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Tom Kundig Designs Funerary Urn

Design lovers have plenty of options when it comes to modern and contemporary cradles—David Netto, DucDuc, Oeuf—but the pickings are slim on the other, graver end of the human lifespan. Tom Kundig to the rescue. The architect has designed “The Final Turn,” a fresh take on a funerary urn, in collaboration with Seattle-based Greg Lundgren Monuments.

The urn, which could pass for a wee Anish Kapoor work rather than a cutting-edge ash keeper, consists of two deliberately askew halves of a blackened steel or bronze sphere that measures eight inches in diameter. “While the sphere implies perfection and eternity, the offset nature of the urn is inspired by the people left behind–the people whose lives are thrown off-kilter by the passing of their loved one,” says Kundig. A threaded cap on the lower half provides access to the receptacle for the remains, and mementos can be tucked inside a compartment in the top half.

Screen Test: Decorative Dividers That Dazzle

Architectural Digest recently took over the New York Design Center for “AD Loves,” a celebration of favorite finds from the 16-story, 500,000-square-foot to-the-trade design mecca. We sent writer Nancy Lazarus to scout the showrooms for some standout pieces.

Philip Nimmo’s Mattonella Fire Screen, available through Profiles at the New York Design Center.

Decorative screens provide high visual appeal and a measure of privacy in an era when the verb ‘screen’ is more commonly associated with preventing unwanted phone calls, emails, online, and TV ads. Whether one, two, or three panels, screens serve those living in tight spaces and others with open lofts to partition—and fireplaces aren’t required. At a recent event showcasing Architectural Digest’s favorite finds from the New York Design Center, we spotted a few notable screens perched in the showrooms.

Mattonella Fire Screen (Profiles showroom)
Philip Nimmo designed this single-panel fire screen that stands three feet high. Made of wrought iron with an array of optional finishes, it features a pomegranate-shaped design with tempered glass globs that resemble large seeds.

Philip Nimmo’s Goccia Fire Screen, available through Profiles at the New York Design Center.

Goccia Fire Screen (Profiles)
This double-panel fire screen is another Nimmo creation. The abstract design is highlighted with glass rondels in the shapes and colors of citrus fruits.
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OXO Founder Sam Farber Dies at 88

Join us in raising your cushiony Santoprene-handled OXO Good Grips Swivel Peeler in a salute to Sam Farber, who died last Sunday at the age of 88. He founded OXO in 1990 to fill a market gap for kitchen devices that were as comfortable as they were functional, an idea hatched after watching his mildly arthritic wife struggle with a spindly standard peeler while preparing an apple tart in the south of France.

Farber chose the name “OXO” for its graphic versatility: it reads the same horizontal, vertical, upside-down, or backwards and had the vision to tap Smart Design for the hand-friendly Good Grips line, still going strong today. “Sam saw an opportunity to provide comfortable tools that would be easy to use for the widest spectrum of users, changing the relationship people everywhere have with ordinary household products,” noted the company in a statement announcing Farber’s death. “His inquisitive nature and refusal to accept the status quo continue to inspire our product development today.”

Stratasys to Buy MakerBot in $403 Million Deal

Big news in the extruded molten thermoplastic, layered photopolymer world of 3D printing: privately held MakerBot has agreed to merge with Stratasys in a stock-for-stock deal valued at $403 million (based on Stratasys’ stock price at yesterday’s market close). The deal is expected to close by October.

Founded in 2009, Brooklyn-based MakerBot is the most recognized name in desktop 3D printers–its Replicator 2 will be available on Amazon later this month–and Stratasys, formed last year by the merger of Stratasys and Objet, plans to preserve the MakerBot brand, management, and “spirit of collaboration it has built with its users and partners.” CEO and co-founder Bre Pettis will continue to lead MakerBot, which will operate as a separate subsidiary of Stratasys. “We have an aggressive model for growth, and partnering with Stratasys will allow us to supercharge our mission to empower individuals to make things using a MakerBot, and allow us to bring our 3D technology to more people,” said Pettis in a statement announcing the deal. MakerBot has sold approximately 22,000 3D printers to date. Next up for the company: the MakerBot digitizer desktop 3D scanner, which promises “a quick and easy way to turn the things in your world into 3D designs you can share and print.”

Vacuum Smackdown: Dyson Sues Bissell for False Advertising

Don’t mess with a man who has cyclonic suction on his side. James Dyson‘s global empire of highly engineered, sleekly designed sucking and blowing devices is taking on its chief competitor for the U.S. marketplace–in court. Dyson Inc. claims that Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Bissell Homecare Inc. has been falsely advertising its range of (less expensive) upright vacuums as containing technology that “captures over 99.9 percent” of allergens. Dyson has long boasted that its machines are singular in their “constant powerful suction, high dust removal, the ability to capture allergens, expel cleaner air, do not have dusty bags to empty and are certified asthma & allergy friendly by the Asthma & Allergy Foundation of America.” The company has gone so far as to trademark the phrase “asthma & allergy friendly.”

