Signore X, F Taylor Colantonio
Rome-based designer F Taylor Colantonio visualises the living environment of an eccentric and cultivated art historian from Rome who returns to live in his family’s palazzo on the eve of Brexit. Colantonio imagines an interior that has evolved over time, where new layers accumulate upon existing ones, where it is almost impossible to tell old from new, authentic from artificial, truth from myth. The space is an eclectic canvas bearing the traces of generations of inhabitants – each leaving the imprint of the fashions of their era. The building, which originally dates from the sixteenth century, was substantially remodelled in Second Empire style in 1865 and features nineteenth-century tile floors as well as ancient marbles and sumptuous drapery referencing the Roman Baroque and the city’s love of theatre. This rich collage, which presents itself to the viewer as a trompe l’oeil, reflects Signore X’s love for colour and material mixes, for storytelling, and for the arts. The objects he brings to the space include a Mariposa Corner Sofa and a new edition of the Chaise Tout Bois, the only chair design by the French ‘constructeur’ Jean Prouvé that is made entirely from wood.
Tatami, Charlap Hyman & Herrero
Box 2, by New York and LA–based design studio Charlap Hyman & Herrero, conjures up the dining space of a fictitious collector and patron of art and design who cultivates an intense appreciation for Japanese aesthetics. Inspired by the decadent, bohemian tastes of twentieth-century «grandes dames» Pauline de Rothschild and Marie-Laure de Noailles, this romantic character is particularly drawn to tensions between the delicate and the bold, the natural and the industrial, the old and the new. She combines walls clad in eighteenth-century silk floral damask with a floor lined with Japanese tatami panels while opting for Jasper Morrison’s new Moca chair, which is an expression of the British designer’s «super normal» approach to design: understated, useful and responsible. Also featured here is Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec’s poetic Vase Découpage, a cylindrical vessel that looks different from every angle.
A Possible Space, Gonzalez Haase AAS
In Box 3, by Berlin-based architecture studio Gonzalez Haase AAS, everything is in flux. The fictitious inhabitants of this space are a couple of uncertain age, in an undefined relationship, inhabiting a possibly mobile structure in an unspecified – though distinctly urban – location. All the elements are easily interchangeable, in terms of both their location and their function. Yet in spite of its inherent flexibility, the environment remains distinctly domestic, as if frozen in a moment in time. One object integrated into this graphically expressive environment is Konstantin Grcic’s new lounge chair Citizen, whose aesthetic references iconic tubular steel designs from the modernist era, with a nod to the unconventional and forward-looking culture of Silicon Valley.
The Long View, Daskal Laperre
Box 4, by Belgian design duo Daskal Laperre, reflects the character of the fictitious Keller family, who – in a time ruled by fashions and fads – subscribe to a slower-paced lifestyle and reject anything superfluous. This is epitomised by their minimal and timeless furniture and attention to detail. The members of this intellectual family take great care of the sparse yet high-quality items that adorn their work and living space. Integrated here is the small, iconic LCW (Lounge Chair Wood) by Charles and Ray Eames, which dates from their period of experimenting with complex plywood moulding techniques.
Citizen, Konstantin Grcic, 2020
Together with the Swiss furniture company Vitra, Konstantin Grcic has developed a product whose unconventional construction enables a surprising new way of sitting: the Citizen lounge chair.
Citizen is a reinterpretation of the lounge chair. Its design language incorporates elements of classic tubular steel furniture. But with its slim silhouette, which affords a clear view of all components, Citizen presents a deliberate alternative to conventional lounge chairs with voluptuous upholstery. It is not so much designed to look prestigious and imposing as to express a new understanding of comfort.
Citizen draws on the lineage of iconic designs whose novel construction gives users a seating experience that is both dynamic and relaxing at the same time – such as the traditional rocking chair or the B.K.F Chair (1938), also known as Butterfly Chair or Hardoy Chair by Grupo Austral, whose sack-like canvas or leather seat is suspended from a simple metal frame. A further reference is the swivel chair Karuselli (1965) by the Finnish designer Yrjö Kukkapuro, which features the clever solution of a seat shell hung from the base frame to allow new types of movement.
