TOG: All Creators Together

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My new article for COOL HUNTING

The dream of many a design enterprise—the best designers, meaningful materials, Italian production, a community of fans, reinterpretations made by artists—TOG is all of this, and more. “All creators together” is the idea behind this new design adventure by Brazilian company Grendene, just launched at Milan Design Week.

The concept is simple, but innovative. Every TOG product—tables to bar stools and shelving units—can be purchased (in stores or online) and then customized in different ways: by choosing colors, forms, prints or by selecting an artist through the dedicated app. This is certainly the most interesting aspect of the entire operation; the possibility to transform objects created by the likes of Philippe StarckSebastian Bergne, Sam Hecht & Kim Colin of Industrial Facility and more.

Most of the products are made out of plastic (like the Castable set of tables by Maggiar, or the Joa Sekoia family by Starck) and some highlights are the Captain Surf table/bookshelf by Jonathan Bui Quang Da and the Polo Treto table (with a wooden top) designed by Nicola Rapetti.

Nicola Rapetti, who’s also TOG’s design research development director, tells CH of the interesting approach, “We don’t want to judge creativity; we want our customers to be free to make whatever they want, even though we may think it’s ugly.”

In the future, the 3D files of each piece will be available for download, to allow anyone to print TOG’s objects at home. Sales will begin over the next months, it will be interesting to see how consumers will react to the creative freedom they’re offered with this structured new reality.

Annunci

Kartell Goes Bourgie

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My new article for COOL HUNTING

Bourgie is certainly one of the most recognizable lamps of the last decade—as well as one of the best sellers for famed Italian brand, Kartell. Designed by Ferruccio Laviani, its baroque allure masterfully meets the simplicity of a pure outline while dignifying plastic as an excellent design material.

The Bourgie is now celebrating its 10th anniversary, and Kartell has made the exciting decision to tap some of the most renowned international designers to re-conceive the lamp in tribute to its lasting design. The upshot is an impressive collection of 14 unique pieces, which will be unveiled in Paris on 23 January 2014, at Kartell’s flagship store. This will be the first in a series of international exhibitions that will go on throughout the year.

The “Kartell Goes Bourgie” project features Philippe Starck, who has gone for a fantastically over-the-top design in which the lamp’s base is almost entirely covered in a cascade of colorful paraphernalia. In contrast, Ludovica+Roberto Palomba reproduced a simple and delicate metallic structure which works with RGB-colored lights that give life to an impressive game of polychromatic shadows.

Some of the designers truly reinvented the Bourgie. Front Design‘s love of fluid and unconventional shapes is expressed by a deformation of a white Bourgie. Mario Bellini added a whole new function to the lamp and turned it into a hanger—complete with an umbrella stand. Patricia Urquiola‘s vision means Bourgie can finally fly and become a ceiling lamp, although created from the same components as the original.

Absolute simplicity is the cue for the reinterpretations realized by Christophe Pillet, Nendo, Tokujiin Yoshioka and Piero Lissoni, while other striking contributions from Alberto Meda, Lenny Kravitz, Eugeni Quitllet, Patrick Jouin and Rodolfo Dordoni will also delight viewers.

“Kartell Goes Bourgie” collection will be unveiled 23 January 2014 at Kartell’s Paris flagship store located at 242 Boulevard Saint Germain.

Kartell: The Culture of Plastics

Kartell-monograph-1-thumb-425x227-54124My new article for Cool Hunting

From the very beginning of Kartell‘s history plastic and design have been the mantra. Founded by Giulio Castelli, a chemical engineer, the Italian furniture brand is the most influential proponent of plastic industrial design, building a sizable following through quality production processes and design contribution by innovative designers. The homes of the 1960s and ’70s were very keen on accepting this experimentation and thus the company grew rapidly. Even though today Kartell is owned and directed by Claudio Luti, the founding ideals remain the same, making a strong argument for the chemical formula of success.

In order to celebrate this tradition Taschen has recently released a substantial, meticulously curated monograph entitled “Kartell: The Culture of Plastics.” The work of editor Hans Werner Holzwarth, professor of visual communications at the Bauhaus University in Weimar, and Elisa Storace, curator of the Kartell Museum, describes in its 400 pages more than 60 years of activity, nine Compasso D’Oro ADI awards and the colorful design icons created by the likes of Gae Aulenti, Joe ColomboPhilippe Starck, Vico Magistretti, Antonio Citterio, Ron Arad, Piero Lissoni, Ferruccio Laviani, Patricia Urquiola, Marcel Wanders and Tokujin Yoshioka, to name a few.

