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On Boxing Day, a Design-Themed Wrapper’s Delight

big bow

Did Santa bestow upon you the infinitely modern gift of molded plywood furnishings? There’s always next year. In the meantime, spend a bit of your Boxing Day watching four creative teams tackle the challenge of wrapping an Eames lounge chair and ottoman for Design Within Reach’s Big Bow Project. Despite the name, none of the participants—Craig Redman and Karl Maier (Craig & Karl), Ellen Van Dusen (Dusen Dusen), Print All Over Me, and Snarkitecture—resorted to slapping an outsized, Lexus-style red ribbon on the iconic pieces and calling it a day. Instead, they devised original approaches that would have delighted the Eameses, from colorful plywood boxes to snug-fitting plastic sheathing. DWR is keeping the chairs and lounges under wraps for all to admire through Wednesday, December 31 at DWR’s SoHo Studio (Craig & Karl, Print All Over Me) and 57th & 3rd Studio (Dusen Dusen, Snarkitecture).

Mediabistro Course

Mediabistro Job Fair

Mediabistro Job FairLand your next big gig! Join us on Janaury 27  at the Altman Building in New York City for an incredible opportunity to meet with hiring managers from the top New York media compaies, network with other professionals and industry leaders, and land your next job. Register now!

Drink Champagne, Design Tiny Chair, Repeat

DWR ChampChair_2014finalists

Two of our favorite things—Champagne and chairs—come together in a festive contest from the bubbly furniture fans at Design Within Reach. Your mission, should you choose to accept it: create an original miniature chair using only the foil, label, cage, and cork from no more than two Champagne bottles (glue is the only permitted adhesive). Entering is the easy part. Simply snap a photo of your tiny, fizzy throne and upload it here. A panel of Champagne-loving chair experts, including DWR Founder Rob Forbes and Brooklyn-based design studio Egg Collective, will judge the chairs in an event on February 11 at DWR’s SoHo studio, and three winners will receive DWR gift cards: the first-place prize (a $1,000 gift card) will cover the cost of a Prouvé Standard Chair, in which you can sit and sip more champagne to celebrate. Drink fast, because the deadline for entries is Thursday, January 12.

Quote of Note | Marcel Wanders

cyborg 2“Everything has been done. It’s not possible to create something completely new, something that has never been seen before. It’s only possible to make new combinations, establish new connections between things we usually take for granted. This way we can twist the world and its entangled constructions to surprise each other, and experience the unexpected.” —Marcel Wanders

Pictured: Wanders’s “Cyborg” chairs for Magis

What Does Your Desk Say?

PrintFame and fortune (or at least a free chair) awaits you and your desk when you enter OFM‘s “My Desk Says” contest. The Holly Springs, North Carolina-based furniture maker is searching for the best desks in three categories: the catch-all desk, the messiest desk, and the most organized desk. The winners of each category will receive the OFM chair of their choice.

“We love seeing how people actually use their desks and what they say about who they are and how they work,” says OFM CEO Blake Zalcberg, who we’d peg for a neat-desk type. To enter, simply tweet a photo of your desk, making sure to include the handle @OFMINC and the hashtag #Mydesksays along with a brief description of what your desk says about you (luckily, desks tend to be laconic). The Twitter-based contest runs through November 1.

The West Elm-ification of Gracie Mansion

capizMeticulous historic preservation of a landmark interior meets…West Elm? (If you listen carefully, you can hear interior designer Jamie Drake sobbing quietly in the corner, near the lone pair of Schumacher velvet-upholstered John Boone chairs that has not been replaced by beanbag poufs.) Such is the worlds-collide aesthetic ushered in by New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and his brood. Last week the family moved from Brooklyn to Gracie Mansion, the mayoral residence nestled on the banks of the East River in Manhattan, but not before making a pit stop at West Elm. The Williams Sonoma-owned purveyor of artisan-inflected midcentury homegoods donated $65,000 of Capiz Orb pendant lights (pictured), sofas, desks, chairs, and pillows to the de Blasios–chump change compared to the $7 million of private funds made available for the Bloomberg administration’s Drake-led restoration. In an editorial that appeared in yesterday’s New York Times, writer Alexandra Lange considers “The Mayor’s Showroom” and why it might be preferable to live in a museum after all. God save the Zuber wallpaper.

Collective Design Fair Throws a Few Curves

The Collective Design Fair returned to the Frieze-time fray this year, and we sent Nancy Lazarus to check out the new venue and the many curvaceous works on view.

Galerie BSL
A screen by Taher Chemirik was the undulating centerpiece of Galerie BSL’s booth at Collective.

International in scope yet moderate in scale, New York’s Collective Design Fair debuted last year “to provide new commercial and educational platforms for vintage and contemporary design,” according to Steven Learner, the fair’s creative director. The sophomore edition ran from May 8-11 in a new venue—Skylight at Moynihan Station—and added to existing strengths in Scandinavian design and ceramics with a new focus on wearable art. We chatted with some of the 36 exhibitors and joined a tour led by Cooper-Hewitt curator Sarah Coffin to round up five highlights.

Joseph Walsh, Enignum Canopy Bed, 3-562x748, 2013, Courtesy of Todd Merrill Studio ContemporaryTodd Merrill 20th Century Studio Contemporary, New York City: “A tour de force of woodworking” was Coffin’s apt description of Irish designer Joseph Walsh‘s Enignum Canopy Bed (at right), since it consists of ribbons of olive ash wood positioned on a raised platform. Walsh explained the craftsmanship involved in the accompanying materials: “In the Enignum series of works I have stripped wood into thin layers, manipulating and reconstructing them into free form compositions. The title derives from the Latin words ‘enigma’ (mystery) and ‘lignum’ (wood).”

