The Mobilier National is the successor to the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne (the entity originally responsible for the safeguarding of royal furnishings and tapestries), which was reorganized by Colbert in 1663; its structure still serves as the basis for the current administration’s organization. In addition to maintaining inventories and conserving and caring for furnishings, the Garde-Meuble de la Couronne also acted as an important force for preserving classic techniques through its traditional workshops. It was responsible for furnishing royal residences and issued the commissions necessary for these programs. This remains the central role for the Mobilier National, which is now responsible for the interior design and furnishing of presidential residences, as well as official buildings (ministries, embassies, major government agencies, the National Assembly, and the Senate).
In the early 1960s, the French government, under the leadership of André Malraux, then the Minister of Culture, inaugurated a policy of supporting creative endeavor; the objective was to provide genuine patronage that would foster the revival of French furniture design. As part of this commitment, the Atelier de Recherche et de Création (ARC) was established in 1964 under the direction of Jean Coural. The mission of this entity was to promote contemporary French styles, providing designers with modern technical resources and manufacturers with distribution opportunities, based on carefully directed research.
The ARC is a research laboratory with a highly qualified staff devoted to studying new materials and creating prototypes that are developed through collaboration with designers and in close cooperation with interested manufacturers. The design models remain the property of the government but may be subsequently distributed by a French producer.
The finest designers of the 1960s and 1970s worked with Mobilier National, and the most significant creations of the era were products of this venture. Since its inception, the ARC has produced over 500 pieces of furniture, including special commissions for french pavilions at expositions of Montreal and Osaka, presidential residences and offices, and more recently the French embassy in Berlin and the Ministry of Culture and of Communication.
Exhibition: Mobilier National, New York, November 8 – February 11, at Demisch Danant
Intrigued by the confrontation between savoir-faire and contemporary culture, Jean-Charles de Castelbajac accepted the challenge proposed by LAQ to be involved in the creation of the Mingskatable. From discussions to reflections, the designers from LAQ and JCDC designed a resolutely contemporary coffee table combining beauty and originality. Resulting from the clash between the history of Chinese Ming furniture, the ancestral art of Japan and urban culture, the Mingskatable table evokes both the golden age of Chinese furniture and ‘street culture.’
Mingskatable, by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac and LAQ Executive, at Galerie BSL, Paris
The new pieces designed by Daphna Laurens and presented in the Cirkel exhibition at Galerie Gosserez are all based on the same shape: the circle. ‘Fantasy embellishes the object by encircling it, and, as it were, illuminating it from within with those precious images of which it reminds us or to which we feel an instinctive connection.’ Luigi Pirandello, 1904. The two designers tested their ideas by playing with this elementary shape for months in their studio in Eindhoven thus producing their preliminary drawings. Basic forms and lines inspired them. Bauhaus was of course one of their sources of inspiration, and Laszlo Moholy Nagy in particular inspired the wall lights. Daphna Laurens wanted to create a wall light which was an art piece during the day when not lit, and of course a functional wall light once switched on. This double formal and functional language best characterises the two designers incidentally. Their pieces do not immediately reveal the function of the object. The form comes first, through the design, the function is second. The mirrors and the coffee table thus result from a meticulous collage of forms, adding or removing lines, volumes and surfaces to accomplish these objects which have formal beauty as well as being functional of which the table is emblematic: the circle is manipulated here in every form, extruded, twisted, … to offer a double function: storage and a table. Whilst the lamp for leaning against the wall is a little creature which is looking through the walls to the other side, completes a collection with humour reserved for strangely inhabited everyday objects.
In 1938, with the success of, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Walt Disney began to plan the construction of the ultimate animation studio in Burbank, California. Walt wanted his studio designed to facilitate optimum production, which is why he commissioned the design of the Airline Chair (1934). The chair was used by the animators throughout the studio including the screening room. Produced in limited quantities for Walt, the original Airline Chair has become one of the most sought after Art Moderne products ever designed. In 2007, Walt Disney Signature, Disney’s adult lifestyle brand, contacted Cory to imagine a new armchair and ottoman inspired by the original chair from 1934. Through careful design choices, the chair references the past but appears light, elegant and unmistakably modern.
Airline_009 Chair, by Cory Grosser, for Walt Disney Signature
Monolithic storage units with birch drawers and surfaces available in maistral copper, acid-etched iron and acid-etched brass–an object so desirable you may need house insurance. As a living object, its material is cut by the nature which emerges from it. And so nature turns into the main character.
Celato, R&D De Castelli, for De Castelli
“The Baccarat Zoo reinvents the art of collecting animals while giving them a real function. Receptacle or Art Toy, every character exudes its optimistic narrative strength, full of magic and imagination.”
– Jaime Hayon
The Zoo , by Jaime Hayon, for Baccarat
NOWNESS invited Finland’s top contemporary design talent to showcase their work in the home of the country’s greatest most celebrated aesthete, Alvar Aalto. Today preserved as an atmospheric museum, the Alvar Aalto house, which was the architect’s domicile and studio from 1936 until his death, is an intimate memorial to the modernist master. The clean lines, functionality and unpretentious nature of classic Finnish design pioneered by Aalto, Ilmari Tapiovaara and Kaj Franck still permeates much of the work by the discipline’s current stars. Here we select our top Finnish designers for further scrutiny.
Jussi Takkinen “Untitled” folding chair and “Osio” wall clock, Matti Syrjälä “Riuku” stool and “Loiste” storm lantern, Hannu Kähönen “Kapeneva” bench, Ville Kokkonen “White 4″ table lamp, Ilkka Suppanen “Kaasa” lantern, Klaus Haapaniemi “Rabbit Throw”, Marko Nenonen “Lounge Chair”, Harri Koskinen “Remain in Light”
Alvar Aalto: In the Master’s Home, via: NOWNESS
The BE Light, is an LED desk lamp that folds and sports a unique articulated design. With its clever hinge design, it can be fully extended to a height of 33.4 cm, and an angle of up to 135 degrees. It also provides adequate task lighting with white LED. When not in use, it can be folded down flat to a minimum height of 1.8 cm, taking up the least amount of space on a desk.
BE Light, LED Task Lamp, by QisDesign
“Reflecting on the concept of a screen, we devised devised Fold, a wall lamp of extreme formal simplicity that is so adaptable it can be inserted into a vast array of environments of different styles and functions. The design has been developed from a basic gesture: turning a two dimensional sheet of paper into three-dimensions by simply folding it in the middle. This search for simplicity has an almost abstract graphic result that conceals its careful research into design and technology– research that is clearly perceptible but not flaunted. Fold is a thin, softly concave sheet slightly protruding from the wall to hide and screen the light source without compromising its function. When switched off the graphic outline of the diffuser takes center stage. When Fold is switched on the opaque, polycarbonate diffuser fully screens the light source and the large glow projected onto the back wall emphasizes its soft shape.”
Fold Wall Lamp, by Odoardo Fioravanti, for Foscarini
Japanese ceramic artist Harumi Nakashima is most well-known for his free-form sculptures with spotted polka-dots. At once both stoic as well as tortured, the organic forms are reminiscent of some type of odd plant this claims it’s home in a science fiction novel. Nakashima is a member of the modern Japanese ceramics movement Sōdeisha. As is apparent from his own work, the movement was a reaction against the hegemony of folk-craft style and philosophy that claimed dominance in Japan.