovvero la realtà aumentata e virtuale, al Salone non funziona. Il “qui ed ora” vince su tutto, magari aiutato da maps & apps, ma il passaparola non tecnologico è l’arma più forte per scoprire cosa vale la pena di visitare. Di certo si è visto meno cibo, ma rispetto a qualche anno fa non sono diminuite le relazioni reali.

 

9. Design belongs in real homes

Meno voli pindarici, più concretezza: anche questo è stato uno dei commenti più sentiti fin dal primo giorno di Salone. Ben venga un maggiore attaccamento alla realtà, una più sentita sobrietà, una solidità più vera. Ma questo va bene quando la realtà solida e rassicurante la propongono i grandi: se sono i giovani a farlo, beh, allora il risultato è il deludente e dimenticabile SaloneSatellite di quest’anno.

 

10. Love

Forse è forte affermare che si sia trattato del Salone dell’amore, ma sicuramente è stato il Salone del nuovo innamoramento di molte persone per il design e per la sua essenza: processi produttivi, qualità, origini, progetti di lungo periodo, storie, persone, condivisione ad ogni livello.

Nell’attesa di vedere tra un anno cosa succederà.

Colé

My new article from Cool Hunting

With strong roots in the Milanese tradition of furniture-making, the new design firm Colé will debut at the coming 2011 Design Week, bringing with it a modern take on usefulness in design. The thinking behind the brand draws on the industry experience of Matteo De Ponti (brand manager of furniture manufacturer Driade for more than ten years) and co-counder Laura Macagno’s passion for art, fashion and design. “We love objects with deep roots and we are convinced that in a world almost full of objects, the product should be first of all a service”, the entrepreneurs explained.

Their combined ambition seeks to define not just new concepts, but new ways of making design, based on expressive research and an unseen collaboration among all taking part in the productive chain.

By defining new kinds of partnerships with local producers, the goal is to come up with objects that testify as much to the work of designers as to the artisanal techniques, in Italy and abroad. This approach aims to have nearly unique products, defined by Colé’s concepts but always slightly different due to semi-mechanized processes.

Two young Milanese studios, Lorenz-Kaz and Aksu/Suardi, designed the first collection in what will become a constant group work made by groups of people and led by rather unusual thinking. “We provided them with an emotional brief – says De Ponti – rather than a technical one: the keywords were color, nature, warmth and soul.” The resulting chairs, tables and mirrors recall traditional bourgeoisie furniture, but the layer of a certain degree of irony, and mixture of signs, materials, colors and cultures suggests a project in tune with the times.

Urban Italy

My new article from Cool Hunting.

Founder of the successful architecture tourism site Viaggi di Architettura, South African-born Mikaela Bandini recently expanded her scope with Urban Italy—a new website devoted to travel, design and the discovery of an alternative Italy in all forms. With a clear goal to help people discover something new and surprising, Bandini tells CH the story of the project in an exclusive interview.

How did the idea of Urban Italy come about?

My day job over the past 12 years has been creating contemporary architecture tours around the world for Italian professionals and architecture lovers for Viaggi di Architettura.

It’s what I do. It’s what I love doing. Scouting for information, contacts and spaces that you don’t get in a cheesy guide book off the shelf. After putting together over 50-plus itineraries worldwide I decided to create a guide-blog for foreign archinauts and design-aholics who want an alternative approach to Italian cities.

[It’s for] people like me who are on the lookout for great design deals, new industrial spaces, cutting edge architecture and souvenirs that don’t necessarily fit into your suitcase as well as the people who really rock the country.

The project is based on your personal experience or on a team?

I like to consider Urban Italy a kind of 2.0 version of my Moleskines—basically Italy the way that I’d like to see it (after having lived here for 20-odd years).

The project started as a personal collection of contemporary addresses and insider information from the tip to the toe (literally!) that I gathered while traveling around for architecture, food, interiors and pathological modernist furniture-collecting. Then I asked a handful of foreign friends around the country to give me their ‘best of’ to have a wider coverage of things to do and places to go. There are currently five of us working on the project, all foreigners living in Italy.

