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Seven Questions for Karim Rashid

Karim RashidIt’s been a busy, brightly colored, organic-shaped summer for Karim Rashid. The designer has given lectures, made appearances, and occasionally DJ’ed in cities from Miami and Toronto to Hamburg and Ekaterinburg (Russia’s fourth-largest city). On Friday he could be found in Guayaquil, Ecuador, where he keynoted the Construye & Remodela confab. Not that there’s any shortage of stateside projects: Rashid was recently commissioned to design three Manhattan residential buildings, including a mixed-use project (20 apartments, with office and commercial space at the street level) located at 1633-1655 Madison Avenue. The concept is a continuation of Rashid’s signature boundary-pushing, rooted in a desire to “bring a fulgent vibrancy to the environment and move away the trends away from tired archetypes and cold minimalism.” He made time between groundbreakings, prototyping sessions, and DJ sets to answer our seven questions.

You recently lectured—and DJed—in Ekaterinburg, Russia. What is your impression of the state of design in Russia?
I have been to Russia 25 times and always love the country, the energy, the people, the intellectual spirit, the food, the sensibilities. In regards the state of design I have seen things change drastically since 14 years ago, but the problem is that Russia has not embraced the design phenomena enough, yet it is getting better and better. The condition is changing. In order to know Russian designers internationally they either work and develop brands in Russia—that become globally established—or work for foreign companies. And in all those trips very few Russian companies approach me to design for them.

Russia with all its diversified money, increasing incomes, intelligence, education, and manufacturing capability, lacks globally recognized brands. I always thought how fascinating it is that a country like Sweden has international brands like IKEA, H&M, Absolut, Volvo, and Voss with only a population of 7 million. Because of the size of Russia, companies were producing goods exclusively for their huge market and taking no impetus to export. Russia has the manpower and money to create major global brands. But times have changed and the doors to the West are open. I would love to see Russia build some very contemporary brands that contribute to our beautiful global consumer landscape.

I just completed the new OK.RU website [a popular Russian social media platform], and I am working on a shopping mall in St. Petersburg, an orange juice bottle, a cognac bottle, a tractor, and other projects in Russia, but I would love to design some hotels in every major city. There is a lack of design-driven boutique hotels in Russia.
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Design Students Compete for World Sneaker Championship Title

pensole beltIt started with 30 carefully selected design students from 16 countries. Divided into eight design teams, with three footwear designers and one color and materials designer in each, they took an original design idea from concept to finished design over the course of four weeks as competitors in the World Sneaker Championship. Part footwear design master class and part sneaker smackdown, the event is organized by Pensole, the footwear design academy founded in 2010 by Nike veteran D’Wayne Edwards, and after Friday’s presentations to industry pros, the finalists (in eight categories and for eight sponsoring brands) have been chosen. Head to the online home of Sports Illustrated by 6 p.m. EST Wednesday to cast your online vote for the overall winning design as the finalists head to Vegas to present their designs at the FN Platform trade show. The big winner, to be announced late Wednesday, will be presented with the coveted (and pencil-studded) Pensole World Sneaker Championship belt (pictured) and the possibility of seeing their design sold at retail.

Watch Paola Antonelli Discuss Design and Violence

Paola Antonelli‘s twenty-year career at the Museum of Modern Art has been a journey through many facets of design, “from cute chairs and fast cars to video games and now also the idea of violence,” she told the audience at the recent DLD (Digital-Life-Design) conference in New York. Watch her talk from that confab below to gain insight into the darker side of design as explored—and hacked, penetrated, manipulated, penetrated, and exploded—through Design and Violence, an online curatorial experiment that explores the manifestations of violence in contemporary society.

Derk Reilink Redesigns Tape Dispenser with ‘ClickTape’

ClickTape_usingit

ClickTape_Derk_ReilinkUnwilling to cede precious desktop real estate to a bulky, weighted tape dispenser nor to look upon the unsightly clear plastic one that accompanies a roll, we’ve long relegated tape to the drawer, where it spends its days in the company of foreign coins, our second-favorite scissors, and a thicket of novelty USB flash drives. Derk Reilink knew there had to be a better way.

