Friday, December 20, 2013

Parabola Chair by Carlo Aiello

If the history of 20th-century design proved anything, it’s that a chair is certainly not just a chair. A good chair can embody its designer’s aesthetic system and serve as visual shorthand for everything he or she has completed up until that point. It can even stand in for an entire movement, just as Mies’s Barcelona chair or the Breuer chair distilled the essence of heroic modernism and all of its formal and ideological content.
As such, the cult of the chair weighs heavily on every generation of designers. Everyone wants to design that chair, and any look at a design student’s portfolio would undoubtedly reveal some overly fussy or trite sculptural designs that would attest to those lofty ambitions.

Carlo Aiello would be the first to admit to this. The LA-based architect and designer, whose “Parabola Chair” just won the 2013 ICFF Studio Award, confesses that he has “always wanted to design a good chair.” By “good,” Aiello tells Co. Design, he means a chair “inspired by mid-century simplicity but radically new, something that we have never seen before.” Mission accomplished.

Of course, you just don’t knock that out in one go. The Parabola Chair was the result of months of work and countless design iterations. The primary challenge, one Aiello set up for himself, lay in achieving the usual components of any chair--seat, armrest, backrest--using only a single surface. To do this, he developed a shell that curved in two directions (a "hyperbolic paraboloid") that conformed to the sitter’s body, and which needed a very minimal frame to support it.

Aiello says he wanted something “sculptural, but easy to manufacture and ergonomically correct”--not a simple task. But the final design exhibits all of these qualities. It’s effortless and formally suave, thanks to its use of parabolic curves. It’s also comfortable--those curves mesh to create a womb-like basket to accommodate the user. And it uses a chrome-plated steel structure whose components are all straight, which means they’re somewhat easy to reproduce.

There’s a reason why you think “mid-century” when you look at it. Parabolas were first implemented in architectural and product design in the 1950s (see Le Corbusier’s Philips Pavilion or anything by the engineer Pier Luigi Nervi), when designers were free to move past the Platonic, rectilinear, and by then historicized high Modernism of the '20s. Aiello’s use of chrome finishes draws on the Modernist chairs, but it also nods to diner design and Ford T-birds.

Ruche Sofa By Linge Roset

On a walk through Ligne Roset’s factory near Lyon, France, we track the multitude of steps, hands, and hours required to craft this very refined couch.
From the exterior, Ligne Roset’s complex in Briord, France, is little to look at, just workaday cement- and-metal factories near the base of the Alps. But once you step inside, the operation bursts into colorful life, with dozens of workers hefting gigantic bolts of fabric, manning robotic sewing machines, and operating cartoonish foam cutters and glue sprayers.
The family-owned company has been making furniture in this location for 38 years. On a recent fall afternoon, the cavernous Briord 1 factory was running full throttle, all the workers focused on turning out French designer Inga Sempé’s Ruché sofa, introduced in 2010 and already iconic.

The sofa’s simple form—a slim beech frame draped with a cushiony quilt—belies the effort it takes to produce one: ten-and-a-half hours of labor and up to 11 different craftspeople’s hands.
“When you see a finished object, you can rarely imagine all the work that went in to it,” muses Sempé. “All the sleepless nights for the designer, who stays up thinking about just one curve, all the people who built it?” We tour Ligne Roset’s factory to learn just what it takes to make a Ruché.

The Frame

Each Ruché is made on demand, and with 35 fabric and leather choices, hundreds of color options, and four frame variations (natural beech or stained red, blue, or gray), the piece is almost endlessly customizable. The frame starts as raw timber housed underneath a corrugated-metal canopy on Ligne Roset’s 15-acre Briord campus. When an order comes in, workers feed the wood into a high-tech preprogrammed machine that mills it into ten square-sided posts and drills holes where the pieces will connect. A craftsman then assembles the ends of the frame, connecting the pieces using wooden pegs and glue. Next, it’s passed along to a technician in a ventilator mask who sprays the wood with a transparent stain or varnish. Once dry, the frame components, seat, and steel- springed backrest are joined with glue and pegs, and Velcro and strips of zippers are stapled to the places where the quilted cover will eventually attach.

