Granting Wishes in the Design World

Posted on September 2, 2014 by Liz

Instigated by Sir Terence Conran and initiated by the American Hardwood Export Council and Benchmark Furniture, ‘The Wish List – What I have always wanted is…’ has assembled several illustrious architects and designers together with emerging new talents to create a compelling installation, The Wish List, which will be exhibited at the V&A Museum during the London Design Festival this month.

The Wish List: Alex de Rijke ‘Table Turned’, Petr Krejci Photography

The project invited up-and-coming designers and studios to use only American hardwood in the creation of an object commissioned by an established figure in the architecture and design industry. The brief for each was a response from Conran’s friends within the industry to the significant question: “What have you always wanted in your home, but never been able to find?”

The Wish List: Norman Foster ‘tulipifera sharpeners’, Petr Krejci Photography

The Wish List: Allen Jones ‘The Hole Chair’, Petr Krejci Photography

Led by Conran himself, the incredible line-up includes celebrated architects Richard and Ab Rogers, Norman Foster, Amanda Levete, Alison Brooks, Zaha Hadid, Alex de Rijke and John Pawson, not forgetting artist Allen Jones and fashion designer Paul Smith. All have given their answers and the resulting objects have been created with their mentorship and under the watchful eye and guidance of Benchmark’s master craftsmen.

The Wish List: Terence Conran ‘Getting away from it all’, Petr Krejci photography

Sir Terence Conran has commissioned sustainable designer Sebastian Cox to create a workspace for his office. When asked about the brief given to him, Sebastian commented: “It’s going to be a space that Terence can work in without distractions. It’ll be a cocoon-like desk with cabinet space around. A space for undistracted creative thought.”

The Wish List: Zaha Hadid ‘Ves-el’, Petr Krejci Photography

The Wish List: Paul Smith ‘Paul’s Shed’, Petr Krejci Photography

Award winning architect, Zaha Hadid has always wanted tableware made from wood. Upon receiving this brief, Gareth Neal has chosen to play with the form of a carafe or water carrier and turn it into something more sculptural. Meanwhile, designer Sir Paul Smith has requested a shed from bespoke furniture designer, Nathalie de Leval. Not just any shed, ‘My Shed’ – a request befitting of any man. When asked about his brief Paul Smith said, “Really the inspiration behind the design was to create somewhere where you can go to switch off, somewhere to relax. In today’s world where everyone is so busy, I think this is really important and very needed.”

The Wish List: Alison Brooks ‘A stool for the kitchen’, Petr Krejci Photography

The Wish List: Amanda Levete ’6×500′, Petr Krejci Photography

The architect for the new extension at the V&A, Amanda Levete, has requested a reversible shallow fruit or cheese bowl from student, Win Assakul. Levete explains, “We often have dinners at home for 18 people. Our table is 4.8m long and I have always wanted a long, shallow bowl to run almost the length of the table. But for smaller dinners of say 6 –12 people, I don’t want such a long bowl. By making it extendable we resolve this.” The piece is inspired by African wooden bowls that reveal the beauty and depth of the wood grain as well as the hand of the maker.

The Wish List: John Pawson ‘Room’, Petr Krejci Photography

The open brief has clearly resulted in an extraordinary spread of design objects, also including kitchen stools, a trio of room fittings, a pencil sharpener, chaise longue, dining table and ladder. These can be seen during LDF (13-21 September) at the V&A – WIN will definitely be swinging by to take a closer look!

The Wish List: Richard & Ab Rogers ‘the ladder that likes the wall’, Petr Krejci Photography

Benoît Malta’s Bearable Discomfort

Posted on August 21, 2014 by Liz

Society’s technological advancements are rapidly progressing, at all times having a strong influence on our physical behaviours and environments. For many people a typical day now involves sitting down and working at a computer for nine hours, to then go home and sit at a different desk perhaps continuing with some freelance work, browsing the internet or just resting on the sofa (usually with some kind of electronic device in front of their eyes or on their laps). Even lunch breaks involve an inactive, seated position; everybody is tired. Physical activity has become a chore, something we must factor into our lives for an agreed amount of time, but it’s also fine to disregard this if we ‘don’t feel like it’. And for many of us, we never feel like it.

