“Plywood,” explained Popular Science in 1948, “is a layercake of lumber and glue.” In the history of design, plywood is also an important modern material that has given 20th-century designers of everyday objects, furniture, and even architecture greater flexibility in shaping modern forms at an industrial scale. This installation features examples, drawn from MoMA’s collection, of modern designs that take advantage of the formal and aesthetic possibilities offered by plywood, from around 1930 through the 1950s. Archival photographs illuminate the process of design and manufacture in plywood. Iconic furniture by Alvar Aalto, Charles and Ray Eames, Eero Saarinen, and Arne Jacobsen appear alongside Organic Platters by Tapio Wirkkala (1951), Sori Yanagi’s Butterfly Stool (1956), an architectural model for a prefabricated house by Marcel Breuer (1943), and experimental designs for plywood in the aeronautics industry.
Plywood: Material, Process, Form, at The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York City, Photography © Jason Mandella
Central to the French postwar reconstruction/industrialization effort, Philippon and Lecoq were among a group of young architects who changed the face of French furniture production in the 1950s and 1960s. Inspired by the teachings of the modernist masters of the Union des Artistes Modernes (U.A.M.), their goal was to bring harmony and comfort to interiors, employing modern materials and techniques, to improve the daily life of French citizens in the challenging postwar climate. Philippon and Lecoq’s furniture combines minimalism with a pervasive sense of architectural refinement and elegance. The couple approached interiors as well with an almost puritanical sense of functionalism, but succeeded in creating an extremely efficient environment which was still comfortable and humanly accessible. They received numerous prestigious awards during their career including the ‘Rene Gabriel’ prize in 1961.
Exhibition: Antoine Philippon and Jacqueline Lecoq, at Demisch Danant
AIAIAI is set to launch a new over-ear headphones aimed at music professionals. Where the TMA-1 enhances the live performance, the TMA-1 Studio enriches the studio/production experience.
In the late ’80s, before he became famous as a member of the Compton, Calif., gangsta-rap group N.W.A., Ice Cube studied architectural drafting at a trade school in Arizona. In the video, made for “Pacific Standard Time: Art in L.A. 1945-1980,” the sprawling Getty Institute-organized collection of exhibitions on the postwar Southern California art scene, Ice Cube tours the Eames House in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood, marveling at the resourcefulness of the husband-and-wife team.
“Got off-the-shelf factory windows, prefabricated walls,” he says, sounding as if he were admiring a tricked-out low rider. “They was doing mash-ups before mash-ups even existed.”
For the exhibition Ice Cube wanted to recreate this famous photograph by Charles Eames sitting on a rare 1953 DAT-1 Chair.
McDonald’s has put Patrick Norguet in charge of designing the new architectural identity for its restaurants in France. A project which is exciting in terms of its scope as well as in its technical and sociological constraints since it concerned McDonald’s returning to its founding myth: familial fast food. If the brand was originally founded on the family, its image has little by little slid towards a more urban and adolescent tone. A return therefore to McDo’s DNA with this new interior design that Patrick Norguet, literally and figuratively, matches with getting back to roots.
The plant metaphor, with its branching development, this root common to the brand and to the family, is transformed here into an architecture which is transversal and expansive: birch plywood takes root and branches out in the restaurant in order to create areas, functions and moods for different social requirements without compartmentalizing. This organic and functional furniture/architecture offers several possibilities, several eating choices from eating standing up for lone teenagers, alcoves providing privacy to family table service, a small revolution at McDonald’s with digital control terminals integrated into the base and distributed throughout the restaurant. Henceforth, a mother can settle with her offspring at a table, order from a nearby terminal and wait for the meals to be brought to the table.
Patrick Norguet’s design, which as always hits the spot, uses contemporary white which he counterbalances with fun colours without falling for “toy” conventions like for example the storage elements with the painted metal boxes included in the base template. The luminous ambiance and the quality of the acoustics are exceptionally meticulous and offer customers a comfort which is rare today, whilst the quest for a certain radical nature is revealed through the choice of materials (plywood, sheet metal, concrete, etc.), tested in conditions of heavy passage to respond to the constraints of such a popular restaurant.
