Does a comfortable armchair always have to be heavy, bulky and thickly upholstered? With “Membrane”, Benjamin Hubert demonstrates how an inviting and capacious aesthetic can also be achieved using lightweight, transparent materials. A 3D woven textile mesh is tightly stretched across a CNC-machined framework, the resulting lines summoning images of tents, plane wings or zeppelins. The transparent woven fabric affords glimpses of the structure underneath, the multiple layers creating lovely moiré effects. The overall impression is an armchair that is reduced to the essentials, providing maximum comfort with minimal material. Its generous volume stands in intriguing contrast to its transparency and lightness. “Membrane” is so lightweight that it is easy to move from place to place. For example, the armchair can simply be carried out temporarily onto the balcony or terrace whenever the sun beckons.
Membrane Chair, by Benjamin Hubert for ClassiCon
When Álvaro Siza, one of the great figures of contemporary architecture, won the prestigious Pritzker Prize in 1992, the Jury described his forms as “molded by light, [with] a deceptive simplicity about them; they are honest. They solve design problems directly…. That simplicity, upon closer examination however, is revealed as great complexity. There is a subtle mastery underlying what appears to be natural creations.”
Born in Matosinhos, Portugal, in 1933, Siza created his own practice in Porto in 1954, and he has been a Professor of Construction at the University of Porto since 1976. The architect can fill shelf afer shelf with his awards and prizes to-date: He received the European Community’s Mies van der Rohe Prize in 1988 and the Praemium Imperiale in Japan in 1997, the 2009 RIBA Gold Medal, and the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the 2012 Venice Architecture Biennale.
He has built a large number of projects in Portugal, and worked on the restructuring of the Chiado area of Lisbon following a devastating fire in 1988. Siza designed both the Portuguese Pavilion for the 1998 Lisbon World’s Fair and the 2005 Serpentine Pavilion in London in collaboration with Eduardo Souto de Moura. He completed the Serralves Foundation in Porto, 1998, and the Museum for the Iberê Camargo Foundation in Porto Alegre, Brazil in 2008.
Álvaro Siza. Complete Works 1952-2013, Edited by Philip Jodidio, Hardcover, 30,8 x 39 cm, 500 pages,
Multilingual Edition: English, French, German
Buy it here: Amazon
With a retro, almost art deco feel, Volt has a blown-glass shade that comes in two different shapes: a semi-circle, or an upside-down bucket, both reminiscent of the atmosphere and shapes from the 1930s. The base is either metal or plastic. Clean, basic shapes, classicality and lighting inventions: Dordoni finds aesthetic function in the LED cooling mechanism, thus endowing an unadorned technical element with unsuspected formal elegance. The copper lamellae inside the glass pipe become a changing pattern on the shaft that holds up the lampshade.
“We were fascinated by the industrial appearance of this new pipe, so we decided to highlight its form so much as to make it the focal point and decorative element of the lamp itself”, Dordoni explains. The path that was followed toward the creating of the Volt table lamp is a review of key steps in a century-long design process, meaning the search for the “Right Form”. The elements of this search are frequently seen in the world of lamp manufacturing, and particularly every time new technology or production methods find direct application on the market.
Volt, by Rodolfo Dordoni, for Flos
“For me, a landscape does not exist in its own right, since its appearance changes at every moment; but the surrounding atmosphere brings it to life – the light and the air which vary continually. For me, it is only the surrounding atmosphere which gives subjects their true value.” Claude Monet.
The project for this house emerged from a very simple premise, to build on a very steep piece of land with a gradient of almost 100%, boasting wonderful views and on a tight budget. It was this highly complicated plot of land, surrounded by pine trees, that defined a good part of this project. The land, and its perspectives, constantly changing as the hours pass, the colour of the trees, the movement of sun and shadows…
On the one hand, the reduced dimensions of the plot and its complex orography, and on the other the desire to leave the minimum imprint on the land led us to seek out a floorplan which, matching the trees that surround it, emerges from a trunk well anchored to the land and opens up in braches on each floor, in such a way that each branch becomes the terrace of the upper level at the same time as it becomes the porch of the lower one. All this helps create a very formal building, with huge cantilevers facing out to emptiness, the woods and the sea which lie before it. A structure which opens up to these views and the sun, and which thanks to the terraces and the porches confuse the interior with the exterior.
A building which is equally formal in both its volume and the materials which compose it. Concrete, iron, timber and stone combining in a way that emphasizes the character of each one. In the end, the whole building represents a dialogue between emptiness and fullness, between materials, between outside and inside; seeking out a balance between these highly contrasting parts.
Mediterrrani 32, Sant Pol de Mar, Barcelona, Spain, by Isern Associats
Photography © Adrià Goula
“We wanted a lamp with a strong relationship with surrounding environment, an abiding correlation between light and space”
Contemporary technology brought us many items – smartphones, tablets, e-books – shifting our IT fulchrum from home-offices to living room, changing the direction we usually reach informations: before we went to a desk where the PC was, now portable digital data can follow us everywhere. For this reason, sometimes we need an ambient light that smooths the contrasts between digital displays and a completely dark room, and can be used as a relaxing light to enjoy a tv show or just talking while sitting on a sofa.
