Archive for ‘Product Design’

October 17, 2013


For 40 years, Gerhard Steidl has combined the roles of printer and publisher, resolved to personally check each sheet leaving his printing shop in Göttingen. This perfectionism, combined with an unconditional love for books, for the traditional printing craft, and a commitment to the quality standards of manufacturing (in the original sense of the word, made by hand), has gained worldwide attention. The most internationally renowned photographic artists vie for the opportunity to collaborate with Gerhard Steidl, to conceive and produce the perfect publication with him.

Filmed in the direct cinema style, this documentary observes the publisher, as he collaborates with the world famous photographers Joel Sternfeld, Robert Frank, Ed Ruscha, Jeff Wall and Robert Adams, at their studios and other places of work, in New York, London and Paris, in the Katar desert, and, last but not least, in Göttingen. Here, in “Steidlville”, their works are printed on Steidl‘s own machines, in three shifts. In goes the idea, out comes the finished book.

Gerhard Steidl’s independent empire is founded on several sources of income – a significant portion of his publishing efforts being dedicated to Karl Lagerfeld and Chanel (printing everything for the designers, from admission tickets to catalogues). Other staples are the German metal workers’ collective labor agreement and, for many years, each new book by Nobel laureate Günter Grass. This is where he earns the money that he, to use his words, “throws out the window” on ambitious photographic art projects. He is a man in constant movement, a German entrepreneur who has made the whole world his home. His experience and artistic empathy, his untiring dedication and diligence have made him the most important publisher of photographic books of the last decade.


Documentary website

Steidl Books

January 27, 2013

The Hourglass

Marc Newson’s latest creation for Ikepod sees the Australian designer interpret the most iconic timepiece of all: The Hourglass. Director Philip Andelman traveled to Basel, Switzerland, to document the designer’s modern take of the classic hourglass inside the Glaskeller factory. Each hand made hourglass comprises highly durable borosilicate glass and millions of stainless steel nanoballs, and is available in a 10 or 60 minute timer.

August 10, 2012

Beatrice Coron

Beatrice Coron

After briefly studying art at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts of Lyon, and Mandarin Chinese at the Université of Lyon III, Coron experienced life with a series of odd jobs. She has been, among others, a shepherdess, truck driver, factory worker, cleaning lady and a New York City tour guide. Coron has lived in France (her native country) , Egypt and Mexico for one year, each and China for two years. She moved to New York in 1985 where she reinvented herself as an artist.

Coron’s oeuvre includes illustration, book arts, fine art and public art. She cuts her characteristic silhouette designs in paper and Tyvek. She also creates works in stone, glass, metal, rubber, stained glass and digital media.

Her work has been purchased by major museum collections, such as the Metropolitan Museum, The Walker Art center and The Getty. Her public art can be seen in subways, airport and sports facilities among others.

July 8, 2012

Eley Kishimoto

May 30, 2012

The Joy of Books

After organizing their bookshelf almost a year ago, the Ohlenkamps decided to take it to the next level. They spent many sleepless nights moving, stacking, and animating books at Type bookstore in Toronto. Everything you see here can be purchased at Type Books.



May 28, 2012

Ottavio and Rosita Missoni


Missoni is an Italian fashion house based in Varese. It is notable for its knitwear designs, made from a variety of fabrics in colorful patterns. The company was founded by Ottavio (“Tai”) and Rosita Missoni in 1953.

Ottavio “Tai” Missoni was born in 1921 in Dubrovnik (Ragusa in Italian).His father, Vittorio Missoni, was an Italian sea captain (and son of a Furlan magistrate transferred in the then Austrian- ruled Dalmatia) and his mother, Teresa de’ Vidovich Countess di Capocesto e Ragosniza, was a Dalmatian noblewoman.  Before World War II he was an international athlete, but spent most of the war as a POW in Egypt.  After the war he set up a workshop with his friend Giorgio Oberweger, making wool track-suits.

His “Venjulia” tracksuits were adopted by the Italian team at the 1948 Olympics in London, and Tai himself qualified for the final of the 400m hurdle race.   At Wembley he met Rosita Jelmini, daughter of a family of shawl makers in Golasecca in the province of Varese.