Sienna Patti Gallery, Lenox, Massachusetts:Jacqueline Lillie‘s beaded jewelry plays off of Wiener Werkstätte, but is updated to be contemporary,” said Coffin. The French-born, Vienna-based designer works with materials including glass beads, corian, and stainless steel. “In addition to form and function, I also insist on flexibility,” Lillie has said. “That’s essential because all good jewelry should adapt to the wearer and be an extension of that person’s character.”
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Watch: IKEA, the Final Frontier

In the deepest reaches of an IKEA superstore, no one can hear you scream. OK, so they can hear you, but they cannot be bothered to listen, because who can heed the anguished cries of others when attempting to decide between the Söderhamn (in Replösa? in Isefall?) and the Härnösand, or maybe the Tidafors, but what about the Strandmon (does that still come in Skiftebo)? Grab your morning course of meatballs, pull up an Esbjörn, and treat yourself to Daniel Hubbard‘s dramatic reenactment of the lost-in-IKEA-by-way-of-Alfonso-Cuaron‘s-Gravity experience. We think it’s out of this world.

Friday Photo: Chair and Chair Alike

What would a plastic lawn chair do? That’s the big question for Bert Löschner. The Munich-based artist infuses this bland yet globally ubiquitous piece of outdoor furniture —officially known as the Monobloc—with personality by contorting it into poses that include that of caped crusader (“Superchair“), eager-to-serve butler (“valet“), and hitchhiker. “Like other everyday objects, the Monobloc chair is something we have in mind. A certain un-removable picture,” Löschner has said. “This picture can be used as a canvas.” His work includes a chair on a swing, 24 stacked to resemble a human spinal column, and a meta-moment in which one reclines in Gaetano Pesce‘s famed “Donna” chair. We like the look of “The Dudes” (2011, pictured), a chair pair that may have the makings of a loveseat.

Seven Questions for the Campana Brothers

Humberto and Fernando Campana (Photo: Fernando Laszlo)

“I think our work is always based on materials,” said Humberto Campana, glancing around the first U.S. solo gallery show for him and his brother, Fernando. “And we’re more and more interested in natural materials.” And so the new works on view through July 3 at Friedman Benda in New York swap plush and plastic for cowhide, fish scales, and gemstones, upping the luxe quotient while maintaining the brothers’ signature straight-outta-Sao-Paulo brand of whimsy. While putting the finishing touches on the show last week, they made time to plop down on their leather Alligator Couch–a handcrafted update to the 2005 plush version–to share some stories behind the new pieces, their working process, and how they might spend their summer vacation.

What was the starting point for this show?
Humberto Campana: This [points to "Racket Chair (Circles)," pictured at right] was the seed for the exhibition. This chair was born from a mistake. We didn’t want to do weaving…it was projected to be made with leather cushions. But that didn’t work out and it stayed for two years in our studio, unfinished. And then one day we asked a guy to weave it. I think these look like tennis racquets [laughs].

Fernando Campana: Here we are showing many different concepts. The thing with this exhibition is that one piece generated another one.

You’ve covered the walls of the gallery in coconut fiber. Did you expect it to have such a dramatic effect?
FC: It’s to bring some part of Brazil–the nature of the place–and also to combine with the pieces that we put in this exhibition.

HC: Also, it was a way to to come back to our roots, with using simple materials to construct the look of luxury. And the idea that this is luxury today. We wanted to make those statements–or pose those questions.

How did you decide to use amethysts?
HC: It’s the best! My father was an agronomic engineer. He used to work on farms in Brazil and in some areas you can find crystals. And whenever he would find a crystal he would bring it back home to our house. And I would always hold up the crystals to the sun to see the details. It kind of gives…a shamanic quality.
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Of Amethysts and Alligators: Campana Brothers Debut Exotic ‘Concepts’

An installation view of “Campana Brothers: Concepts,” on view through July 3 at Friedman Benda.

New York’s Friedman Benda has been temporarily transformed from a white cube into a moody, tobacco-hued chamber–a backdrop that evokes art deco treasures rather than the gallery’s typical twenty-first century prototypes. Visitors are greeted by a brass buffet comprised of square panels filled with vortices of bent metal, like the sprightly cousin of a Paul Evans console. But take a closer look: the walls aren’t paneled in silk or leather but nubby coconut fiber, and that buffet’s checkerboard of metallic explosions calls to mind a certain Alessi fruit bowl. This is the latest work of the Campana Brothers, who, after three decades of working together, could coast for three more on their greatest hits and Brazilian charm. Instead, they’ve challenged themselves with a selection of exotic new materials–including constellations of Sao Paulo-sourced amethysts and the skin of an ancient fish unique to South American waters–and craft techniques.

“It’s important for us to keep the traditions that are disappearing but at the same time give them more modernity,” said Humberto Campana (the older of the two by eight years) last week, as he and Fernando led a group of journalists through the Friedman Benda exhibition, the brothers’ first solo gallery show in the United States. He sidled up to their new “Racket” collection (pictured), which includes a chair with a hand-stitched motif made from leftover Thonet chair backings. “The guy we work with who weaves with straw, it was a matter of helping him understand what we’re doing–this idea of weaving with leftovers. It’s to reinvent the traditions that may otherwise die.” Added Fernando, “And instead of making traditional weaving with straw, we decided to make it with nylon string.”
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