The Odeon lamp for FontanaArte is entirely covered in cuoietto leather and casts its light to the wall, thus creating a comfy and warm glow of refracted light, while the other side is opaque and screens the bulb. The leather handle allows people to place the lamp anywhere into a room, next to a sofa, near the wall so it will become a quiet presence.
This single piece, organically shaped armchair designed by Hayon for &tradition, was inspired by the harmony of curves. Sinuous movements in nature, the push and pull of rounded forms and the interplay of light and shadows, Curves are both seductive and comforting, the natural embellishment and enhancement to linear forms. The key to the design was the creation of a flexible, comfortable shape that would adjust to various body types with its modern and inviting form. A combination of rich materials and various finishes allow for a wide range of options: from a basic naked shell to quality Kvadrat wool upholstery or a luxurious leather alternative. Available in various finishes and ergonomically designed with a high backrest, the chair is both functional and comfortable. Celebrating versatility, it can be used in intimate settings, casual comfort or in the stripped down minimal atmosphere of the workspace. Simplicity, elegance and function combine to make the design consistent with the rich heritage of the &tradition brand while introducing contradictory playfulness, combining Mediterranean exuberance with Nordic restraint, joy and logic in harmony with nature.
Catch Chair, by Jaime Hayon, for &Tradition
Small and large transparent pendants multiplied. Spin light’s expression of dynamics is based on a simple rotational form resembling a child’s toy known as the spinning top or the silhouettes of whirling dervishes. It gives the lights a basic graphic impression. Clear transparent airy lamps with a touch of color on top are powered by small LED efficient discs which highlighting strong silhouettes and let them float freely in the space as empty volumes.
Spin Light, by Lucie Koldová, for Lasvit
Located on five acres of dense Ohia forest, this cast-in-place concrete house frames indoor and outdoor living spaces along with views of the forest, the sky, and the coastline. It continues our exploration of a reductive architecture that enhances the experience of living in this compelling environment.
The main feature of the house is a concrete beam, 140 foot long, 48 inch tall x 12 inch wide running the length of the building with only three short concrete walls supporting it along its massive span. The concrete beam allows for sizable spans of uninterrupted glass and covered outdoor space, creating a permeable edge between the man-made and nature, amplify the sensation of living in the Ohia forest.
Lavaflow 7 – Mayer/Penland House, Big Island, Hawaii, by Craig Steely Architecture
In 1974, Harry Bertoia was commissioned by the Standard Oil Company to create sculptures for the plaza of their building, a modern skyscraper designed by architect Edward Durrell Stone. At the time of its completion just a year earlier, the Standard Oil Building (now the Aon Center) was the tallest building in Chicago’s skyline.
Bertoia designed eleven Sonambients for the 4,000 square foot reflecting pool at the building’s base, each sculpture ranging from four to sixteen feet in height. The verticality of the Somabients’ brass and copper rods echoed the height and rhythm of the Standard Oil Building itself, and their sound resonated throughout the plaza. The kinetic sculptures he designed for the Standard Oil Company were installed on June 24, 1975 and they represent some of the most important public commissions of Bertoia’s career. The plaza of the Standard Oil Building became among the most beloved public spaces in the city of Chicago until 1994, when the plaza was redesigned.
Wright is proud to offer three large-scale Somabients original to the Standard Oil commission (estimates range from $300,000-500,000 to $500,000-700,000 each). Six maquettes from the presentation Bertoia created for the project are also included in this auction, as well as eight unique sounding sculptures which he presented to the executives of the Standard Oil Company as examples of his work.
Harry Bertoia: Masterworks from the Standard Oil Commission is the second Wright auction dedicated exclusively to the works of this outstanding sculptor. Comprised of seventeen lots, the auction will take place on June 6, 2013 at 12 pm central. Gallery preview runs May 30 to June 5, Monday through Saturday and Sunday by appointment, Auction at Wright
“When I started thinking about the design, I had the desire to challenge the perception and the common preconceptions of a material that is normally known to people just as ‘plastics’. I knew that I would like to go further than what’s the norm not only in terms of function and the look, but about the feel and tactility of the material as well. Soon it was clear that one of the greatest things I was missing in typical designs made of plastic was a significant impression of substance, of materiality. Therefore, the next step could only be a design that celebrated the actual material as it is, straightforward, solid and honest, with a concept of hiding nothing, but showing its innermost values to the outside. No second skin, no paint coat, the true, bold material in its pure form.”
- Dirk Winkel
Winkel w127 is manufactured of solid fiberglas reinforced biopolyamide. The material is recyclable. The mechanical solution is based on micro gas springs, widely used in the automotive and electronics industries. The gas springs have a lifespan of more than 50,000 compressions and give exceptionally good movement patterns. The shade is adjustable for universal direction of the light. The light technology is based on a highly energy-efficient multichip LED solution.
Wästberg Winkel w127, by Dirk Winkel, GOOD DESIGN Award 2012