The careers of Konstantin Grcic and Patricia Urquiola could barely be more different; whereas Patricia Urquiola has steadily and confidently moved through the traditional Italian designer furniture producers, Konstantin Grcic has skipped from cult producer to cult producer with only the occasional diversion into the mainstream of European designer furniture producers.
Opening with a Hut Ab for Nils Holger Moormann, Grcic then complimented this with an ES shelving system for Moormann before eventually taken a deserved 1:0 lead with an Osorom seating unit for Moroso.
Obviously taken aback by this unexpected foray into what is traditionally her territory, Patricia Urquiola seemed stunned, and Grcic used the opportunity to increase his lead to with a quick Tom Tom side table for SCP.
Despite Patricia Urquiola’s best efforts there was simply no way back.
The Group B table and all Group B results can be found here.
The (smow) designer furniture world cup always throws up some interesting matches, and Konstantin Grcic against Frank Gehry was always going to be a highly entertaining spectacle: experience against youth, minimalist straightforwardness versus radical non-conformity.
From the very first minute the inability of Konstantin Grcic to get to grips with the non-linear forms created by his opponent was obvious and Frank Gehry quickly established a 1:0 lead, largely thanks to some brilliant utilisation of the legendary “Easy Edges” combinations. However Konstantin Grcic persevered and shortly before the break managed to get back to 1:1 through the cleverly juxtapositioned Mayday lamp for flos.
In the second half Konstantin Grcic became better at reading Frank Gehry’s increasingly predictable approach and his increasingly confident build-up paid off with his Chair One for Magis and Myto for Plank.
The Group B table and all Group B results can be found here.
On Wednesday a tweet fluttered into our (smow)twitter from @imm_cologne with the information that the Munich based producer ClassiCon had decided to return to IMM Cologne.
Which in the wake of the shock we received on our first day here in Köln didn’t go unnoticed among the thousands of invites to cocktail parties and sumptuous buffets at some of Cologne’s finer addresses we’re forced to deal with.
Established in 1990 from the dying embers of the 1898 established “Vereinigte Werkstätten für Kunst im Handwerk” (for the sake of convenience lets just call it a collective of designers) ClassiCon inherited the rights to produce the works of designers such as Eileen Gray or Otto Blümel. Not content to rest on their laurels however, ClassiCon were quick to cooperate with young, emerging talents such as Konstantin Grcic or Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby.
ClassiCon at IMM Cologne - Party!!
And it is this mix of established classics and modern innovation that has seen ClassiCon develop and expand over the last 20 years.
And is also one of the reasons a trade fair such as IMM Cologne needs companies like ClassiCon as a counter balance to the mediocre tat being peddled in other halls by men who think an expensive suit and an iPhone somehow makes them important and their products more valuable.
It’s not a second hand car show!
But back to quality designer furniture and ClassiCon.
Adjustable Table by Eileen Gray through ClassiCon - detail
To celebrate their 20th anniversary ClassiCon are now offering a 20 year guarantee on the Adjustable Table by Eileen Gray. One of the true classics of 1920s design, Gray originally created the Adjustable Table – as with the chair Roquebrune and the Petite Coiffeuse – for her own house in Roquebrune on the Cote d’Azur. With it’s chromium-plated steel tubing frame the adjusting of the Adjustable Table functions via a simple slot/rod mechanism; all beautifully set-off by a small chrome chain.
For such a product one really doesn’t need a 20 year guarantee – an Adjustable Table will outlive it’s owner - but it is still nice to see ClassiCon standing so squarely behind their craftsmen.
Elsewhere on the ClassiCon stand we were delighted to finally get to see Saturn by Barber Osgerby; and would have loved to have compared it to Otto Blümel’s Nymphenburg, only that was far too high up.
And as ever, there are an awful lot of cheats, crooks and bandits out there and so before investing in design furniture always check that you are buying an officially licensed original. The designs of Eileen Gray, for all the Adjustable Table, the Bibendum Chair or the Non Conformist chair are globally among the most illegally copied furniture designs.
Only ClassiCon however are licensed to produce the works.
And only ClassiCon offer a 20 year guarantee on their craftsmanship.
