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
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:
Until now, there were just two basic forms of back for office chairs. Upholstered backs are constructed with a solid back to which a pad of upholstery foam is fastened and then covered with fabric. The second type is the mesh chair. However, a new concept in task seating seeks to combine the advantages of both basic forms. The Drumback chair from Viasit is neither upholstered nor pure mesh. Martin Ballendat’s ingenious design idea was to stretch the cover fabric – similar to a drumhead – over a back component made from polypropylene. The result is a distinct and attractive design that uniquely combines the benefits of the cool comfort of a mesh back and the stability of a closed back without the need for upholstery in a fresh and contemporary look.
The intuitive seat controls follow Viasit’s now familiar integrated button/slide system marked with user-friendly icons. To change the height of the back support, the user simply grips backwards with both hands while seated and folds the generously dimensioned clamps. The Drumback also features seat height and seat depth adjustment, adjustable 3D arm supports, and optional lumbar support. The Drumback is available in black, light tele grey or iron grey.
The Drumback has also received the Green Product Award 2017. The design of the back saves two components compared to an upholstered back; the inner back and the upholstery foam element. These components do not need to be manufactured, transported to the factory, glued together and later recycled. The Drumback also has environmental advantages when it comes to the conventional mesh chair. The fastening plate must be very sturdy and warp resistant to give stability to the meshed back. Composites are used to achieve this, which are usually difficult to recycle. The Drumback is different: There is less static stress on the large solid back support. It can therefore be made with non-composite, 100% recyclable polypropylene that can be turned into chair backs over and over again.
Introduced at Clerkenwell Design Week, Relic is the latest bench product from Cotswold’s based manufacturer Frovi. Like Frovi’s previous bench product, Block, Relic is modular and available as dining height or poseur height. As the name implies the product apes the rustic look of a trestle table and with the option of character driven finishes. The inset trestle understructure features invisible cable management and telescopic beams allowing lengths from 1400mm to an impressive 6000mm. Power and data ports are available as an option on all table sizes.
Relic is available in 11 modular sizes from 1400x800mm up to 6000x1200mm and 750mm or 1050mm high. A standard height wide version offers two further sizes: 3200x1600mm and 3600x1600mm. Circular and rectangular upholstered stools complete the Relic range, with stitching details echoing the trestle leg shape.
Frames are available in a range of 23 RAL colours including Raw Steel. Tops are available as ‘Cutline’ laminate or ‘Cutline’ Fenix – providing a clean thin-cut tapered edge in a wide variety of colours or as ‘Sawn’ with a solid oak top layer bonded to a ply core with an extreme chamfered edge detail.
Last week was the annual furniture design fest that is Clerkenwell Design Week in London – a week long event that sees furniture manufacturers open their doors to showcase new or recently launched products and innovations and new trends in the world of furniture. Here are just a few of our highlights:
At Frovi special mention should be made of the shear abundance of new product and thankfully quantity did not mean lack of quality.
Keying into the current trend for all things Scandinavian, Frovi have introduced Scandi, a range of timber armchairs and sofas that would be equally at home in the office or hospitality sector. Likewise is the Urban sofa collection with its deep foam, webbed seat and back for extra comfort. Urban is also configurable with mix and match seat, back and bolsters if you want to get quirky.
The ILK collection continues to grow with the addition of the very stylish ILK Tilt and the ILK Two Seater. The Two Seater is available with natural or black oak timber legs or a steel sled frame in any RAL colour.
The Relic bench is a clever take on a trestle table. The steel legs feature concealed cable management and the beam understructure allows meeting or bar height versions and lengths up to an impressive 6m! Frovi have introduced a new antique character oak top for Relic and in conjunction with the optional raw steel legs perfectly creates the rustic look. A range of stools completes the collection.
A nice addition to the Jig range is a modular credenza system. Optional top seat pads and fabric door handles provide a touch of colour and would help suite the product in with other upholstery items in the same space.
Over to Orangebox and the big news was Eva – the latest in a new generation of ‘light touch’ task seating with simple set up. The chair has been refined to be largely self-adjusting and requires only a few controls. It’s lightweight too, at just over 14kg. Base and supporting trims are available in black, white, polished or ‘industrial silver’.
From Connection Seating the Co.Table represents a new style of collaborative working furniture. Comprising of a long work bench with radial ends and an adjoining poseur height end table, the Co.Table is designed to facilitate independent & coworking activities. Accessible power on a central utility rail, lighting and storage shelf are all available. Like the Connection Centro range Co.Table features natural oak legs with integrated cable management.
Connection Seating have also gone down the Scandinavian inspired route with the minimalistic & durable Woodstack dining chair and the David Fox designed Hygge chair. The gentle curving contoured design of Hygge is available as a low back or high back.
Also from Connection is the Tubes range, a range of stools, benches and tables featuring a connected tubular structure with a utilitarian aesthetic. Silver or textured black steel tubing is standard with white or warm metallic copper finishes also available.
Over at Boss Design it was all about ATOM. Designed by Simon Pengelly, ATOM is a family of modular landscape products developed to deliver a seamless and holistic aesthetic and flexible work environments. At its nucleus is the organic and sculptural screen system that morphs between desk screen, snug alcove, visitor seating and sofa back. Low stools and an elegant and fully cable managed table system complete the ensemble.