The last thing designer Marcel Wanders wants to be is boring. “There’s enough of that in life,” he says. “I’m interested in designing things that excite people and make them feel alive.” With a chair made out of knots and a chandelier called Happy Hour in his portfolio, Wanders is certainly on the right track.
For the Troy Chair, designed for Magis, Wanders created an intricate pattern inspired by the lush motifs of damask fabrics. The pattern, molded into the back of the chair’s plywood seat, imparts the modern profile with a romantic sensibility. The result is elegant, and, explains Wanders, a “lovely balance between new and old.”
Wanders’ prolific body of work, ranging from fashion accessories to lavish hotels, is represented in museums around the world, including the Museums of Modern Art in both New York and San Francisco and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.
For nearly 20 years, the Bouroullec bothers, Ronan and Erwan, have been partners in design. Working side by side, the two siblings have developed a close relationship that influences their approach to design. “We discuss everything openly and honestly with each other,” explains Erwan, “that’s important because often creativity does not come from a rational point of view but an emotional one.” Designs that balance problem solving with innovation and production process—the Steelwood Chair being a good example—are typical of the brothers’ work and proof that their approach works well.
An exhibition of Bouroullec designs is currently at The Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago. The show is entitled Bivouac—a word meaning a lightweight shelter that can be adapted to its environment—an apt metaphor for a traveling exhibition which immerses people in all aspects of the brothers’ designs, including sketches, prototypes, and objects large and small.
Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Bivouac will be showing at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago until January 20, 2013. Learn more here.
His design for Spun—a chair shaped like a spinning top that tilts and turns with the sitter’s movement—is emblematic of the fanciful yet functional designs in London-based architect and designer Thomas Heatherwick’s portfolio: the Olympic Cauldron at the 2012 London games, a double decker bus, also for London, and Hong Kong’s Sheung Wan Hotel.
When asked to design a structure for the UK Pavilion at the 2010 Shanghai Expo, Heatherwick created the Seed Cathedral—sixty thousand fiber-optic “hairs” protruding from a circular steel and timber composite structure. While some consider the structure—which looks like a giant, glowing hedgehog—simply another example of Heatherwick’s whimsical approach to design, the artist is quick to point out that the piece is actually quite serious.
“Is my studio’s work playful or is everyone else’s work too serious?” says Heatherwick in an interview with Architectural Digest. “And actually, Seed Cathedral was serious. With 60,000 varieties of seeds, it was the most biodiverse thing in Shanghai, or the whole region.”
Considering Heatherwick’s belief that good design strikes a balance between gravity and levity, it’s little wonder that Spun challenges the traditional notion of a chair and turns sitting into an experience.
In the 1950’s George Nelson characterized the ultimate office environment as “a daytime living room where work can be done under less tension with fewer distractions.” Today we work whenever and wherever we are most comfortable—Nelson’s goal is closer to reality than ever before.
Recognizing this, Herman Miller introduces the Herman Miller Collection. The Collection offers you the ability to select, furnish, and create complete environments in myriad settings—from the boardroom to the backyard. We believe that design goes much deeper than styling. Each piece in the Collection represents a solution that is as purposeful as it is beautiful. Read more
“Why did you become a designer?” “Because I love building things,” says Konstantin Grcic. Interior Design recently picked the brain of the Chair_One creator with its 10 Questions…. Here are four that we found interesting:
Interior Design: Why did you become a designer? Because I love building things. When I was 19 years old, I did an apprenticeship for a cabinetmaker and I became intrigued. I discovered that I could create or rethink the things I built. I enrolled at the RCA (Royal Academy of Arts) in London.
What does design mean to you?
That’s an impossible question. You could write a book or say something really stupid. What do you most like to design?
The physical scale of furniture attracts me. It’s what I’m good at. And it’s what I really like. Where do you get inspiration?
KG: It comes from everywhere—from daily life.
The meaning of Magis—”more than”—captures the Italian company’s approach to design and manufacturing. “We add to Herman Miller because we are complementare, complementary,” explains Alberto Perazza, Co-Managing Director of Magis. “Even a world apart, we do the business of design in similar ways. Both companies have many and continuing collaborations with the greatest world designers.”
Much like Herman Miller, Magis employs innovative processes that maximize performance, while minimizing volume of material, energy use, and environmental impact.
The idea of the Herman Miller Collection is not entirely new. In his introduction to our 1952 catalog, George Nelson wrote of “the continuing creation of a permanent collection designed to meet fully the requirements for modern living.” Nelson established a program and a philosophy for the Collection that allows us to continue it today.
The Collection began with classic pieces from the Herman Miller’s archives that have stood the test of the time. We then added complementary furnishings from our partners, such as Magis and Mattiazzi. Most importantly, we are developing new designs with today’s most talented designers. Each piece will present a solution that is as purposeful as it is beautiful.
The Herman Miller Collection will preview at Art Basel Miami Beach, where we are the exclusive furniture sponsor. More to come in Spring 2012.
Utilizing the metal stamping and bending processes used to shape classic European cars, the brothers were able to create the gentle refinement they desired. The steel and wood components slowly develop a patina of use, giving the chair a character that changes with time.
Checkout the slideshow to see how a flat sheet of steel is transformed into the frame of the Steelwood chair.
For designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, “creativity does not come from a rational point of view but an emotional one. Design is about finding a certain balance or character when you are looking for solutions to problems that are difficult to solve.”
The Bouroullec’s intention when designing the Steelwood furniture group for Magis, was to find an affordable alternative to plastic, “We needed to reduce the complexity of wood assembling, so we kept our design simple,” says Ronan. Something that said, “’I am a well-constructed, beautiful object, one that will last a long time, and will grow old quite nicely with you.’ Not just something people use, but are happy to have around them.”
Their approach to the Osso chair for Mattiazzi, “…was to let the sensuality of the wood express itself,” says Erwan. “The chair invites people to touch or even caress it, as it is extremely sculpted and polished.”
Brothers, the Paris-based Bouroullecs have been partners in design since the 1990s. Together they have collaborated with companies around the world. Their designs are also part of many international museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Design Museum in London, and the Musée National d’Art Moderne in Paris.
Design is so busy solving problems that we sometimes forget that it’s OK to have fun with it. That certainly isn’t the case with Spun, a design whose sole purpose seems to be bringing smiles to the faces of everyone that sits in it.
Designed by Heatherwick Studio, Spun it looks more like a children’s top than a chair when upright. But lay it on it’s side and Spun becomes a comfortable chair that lets the sitter rock side to side—and best of all—spin around, and around, and around.
Check out the video we made the day Spun arrived at Herman Miller. Enjoy the smiles as people experience it for the first time.