Below is a small promotional video made by the IMM Cologne team in which ClassiCon boss Oliver Holy explains a little about the company and their relationship to IMM. Clever cats that they are the IMM marketing team have released it on sevenload: and so we’ve not got round to ripping and subtitling it yet… but we’ll get there. But possibly not until we’re back in Leipzig with the better software. And so for now it is only available in German.
Italian design is, if we all close our eyes for a minute or two and be brutally honest, a lot like English football or French cooking – it’s continued association with a particular quality and geniality is largely due to the number of non-Italians(English/French) who have continually contributed to the tradition and so kept it modern, kept it fresh and kept it exciting.
Danish design is Danish because only Danes are allowed to do it – Italian design is universal because any one can do it: Assuming the Italians invite them that is.
And so it comes that we all enjoy going to Milan in April and paying more for one night in a dingy room than we pay per year for our own flats; because it’s Milan and Milan is design.
In 1927 a decisive step towards the establishment of “Italian design” was taken when the brothers Cesare and Umberto Cassina established their new furniture production company in Meda, Lombardy (half way between Milan and Lake Como – for all of you on the search for a dream “half-way house”)
LC 1 by Le Corbusier, Jeanneret and Perriand through Cassina
After initially building up a reputation for their high-quality outfitting of ships, hotels and casinos, in 1967 Cassina launched their ‘CASSINA I MAESTRI’ range with the acquisition to the license for four Le Corbusier, Pierre Jeanneret and Charlotte Perriand products: LC1, LC2, LC3 and LC4. In Cassina’s own words the aim was – and indeed is “… the diffusion of universally accredited cultural values through the re-proposal - today – of “reconstructed” furniture.” Using original sketches and studio notes as the basis for their models Cassina went on to acquire the rights to not only further Le Corbusier works but also to important works by designers as diverse as Gerrit T.Rietveld, Charles Renne Mackintosh and Frank Lloyd Wright.
In the 19070s, and with the security achieve dthrough the CASSINA I MAESTRI range, Cassina did the “Italian thing” of embracing new materials and new technologies and via the works of designers such as Mario Bellini or Vico Magistretti established themselves as an important and truly forward-thinking player in the international designer furniture scene. A trend which they have continued through co-operations with designers such as Konstantin Grcic, Patrick Jouin or Philippe Starck.
Zig-Zag chair by Gerrit T.Rietveld through Cassina
And so today just as the mix of domestic and foreign players have helped Manchester United or Liverpool achieve global success, so has the combination of Italian and international design talent helped Cassina to become one of the leading designer furniture houses.
And since late 2009 the Cassina CASSINA I MAESTRI range is also available through smow.com, a range that features design classics such as the Zig-Zag chair by Rietveld or the Argyle Chair by Mackintosh.
And if you’d prefer something more modern smow.com can supply the complete Cassina range.
Full details can be found at the smow.com Cassina page
(and yes, for all you observant readers out there, google failed to provide us with a list of 3 Star Paris restaurants run by foreigners :( )
Foldable cardboard chair by Stuart Miller at deignersblock, Milan
We lie: there is a slight order. First up is our favourite chair from the smow design spring: Stuart Miller’s unnamed foldable cardboard chair from the designersblock showcase in Milan. Over the course of the smow design spring we didn’t see any thing that even came to close to capturing Stuart’s simple, practical and comfortable chair. We’ve sadly lost sight of the project a little, and lack the requisite degree in Information Technology to navigate Glasgow Caledonian University Website, If any one knows anything please let us know!! Unnamed foldable carboard chair. Quality seating instrument!
And as of now … In no particular order.
Duct Tape Chair by Jason Miller
Duct Tape Chair by Jason Miller. In our original post from the floor of the ICFF press room we mentioned the similarity between Jason Miller’s Duct chair and Easy by Klausner and Carpenter for Established and Sons. After long and careful consideration, however, we decide to include Duct chair in our tip five. A confident and wonderfully comfortable chair, Duct Chair is also not only aesthetically pleasing but engages the user and so transforms from a passive chair into active element of a room. Duct Tape Chair. Quality seating instrument!