The Foam

In one corner of the 382,000-square-foot factory, stacks of colorful, spongy foam await their fates, each hue indicating a different density and use. After quick work on the computerized foam cutter, the three pieces of foam that will eventually comprise the backrest travel on a wheeled trolley to the glue booth, a white-walled space resembling a walk-in industrial fridge. A technician sprays a sheet of pliable purple memory foam with a water-based adhesive and then carefully folds it over the other two foam layers and a steel spring grill to complete the backrest. All these cushiony layers will be invisible beneath the quilted cover but will immensely improve the sofa’s comfort.

The Cover

Ligne Roset is fanatic about fabric quality. Before a bolt is used, workers unroll it completely and inspect it carefully for color variation, nubs and pulls, and other defects. If the quality is suitable, an automated 17-foot-long Gerber Cutter cuts the fabric according to the pattern. The colorful cutouts are piled one stack per sofa and labeled with the future owners’ names and hometowns before they are wheeled to the sewing area, where they meet up with thin sheets of precut batting. Seamstresses layer the fabric and batting and attach them to a frame that temporarily holds the pieces together. The frame is then inserted into a gigantic preprogrammed sewing machine that quilts the surface with the “broken grid” of lines that Sempé devised to create the cover’s signature texture. It takes an hour and a half for the machine to make its 2,008 stitches, with cold air constantly blowing on the needle to prevent broken threads caused by friction and overheating. Once the quilting is complete, the women remove the cover from the frame, speedily snip off loose threads with scissors, and use an electric cutter to trim it to its final shape. Other sewers then stitch zippers on to the cover’s edges to enable it to attach securely to the wooden sofa frame.
The Final Assembly

“I love to see the different parts from the factory all united at the end,” says Laurence, a small, muscular, ponytailed woman who has the glory job of transforming the various pieces into a finished Ruché, all in about 15 minutes. She starts by carefully arranging a final sheet of foam inside the cover, ensuring it lies flat. Then she drapes the piece over the frame, aligns the seams, attaches the corners and edges with the zippers and Velcro, and then firmly and deliberately places well-calibrated karate chops to the corners. If she needs to, she can consult her quality-control photo, a glamour shot of one single perfect Ruché. After a few additional adjustments, which include hitting the cover with both hands outstretched to “fluff” it, this particular Ruché is ready to ship to Germany. “It’s not an easy model to make,” Laurence says proudly, “but it’s such an interesting one.”

Armchair Ruche by Ligne Roset

Paris designer Inga Sempé has added an armchair to her Ruché collection of furniture with quilted covers for French design brand Ligne Roset.
Like Inga Sempé's earlier sofa and bed in the range, the Ruché armchair comprises a simple wooden frame with a loose padded cover draped over the top for comfort.

The piece has an asymmetric design, with one armrest the same height as the backrest and the other sitting just proud of the seat so that the user can drape their legs over the side.
"My idea was to offer different ways of sitting: normal, sideways, straight or slouchy," Sempé told Dezeen. "As all edges are upholstered, there are no hard parts to avoid."

"An armchair is almost as expensive as a sofa so I believe that it should be as comfortable as the main piece of the living room," she continued. "Sometimes the armchair is more like the poor and less comfortable member of a range that includes a sofa."
The design is available with the higher armrest positioned on the left or the right, and it's intended to be used with an existing ottoman in the range.

The frame comes in natural or varnished beech, blue-grey or red, while the upholstery can be made up in a choice of Ligne Roset fabrics including velour, wool, thick cloth, microfibres or leather.
"I have to say that I was not behind the choice of the sofa's colours," she confided. "It often happens that the company does not want to involve the designer on the colours, and so one discovers it at the fair. Sometimes one could cry; sometimes one can be lucky."

Ligne Roset will showcase the new piece at Maison & Objet trade show in Paris from 24 to 28 January 2014, where Sempé has chosen to present it in red and taupe.
"I have chosen this colour to contrast with the red structure, and to be rather happy and enlightening as it has to be presented at this dark time of the year in Europe," she explained.

Shelves That Seem To Float In Metal Frames - by Ron Gilad

Israeli designer Ron Gilad has added a modular shelving system and an oval table to his TT furniture collection, which features surfaces that appear to hover unsupported within a metal frame.
The original TT series, designed by Gilad and launched by Italian design brand Adele-C earlier this year, comprised a collection of low tables with thin metal frames containing removable wooden surfaces that are attached using magnets.
TT stands for Tray Table, and Gilad described the design as "a hybrid between the idea of a tray and that of a coffee table."

The TT3 shelving system is an expanded version of the tables and consists of tall single columns and a corner unit that can be combined in any configuration, with shelves bridging the gaps between them.
Magnets inside the walnut shelves and located at intervals around the painted steel frames allow the shelves to be positioned where required and subsequently moved around.