This self-proclaimed “big book of plastics” is strictly organized in chronological order, leading us through the astonishing shapes and space-age aesthetic of the ’60s, the experimentation of the ’70s, the almost subversive style of the ’80s, the “transparent revolution” of the ’90s and the sensorial approach of the last 10 years. Authors of the book include international design experts, museum directors, philosophers, journalists and artists such as Silvana Annicchiarico, Franca Sozzani, Gillo Dorfles, Deyan Sudjic, Chantal Hamaide, R. Craig Miller, Marie-Laure Jousset, Giovanni Odoni.

Kartell: The Culture of Plastics will be published on 1 March 2013 by Taschen in two editions, the first in Italian, Spanish and Portuguese and the second in English, French and German. The historic accuracy is also guaranteed by an index of each product and award. Find it from Taschen directly or pre-order on Amazon for $40.

Flos 50th Anniversary

My new article from Cool Hunting

In its 50-year tenure Flos has truly embodied the spirit of Italian design, serving as a laboratory of experimentation for designers such as Ronan and Erwan BouroullecAchille CastiglioniAntonio CitterioPaul CocksedgeRodolfo DordoniRon GiladKonstantin GrcicPiero Lissoni,Jasper MorrisonMarc NewsonTobia ScarpaPhilippe StarckPatricia Urquiola and Marcel Wanders, just to name a few. Entrepreneurs Dino Gavina, Arturo Eiseinkeil and Cesare Cassina established the brand in 1962 based on the simple values of talent, art and culture, and in 1964 Flos— meaning “flower” in Latin—moved to the Brescia area under the guidance of Sergio Gandini, the visionary who brought in legendary talents like Achille and Pier Giacomo Castiglioni and Tobia Scarpa.

Gandini thus began the brand’s remarkable story of passion, hard work and a near obsessive devotion to experimentation, research and innovation—all of which has been diligently documented in the Flos Historical Archive by Gandini’s wife and the 2011 Compasso d’Oro winner Piera Pezzolo Gandini. With the help of a team of professionals and friends, for the last six years Pezzolo Gandini has undertaken meticulous research, restoration and classification work to bring together prototypes, designs, original drawings, packaging, graphics, advertising, photographs, film clips, books, catalogues, awards and appearances at trade fairs, exhibitions and museums. The archive takes various forms—multimedia, paper and collections of products and objects.

In order to celebrate this important anniversary, Flos is launching an iPad application developed by Mobile Dream Studio. We recently had the chance to preview the app in Milan, and it is not simply a catalogue, but a true journey in the history of design. Sergio and Piera’s son, Piero, the CEO of Flos, collaborated with writer and journalist Stefano Casciani and photographer Ramak Fazel to create a real family history focused on “precision, project and poetry”.

The app—available late April 2012—offers a detailed chronological sequence of facts, full of archived images of the people who started the company, as well as sketches, prototypes, games, products and videos of the production processes.

Naturale, no?

Barcellona

La natura oggi è dappertutto: nella comunicazione, nell’abbigliamento, nell’alimentazione, nell’architettura, nella moda, non c’è progetto che non includa parole come biologico, naturale, ecologico, sostenibile.

L’insegnamento di Gaudì, Bruno Munari e Buckminster Fuller dovrebbe essere preso ad esempio, perchè la vicinanza alla natura passa anche per la concezione stessa delle strutture, dal pensiero profondo. Non basta usare materiali naturali e prevedere la presenza di prati ed alberi, si deve pensare fin dall’inizio ad un approccio che richiami l’ispirazione a Madre Natura.

In una recente intervista, Philippe Starck ha detto una serie di cose giuste e condivisibili a questo proposito, in particolare quanto segue: “The stupidity of the ecological movement is that people kill trees for wood. It’s ridiculous. The best ecological strategy is to make products of a very high creative quality, so you can keep them for three generations. I prefer to make a very good chair in the best polycarbonate than make any shit in wood that will be in the trash one year later.

L’approccio giusto al progetto non è usare la natura, bensì partire dalla natura: in questo modo alla natura ci si arriva usando il suo stile e i suoi strumenti, naturalmente.