They married in April 1953, and set up a small knitwear workshop in Gallarate, not far from Rosita’s home village.  In 1958 they presented in Milan their first collection, called Milano-Simpathy, which was the first to bear the Missoni label.  The business prospered, with the support of legendary editor Anna Piaggi, then at Arianna.  On a trip to New York, Rosita met the French stylist Emmanuelle Khanh in 1965, which led to a collaboration and a radical new collection the following year.  Their fame was assured in April 1967, when they were invited to show at the Pitti Palace in Florence.  Rosita told the models to remove their bras, supposedly because they were the wrong colour and showed through the thin lamé blouses.  The material became transparent under the lights and caused a sensation.

The Missonis were not invited back the following year, but the business went from strength to strength, building a new factory in Sumirago in 1969.  With their designs being championed in the US by Diana Vreeland, editor of Vogue magazine, they opened their first boutique there, inside Bloomingdales.

In the early 1970s Missoni reached the peak of its influence in the fashion world. Tai Missoni then became more interested in other projects, everything from designing costumes for La Scala, to designing carpets and tapestries. Rosita has admitted that in the 1990s she lost interest in fashion, before handing over to her daughter Angela in 1998. Rosita now is responsible for overseeing the design of all home projects. Missoni knitwear is known for its multitude of patterns such as stripes, geometrics, and abstract florals, in a kaleidoscope of colours.  They are also known for the liberal use of many different fabrics such as wool, cotton, linen, rayon and silk.

On September 13, 2011, Missoni made headlines briefly when Target Stores offered low-cost variants of Missoni products in their stores and on their website.  Most items sold out within 24 hours, with lines up to 100 people long waiting for restocking, and Target’s website crashed repeatedly. Many items appeared on eBay within hours, at two to three times markup.

The three children of the founders play a large part in the business. Vittorio (born 1954) is the Marketing Director, Luca (born 1956) was responsible for the design of the menswear collection through to the Spring/Summer 2008 collection. Angela (born 1958) was only the womenswear designer but took over menswear beginning with the Fall/Winter 2008/2009 collection. Luca in turn became the head Creative Director/Director of the company from then on.

Luca’s daughter, Jennifer Missoni, is an actress who has appeared in Off Broadway theatre productions, and in episodes of Damages and the Law & Order series.  Angela’s daughter, Margherita, designs accessories at Missoni and is also a model, signed to [Marilyn Agency]. She is the unofficial muse of the Missoni collection and the face of their two perfumes and was the face for Missoni for Target collection. Creative Director Angela Missoni brought her entire family and some friends to London for one of their latest campaigns, shot in London’s Museum of Everything.

Aside from the main Missoni line, the company has diversified into a variety of luxury goods. Missoni Sport was initially licensed out but production and marketing was brought in-house in January 2002 and has since been discontinued.  M Missoni is a less expensive line introduced in 1998, manufactured and distributed by Marzotto (now Valentino Fashion Group S.p.A). It has achieved remarkable success in being able to reach a larger number of consumers and is now being sold at premier department and specialty stores across the world.

The Missoni Home collection has its roots in furnishing fabrics produced in 1981 in collaboration with Rosita’s family firm.  They launched their first perfume in 1982,  although that product has nothing to do with the license now held by Estée Lauder.

In November 2005, Missoni and the Rezidor Hotel Group signed an agreement to create Hotel Missoni, a lifestyle hotel chain, with plans to have 30 hotels open or in development by 2012. As of March 2011, five properties have been confirmed.

  • Hotel Missoni Edinburgh – Edinburgh, Scotland, United Kingdom – opened June 8, 2009
  • Hotel Missoni Kuwait – Kuwait City, Kuwait – opened March 1, 2011
  • Hotel Missoni Jebel Sifah – Muscat, Oman – opening Q1 2012
  • Hotel Missoni Ilha de Cajaíba – Bahia, Brazil – opening Q1 2012
  • Hotel Missoni Belek – Belek, Turkey – opening Q1 2013
  • Hotel Missoni Mauritius – Baie du Cap, Mauritius – opening 2014

The first property, Hotel Missoni Edinburgh, opened on June 8, 2009 in a prime location on the city’s Royal Mile. The second property, Hotel Missoni Kuwait, will open in a luxury mixed-use development on the seafront in early 2010. A property was previously announced for Dubai’s Palm Jumeirah island, but has since been cancelled. The third announced property for the chain will be the 300-room Hotel Missoni Jebel Sifah, a beachfront resort located outside of Muscat, Oman; it is planned to open in the first quarter of 2012. A fourth property, Hotel Missoni Cape Town, was announced on June 9, 2009; the 157-room property was due to open in 2010 shortly after the FIFA World Cup, but has been placed on hold and temporarily scrapped. The chain’s fifth property, the 150-room Hotel Missoni Ilha de Cajaíba, will debut in northeast Brazil in early 2012. A new 138-room golf and spa resort in Belek, Turkey, was announced in 2010; it is due to open in 2013.


