Tuesday, June 29, 2010


A feeling of floating: Between space and time, in and out, material and immaterial. A place to allow the mind to bend unconsciously toward the infinite. In other words: What's possible with a clever use of light, glass, wood, and water stirred with a few strokes of historical context. This is what the best design can do: It seizes us by the body while simultaneously releasing us from it.


Begin with a dairy building from 1902 on the historic 850-acre Hadspen estate in Somerset, England. Then, tear, rend, gut, re-imagine, and renovate into transcendence.

The attached 215-square-foot pool acts as a heat sink for a biomass power source in the summer.

The architect is Charlotte Skene Catling, principal of the firm Skene Catling de la Peña of London.

More on this here.

Below, the
Villa Berkel in Veenendaal (Netherlands). Dutch architect Paul de Ruiter used a different approach here. Historical context was demolished and scattered to the ether: A new beginning.

As before, walls dissolve into landscape, planes rise from texture, private space mingles with public, inside-out and outside-in.

Outside, a waterwall and pool; inside, a water closet where white forms rise out of a stained dark sea. They too float.

The surfaces smooth, the transitions soft, the space deep, and around every corner infinity floats beyond. More here.

"The clearest way to the universe is through a forest..."

"I've never seen a discontented tree... Every hidden cell is throbbing with music and life, every fiber thrilling like harp strings, while incense is ever flowing from the balsam bells and leaves. No wonder the hills and groves were God's first temples, and the more they are cut down and hewn into cathedrals and churches, the farther off and dimmer seems the Lord himself."

“When one tugs at a single thing in nature, he finds it attached to the rest of the world.”

All quotes from
John Muir.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lighting Strikes

Al fresco

The Halley 4150 by Spanish designers Jordi Vilardell & Meritxell Vidal.

A registered original design available only from Barcelona-based Vibia.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Yellow Magic

So, while the hand/holds the cut of the lemon,
half a world/on a trencher,
the gold of the universe/wells/to your touch:
a cup yellow/with miracles,
a breast and a nipple/perfuming the earth;
a flashing made fruitage,
the diminutive fire of a planet.

- Pablo Neruda, Ode to a Lemon

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Enzo Mari: Rebel without a pause.

Enzo Mari may be the quintessential designer's designer: His eccentric-bordering-the-esoteric sensibility more often finds favor among the designerati than the commercial market. Now, at 77, not only has his characteristic vision not paled with time, it appears more relevant than ever.

These pieces are from his Autoprogettazione (or "self-design") series: Nineteen d
o-it-yourself pieces designed to be both materially inexpensive and easy to assemble. In the 1950s he noticed the tastes of the public tilting toward mass-produced furniture of lesser quality. The Autoprogettazione was intended to bring people back to quality and process in a way anyone could afford. More on this here.

Mari's practice explored avenues of theory, psychology, and perception. He saw himself as a theoretician as much as an artist and designer. And the boundaries between, he believed, were mostly meaningless.

Imagine Ikea without Mari's precedence: If they're not paying him residuals, it's a crime.

As for the "rebel" moniker, well, if the outsized footprint of his work required a character of equal magnitude, then the shoe fit Enzo Mari very well indeed.

For an interesting description of Mari the man, see here.

A Mari chair in kit form.

A fruit "bowl" in bamboo.

The EFFE table: For Mari the architectural details are not just designer's artifice. The structure simultaneously provides strength and embodies it, yet retains a certain delicacy.

An EFFE table mashup made with parts from Ikea. More on this story here.

An hommage to the Autoprogettazione in stainless steel by Buenos Aires-born artist Rirkit Tiravanija.

Mari's work isn't confined by material, medium, or mentality; Not even time and space, for that matter. E' una vita bellisima, maestro.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Global Cooling

Copenhagen, Denmark: Where cold becomes cool.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Whispered Elegance

As an architect Belgian Vincent Van Duysen has been described as "an obstinate minimalist." Such a description might indicate a piety of style over results. However, as can be seen above, his simple forms, spare use of space, and graceful lines have also won him praise for "minimalism with a surprising sensuality."

To wit: The Neutra chair. If this chair is the result of obstinacy we should hope more designers could be so obstinate.

Even in black it whispers elegance.

Neutra "Easy Chair" featured in foreground, "Arm Chairs" in back.

These and other Vincent Van Duysen designs available at www.tribu.com.

Stalking the Planks

In the bowels of a castle, Forchtenstein on the Austrian border of Hungary more specifically. The cabinets are from the 17th- and 18th-century. But it's the floor we're interested in.

Rather than continuous fields of parallel forms, the setting of the planks reveals the contribution of each component.

Here we have its modern reinterpretation in the LG Atelier, manufactured by Listone Giordano.

The oak used in the floor's manufacture promises wood of sustainable harvesting and processing method that uses only natural products and treatments.