404 H by Stefan Dietz for Thonet
404 H by Stefan Dietz for Thonet. In our world bar stools count as chairs, mainly because we spend a lot of time on bar stools – having as we do a raised breakfast bar in the kitchen of the (smow)flat. For Thonet Stefan Dietz has created in 404 H a wonderful addition to one of the most tradition-conscious German design houses. In comparison to some other long established design houses, for Thonet tradition if more than just marketing rights tio the name of a long since deceased designer; rather for Thonet tradition means continuing the tradition that made that designer successful and famous – and in the case of Michael Thonet that means innovation.404 H. Quality seating instrument!
And uncomplicated, high quality wooden furniture.
Such as the 404 H.
Vegetal by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Vitra in Milan
Vegetal by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Vitra. Even before the start of the Milan design week Vegetal had already established itself as one of the stars. And it didn’t let us down. Yes it looks like a cheap garden chair, yes it reminds one of Chair One by Konstantin Grcic, but no it is neither of these things. The fruit of four years labour by our favourite porcupine and fox, Vegetal is a wonderful, stable, comfortable and versatile chair perfect for indoor and out. And we’re fairly certain unbreakable. Vegetal. Quality seating instrument!
Bansko Bo lounger chair and Ottoman by Design Apparat
Bansko Bo by Design Apparat. Without question one of the finest proper loungers we saw this spring, and that from one of the best new design studios from the smow design spring. We live in Leipzig, we don’t like nOSTalgia, we do like many elements of the design style that developed in Eastern Europe during the decades of iron curtains, Warsaw pacts and ICBMs. Bansko Bo is a wonderful new design, but one that has its roots unmistakably in the Bulgaria of the 1970s. Looks good, works and will probably last longer than the regime of Todor Zhivkov. Bansko Bo. Quality seating instrument!
Once again the Europeans show the Americans how it should be done. One of the largest stands in New York was that from the Saloni Milano -a mix of the finest Italian designers: And they brought their own press room. No electricity, no Internet…but tables. And coffee. How fondly we look back on April….
Press Lounge at the Saloni Milano Stand: First Chair and First Table by Stefano Giovannoni
Although greatly impressed by the typewriter, we also liked Desk 51 by American producer bludot as a desk. Personally we wouldn’t use the pull out lower surface, as suggested, for stowing a keyboard; much more the beauty for us is that you can “hide” piles of papers, notebooks and the like when the desk is not in use. And so give the impression at least that your desk isn’t cluttered.
Desk 51 and Real Good Chair from bludot
We don’t neccesserily need a large table… a small side table will do. For example the stable, yet practically height adjustable Tom Tom by Konstantin Grcic for SCP.
Tom Tom by Konstantin Grcic for SCP
Or the gorgeous Spot Table by Tom Dixon with its interchangeable height stems….
Spot Table by Tom Dixon
But what does all this help, we don’t have a table…and so nowhere to place the Foster Series desk accesories by Sir Norman Foster for Helit :(
“It is tough creating a design classic, but the MYTO might just have achieved this through its rigorous experimentation and research, resulting in the technically very difficult outcome of a cantilevered plastic chair.” So commented the judges of the 2009 Brit Insurance Design of the Year award their assessment of the MYTO chair from Konstantin Grcic.
MYTO is a modern interpretation of the cantilever chair, with an admiring nudge towards the late Verner Panton. Moulded from BASF Ultradur® High Speed plastic the chair is characteristic of Grcic’s minimalistic work and is stackable, making it ideal for meeting rooms or wherever extra seating is regularly needed at short notice.
Few chair designs have proved so popular with the public or so inspirational and challenging to designers as the cantilever chair; and re-workings of the concept have a long tradition.
Konstantin Grcic has obviously caught the bug. In recent years he has not only has he developed the MYTO
Muji manufactured by Thonet Collection (Photo: Thonet)
If the MYTO chair will also be available from smow is still open; however, those looking to learn a little more about Konstantin Grcic and his work may be interested in his Hut Ab hat rack and ES shelving system for Moorman. Both of which, as with MYTO, take an established concept and interpret it in a modern, yet recognizable form.