Inactivité, Benoît Malta

Assisting our aversion to physical movement are the products created to make life easier for us, from autonomous vacuum cleaners to self-making beds (yes, really). There is no motivation to use our bodies as we simply don’t need to. However, the adverse effects of this are endemic, with many people suffering from spinal issues, muscular diseases and other health issues. In making us more comfortable, designers are in fact creating a widespread discomfort. So what is the solution?

Inactivité, Benoît Malta

For one designer, it is simple: to take this discomfort and incorporate it into products, using it to put the body in motion and thus out of its chronic stationary postures. Recent École Boulle graduate Benoît Malta has developed a collection of objects based on the idea of discomfort, thinking of alternative ways to use products that will create a need for physical activity and stimulation. The French designer wished to question the perception of the home space, altering familiar habits and allowing people to become more aware of their bodies.

Inactivité, Benoît Malta

The resulting collection consists of a chair, lamp and small shelving system, designed to promote mobility and improve wellbeing. The chair proposes an alternative way of sitting, with only two legs instead of the usual four to stimulate different parts of the body through a passive situation. Malta worked with ergonomists and physical therapists to ensure the structure would appropriately activate different parts of the body affected by daily inactivity.

Inactivité, Benoît Malta

Malta’s lamp is inspired by Roman scales with a mercury switch that turns the light on when it is horizontal. A weight allows the lamp to balance and remain lit, but this moves often so that the user must switch the light back on with a gesture that stretches the arm out of idleness. Finally, the small ledges for storage are inspired by climbing holds. Placed at different heights, these too require the user to stretch in order to reach the item that is needed.

Inactivité, Benoît Malta

With ‘Inactivité’, Malta creates activity from ordinarily passive circumstances. The collection is an amazing example of what is now needed from all designers in order to transform sedentary ways of living. In addition to this, it challenges traditional perceptions of objects, creating pieces of furniture without archetypal vision. This is ‘bearable discomfort’; for our bodies and our health, but also for our minds and for the future of design.

Soho House Chicago

Posted on August 15, 2014 by Liz

Let’s just start off by saying that WIN simply adore Soho House. Our Editor has been a member of every House for many years and we hold the judging for our Awards each July at the original club on Greek Street – in fact this year Founder and CEO Nick Jones joined the panel judging the Hotel Interiors Category. Our team are eternally impressed by the superb service from delightful staff members, the inviting interiors with an enviable selection of eclectic furnishings and of course the perfectly crafted coffees that see us through our busy days. We’re also partial to their Eggs Benedict in the morning!

Soho House Chicago

Pizza East, Soho House Chicago

Unsurprisingly, the group has expanded rapidly over the years, with multiple Houses opening up across Europe and North America. Their portfolio also includes cinemas, hotels, Cowshed spa and salons and 15 public restaurants. This week marks the group’s fifth opening in North America, an exciting development which we are delighted to share with you. Presenting Soho House Chicago.

Screening Room, Soho House Chicago

Soho House Chicago

Housed in a six storey warehouse dating back to 1907, the club is inspired by and celebrates its bustling city setting, with many of the building’s original elements repurposed to capture distinct moments in Chicago’s history. Other features have been left untouched, such as the ornamented entrance and large, open floor plans with exposed concrete structures. Additionally, curators for Soho House, Jonny Yeo and Francesca Gavin, collaborated with Chicago based artists to seamlessly weave local artwork throughout the property in the group’s signature mismatched style.

Soho House Chicago

Soho House Chicago

There are 40 guestrooms in Soho House Chicago, all decked out with uniquely sourced furniture and art pieces. They contain an aura of luxury that pervades every storey of the club: from the second floor with fully outfitted fitness centre and boxing ring fashioned by Chicago’s famous Horween Leather Company to the fourth with its cosy 40 seat screening room and the Club Floor on level five with drawing room, bar, house kitchen and grill.

Fitness Centre, Soho House Chicago

The Allis, Soho House Chicago

To top everything off, at the building’s highest point there is a glass enclosed rooftop bar and kitchen and outdoor deck with 80 ft swimming pool. We’re already imagining ourselves sipping a cocktail poolside, gazing at the stunning architecture on the horizon.

