Yes, that time of the year again – cold, wet, and the days are getting shorter. And to top it all, the clocks have gone back. Here are a few ideas to light up your life during the long winter nights.
Launched in 1950 by Charles & Ray Eames, the Fiberglass Chairs introduced a new furniture typology: the multifunctional chair whose shell can be combined with a variety of bases to serve different purposes. The material of the shell’s fibreglass owes its charm to an irregular surface, which appears almost like a natural material thanks to its clearly visible fibres.
Until then fibreglass was unknown in the furniture industry, having been primarily restricted to military applications such as aircraft radomes and cockpit covers. The Eameses recognised and fully exploited the advantages of the material: mouldability, rigidity and suitability for industrial manufacturing methods. They successfully developed the moulded seat shells for mass production: the Fiberglass Chair was born. Its organically shaped, one-piece shell proved to be a much-admired innovation at a time when chairs typically consisted of a seat and backrest. Fibreglass offered the added advantage of pleasant tactile qualities and a perfectly moulded form for optimal comfort.
A Black with Feeling
For Charles and Ray Eames, black was not just black but a colour with many dimensions. The couple mainly used a limited scale of subtle and neutral colours for their furniture designs, but each palette was thoroughly researched and carefully selected.
While working on the Eames Fiberglass Chairs in the early 1950s, Charles and Ray Eames designed a range of nuanced shades for the chairs. No colours for fibreglass had existed before Charles and Ray Eames designed their plastic chairs.
The first fibreglass colours developed by the Eameses were Greige, a portmanteau which hinted at a beige-grey, Elephant Hide Grey, a warm black-grey, and Parchment, which was notoriously translucent. Shortly afterward, still in the early production phase, Sea Foam Green was added, along with a bright Lemon Yellow and a fresh Red Orange. Later these were followed by an array of other colours.
One hue that apparently caused the most frustration and was the most difficult to achieve was a warm blackish grey – after several attempts Charles Eames expressed: ‘What I really want is a black with feeling’. These efforts ultimately resulted in the colour the Eameses called Elephant Hide Grey.
Vitra manufactures the Fiberglass Side Chairs by Charles and Ray Eames in six of the original colours. The fibreglass shells have a lively visual appeal that is much-prized today. Fibreglass owes its charm to an irregular surface, which appears almost like a natural material thanks to its clearly visible fibres. The version with a polypropylene shell – the Eames Plastic Chairs– also remain available. Together the two chair groups form an extensive family, enabling countless variations of the classic Eames design, with a suitable version for almost every taste and purpose
St Mary’s remains one of the most over-subscribed schools in the North East. Building on the momentum of its increasing sixth form enrollment, the school needed a new facility that would provide an exclusive area for the students to both study and socialise. The school appointed Ward Robinson architects. Their solution involved the opening up of a series of existing classrooms and offices to allow for a social study hub and café breakout area, as well as a silent study room and learning resource centre. Built in facilities include a student managed café, bleacher seating, integrated technology and a range of both group and individual workstations.
The materials and colours were carefully considered across the range of settings to create a light and airy environment, as well as to incorporate the school’s colours through the furniture and accessories. Furniture included products from Verco, Sixteen3, Frovi and naughtone.
Check out some of our other education projects here.
Our next CPD event is The Psychology of Collaboration Spaces, a RIBA Accredited CPD by Herman Miller.
Collaboration is much talked about today, especially when it comes to workplace design. As companies employ more knowledge workers, it is no longer just what you know, but what you do with what you know. Successfully designed collaboration spaces as well as an enabling culture are key to helping this along. With this in mind, Herman Miller commissioned Dr. Nigel Oseland, a psychologist specialising in workplace, to carry out a literature review of the psychology of collaboration and how that might impact workplace design. Herman Miller will share these findings with you, as well as some observational research carried out by our International research team.
Admittance is strictly by invitation only. Please register your interest here and we will get back to you.