The seat of the Citizen chair is suspended on three cables affixed to a steel frame to facilitate a swinging movement in all directions. The semicircular contour of the fixed backrest ergonomically envelops the upper body, preventing the sitter from slouching down in the armchair. And the cantilever structural frame of Citizen is mounted on a swivel base for additional flexibility.
‘Citizen combines familiar elements with an entirely new type of construction, which we developed together over many years. For me it was a very enriching experience to devote so much time and attention to the development of a single idea’, says Konstantin Grcic.
Although Citizen was primarily developed for private interiors, it has affinities with a number of other designs created by Konstantin Grcic and Vitra to address the needs of new working environments: Stool Tool (2018) is both a seat and table; the height-adjustable Hack desk (2016) can be easily folded up and also functions as a sofa; while the office chairs Rookie (2018) and Allstar (2014) counter the appearance of a technical office chair.
Citizen is available in two versions – as Citizen Highback it is has the typical commanding presence of a lounge chair and in the Citizen Lowback version it can be arranged in groups for seating in public lounges and lobbies. The upholstery covers are selected from a wide range of fabrics. An identical material is used for the seat and back, while the neck pillow may be chosen in a different colour.
Chaise Tout Bois, Jean Prouvé, 1941
A shortage of metal during the Second World War inspired Jean Prouvé’s creative spirit: he developed his only chair to be made entirely from wood. Vitra is now reissuing this design from 1941, which matches the modern-day mindset, not just with regard to the choice of material but also in terms of inventiveness.
During the Second World War certain materials, such as metal, were scarce, forcing Jean Prouvé to search for alternative solutions. As the chair’s French name indicates, Jean Prouvé developed the Chaise Tout Bois entirely from wood. Its design is very similar to Prouvé’s famous Standard chair.
The profile of the rear frame section – back legs and backrest support – is characteristic of Prouvé’s furniture and architectural designs. It articulates his intention to provide added strength at the transition point between the seat and backrest, where the load weight of the human anatomy is greatest.
Prouvé created several prototypes of this chair during the war for the purpose of testing its structural strength as well as the joints, leg position and connection between the seat and back. The chosen type of wood depended on what was available at the time. After the war, there was once again a sufficient supply of oak, which due to its hardness and strength was commonly used in France to construct ships and cathedral roofs. As these properties are also ideal for an all-wood chair, the Chaise Tout Bois was ultimately made out of oak and plywood – also offered in dark-stained versions when requested by Jean Prouvé's customers.
In 1947, Prouvé won an award for the Chaise Tout Bois in the 'Meubles de France' competition. The concept of the competition was to find attractive, high-quality, mass-produced furnishings to meet the post-war needs of society – particularly refugees and young married couples.
Chaise Tout Bois, which is being produced by Vitra for the first time in 2020, matches a design variant from 1941, whose construction does not require a single screw. The height and seat meet current norms and requirements. Chaise Tout Bois is available in light or dark oak.
Moca, Jasper Morrison 2020
Together with Vitra, Jasper Morrison has come up with a design in the tradition of robust tubular steel chairs. Thanks to the Briton’s ‘super normal’ approach to product development, Moca mades a simple understated addition to any setting.
‘Thinking of smaller cafés and bars, I realised that this typology of a plywood and tubular steel chair, originally from the ’50s and ’60s, created the right kind of atmosphere. Most of the ones you see still in use have also aged very well. So the goal of the project was to design a new chair with better ergonomics and the possibility of stacking. Though it might also fit well at home, we named it Moca in recognition of its probable role in sitting down and drinking coffee.’ Jasper Morrison
Moca is nothing new and revolutionary, but unites the accumulated knowledge of an experienced designer with Vitra's manufacturing expertise – and also has such an unassuming appearance that it seems to have always existed. The combination of these aesthetic features with particularly durable, high-quality materials ensures an unusually long product lifespan.
