Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Book Review

The Future Laboratory

When it comes to what you eat, are you a zeno-youth, an extreme connoisseur, a food thrift, an armchair explorer, an ethical eater, or a cultural chaser? Presented as typologies of eaters, the relationship between food and identity is just one of the myriad of topics touched upon in crEATe, a recent volume by Gestalten presenting the research of the Future Laboratory, a British trend forecasting firm. Looking at subjects such as the “politics of the plate” and presenting profiles of “food activists” like Dutch eating designer Marije Vogelzang (see issue 12 for our review of her recent book, Eat Love), this book covers almost every aspect of food and eating-related design through a comprehensive examination of meaning of food in our lives and in contemporary design. It follows trends such as rising food prices, eco-labelling, positive purchasing and the phenomena of slow food and smart food. It also looks at the design of eating spaces and packaging, which is expected to be “sustainable, convenient, economic, protective, attractive, novel, smart and reactive: What we expect today from the packaging around our food reads like a dating service profile.” As described in its introduction, crEATe “is a book about people as viewed through the lens of...eating designers, food products and rituals...the one thing it is not,” the authors add, “is a cookbook.”

Book Review

The Language of Things
Dejan Sudjic

In The Language of Things, London Design Museum director Deyan Sudjic describes how “we live in a world drowning in objects.” This book provides insights into the role of things in our lives in the face of rampant consumerism and explores how objects shape us as much as we shape them. In an anecdote about his own impulse buy of a shiny new laptop while he was held captive in an airport lounge, Sudjic admits he is simultaneously “fascinated by the glossy sheen of consumption” and “nauseous with self-disgust at the volume of what we all consume.” We use the objects we gather around us to define who we are and who we are not – and design, which has traditionally been understood as a visual language, has become the tool by which those objects are shaped: “The soft touch of fabric, the coldness of metal, the quality of travertine that has been warmed in the sun, the sound of a keyboard in use or a switch operating, or a camera shutter, have also come to take on symbolic qualities which are considered and manipulated as much as any visual signal.” Looking at the realms of design, fashion and art, Sudjic skillfully explores the evolving meaning of luxury and the value we associate with it an age of abundance. As he ponders, “the question that is worth asking is, are these actually inherent qualities, or are their meanings acquired through constant repetition, through familiarity and convention?”


Bocci introduces the 22-series wall slimming accessory line

Bocci, Vancouver’s famed lighting design phenoms have been staring at walls. The success from their renowned chandelier installations and custom lighting work causing them to look forward rather than up. The design casualty in this scenario - the ubiquitous wall socket and family. Poor buggers.These ‘Ohh Noo!’ outlets, providing the world’s juice needs since time immemorial, required a much needed facelift – like Barbara Walters but without the soft lighting.
Creative Director, Omer Arbel, saw a design opportunity to deliver out a subtle response and challenge the traditional. The result, Bocci’s new flush mounted 22-series wall accessory line. The usual range of suspects from power receptacles to dimmer switches to phone/data connections and cable/speaker outlets can now receive a design Botox as it were through Bocci’s new system. Designed to “mud in” directly into drywall, millwork or any wall surface without a visible coverplate or trim, the 22-series is an extremely subtle and minimalist alternative to the long accepted offerings. One would have thought the Italians, with their big hair and uber-minimalistic slantings, would have presented a similar solution years ago. That’s one for the Canadians.
Launched late 2008 the 22-series is now available in North America, Europe and the UK.

Book Reviews

Eat Love
Marije Vogelzang, BIS publishers

Marije Vogelzang is not a chef, nor is she a food designer. The Design Academy Eindhoven graduate is a self-described ‘eating designer’. Eat Love presents a portfolio of the Dutch designer’s culinary experiments, ranging from tatooed peppers to a 2.5 meter high ham-man. Proprietor of the Netherlands-based restaurant and eating studio Proef, Vogelzang explores the psychological, cultural, scientific and social implications of food.
“I was not the first designer to be involved with food, but I soon noticed that most designers were almost exclusively concentrating on the presentation, the styling of the food. The aesthetic aspect is very important. You can see that in the photographs which in the end are the only things that remain of these short-lived projects... I design not only the food but also the experience that goes with it, the actions,” she writes. “Eating is a more active concept, a verb...What matters to me is the experience of eating in this specific context at this moment.”
Eat Love is a pleasurable, although not too deep, introduction to the concept of eating design. Hand-scrawled comments and illustrations peppered throughout the text make the book a fun read for designers and non-designers alike. Just as she curates her eating experiments, this carefully considered selection of Vogelzang’s work reminds us how “eating together create(s) a feeling of fellowship and even moments of happiness.”