Soho House Chicago

Soho House Chicago

Non-members are also able to indulge themselves at Soho House Chicago, enjoying delectable delights from the kitchens of public-facing restaurants Pizza East and Chicken Shop or a well-edited selection of wine and craft beers from Allis Bar. The Cowshed spa and salon is likewise open to the public, ready to pamper with a fine selection of thoughtful scents, botanical ingredients and herbal remedies.

Chicken Shop, Soho House Chicago

Cowshed spa and salon, Soho House Chicago

The photos speak for themselves, it seems all that’s left to do is book our flights and visit our Chicago based ‘home away from home’.

Soho House Chicago

Soho House Chicago

Soho House Chicago

Chicken Shop, Soho House Chicago

Screening Room, Soho House Chicago

Soho House Chicago

Flowers Blossom into Flames: Experimenta

Posted on August 8, 2014 by Liz

The flame becomes a flower and the fuel becomes water in this transformation of the classic kerosene lamp by Giuseppe Bessero Belti. The Italian designer, who currently resides in Paris, has designed a collection of vases by repurposing oil lamps and combining them with 3D printing, mixing old and new in a reinterpretation entitled Experimenta.

Experimenta – Bombé Viennoise

Belti began with the traditional oil lamp, which can be simplified into five parts: ‘the chimney’ glass in various shapes, ‘the wick’, the fuse that dips into the fuel, ‘the burner’, the nozzle from which the flame emerges, ‘the collar’, the ring for fastening the glass and ‘the fount’, the container for the fuel. This has undergone multiple changes due to the technological innovations and scientific progress made in the 18th and 19th centuries. Designers of the time were constantly experimenting with the oil lamp, creating new shapes for the burner and the chimney that affected its efficiency. The design was guided by the emerging industry, oriented towards the mass market.

Experimenta

Experimenta – Globe

Fast forward to the current world of design and what can be found is a rediscovery of craftsmanship, an emerging maker spirit that responds to the consumer’s desire for unique products of high quality and high artistic value. Belti decided to combine this trend with the use of 3D printing technology, creating a sharp contrast between industrial production and craftsmanship.

Experimenta – Kosmos

Experimenta – Matador

The Experimenta vases are composed of a cylindrical 3D-printed nylon container, repurposed glass vessels in all their variations from the 18th and 19th centuries, a ring and a series of adapters to fix the glass vessel in place. Water takes the place of kerosene in the container and a flower blooms from within, a vivid and naturally beautiful wick and flame.

Experimenta – Rochester

Experimenta – Rochester

Experimenta breathes new life into the old glass, and sets a standard of uniqueness, but one that could still be available to many. It is currently at the prototype stage, but WIN hope to one day have a flower burn bright on our shelves.

Making Design History: 25 Years of Starck and Duravit

Posted on August 4, 2014 by Liz

“If you’re lucky enough to have a good idea, you’re duty-bound to share it.” Philippe Starck.

July 2014 marked 25 years of French designer Starck working with international bathroom product developer Duravit. During this time, he has shared a vast amount of ideas with the company including designs for timeless bathroom classics and concepts for everything from innovative shower-toilets to the architecture of the company’s office and showroom at its German headquarters.

Philippe Starck by Jean-Baptiste Mondino

The charismatic partnership began in 1989, when Duravit wrote to Starck and proposed that he joined them in developing innovative designs to take the sanitary ware market by storm. In return, Starck invited them to visit and consequently they decided to work together – a decision that has since proved incredibly successful: together, Philippe Starck and Duravit have made design history.

Starck recognised that it was not necessary to reinvent the wheel in order to create contemporary shapes. Instead, he based his design on the re-discovery of ancient forms, taking archetypal objects and translating them for Duravit into ceramic and acrylic in a way that had never been done before. In 1994 he unveiled his first creation for the designer bathroom manufacturer: the Starck 1 range, based on archaic objects such as a washbowl and bucket. Next came the launch of the Starck 2 ceramics range in 1998, inspired by the motion of water. Although very varied in form, the resulting washbowls, washbasins, toilets and bidets all carry Philippe Starck’s distinctive design signature.