Each shelf can support a weight of up to 15 kilograms and features a chamfered edge, like a typical serving tray, that enhances the lightness of its profile and makes it easier to lift off a flat surface.
The surface of the oval table is also made from walnut and the table can be combined with the other tables from the original TT series.

Tray Table Project

The Tray Table project, that for Ron Gilad became an instant icon, has developed into two new products: the TT3 bookcase and the TT table with oval tray top. The TT3 bookcase, or TT cubed, takes the concept of the accent tables to new heights, while maintaining their airy lightness. The shelves are made of Italian walnut, ‘floating’ in a thin metal frame, available in black or pearl grey.

TT oval table

Built on two base elements – a single column and a corner unit – it offers an endless possibility of combinations and the greatest amount of usable space, thanks to its clean composition. A system of magnets allows the shelves to be moved and repositioned quickly and easily.

Shelving System

The shelving system TT3, or TT cubed, is the conceptual expansion of the TT coffee tables. Rectangular shelves/ trays in Italian Walnut are inserted by a simple magnetic system in the metal structure, available in two sizes and in the colours black or pearl grey. The combination of multiple structures, connected by shelves/trays, allows for unlimited modularity. The structures are made of painted steel with adjustable feet and each tray supports up to 15 kilos. Wall attachment is recommended where possible.

Small tables

 In painted steel, it is available in three colours. The structure hosting one round tray has one shelf while the structure hosting rectangular shelves has up to three shelves. Rectangular and round trays with molded borders, in Italian walnut or opaque lacquered wood in orange or pearl grey. The name is an abbreviation of Tray Table, a tray that becomes a small table, a horizontal surface that seems to fly inside a metal cage.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Bowl Chair by Lina Bo Bardi

Italian design brand Arper is to relaunch a limited edition version of a bowl-shaped chair designed by late Modernist architect Lina Bo Bardi in 1951. The Bowl Chair features a metal frame with four legs supporting a ring into which the upholstered seat is inserted. The seat can be swiveled in the frame to allow for more upright or reclined seating positions, with loose cushions enhancing the design's flexibility. It will be produced in black leather and a range of colored fabrics.

Bo Bardi, who was born in Italy in 1914 but moved to Brazil in 1946, designed the chair during a period when she was living in São Paulo and working predominantly on the design of products and interiors.
She subsequently established herself as a prominent publisher, curator and architect, responsible for important projects including the São Paulo Museum of Art and the SESC Pompeia cultural center, also in São Paulo.
Luigi and Claudio Feltrin of Arper explained that their intention in relaunching the chair is to highlight Bo Bardi's significant legacy: "In doing this, we wish to give the Bowl Chair and Lina’s way of thinking a future. The limited edition creates a link between the past and the future."

Working with the Instituto Lina Bo and P.M. Bardi, which owns the copyright to the architect's designs, Arper developed the new chair based on Bo Bardi's sketches and a pair of original chairs from 1951 – one produced in black leather with a metal frame and the other with a transparent plastic shell and bright red cushions.
Research suggested that the production techniques specified by Bo Bardi would have relied on artisanal methods. With guidance from the Institute, Arper identified ways to recreate the shape and comfort of the original design using modern manufacturing methods.

The chair's bowl, which was originally made from heavy hand-forged iron, is now produced in plastic to make it lighter and flexible enough to fit the foam and fabric to the frame.
Arper attempted to standardize the processes used to manufacture the chair so it can be reproduced accurately in a limited edition, embodying its designer's philosophy of combining industrialized production and individualized objects with improved interaction.
Bo Bardi's sketches show the chair and cushions in different colours and finishes that could be configured in myriad combinations and Arper is developing a broad palette of colours that reflects the influences of Italy and Brazil on Bo Bardi's oeuvre.

A single edition of the new Bowl Chair featured in the exhibition Lina Bo Bardi: Together, dedicated to the designer's life and career that was presented at the British Council in London in autumn 2012. Arper also presented the design and details of the production process at its Milan showroom during this year's Milan Furniture Fair.

An official launch event for the Lina Bo Bardi Bowl Chair will take place in London on 29 January 2014. Since the exhibition in London there has been a resurgence in interest in Bo Bardi's work and British design brand Izé recently announced it had begun producing door handles she designed for her home in São Paulo.

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