Book Review reading to transform your design senses

Manufractured: The Conspicuous Transformation of Everyday Objects
Steven Skov Holt and Mara Holt Skov, Chronicle Books

In Manufractured: The Conspicuous Transformation of Everyday Objects, authors Steven Skov Holt and Mara Holt Skov explore how makers are taking objects first brought into the world via mass production and then transforming them into something entirely different.
As the boundaries between different disciplines become increasingly blurry, creative culture has become a mashup of art, craft and design, but this is beside the point. In the introduction, Hold writes, “By combining the root ‘manu’ with the word ‘fracture’ to indicate the fragmented nature of our contemporary moment, manufracturing presents a model whereby creative intervention can heal our fragmented culture. Taking something apart and putting it back together in a way never previously seen is a strong endorsement for the merits of creative process—and a testament to the optimistic, can-do, and even whimsical spirit that is simultaneously threaded and embedded throughout many of these pieces.”
Manufractured brings the work of diverse artists and designers together under a comprehensive and apt rubric. The result is an impressive presentation of work that exemplifies the fusion of traditional craft with emerging materials and production techniques to create an entirely new take on familiar objects.

design snookery

When the triple world-champion decides to build the perfect pool table, one can expect something outstanding, but when that champion is also a lover of good design, it’s likely to be a work of art. Which is exactly what Vincent Facquet has created in the world’s most expensive, and most beautiful pool table. Hidden cue & ball drawers, semi-precious diamonds and inlays are some of the tables standard elementes. Table’s finished according to the individuals taste. Image by poka-studio
Prices upon request

run-a-way tub

Sit back, relax & enjoy a nice book in your lounger, I mean tub, I mean... what? This animated piece, designed by London based Baek‑Ki Kim, is made with a high gloss lacquered Carbon Fibre body, with Chrome coated claw feet.
Limited Edition, prices upon request

cognac down!

Designed by Rikke Hagen for Normann Copenhagen, the stemless cognac glass is a beautiful combination of function and pleasure. Conceived to consider cognac’s bouquet, temperature and volume the design invokes pleasure while increasing the experience of tactile intimacy.
Price $63 CAD/2 pcs

Body Glove

Rainer Spehl’s solid wooden laptop case fits like a glove while offering redwood-like protection. Inside, a soft leather lining prevents scratching. A magnetic device locks the flap securely while the design ensures the laptop will not fall out even when held upside down. It can also be used as an elevated working surface where needed. Cases are hand-crafted in Germany.
Price: $350 CAD

cooler conversations

Designed by Manuel Desrochers, Ovopur provides a water filtration experience
inspired by nature and founded in environmental awareness. The look is one of abundance and purity. Ovopur’s curves, mixed with white porcelain and chrome metals produce pure, filtered water with just a hint of early 1900’s styling. Designed in Canada.
Price: $689 CAD

Return of the Jet

40 years ago Ernest Igl designed a desk. The cult-esque Igl Jet, with its unique manufacturing and revolutionary design, has long been a desk of iconic proportions. The legendary desk, long sought as a collector’s item is again today being produced in a limited edition run under license by Sensufaktur Tobias Brandstetter.
Price: $5500 CAD (€ 3.520)

1800 Visions

Tequila inspired art by essential artists provides a unique medium where palette meets palate. This limited edition designer series by 1800 Tequila seeks 1800 artists from all disciplines to showcase their visions via a very non-traditional medium. Worm not included. Only 1,800 bottles per design produced. Artists: Jorge Alderete (Mexico City), Jeremy Bacharach (Chicago), Glenn Barr (Detroit), Will Chambers (Chicago), Chris Dean (Detroit), Kim Dosa (Atlanta), Josh Ellingson (Oakland), Hannah Stouffer (Oakland), Urban Medium (Atlanta)
Price $43 CAD