The Dutch designer took on the challenge of building a better tape dispenser as part of his graduate studies in industrial design and engineering at the University of Twente in Enschede, Netherlands. “I started to experiment with basic shapes and found the shape of the tape itself to be the best shape for the dispenser,” Reilink tells us. “By taking out a section of the ring shape I could create a symmetric chain-linked design.” The result is ClickTape, a minimalist dispenser that is useful and portable—think of it as the practical, low-key sibling of the bottle for Bulgari’s Omnia fragrance.
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Seven Questions for Giulio Iacchetti

noe gi
noe alessiMore than 10,000 people visited WantedDesign, which wrapped up on Monday at New York’s the Tunnel. A highlight among the more than 60 exhibitors was Italian design powerhouse Alessi, which presented projects stemming from research and workshops the company has conducted in collaboration with several young designers around the world. Veteran Alessi designer Giulio Iacchetti was on hand to showcase his new “Noè” collection of wine accessories. The name is a nod to the biblical patriarch. “Noah is not just famous for building the ark, but also for his passion for wine,” says Iacchetti, who is based in Milan. “And it is said that he invented it after being the first to experiment with vine cultivation.” We popped open a bottle of bubbly—with the aid of his bottle-shaped opener—and asked him seven questions.

Giulio IacchettiWhat was the concept for the Noè set?
The inspiring concept for these objects designed to serve and preserve wine comes by a strong formal reference to existing wine imagery, so the bottle holder refers to a cluster of grapes, the Champagne stopper recalls those corks used to hermetically seal Champagne bottles, the shape of the Champagne cork opener is inspired by the outline of a bottle, and finally, the drop-stop ring is truly the engagement between us and wine!

What has distinguished your collaborations with Alessi from those with other companies?
When I think of Italian design and design companies, I think immediately of Alessi. Alessi could be really considered the “dream factory”—as Alberto Alessi defined his company years ago—for its exceptional capability to combine real industrial productivity with the openness to collect in its catalog many different products categories. Every time I go to Crusinallo [Alessi headquarters], I personally live a life-long dream.
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See the World Through Yves Klein-Blue-Colored Lenses

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Having missed their splashy coming-out party at Colette in Paris, we first encountered a pair of Yves Klein Blue sunglasses on the chiseled face of a gentleman at the Munich airport. The stunning ultramarine specs, made by indie eyewear brand Etnia Barcelona, mark the first time that the Yves Klein Archive has authorized a brand to use the exact color patented by the artist as “International Klein Blue.” You can find the aviator-style sunglasses at the New Museum shop and the full collection at Etnia Barcelona. And did we mention the good cause? Royalties from the Klein collection go to OrphanAid, a non-profit organization that develops programs and projects to help vulnerable children and families in Ghana.

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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New Book Explores Essence of Japanese Design

wa book

The Japanese concept of “wa” is one of harmony, gentleness, and peace: qualities embodied in the country’s distinctive design aesthetic. In a book of the same name, new from Phaidon, authors Rossella Menegazzo and Stefania Piotti explore the way in which Japanese design harnesses materials ranging from bamboo to polymer-coated membranes in an elegant balance of tradition and cutting-edge experimentation. Printed on craft paper and bound in the traditional Japanese style, the book opens with an essay by Muji art director Kenya Hara, who muses on how “extreme plainness-emptiness-can invite a variety of interpretations.”

Quote of Note | Jonathan Ive

jonathan_ive sm“We’re surrounded by anonymous, poorly made objects. It’s tempting to think it’s because the people who use them don’t care—just like the people who make them. But what we’ve shown is that people do care. It’s not just about aesthetics. They care about things that are thoughtfully conceived and well made. We make and sell a very, very large number of (hopefully) beautiful, well-made things. our success is a victory for purity, integrity—for giving a damn.”

-Jonathan Ive, Apple’s senior vice president of design, in an interview with John Arlidge for Time
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Fab Launches ‘First Things First’ Open Call

first thingsFab knows a thing or two about fresh starts. After a period of explosive growth fueled by hundreds of millions in funding, the design flash sale site imploded—itself. A massive restructuring that halved its employee count and winnowed down a product assortment that had ballooned to include pepperoni pizza t-shirts and Jesus kites has left the company leaner, meaner, and with a designer—Kiel Mead—in a leadership role. One of Mead’s first initiatives as executive vice president of Fab is “First Things First,” which invites designers across disciplines to submit ideas for “the first product that makes a house a home.” Selected items will be shown in New York in May, as part of Fab’s presence during NYCxDesign, and could eventually be put into production by the company. Submissions are due by March 21.

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