25 Years of Starck

They say that the best things come in threes, in this case the addition of the Starck 3 range, unveiled by Duravit in 2002. These were more pared-down forms, able to blend effortlessly into any bathroom. However things didn’t end there, the success story continued in 2011 with the first ever shower-toilet, also designed by Starck. He then went on to design the first steam shower, the St.Trop, based on the idea of a painting (the shower door represents a large picture frame, the white background forms the canvas and the person taking a shower becomes the motif, completing the ‘work of art’).

Starck has clearly had a strong influence on Duravit’s products and on the company as a whole. He even went a step further by designing a whole building for Duravit that reflects their dedication to good design. The resulting structure, the Duravit Design Center in Hornberg, is extraordinary in terms of both its exterior form and its interior finishings, featuring an outrageous giant toilet spanning three floors cut into its front façade. Visible from far and wide around the Black Forest, it definitely makes a bold design statement!

Duravit Design Center, Hornberg

The combined talents of Duravit and Starck have been a winning combination and we look forward to many more years of great design from both!

Talent in Textiles: Interview with Rose Sharp Jones

Posted on July 8, 2014 by Liz

Featured in a previous blog of top picks from Clerkenwell were some quaint crochet cushions, created by skilled designer Rose Sharp Jones. WIN were initially drawn to her stall upon spying a range of beautifully patterned notebooks and we bonded over a mutual love of stationary (it borders on obsessive for us!) We soon noticed the cute knitted details on her stools and chairs and the aforementioned cushions, and business cards just had to be exchanged! Here we find out a little more about the creator behind this charming collection…

Firstly, where did your love for textiles and handmade items initially stem from? Is your background fairly creative?

I always loved to draw and make things when I was a child, and learnt to knit when I was 8.  I studied art throughout school and after leaving I did a foundation course where I specialised in textiles, going on to do a BA and MA course in Textile Design.

And what inspired you to set up your own business?

After finishing my MA course I realised I wanted to be involved in the whole process – designing and making fabrics, and products from them.

Which are the most gratifying aspects of your work?

I really enjoy the making process, developing new ideas and pieces through experimentation with yarns, stitches and different techniques. I also enjoy working on commission pieces with clients and seeing them happy with the end product.

Do you work from home? And how do you balance running a business with day to day life?

I work from a studio space in east London that I share with other designers.  It can be hard to keep a good work/life balance, having a separate studio space away from home has definitely helped me to do so.  I also find that having defined tasks for the day/week ahead and lots of to-do lists help!

You also teach a range of knit and crochet classes – what does a typical lesson with you entail and where could we sign up?

At the moment I teach a beginners crochet class where we start with the complete basics and learn a range of stitches.  I also run another workshop where I teach further techniques to make crocheted squares that can be used to make a blanket or cushion.  I teach these lessons at the yarn shop Sharp Works in south London.  I also teach private knit and crochet lessons which tend to be quite varied as they depend on what the client wishes to learn.  These can be arranged by contacting me.

How do you approach new designs – what is your process and how do you see each piece through to completion?

I normally start with drawing, and then a research period to develop design ideas further.  After this I begin swatch experiments to try out different stitches, yarns and colours.  Once I’ve decided upon these I then write patterns for the pieces I need and begin making them, making adjustments to the pattern or design if required.

What are your favourite pieces to make and why?

I wouldn’t say that I have a favourite piece to make, although I do enjoy working with the furniture pieces, finding techniques and yarns that are suitable for the piece in question, taking inspiration from the furniture piece itself and developing fabrics that are appropriate for use.

Your work includes furniture, cushions, mittens, hats, bags and you’ve just launched a stationary collection too! Do you see your ranges expanding further? Where would you like to be in five years’ time?

At present I’m not planning on introducing any additional types of products, just some new designs for existing ones!  I will be introducing a range of knitted cushions later this year, as well as a couple of new furniture pieces.

I do enjoy designing across a range of products though, so I’m sure the range will expand at some point!