The designer is using his “Still” metal chair for Lapalma for the seats with a new high stool version specially designed for the occasion. The ceramic floor also designed by Patrick Norguet for Lea Ceramica immediately lends a distinctive tone to the venue. These huge, ultra-slim 2 metre slabs break with usual visual conventions: warm and graphic without being carpet, they change our habits in terms of flooring to create a brand new typology. Piloted at the start of the year in the Villefranche-de-Lauragais restaurant 40 km from Toulouse, the concept was immediately appealing and spoke volumes. 6 restaurants are currently in the pipeline throughout France.
McDonald’s France Architectural Identity by Patrick Norguet
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
The upcoming Important Design Auction at Wright includes this rare lamp, designed for the 1958 Venice Biennale. This example comes from the collection of Maruizio Albarelli, the director of Vetri Seguso d’Arte. Sold with original framed drawing and framed vintage photograph of this work.
Floor Lamp, by Flavio Poli, Exhibited: Venice Biennale, 1958, Italy, Estimate: $20,000–30,000, Auction at Wright
The Centre Pompidou-Metz presents the first major exhibition in France dedicated to the work of Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec.
A fabulous Bivouac, staged across 1,000 square metres in Galerie 3 of the Centre Pompidou-Metz, this exhibition of works by Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec sets out the result of almost fifteen years of mutual collaboration. Their first major solo show in France, Bivouac highlights an exceptional international career, during which the two brothers have worked with some of the greatest names in design, been crowned by numerous awards and the presence of their work in public collections.
Imagined as a temporary encampment – hence its name – Bivouac is deliberately divested of scenographic elements other than the Bouroullecs’ work. Movement is imparted by contrasting scales, transparency and superpositions. Visitors are invited to wander around the gallery, moving between prototypes and finished objects, mass-produced and hand-crafted works. Bivouac highlights the immense diversity of these creations and economies achieved in production. It also addresses key concepts in the Bouroullecs’ research: objects which are nomadic, ephemeral, modular, organic, flexible.
The exhibition is neither an inventory nor a retrospective of their work. Rather, it illustrates the current state of their designs and research, in constant evolution.
The architectural model gained new prominence after a period of decline when it became a popular tool for design education and practice in the early twentieth century. This revival is usually associated with the turn towards objectivity and the search for expressive means to communicate ideas in three dimensions–but how was the model transformed in the age of its mechanical reproducibility?
Modernism in Miniature: Points of View explores the encounter between photography and model-making between 1920-1960. It focuses on model photography as a distinctive genre and suggests that the so-called ‘model boom’ was inextricably bound up with the explosion of modern mass media.
The objects on display illustrate a variety of visual practices ranging from straight records of study models to hyper-realist photomontage. Channelled by the illustrated press, miniatures reached out to a wide public and, in some cases, acquired enduring cult status. By revisiting a widespread yet oft-neglected imagery, the exhibition provokes questions about the relationship between media in architectural culture and the specific impact of photography on the perception of the miniature.
Modernism in Miniature: Points of View, September 22 – January 8, at Octagonal Gallery, The Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA), Montréal, Québec
“During the London Design Festival, The Victoria & Albert Museum invited us to intervene in any space we wanted within the Museum: the result is Textile Field an installation 30 meters long and 8 meters wide which takes over 240m sq of the floor of the famous Raphael Cartoons Gallery.
“An invitation to lascivious reverie. Our intention is to propose a different, casual approach to freely experience what can be a quite intimidating environment, such as a museum. We conceived an expansive, coloured foam and textile piece with gentle inclinations to produce a sensual field on which to comfortably lounge while meditating on the surrounding Raphael Cartoons. Everyone can immerse into this temporary installation, for a minute, an hour or more, that is the idea. No efforts, no apprehension just contemplation.”