Scandinavian wooden toy car inspired by the classic Saab Roadster prototype 92001. The car looks as good as the original Saab cars from the 40s and 50s and is a fully functional push car, it even has a steering wheel made of wood and metal just like old sports car steering wheels. The prototype of the first Saab was drawn by the famous designer Sixen Sason, who also designed the the first Hasselblad camera.
This is one toy that will look good in the driveway.
Brutalism is the term coined to describe the raw architecture often made with concrete during the 1950s and 1960s (with a later resurgence).
When you go into a gallery a painting might cause you to stop and look, it isn’t the spectacle but the aesthetics ability to hold the viewer. Concrete buildings have this ability. They don’t fit into the streets and city centres where they appear (they are by their very nature brutal rather than accommodating) but there strength and power speak of a time when people had a belief in architecture as a force for civic good. These structures were solid spaces to create a solid and strong world emerging from the gloom of the second world war. The buildings represent what was great about building a society, universities, hospitals, local governments as opposed to the steel and glass of contemporary retail and office complexes. These buildings were about real people and real issues and they wore this realism brutally on the outside.
But it’s more than that. The form is itself appealing (beyond what that form represents). Simplicity in architecture is rare and to strip back so much of the adornments and leave the bare walls is somehow sensual, the opposite of what so many critics claim. The way lines are created and cut against the sky or interact with other buildings. The regularity of shape and form caused by the shutter process of creating the concrete, the ability to go up to the building and feel the roughness of the concrete matching and creating an indexical link with the way the building was made.
Sometimes a book is hard to read or a film is hard to watch but by completing it you know it was something important and worthwhile which deserved your perseverance. These buildings also deserve your perseverance. They are evidence of a modernism, a time when we didn’t dress up architecture but left it cold and honest for all to see.
(photos above) Alvar Aalto portrait and original design collages for the Savoy vase in cardboard and paper
For 70 years now the Iittala factory in Finland has diligently produced Alvar Aalto’s sinuous Savoy vase. Originally part of a housewares collection that Aalto submitted to the Karhula-Iittala design competition in 1936, the vase was first presented at the 1937 World’s Fair in Paris, where the theme was “Art and Technology in Modern Life.” At the time of its conception, the vase’s graceful enigmatic form challenged the glassblowers who pioneered the making of it. Inspired by nature, Alvar Aalto simplified design elements and used a craftsman’s knowledge of the material to create design that allows for various combination’s of use. The mysterious form made a strong statement against industrial production that failed to meet human needs. Today it has become an icon of a design movement.
In the attic of an emblematic building of classical early 20th century Madrid, this new concept of living space is placed: UNLIMITED SPACE (Ceramic House) is presented by architect Héctor Ruiz-Velázquez and built out of total freedom of layers. As if the design would be a three-dimensional object, every one of the rooms or points of the home can be located by specifying the axis of coordinates. The result is the power to move around in few square meters at different heights, going up and down, offering a new experience of roominess in the context of a home: to explore the space. The transition between the rooms is continuous and lets the movement flow freely across the numerous levels. The spatial flexibility that transforms this home is an innovative housing concept which adapts itself to the actual necessities and to the new usages. Where roominess, brightness and time flow in a multifunctional space without corners or precedence. It is also about expanding the parameters of interior design as well as the conventional trends of arrangement.
Envisioned as a home that will accommodate a family as it grows, and play host to friends and extended family, the ideas that inform the design of the house were developed through an unusual process—The family, including their children, all actively participated in design meetings with the team from Dick Clark Architecture. Critical decisions were vetted among the group and decided by vote, with each family member getting equal say. The result is a house that stays true to its purpose as a place where family and friends can spend precious free time enjoying one another and the beauty of the Highland Lakes setting.
The most gestural element of the house is a raised, copper clad pavilion with transparent walls facing south toward the neighborhood and north toward the courtyard and lake. The butterfly shape of the roof dramatically casts off rainwater through an oversized scupper, an external reference to the series of seven water features found inside the walls of the retreat. The courtyard offers two points of entry: when the large wooden gate is rolled in to the open position below the pavilion, the house invites visitors to come in through this primary pathway. A second gate is found by following a linear water feature that starts along the east edge of the sandstone wall. Not visible from the street, this entry provides a more intimate arrival into the courtyard.