We begin the second phase of the project in spring with young Dutch film maker Caspar Diederik, who’ll be doing 2.0 storytelling about people and places around the country.

Are the Italian contemporary cities very different from the postcard-like Italy that many people expect?

We’re looking at a rather more contemporary Italy, which appeals to the kind of traveler who doesn’t collect Hard Rock t-shirts. Stuff like ex-industrial sites that have been transformed into something new, exciting spaces for arts and theater, the latest hot spots for an aperitivo, urban eateries, events, products and people. Not exactly the stuff you get on a postcard.

Then again our readers send Tweets, not postcards.

Mokasser

My new article from Cool Hunting

The three young partners behind Oslo-based furniture studio Mokasser—Karl Marius Sveen, Roger Sveian and Paul Van Wonderen—keep their business entirely local by designing and producing their collection all in Norway.

With a nationwide decrease in furniture manufacturing, Marius tells Cool Hunting, “Lots of manufacturers are moving a big part of their production out of Norway to survive and to compete with prizes. Mokasser is still able to manufacture all parts in Norway, mostly because of being a high-end company, with good finishes and a focus on quality in every product. We also have a close and constant contact with the customers, trying to meet their needs regarding choice of upholstery.”

Thanks to their education and experience, the group has a strong background in the Norwegian furniture industry. The clean shapes and the playful colors of each product however, are the work of Nora FuruholmenChristian SætherRoger Sveian, Permafrost and Karl Marius Sveen.

La Rinascente Design Supermarket

Immagine 3-1

My new article from Coolhunting.com

The Design Supermarket, a new floor entirely devoted to design in its multiple expressions, debuted recently as part of Milanese shopping icon La Rinascente’s ongoing renovation. Over the past four years, international architects and designers such as Lifschutz Davidson Sandilands, Cibic & Partners, Dordoni Architetti, Vincent Van Duysen and Future Systems, have been transforming the seven-floor department store with the basement-level design shop as the latest facet of its reinvented identity.

Directly linked to the nearby Duomo metro station, the new space houses a wide range of products from microelectronics to lighting, technological gadgets to office accessories and kitchen and tableware to small pieces of furniture. Starting with objects for just a few Euro to several hundreds, the range of prices makes the store the perfect place for both a little souvenir and important gifts.

Claudio Silvestrin Giuliana Salmaso Architects designed the 2,000 square-meter space, which creates the contemporary equivalent of a city square. The perimeter hosts various shops within the shop, including Alessi, Conran Shop, Kartell, Georg Jensen, Tumi, Samsonite and Nespresso, while long white stands run along the center. The display closely recalls a museum, with hundreds of objects from more than 200 different brands.

Overall, the boutique feels airy and bright, inviting browsers to touch and experiment with all the objects, like in a real supermarket. In the center of the floor, a colorful and cozy cafeteria designed by Martino Berghinz stands in contrast with the rest of the space, lending a bold splash of purple and dark grey with furnishing and fifties-inspired graphics.

Decoroso

Milano

Decorare decorare decorare. La decorazione eccessiva ha abbagliato i nostri occhi negli ultimi anni, sia nella moda che nel design. Lo sanno bene i ragazzi di Moooi, che anche all’ultimo Salone del Mobile hanno messo in mostra oggetti e ambienti dalle superfici al limite del sopportabile.

Una decorazione talmente indecorosa che si cancella da sola, fino a diventare quasi rumore bianco o un ronzio indistinto. Questo eccesso è come un giro sulle montagne russe: ci sono talmente tanti stimoli, vibrazioni, curve, tremori, che l’unica opzione possibile diventa il lasciarsi andare e ridere a crepapelle.

Il prossimo passo? Usare l’etnico e gli stili locali come serbatoi inesauribili ma sensati, con il valore aggiunto di una grande capacità di divertire e raccontare.