Have you ever collaborated with other designers, or is this something you would be interested in doing?

I have discussed collaborative projects with other designers in the past and would definitely like to work on such a project at some point.

Finally, where can we find you on a weekend off, what are your favourite ways to spend time?

Enjoying having a break, meeting up with friends and family, going to exhibitions and other events and travelling whenever possible!

The Great Outdoors

Posted on June 23, 2014 by Liz

Walden, ©Jäger & Jäger

With summer well on its way in the UK (at last!), the majority of us are relishing the chance to spend some time outdoors, enjoying barbeques, picnics, rooftop bars, trips to the beach and open-air cinema screenings – it’s a novelty that doesn’t last long but definitely raises everyone’s spirits. So why not take it further, and spend the next three months basically living outside? It’s definitely a possibility with the garden object/well-furnished shed/ concept home design, Walden.

Walden, ©Jäger & Jäger

Designed by Nils Holger Moormann for German shed and wooden house manufacturer Aicher, Walden is essentially a wooden box that compactly fits within it everything a person could need to enjoy their garden, and then some! The project was inspired by a short story written by Henry David Thoreau, a 19th century American writer and philosopher. Entitled Walden, the story is about the author’s life and his coexistence with nature. This notion of the simple life is what the object Walden is based upon; it invites one to live outdoors, in harmony and simplicity.

Walden, ©Jäger & Jäger

For the garden enthusiasts, there is storage space for wheelbarrows, rakes, shovels and a hosepipe. For those who prefer lounging in the sun, there’s a ladder to an upper level with sliding sun roof – if the heat gets too much, go back down and enjoy sitting in the cabin, which also incorporates a table for ant-free picnicking. Finally, when the sun goes down, a campfire can be created in the swinging cauldron, kept alight by firewood which can be stored in the space right next to it. The birds will also be kept happy with a birdhouse and feeder.

Walden, ©Jäger & Jäger

Walden is neat and compact, it offers outdoor essentials within a charming and practical container and can be enjoyed by family, friends and individuals alike. If only it had a bedroom – there’d be no need to return to your house!

Walden, ©Jäger & Jäger

Inspired by Nature, Created by Conran

Posted on June 3, 2014 by Liz

Design giants Conran and Partners have surprised and delighted the WIN team with their latest venture. Known by all for their outstanding design portfolio, which encompasses both architecture and interiors, branding and products, we’re sure many of you have fantasised about members of their talented team coming to work their magic on your homes, shops, local restaurants and businesses. Paint by Conran will bring you one stop closer to that dream.

Paint by Conran

Drawing on 50 years of experience in designing for the home, Conran and Partners have created a range of interior paints, launched with a tremendous 96 colours, all inspired by British plants and landscapes. Teaming up with them is esteemed British paint manufacturer Master Paintmakers, who have been handcrafting paint in the UK for over 150 years. This supreme partnership has utilised their technical know-how and Conran’s design expertise to create a paint range that is both practical and beautiful.

Paint by Conran

The branding too, is absolutely gorgeous – care has been put into absolutely every element of the paint and the overall buying experience. Delicate hand-painted swatch cards are available as well as elegant tester pots that remind one of artist’s paints, packaging is a simple white with charming and unique watercolour motif – a different image for each collection (Highland, Cottage Garden, Kitchen Garden, Orchard and Harvest.) Each purchase is even delivered with a thank you card that doubles as a colour matching card when shopping for complementary items, and with a Paint by Conran Partner card that gives the holder special offers and exclusive benefits!

Paint by Conran

This range does it all, providing colours for every room in the house, personalised service and care for each individual customer. With quintessential British countryside appeal, Conran can help you bring the beauty of nature indoors. We can’t wait to get our hands on these paints, and get them onto our walls this summer!

Crazy for Clerkenwell

Posted on May 27, 2014 by Liz

WIN certainly were busy last week – along with the rest of the design world we’re sure! Following May Design came the incredible Clerkenwell Design Week, celebrating its fifth birthday in inimitable style. We were delighted to be invited to the press breakfast, where we quickly fuelled up on coffee and croissants before sprinting across Farringdon to visit the multiple Exhibition areas playing host to countless talented designers and creatives. From industry favourites and big name brands to quirky start-ups and fresh faces, all definitely impressed with innovative designs, inspiring ideas and a clear passion for their industry (and all very willing to talk to us about this passion, which was great!)