One of the few furniture design icons from Norway, the Scandia Series chairs were designed in 1957 by Hans Brattrud. Popularity peaked in the 1960s and the chairs fell out of production in the 1970s when the original factory burned down. Enter Fjordfiesta, a Norwegian company that has since revived the range. The Company worked closely with Brattrud to bring these appealing chairs back into production, keeping careful attention to the original detailing and design.
Scandia Series Chair, by Hans Brattrud for Fjordfiesta
In the House 6 project, the idea of the veranda has been reinvented. The veranda is not exactly in front of the living room, disposed longitudinally, but, rather, perpendicular to it. The wooden pillars that give support to the structure and the clay tiles of traditional verandas have been substituted by modern pilotis that support a volume of flat slabs. The veranda of House 6, nonetheless, still remains an open space and, simultaneously, opens to the garden and the pool. It is a living room, a TV room and an extension of the internal kitchen.
This space, then, structured the entire architecture of the house, organized in two transversal volumes and an annex in the back that holds a home office. The lower volume houses the utilities, the kitchen and the living room with door-frames that can be recessed into the walls, and thereby entirely opening the internal space to either side. This sets the cross-ventilation and an unfettered contiguous view of the garden. The upper volume has the private area of the house with the bedrooms and, on the third floor there is a small multiple-use living room alongside an upper deck.
Architecturally, the space of the veranda, located under the bedrooms, would have a low ceiling-height, to create a warm feeling. The sum of the structure of the two perpendicular volumes and the living room ceiling-height would result in a very high ceiling. Thus, it was decided to make the living room lower in relation to the veranda and the garden. This result made it possible to have a house with elongated proportions and the viability of a covered external pleasant space to be used on both warm and cool days in the city of São Paulo.
Shape & Form was inspired by architecture and the textures and shapes that surround everyday life. The wallpapers feature geometric shapes, optical illusions, and natural forms which explore the ways light and shadow affect perceptions. Graham & Brown has created a unique collection that fuses simple designs with complex techniques; including high gloss, metallic sheens and fine tones that embellish and conjure optical effects.
Shape & Form Wallpaper, by Graham & Brown
Winter turns to spring, summer turns to autumn. We sense the shifts not just by the changes in the temperature and the scenery, but in the smells carried on the breeze and the quality of the sunlight. Over two thirds of Japan’s population lives in its cities, which make up just a small fraction of its landmass. And yet we are still able to read nature with our bodies.
Japan’s temperate climate and its mountainous topography gave birth to a unique natural environment, which in turn fostered an ancient cosmology and spirituality which have greatly influenced our culture and arts. In “Sensing Nature: Yoshioka Tokujin, Shinoda Taro, Kuribayashi Takashi” we think about how the innate human ability to perceive nature (to sense nature) and the Japanese view of nature exist in our urbanized and modernized world. We also ask how those views are reflected in contemporary art and design practices.
Sensing Nature: Tokujin Yoshioka, Takashi Kuribayashi, Taro Shinoda, Mori Art Museum, Roppongi Hills, Tokyo, Japan, July 24 – November 7
With the upcoming season of Mad Men, the Mid-Century Modernist has turned its eye on spotting some of the furniture that makes part of the set of one of the best dramas on television. The series is set in the 1960s and the designers have made every effort to depict what a Madison Avenue ad agency really looked like, starting with Don Draper’s Office.
We wanted to make sure it wasn’t a textbook study of mid-century modern America — as Matt specifically pointed out, look around your own house, does everything exist from 2007 or do you actually have stuff lying around from the ’80s?
- Dan Bishop, Production Designer
“One of the best references — we just used it this morning for the size of a baby blanket — is the Sears catalogs and the Montgomery Ward catalog,” she says. “They’re so specific, and they have all these items. And then I have every decorating book from the late ’40s through the mid-’60s. So Better Homes & Gardens — you know, all those decorating books that came out every year — I have all of those.”
- Amy Wells, Set Decorator