Dyson commissioned independent lab testing of the rival vacs and surveyed watery-eyed, sniffling consumers, while Bissell tried to clear the air by affixing stickers to its machines in an attempt to clarify that the ragweed and pollen trapping was actually done by filters, not the machines themselves. Dyson didn’t blink (or sneeze, for that matter) and is pressing its case in U.S. district court in Illinois. Judge Samuel Der-Yeghiayan cleared the way for the case to proceed in a summary judgment issued Friday. Will Dyson’s lawyers blow away the defense team? Will Bissell choke on its promises of wallet-friendly vacuums that improve respiratory health? Will the arguments of both sides suck? Stay tuned, floorcare fans.

Beige No More: Test-Driving the 2014 Lexus IS

Road trip season is upon us, and we suspect there’s some kind of law against taking a Citibike across state lines. Craving superbly designed four-wheeled rides, we sent writer Marc Kristal out to Rockingham Speedway to take the latest from Lexus for a spin.

The 2014 Lexus IS 250 F-Sport. (Courtesy Lexus)

While “Waku-Doki” may sound like a production number that got cut from The Lion King, it is, in fact, a Japanese term that describes the excitement of an adrenalin rush—or, as the Toyota waku-doki website puts it, “the feeling you get when your heart pounds with anticipation.” And if “waku-doki” and “Toyota” seem incompatible, the soon-to-be-in-a-showroom-near-you 2014 Lexus IS may cause you to bid sayonara to your uncharitable assumptions. Partly this derives from chief engineer Junichi Furuyama’s fine-tuning of the IS’s “fun to drive” quotient, defined by Lexus national product marketing manager Owen Peacock as a car that “immediately and precisely responds to the driver.” But it’s also a function of aesthetics. According to Bill Camp, the company’s dealer education administrator, the previous incarnations of Toyota’s luxury brand were (music to our ears) “too beige”: even if a Lexus zoomed up behind you doing 100 MPH, you wouldn’t get out of the way. With the 2014 IS, and the F-Sport version in particular, Lexus has produced a model in which style and performance are cohesive—a design that is beige no more.

It’s also, at just under $36,000 for the IS 250 (and closer to $50,000 for the more powerful, fully bell-and-whistled 350 models), surprisingly well-priced for a high-performance luxury car. As such, the IS fills an open niche in the Lexus line, targeted toward 45-year-old men and women—“active singles and couples,” says Peacock—entering this particular zone of the luxury market, whether stepping up in class, downscaling from automotive McMansions, or making a lateral move from something comparably priced but less exciting.
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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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Quote of Note | Elsa Peretti

“When I started with Halston, it was go-go-go fantastic. He loved my pieces, and they loved his clothes. It was great when he used my big belts in his fashion shows. I worked my ass off with him. He was working day or night, coke or no coke. We were going to Studio 54, but he was impeccable in everything. Halston gave me the discipline. He also gave me advice: when I started doing jewels that I thought were great but too expensive, he said, ‘Make small, medium, and large.’ It may sound simple, but it was very useful, and I have never forgotten it.”

–Designer Elsa Peretti, in the spring 2013 issue of TIME Style & Design

Parsons Students Repurpose Luxe Leather Scraps for ‘Wasteless’ Competition

Waste less, want more? That’s the thinking behind Wasteless, a sustainability-minded competition that challenged students at Parsons The New School for Design to transform Poltrona Frau‘s leather leftovers–freshly harvested from the floor of its factory in Tolentino, Italy–into luxe accessories and objects. Designer and Parsons faculty member Andrea Ruggiero led a group of 15 Parsons product design students in the seven-week project, and earlier this month they presented their projects to a panel of judges that included Massimo Vignelli, Metropolis editorial director Paul Makovsky, and Federico Materazzi of Poltrona Frau.

Jenny Hsu emerged on top with “Piqnique” (at left), a woven case for meals on the go that doubles as a leather placemat. Rounding out the top three were Yuna Kim‘s “Miovino” leather wine glass tags and the “Tuft” candle holders (at right) designed by Benjamin Billick. The three winning designers will head to Italy this summer to visit the Poltrona Frau factory and work with the company’s master craftsmen to fabricate prototypes. Check out all 15 of the student designs at Poltrona Frau’s Soho showroom, where they’re on view through Tuesday.