Muji manufactured by Thonet Collection (Source: Thonet)
At the Tokyo Design Week the German furniture producer Thonet presented their classic cantilever chair in a new light. In co-operation with the Japanese retailer Muji, Thonet – the self-styled “world’s oldest furniture brand” – presented a new interpretation of the classic Bugholzstühle (chairs created from wood formed through the application of steam to aid the bending and shaping. The process was developed by Michael Thonet. The official Thonet translation of Bugholz is “bentwood”, however, does not do the beauty of the process justice) and steel tube construction from Matt Stam and Marcel Breuer. Target group for the new products is the 18-35 year olds; or those who still feel the tingle of youth when such aproduct is placed before them.
S 43 Classic by Mart Stam from Thonet
The steel tube cantilever chair in Bauhaus tradition was re-designed by the German designer Konstantin Grcic. His new, simplified design may not meet the approval of all fans of Stam and Breuer’s original, but one can still clearly see the classic form. The “Muji manfactured by Thonet Collection” will be available in Europe from Spring 2009 in selected Muji stores. However, if you prefer the original S 43 or B108 from Thonet they can be ordered any time, day or night from smow.de.
Nils Holger Moormann (right) at the Designers Open Awards Ceremony (Photo: www.designersopen.de)
Six years ago Nils Holger Moormann, designer and furniture producer, started a process against Ikea – accusing the Swedish company of ,how shall we put it, „borrowing“ one of his companies designs. Despite the pessimism of colleagues and industry insiders, Moormann won at every trial and Ikea were eventually obliged to remove the offending article from sale. The process may have cost Moormann lots of effort and resources, but it also won him a lot of recognition in the industry for his conviction and courage; and bestowed on him the image of a modern day Robin Hood, standing up for the rights of the little man regardless of the perils and personal sacrifice
Erika Spoon holder from Moormann
The self-styled autodidact Nils Holger Moormann first entered the furnishing industry in 1982. He established his company HQ in Aschau, Bavaria in 1992, and since then the Moormann company has grown continually and currently has 20 employees. The actual production of the products is outsourced to specialist companies in the region: Spreading the wealth in true Robin Hood tradition.
Nils Holger Moormann’s “speciality” is supporting young talented, generally unknown, German designers. The furniture they create should be characterised by “simplicity”, “innovation” and “intelligence”; and not only the form, colour material and composition of the product should be new – it should also embody a new “discovery”. As such Moormann has established a reputation for encouraging creativity and humour in furniture design. Among those designers who have “graduated” from Moormann to become established designers in their own right are Konstantin Grcic, Markus Boge and Patrick Frey.
Erika espresso from Moormann
A classic example of Moormannian igenuity is his modular kitchen system Erika. Through its 23 different elements the Erika system turns bare, unused walls in any home or office into practical kitchen areas. Everything you require from mugs, spoons and espresso makers through to the proverbial kitchen sink can be added as specially designed modules.
Just as genial, playful and practical is the Moormann “Lese + Lebe” Seating-Shelving System. “Lese + Lebe” is a conventional double-seater sofa with an somewhat unconventional reverse side: A shelving unit for your favourite books – or your guilty secrets should you wish to store your “Lese + Lebe” next to the wall. If required “Lese + Lebe” also comes with an extractable footrest and fold down table. Under the seats are storage drawers, for example for storing a favourite rug for cosy autumn evenings and being on wheels it can be easily moved within a room.
The furniture collection established by Moormann is well worth a closer look. We at smow are delighted to be able to work so closely with Nils Holger Moormann be it furniture producer, speaker or competition judge.
Among the Moormann products we can heartily recommend are:
The Brit Insurance Design of the Year Award is among the most prestigious European design awards and as ever an exhibition of all shortlisted entries will be on help at the Design Museum in London. Those who find themselves in London between 12 February and 14 June 2009 can enjoy not only the works of Grcic and Bouroullec but of all shortlisted designers, including Shepard Fairey for his Barack Obama election poster– already a celebrated classic of modern graphic design.
Project Vitra (Published by Birkhäuser)
A special, almost unique, feature of the Brit Insurance Design of the Year Award is that chance for the “lay” public to vote for their favorites. The public vote does not result in a prize; unfortunately one must add, for a public prize alongside the expert jury prize would make the award a true acknowledgment of a designs universal appeal and appreciation. Until March 17 all who wish have the opportunity over the official website to vote for their favorites. The winner will be announced on March 18th – the same day as the final winner is unveiled.