We were guided through the various areas by the lovely Elspeth Rae, Marketing Manager at Clerkenwell, with boundless enthusiasm and energy. Design Factory, Platform and Detail were outstanding as always, and new for 2014 came Additions, a wonderful collection of small design items and accessories, particularly enjoyable for stationary enthusiasts such as myself. The installations truly wowed and the overall programme of talks, exhibitions and workshops was a captivating affair. With cocktails around every corner, what’s not to love about this exceptional, dynamic and super fun event?!

First, as usual, some quick personal snaps of the event before our top product picks.

Our tour guide for the morning!

Studio Weave‘s Smith Pavilion, hosting craft workshops at Clerkenwell

Lianne Russ and Phil Henshaw of Russ + Henshaw in front of their ‘Tile Mile’ installation

The impressive Johnson Tiles Wall Mural

Sean Dare of Brighton based Dare Studio

The incredible Jaguar and Foscarini installation

Amazing (and much needed) coffee outside Design Factory

Now onto what you’ve all been waiting for: The World Interiors News Product Picks – Top 20! (In no particular order I might add).

Beautiful sofas and textiles by A Rum Fellow

Colourful table cloths by newcomers Toghal

Last Stools by Max Lamb for Discipline

The Hive Lamps by Angus Matchett for Dare Studio

The Vertebra Chair by the chair ltd

Vessel F by Samuel Wilkinson for Decode

The Draft Mobile Writing Board by Daniel Lavonius Jarefeldt and Josef Zetterman for Abstracta

The Tyneside Lounger by David Irwin for deadgood

The lamp everyone was talking about, designed by Paul Smith for Anglepoise

The SPOKES lanterns by Vicente Garcia Jimenez & Cinzia Cumini for Foscarini

The simple & stylish Plan Desk by James Tattersall

We hope you love these amazing products as much as we do and also that you got to pay a visit to one of our favourite design events on the interiors calendar (other than our own, of course!). Clerkenwell, we’ll see you again next year.

WIN Loves: May Design Series

Posted on May 21, 2014 by Liz

May Design Series returned to London’s ExCeL this year, with almost 400 brands on display plus countless wonderful guest speakers holding thought-provoking seminars. WIN had a great time this year, meeting with old friends, making new contacts and seeing the amazing products on show. We were also spoiled in the press room with tasty treats and drinks, air conditioning and general kindness from the amazing press and marketing team – thanks guys! The whole space looked awesome thanks to the design expertise of Ab Rogers, who gave a great talk on the use of colour while we were there (hint – he likes it bright). To add to the fun, we bid on one of the gorgeous chairs in the Out of the Dark silent auction. All were upholstered by some fantastic bloggers using salvaged materials, so here’s hoping we win! Here’s a few quick personal snaps before we move onto our product highlights.

Gorgeous space, curated by Ab Rogers

The animated and charming Ab Rogers himself, mid-speech

Beautiful ceramics from Flux, which we blogged on earlier this year

At the iGuzzini stand, winners of last year’s WIN Awards for best Lighting Product

The only chair you’ll ever need: the Flag Halyard by Hans J. Wegner at the PP Møbler stand

Onto our favourite products at May Design. We were particularly impressed by some of the incredible lighting on display, as well as some fantastic options for storage in the home that hide your clutter but also function as a gorgeous statement piece. Fun, quirky and colourful ruled this year and we were big fans!

Playful Circus Lighting by Corinna Warm for Innermost

Pops of colour on these Zazzeri taps, also an entry into the WIN Awards this year!

Side Coffee Table from Santarossa

Bold lamps from Enigma Lighting

Shabby chic cabinets from Bluebone

Beautiful up-cycled pieces by Out of the Dark

The perfect kitchen from The Myers Touch

Stunning glass lamps by Ebb & Flow

Innovative modular shelving by Made In Ratio

We can’t wait for next year, and hope that everyone else had a great few days at the show!