March 21, 2012

Gerrit Rietveld

Schröder House, Utrecht, The Netherlands

Gerrit Rietveld (1888-1964)

Dutch minimalist architect and designer Gerrit Rietveld was a member of the De Stijl movement. Significant for his work is how he pared his design down to basic cubist elements and often used primary colours to emphasise the different planes. Most of his furniture was designed and manufactured to accompany his architectural commissions.

His lengthy career began already as a young boy in his father’s carpentry shop in Utrecht. The shop, catering to the bourgeois taste of the local clientele, produced quality period pieces of furniture. He left the shop in 1917 to set up an establishment of his own. This move marked a definite break with the traditions of his father’s work.

His first attempts in search of his own artistic line, were influenced by the Amsterdam School. Rietveld re-invented the structure of chairs and other objects and built them as constructivist sculptures. In 1918 he designed an early version of his legendary Red and Blue Chair. It was published in the De Stijl Magazine, the magazine of the movement of which he became a member in 1919. In this way Rietveld came in contact with various architects associated with the modern Dutch movement. They were all looking for a way to purify their work, to remove all remnants of past styles and influences. As the fame of De Stijl rapidly spread, Rietveld’s reputation grew from that of a local craftsman to an architect recognized in avant-garde circles across Europe. While working on the Schröder House, built in 1925, he left his furniture workshop with his long-time assistant, Gerhard van der Groenekan. Most of Rietveld’s furniture designs were sold at Metz & Co, a Dutch department store.

Rietveld’s career proceeded uninterrupted until 1943. He then was subsequently barred from practising as an architect, due to his refusal to join the Nazi-controlled Kulturkammer. After the war, the country and Rietveld gradually returned to normality, and Rietveld continued his work until he died at an age of 76.

Among his numerous furniture models, The Zig Zag chair, The Red and Blue Chair, the Schelling and Military series remain as eternal design icons. Gerrit Rietveld’s designs are to be found in the most important museum collections over the world.

March 20, 2012

Pierre Paulin

“A chair should be more than simply functional. It should be friendly, fun and colorful.”
– Pierre Paulin

Pierre Paulin Born in Paris in 1927,

Paulin had a French father and a stern German-speaking Swiss mother. He grew up in Laon in the Picardie region of northern France, and greatly admired his uncle, Georges Paulin, who designed cars for Panhard, Peugeot and Rolls-Royce Bentley, patented the first power-operated retractable hardtop in 1931, and was a hero of the Resistance. He was executed by the Nazis in 1942.

Paulin failed his baccalauréat and trained as a ceramist in Vallauris on the French Riviera, and then as a stone-carver in Burgundy. An injury to his right arm in a fight put paid to his dreams of becoming a sculptor and he attended the Ecole Camondo in Paris, where later designers such as Philippe Starck also studied. He had a stint with the Gascoin company in Le Havre and developed a keen interest in Scandinavian and Japanese design as well as the functional furniture created by Charles and Ray Eames, Florence Knoll, Herman Miller and George Nelson in the US.

Paulin first exhibited at the Salon des Arts Ménagers in 1953, which lead to his work appearing on the cover of the magazine La Maison Française. The following year, while employed by the Thonet company, he began using swimwear material stretched over traditionally made chair frames. But he really found his forte when he joined the Maastricht-based Dutch manufacturers Artifort and came up with the Mushroom chair in 1960.

The French designer Pierre Paulin created eye-catching, convivial, comfortable chairs shaped like mushrooms, oysters, tongues and tulips, and attracted the patronage of presidents Georges Pompidou and François Mitterrand, who asked him to redecorate parts of the Elysée Palace in the Seventies and Eighties.

Built from metallic frames and rubber webbing padded with foam, and covered with stretchable material in a variety of bright colours, his simple, hard-wearing, affordable chairs, divans and sofas caught the mood of the freewheeling Sixties and sold in huge numbers. They became so iconic that they are now in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.

