Thursday, 23 May 2013

Pierre Chareau's Functional Decoration

We were captivated by this gueridon-bobliothque “MB 960” by Pierre Chareau circa 1930 at Artcurial last week. It is one of the top lots in the upcoming Art Deco sale on March 28th.
This sumptuous solid mahogany table is supported by a metal pedestal with a rolling ball foot. This foot and the hinged arm attached to the bookshelf allows it to rotate out into the room or be tucked into the bookcase. His design process incorporated the functional elements into the overall concept and lifted up these otherwise mundane elements to a new level of intrigue.
Chareau also turned functional elements such as pipes and beams into decorative ones in his iconic  Maison de Verre (1928-1932) in Paris,( 31 Rue Saint Guillaume 75007). This is the first house built exclusively of steel and glass, and one of the first loft spaces!
Another version of his adaptable furniture is the expanding ‘fan-effect’ table. There are two examples of this work in the interior image above - just in front and to either side of the painting on the easel. 
His work while very luxurious and inline with the tenets of art deco also blurred the lines between the functional and decorative elements by treating them all with the same respect.

Tuesday, 21 May 2013

Philip Johnson's Glass House 1949

The Glass House in New Canaan, Connecticut was designed and built by Philip Johnson and Richard Foster in 1949. Heavily influenced by the Bauhaus ideals, they designed along minimalist lines with the aim of  achieving transparency in a standing structure. It is an extraordinary building in its severe and rigid minimalism and is often compared to Farnsworth House (1951) by Mies van der Rohe as the two are very similar in form and principal.
Have a look at this amazing photograph taken in 1964 in Philip Johnson’s Glass House by David McCabe for ‘The Glass House Conversations’. In the photo are Andy Warhol, David Whitney, Philip Johnson, Dr John Dalton and Robert A.M. Stern. Described by architectural historian Vincent Scully as ‘the longest running salon in America’,  Philip Johnson and David Whitney gathered together figures of design, art and architecture, who were at the forefront of their fields in their day, and have since moved into the realms of legend.  Imagine being a fly on the wall in that room!
 Murray Moss gave a sold-out talk on 2 May at the Glass House. It must have been amazing. We would have loved to have been there but were business-bound in Paris. Hopefully he’ll give another soon…..

Thursday, 16 May 2013

Should you understand the inspiration? A look at Gaetano Pesce

The first Collective Design Fair in New York closed last week after a reported successful debut. Another fair - is it necessary? Some of the galleries involved are seen on so many other circuits that it does seem a bit repetitive, however many were new and exciting and the cohesiveness and concentration on design was exciting! We found the exhibition/retrospective on Gaetano Pesce to be particularly significant. 
Pesce’s work is provocative, full of possibilities and very much worth understanding. 
This is one of his first chairs (1969). The form - inspired by the suffering of women in the world - suggests that she has a ball and chain attached to her.  This is unmistakeable in the original version - the first photo here.  In the subsequent photos the ‘chain’ seems nothing more than a practical element preventing the ottoman from rolling away and the stripes are fun and light-hearted. 
Would it be important to you to understand the inspiration of this chair before you purchased it for your living room or your child’s room? Should it be? It’s worth noting that this is a very commercially successful chair!
Here is a wonderful video done by the NYTimes on Pesce’s work.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

14 Billion years of light evolution in one chandelier - Daniel Libeskind's 'el chandelier

Polish-American architect, Daniel Libeskind designed this ‘el’ chandelier for Sawaya & Moroni in 2012. It simulates the evolution of light from the Big Bang to the present day, reflecting light through the use of around 2000 LEDs. Each light has its own micro-controller and the system is based on an algorithm developed by astrophysicist Noam Libeskind. The striking shapes of the chandelier are emphasized by the virtual movement of light.
What an amazing concept - condensing the evolution of 14 billion years of light into a 14-minute light show. Just imagine having this in your home!
We’d love to hear what you think of this piece!

Thursday, 9 May 2013

Wendell Castle at Chanel in Paris

This is Peter Marino’s recently completed project for Chanel on Avenue Montaigne in Paris. The interior features Wendell Castle’s gilt-fibreglass Triad chairs (2006).  The master prototype of this design was acquired by Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum in 2008.
It’s aggressively voluptuous and exaggerated form seems to lurch through the space that is otherwise decorated with monochrome rectilinear patterns and fashion.  Castle is known for his organic and even slightly surreal tendencies.  This chair reflects the most feminine aspect of this interior and upstages the understated elegance of the clothes. Maybe that is why we found it pushed back into a corner when we recently visited the store.  
Chanel and Wendell Castle … a good match?

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

A space for reflection in our crazy world by Atelier van Lieshout

Joep van Lieshout’s aim when he created Atelier van Lieshout in Rotterdam in 1995 was to establish an environment in which to freely explore new possibilities to build and create art, sculpture and design.
This ‘Sensory Deprivation Skull’ (2007) made of fiberglass and synthetic fur creates an intimate shelter in the shape of a skull. The user is ‘protected’ from any outside stimuli and as such it constitutes a sort of refuge from the world, and a way of retreating into reflection – giving new resonance to the words ‘getting inside your head’. The reference to Man’s transcience and mortality is also unmistakable, harking back to the old ‘Vanitas’ skull symbol in works of art and literature.
 At Design Elysées 2012 last September we saw ‘La sphère d’isolement’ (1971) by Claude Maurice Vidili on Velvet Gallery’s stand.  Edited by ‘Les Plastiques de Bourgogne’, it too created a contained space of isolation but was equipped with a window and connections for television, stereo and telephone thus differing radically in its function from the Atelier van Lieshout work.  The latter’s philosophical references and the connotations the skull form suggests, create a dialogue between sculpture and design, appealing to the reflective side of man’s nature and encouraging silent contemplation.
The ‘Sensory Deprivation Skull’ is currently being shown at Carpenters Workshop Gallery in Paris.
Let us know what you think. We’d love to hear your comments!

Thursday, 2 May 2013

Mattia Bonetti

The imposing forms of Mattia Bonetti’s furniture are often quite evocative. The first three examples here are some of his more rigorous works, which we find to be arresting. They speak to the present and possibility and freedom without being sentimental. We can imagine them working well with modern and antique objects. The last two images (the coffee table and armoire) are more playful examples of his work.  
Whether or not they appeal to you aesthetically, this is an artist who is forcing the discussion of design as art, design vs. art etc. into our awareness and that’s important! 
The Swiss-born, Paris-based designer is currently showing his work at the Paul Kasmin Gallery in NYC. 
Do you like this work?