RIBA Core Curriculum: Business, clients and services, Design, construction and technology
Knowledge level: General Awareness
Where: 2 Riverside Way, Whitehall Waterfront, Leeds, LS1 4EH
When: Thursday 28th February 2019
12:00 – Meet & Greet
12:15-13:15 – The Psychology of Collaboration Spaces
13:15 – Q&A
Light refreshments will be provided. Please contact us if you have any specific dietary requirements.
When you are conceiving an office project, it’s important to capture the spirit of the company. If you manage to do that, good design happens almost by itself.
Developed by British architect Sevil Peach, the Company Home shows an example corporate headquarters created as a harmonious work environment that includes a park and a dining area; elements from the public realm that are becoming an integral part of more and more head offices. Such multi-use areas give employees a sense of well-being and offer opportunities for concentrated work, meetings or rest phases.
If it’s true that that public spaces are influencing the internal function of office interiors it’s also true that the work zone is spilling into public spaces.
Formal work rules are dissolving, regardless of where and how we work – now frequently in hotel lobbies or cafés. As a result, the desk is no longer at the centre of our work life. It is disappearing as an archetype.
Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby
The Shared Office blurs the boundaries between the office and public space where public work environments in the form of co-working spaces, cafés and hotel lobbies are becoming the norm. Increasingly companies are opening their ground floor spaces to the public. There is little demand for the classic desk in such places – rather, large sofas form the hub of new working practices. As a platform around which the workday revolves, they are equipped with power connections, worktops and privacy screens. Additional tables and chairs are grouped around the sofa and can be pulled up as needed. As part of this concept, Soft Work is a new modular sofa system that responds to today’s needs, developed in collaboration with the designers Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby.
The idea is that of an empty space that can be redesigned to suit new purposes at any time, or just as quickly be restored to its original set-up. I find it extremely interesting not to create a definite layout. A good analogy would be sports halls, which can be configured to suit a wide variety of sports and activities.
Konstantin Grcic’s concept for the Super Flexible Office is all about creativity, communication and innovation. Users can easily rearrange this office on their own: divider curtains, mobile partition walls, furniture on castors and stacking chairs make it possible to create differently sized rooms for myriad uses in just seconds. The Super Flexible Office can be frequently reconfigured while always maintaining its identity – now a meeting room, then a café, tomorrow a communal space. At Orgatec, Vitra showcased two new products in the Super Flexible Office concept: Dancing Wall, created by Stephan Hürlemann, and Rookie, a small task chair for agile workplaces, designed by Konstantin Grcic.
Walter Knoll has always advocated modernity. A recent visit to Walter Knoll’s HQ near Stuttgart provided us with an insight into this remarkable and forward thinking family and company.
The company had its origins as far back as 1865 when Walter’s father Wilhelm opened a leather shop in Stuttgart. This soon became a successful company and was taken over by Wilhelm’s sons in 1907. Walter founded Walter Knoll in 1925, building on many years of experience in his father’s successful leather business. Early developments included the furnishing of several show flats for the 1927 Die Wohnung exhibition at Stuttgart’s trailblazing Weissenhof Estate that featured work by architects such as Mies van der Rohe, Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius. Post-war, Walter Knoll have striven to push the boundaries of modern living, presenting the Vostra chair in 1949 and continuing into the 50s with a series of modern designs such as the bucket seat 369 (still considered a modern classic). In 1993 the company was purchased by the Benz family and continues to promote the ethos of masterly craftsmanship, fine materials and lasting design. The company is now one of the leading furnishing manufacturers in the international high-end segment working with renowned architects and designers such as Norman Foster, Pearson Lloyd, EOOS, Ben van Berkel, Kengo Kuma and Claudio Bellini.
A walk around the factory headquarters in Herrenberg (which has been the base of Walter Knoll since 1937) provides an insight into Walter Knoll’s incredible attention to detail and quality. We begin outside viewing the company’s high-tech multi-award winning building from without. An edifice of glass, steel and concrete greets us, but it is the glass facade that dominates; an open invitation into the heart of the company, where cutting, sewing, upholstering, testing and packing take place. Inside, the story of quality continues: the employees know their stuff and are passionate about their work. Leather, for example, makes up 70% of the company’s output and is sourced locally from specially approved and selected tanneries in Central Europe. Once at the factory it is thoroughly checked and tested, the tiniest natural features being marked with water-soluble chalk before cutting templates are projected onto the hide to provide the most efficient use of the hide and indicate areas that require the best quality leather. This ethos permeates into other parts of the production including fabric, seams, and surface finishes. The attention to detail and the resulting quality of the product is phenomenal.