Paulin’s mushroom, tongue and tulip chairs were runaway successes, admired for their clear lines, the sensual feel of their material or just simply for the way their shapes cradled the body. In 1969, he won a Chicago Design Award for his Ribbon Chair. By then, he was involved in the renovation of the Denon Wing of the Louvre Museum. In 1971, he redecorated the living, dining, smoking and exhibition rooms of the Elysée’s private apartments for Pompidou.

After years with ADSA, the industrial design agency of his second wife Maia Wodzislawska, he launched his own consultancy in 1979 and worked for Calor, Ericsson, Renault, Saviem, Tefal, Thomson and Airbus.

Tall, distinguished, and elegant with his silvery hair, Paulin saw himself as “un marginal”, an outsider. He remained modest about his achievements and deplored the cult of the star designer. “Objects should remain anonymous,” he argued. “It’s extremely dangerous to give too much importance and status to people who are only doing their job. Working for the enjoyment of the greatest number is very gratifying, much more so than any official honour.”

Paulin’s forward-looking, innovative designs influenced many, including Olivier Mourgue, whose futuristic Djinn chairs featured in Stanley Kubrick’s classic film 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Fifteen years ago, Paulin retired to the Cévennes in southern France but still came up with new designs, while several of his iconic chairs and sofas remain in production. Last year, an auction of 76 of his original pieces attracted many impressive bids.

Most of all, Paulin was an intuitive designer. “I had an uncanny ability to picture tri-dimensional objects. I could think up a shape and make it spin in my head like a sculptor or an architect would,” he said. “I made the most of that gift.”

Pierre Paulin, designer: born Paris 9 July 1927; twice married (three children); died Montpellier 13 June 2009.

February 15, 2012

The Architect and the Painter

February 13, 2012

Charles and Ray Eames

Charles and Ray Eames are among the most important American designers of this century.  They are best known for their groundbreaking contributions to architecture, furniture design (e.g., the Eames Chair), industrial design and manufacturing, and the photographic arts.

Charles Eames was born in 1907 in St. Louis, Missouri. He attended school there and developed an interest in engineering and architecture.  After attending Washington University on scholarship for two years and being thrown out for his advocacy of Frank Lloyd Wright, he began working in an architectural office.  In 1929, he married his first wife, Catherine Woermann (they divorced in 1941), and a year later Charles’ only child, daughter Lucia was born.  In 1930, Charles started his own architectural office.  He began extending his design ideas beyond architecture and received a fellowship to Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where he eventually became head of the design department.

Ray Kaiser Eames was born in Sacramento, California in the middle of the century’s second decade.  She studied painting with Hans Hofmann in New York before moving on to Cranbrook Academy where she met and assisted Charles and Eero Saarinen in preparing designs for the Museum of Modern Art’s “Organic Furniture Competition.”  Charles and Eero’s designs, created by molding plywood into complex curves, won them the two first prizes.

Charles and Ray married in 1941 and moved to California where they continued their furniture design work with molding plywood. During the war they were commissioned by the Navy to produce molded plywood splints, stretchers and experimental glider shells.  In 1946, Evans Products began producing the Eameses’ molded plywood furniture.  Their molded plywood chair was called “the chair of the century” by the influential architectural critic Esther McCoy.  Soon production was taken over by Herman Miller, Inc., who continues to produce the furniture in the United States to this day.  Another company, Vitra International, manufactures the furniture in Europe.  In 1949, Charles and Ray designed and built their own home in Pacific Palisades, California as part of the Case Study House Program sponsored by Arts and Architecture Magazine.  Their design and innovative use of materials made this house a mecca for architects and designers from all over the world. It is considered one of the most important post-war residences built anywhere in the world. [ Case Study #8]

In the early 1950s, the Eameses extended their interest and skill in photography into filmmaking.  They created over eighty-five short films (2-30 minutes) ranging in subjects from tops to the world of Franklin and Jefferson, from simple sea creatures to the explanation of mathematical and scientific concepts, such as the workings of the computer.

Great documentary

The husband-and-wife team of Charles and Ray Eames are widely regarded as America’s most important designers. Perhaps best remembered for their mid-century plywood and fiberglass furniture, the Eames Office also created a mind-bending variety of other products, from splints for wounded military during World War II, to photography, interiors, multi-media exhibits, graphics, games, films and toys. But their personal lives and influence on significant events in American life – from the development of modernism, to the rise of the computer age – has been less widely understood. Narrated by James Franco, Eames: The Architect and the Painter is the first film since their death dedicated to these creative geniuses and their work.

 To purchase :


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