The base of Moca is constructed with two arcs of steel tubing – one forming the front legs and backrest support, the other constituting the back legs. Two veneered plywood shells are mounted on the base elements to create a comfortable, anatomically shaped seat and backrest. The clever design of the stacking protector attached between the seat and backrest provides optimal protection for the veneer surface.
Moca's seat shells come in natural or dark oak veneer, and the base is available in a chrome-plated version or with a highly robust, powder-coated matt enamel finish.
Moca meets all of the standard norms and is therefore suited for use not only in private settings, but also in restaurants and other public spaces.
Vases Découpage, Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec, 2020
The partnership between Vitra and the Bouroullec brothers has resulted in numerous iconic products over the last twenty years. At the 2019 Salone del Mobile fair in Milan, Vitra presented the Vases Découpage as a design study. The handcrafted-looking vases were extremely well received and a selection of the designs has now been developed for serial production. The Vases Découpage reflect the spirit of the times, inviting users to create varying compositions and make the object their own.
'The arrangements form a fragile balance as contrasting colours and layers converge to yield a new harmony', says Ronan Bouroullec.
The designer’s thoughts on ‘Vases Vases Découpage’:
‘Cut shapes, cast cylinders, extruded bars: a ceramic vase.
Each shape is cut from a slab of clay.
Some fit inside the cylinders. Others are slotted over them.
Each bar is extruded and then deformed. Some of them point upwards. Others form bridges.
Each cylinder is cast. The figures are joined together in unique and whimsical compositions.
The regularity of the cylinder is combined with the naivety of the clay slabs.
Colours and layers converge.
The arrangement of extruded bars forms a fragile balance.
The clay matter comes to life.
A new harmony emerges from contrasts.’
Vases Découpage each consist of a combination of a cast cylindrical vessel combined with a set of abstract slabs and bars made of clay that can be attached to or placed inside the vase. All of the elements have a distinctly handcrafted appearance and exist in a variety of colours – and together they create poetic compositions that look different from every angle: whimsical, ironic, unconventional, lively. The Vases Découpage are available in the three sets Barre, Disque and Feuille.
Plywood Group LCW 75th anniversary edition, Charles & Ray Eames, 1945
Time Magazine called the LCW ‘the chair of the century’, and Eliot Noyes, Director of Industrial Design at the MoMA in New York from 1939 to 1946, described the Eames Plywood Chairs as ‘a compound of aesthetic brilliance and technical inventiveness’. In 2020 the Plywood Chair will be 75 years old.
In 1945 Charles and Ray Eames first succeeded in developing a new method for the serial production of furniture: they combined elements made of three-dimensionally shaped plywood with flexible rubber connections, so-called 'shock mounts'. They consequently created one of the most famous chair designs of the twentieth century.
The couple had been experimenting with techniques for moulding plywood into three-dimensional shapes since they had moved to Los Angeles. They built a machine within their home to bend layers of wood that had been glued together. They described it as ‘Ala Kazam! like magic’ and with it explored the possibilities that this new technique offered.
During the war, Charles and Ray had progressed far enough with their innovations to be able to produce leg and arm splints for the wounded as commissioned by the US Navy, as well as moulded parts for aircraft. At the same time, they continued to experiment further, developing sculptures, animals, children's furniture and other works in plywood. The Plywood Chairs attracted great attention in 1945 and earned them much recognition among design critics and the public.
Talking about the development process of these chairs, Charles Eames declared, 'A chair should look equally good approached from above or from below. If it is going to be a chair, it should be a whole chair. ' The Plywood Chairs achieved just this.
To celebrate the 75th anniversary of the Plywood Chairs, Vitra is presenting a limited duotone edition of the LCW (Lounge Chair Wood) featuring a black base paired with a seat and back in dark brown walnut.