Walter Knoll also aim for products that are ecologically sustainable and socially responsible. Their sumptuous Legends of Carpet range for example is created by artisans, hand-dyed and hand-knotted in the Himalayas following centuries-old traditions and using locally sourced wool. Each carpet may take four or five craftsmen up to five months to create. The workshops comply with Fair Trade Organisation guidelines on working conditions and fair wages.
The company is proud of its heritage, still producing classic designs that have stood the test of time as well as new designs that follow the same ethos. Well-crafted, well-engineered, minimalist and timeless design is by definition sustainable design. Such products require less material and will last for decades.
The company’s sustainability ethic transfers through to their buildings as well. Our trip concluded with a visit to Walter Knoll’s production facility in nearby Mötzingen. The building features optimised insulation, heat pumps, concrete core thermal activation, sprinkler tanks for heat storage, solar panels and flood detention basins.
Welcome to the world of Walter Knoll. A truly modern way of life.
A dining room is not merely a dining room anymore. Fritz Hansen have introduced a new wooden chair for the modern home and quality-conscious audience – the N01 chair designed by the Japanese design studio Nendo. Created by the merging of Danish and Japanese aesthetics and purity, N01 brings back nature and embraces the essence of timeless wood craftsmanship.
“If you sit on it, you will notice that this is a Fritz Hansen chair. If you live with it, you will realise that this is pure Japanese design.” Oki Sato, Nendo
Japanese and Danish design traditions have a lot in common and the new dining chair N01 is a sublime example of this – an armchair that is both minimalist and highly detailed. N01 is a chair fit for the many moments we share at home, be they with our family, around our favourite meal, or working on a project that excites us.
Nendo represents a design language that both complements the Fritz Hansen design DNA and at the same time challenges it with a new take on working with genuine craftsmanship. N01 is a very honest design that tells the story of the warmth of wood and of uncompromising quality. Its light expression is serene and seductive and its construction is clever and crafted with Japanese perfectionism. N01 combines a seat and a back in nine layers of veneer – characteristic of the Fritz Hansen stacking chair collection – while the base is a pure and elegant interpretation of working with solid wood.
“With N01 we wanted to make a contemporary wooden dining chair, linking back to our history in terms of both design and craft. We aim for exceptional comfort and beautiful design by not making any compromises. With this in mind we found Nendo to be the perfect match.” Christian Andresen, Head of Design, Fritz Hansen.
Whilst the N01 chair is an honest and translucent design, its meticulous attention to detail is at times hidden in the complex, well-crafted construction. The meeting between the shell and the armrests is a tale of its own. To express a pure and noiseless appearance the joint sections are designed to look as if they are touching each other as little as possible. At the same time, the skeleton of the chair shows immense strength and makes the design suitable for heavy use made to last for generations.
The creation of the N01 chair requires a meticulous attention to the construction. The chair is constructed as a puzzle consisting of 23 wood pieces in a mix of solid wood and veneer. While the chair is assembled by hand, each piece is crafted industrially at a Belgian family owned wood manufacturer founded 1924. The puzzle-like assembling ensures that the construction rich in detail comes across as seamless as possible in the design. Uncompromising precision is key and even the smallest inaccuracies will cause the production to start over.
N01 is available in black coloured oak, natural oak and beech with optional seat cushions in fabric or leather. Available now.
Danish manufacturer Republic of Fritz Hansen have produced this rather delightful review magazine of their releases this year at the Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair. This year they pay homage to the classics, the relaunches and the novelties, including the re-introduction of Arne Jacobsen’s Pot Chair.
We are delighted to offer the review magazine in full: