Meditation can really free up our thinking, help us gain clarity and remove blockages that can so often hinder creative work.
Can matter be moulded and manipulated by the mind like magic? Can thoughts and other invisible forces bend reality? Are we shaping things or are things shaping us? Is the mind separate from the objects and phenomena it perceives – can one exist without the other – can external objects live without a set of eyes and a functioning brain to observe them? Do we exist in the world or does the world exist in our heads? Where do ideas come from anyway?
As a meditation teacher and industrial designer these types of questions really excite and even influence my work. I’m fascinated with the invisible forces that impact and somehow shape our world. The practical designer part of me wants to explore the connections between meditation, creativity and materiality. I’m really interested in how these ethereal concepts overlap and relate to the physical world of form, matter and materials. Meditation plays an integral role in my life but I’ve found that it can be applied in numerous ways and used as an effective tool in the creative process.
Meditation can really free up our thinking, help us gain clarity and remove blockages that can so often hinder creative work. “Art’s purpose is to sober and quiet the mind so that it is in accord with what happens” ~ John Cage. In the past I’ve ran various ‘meditation making’ workshops with groups of artists asking the question: Where do ideas come from? The aim was to transcend the everyday mind with its cultural rules and established ways of thinking to generate fresh ideas and create new ways of making. I have experimented with it in my studio, meditating alone for hours at a time and then continued that state of awareness into silent semi-automatic making – allowing bodily movements and ideas to just happen with no effort or control. I’ve used it when I have felt stuck or blocked – I’ve used it when I have been ill or felt unwell and I’ve used it to help manifest my present moment reality by planting seeds of intention into my past meditations. Over the years the process has become a constant source of bliss, energy and creative inspiration. I’ve seen many areas of my reality gradually blossom as a result and I would go as far as to say it has fundamentality changed the way my mind looks at itself and the material world around us.
But is the world around us really as solid as it seems? First of all everything you sense or see is the brain converting light waves and other stimulus into electrical signals that then project images somewhere inside the head. So in a weird way we are always looking at our own mind rather than external bodies or objects. We are forever trapped in our body’s own internal imaging processes (similar to Neo in the Matrix but without the machines). I often say to my clients/students: There are 7 billion people on the planet but 7 billion very different realities. On another level our brains are hardwired to seek out positive mass and outlines. Take a look around you right now. Notice all the empty space surrounding you and the physical ‘stuff’. Did you notice that there is far more ‘nothingness’ than matter? Even the white space on this page between these words you are reading right now. In fact ‘space’ is the primary and most prevalent ingredient in our universe. According to quantum mechanics – every person and every solid object we perceive is 99.9999999999999 (that’s thirteen nines) empty space. When we zoom in to atoms, the smallest building blocks of reality, what we find isn’t solid stuff at all but in fact tiny packets of energy called quanta, spinning around at dizzying speeds in huge voids of nothingness – mind blowing right! To quote the great man Wayne Dyer: “It’s the space between the bars that hold the tiger, it’s the silence between the notes that make the music and it is out of the silent space or the gap between our thoughts that everything is created”.
So without empty space or gaps there would be only noise. Without space nothing would grow,
without space nothing could exist. The mind is very similar, the average person thinks between 60-80,000 thoughts a day – many of my friends, students and family ask me: How can I switch my thoughts off? I reply: You don’t need to switch them off that would be ridiculous – you would be dead. Instead you need to go within and re-learn how to see the stillness and silence that is already there – in fact the thoughts, feelings and ideas all spring into being from this empty chasm between and behind thoughts, like a ship sailing on the surface of a vast ocean or clouds moving across the sky. The stillness, space and silence are already there in abundance hidden in the background – but we have forgotten about this place, we have lost contact with it. Meditation therefore becomes the vehicle that re-connects us with this lost and sacred realm.
The more we visit this silent place the more space we create for ideas, healing, compassion, love and personal growth. In fact all ideas and creative insights are said to bubble up from this infinite expanse of emptiness. Every second a new arrival, a thought, emotion or idea arises in the mind from beyond, each having the power and potential to transform and manifest into action. Actions, behaviors and habits are the mind in motion, most of the time it’s the unconscious mind moving us through life – carving out our legacy. Our lives therefore are a result of these invisible, subtle forces that take root in this infinite field of potentiality - a space pregnant with possibilities.
Nothingness transforms into thoughts, thoughts into ideas, ideas into actions and actions take the form of bodily movements.. these movements can fashion objects, write music, speak words, visit a workshop and so on until you have a finished object or work of art. This fascination with empty space sparked my ‘Om Rhythm’ project. The structural table began with a simple idea. I wanted to create something from nothing, so I started with 6 tiny dots on a piece of paper. The dots were braille, a hidden form of language. They spelt out the invisible mantra ‘Om’. I then wanted to explode a physical 3D object from these tiny points, which resulted in a structural coffee table made predominantly from space. The welding and fabrication was a playful process using intuition to guide the building & placement of each steel segment. So the dots came to represent the ‘nothing’ with the steel lines representing the ‘something’.
When it comes to material reality and the physical landscape I can’t help referencing the city in which I live and grew up in. This city represents a big influence on my identity and my work. I grew up and still live in Sheffield, England, once the beating heart of the industrial north. As a kid I lived on a giant Brutalist block of flats in the 80’s called Kelvin Flats, a carbon copy of the infamous Park Hill Flats that still stands today like a concrete fortress overlooking the city. My high-rise upbringing was a weird and wonderful introduction to the world that has stayed with me, ever since I remember feeling like we were growing up on a huge concrete spacecraft with streets in the sky that stretched for miles. I still remember peddling my Chopper bicycle and playing football on the never-ending labyrinth of landings and streets... the ball would go over the edge and it would take an eternity to go get the ball back. This was my first impression of the real world. My young self was surrounded by these heavy materials, supersized structures and bulky configurations. My cute and cuddly consciousness was very concrete. The Kelvin Flats were demolished in 1995. I remember moving off when I was about 7 years old to go live in a real house with a real garden. Sheffield built three such projects off the back of Le Coubusier’s Utopian dream for mass social housing. However the reality was in stark contrast after years of neglect. Kelvin like its two brothers (Park Hill & Hyde Park) fell into disrepair with crime slowly taking hold.
These slightly sci-fi memories of growing up on Kelvin Flats inspired my new ‘Topian’ collection, a recent commission for Wentworth Pewter who are also based in Sheffield and one of the last remaining pewter-smiths in the UK. The collection brings ancient pewter and metal spinning out of the industrial past and into contemporary concrete living. The group of table top items consisting of two vases, two candle holders and a bowl, are inspired by the factory in which they are hand made and the shelves stacked high with tools & chucks used for metal-spinning. The collection pays tribute to Sheffield’s industrial roots with its famous Brutalist buildings. The name refers to the utopian vision of post-World War II society to build a better world and the dystopian outcome of many of the neglected buildings that fell into disrepair. I really wanted to capture the concrete essence and metal manufacturing heritage of the city with this project but we also wanted to be mindful of environmental impact so decided to add factory waste into the concrete mixture. My very first exploration with concrete was back in 2001 while undertaking my Industrial Design Degree. I had the same intention to draw inspiration from my industrial roots. The Kelvin Lamp pays homage to the flats I was born on. The proportions were based on the humble brick and the idea was to impersonate an actual piece of the flats. The prototype in the images was a batch production project, a total of 6no. were made with accompanying jigs and moulds to cast the concrete body.
In my work I’m always looking for sculptural outcomes. I want to bring experimental ideas together with raw-honest material and elegant forms. Two good examples of this methodology are the ‘Frames’ family and the Om Vessels. The Frames Table and Bench duo comprise of geometric steel lines gently nod to structural engineering in architecture, come together with natural oak or ash to form a super strong yet flexible dining table and seating platform. The sculptural Om Vessels can be configured to create unique yet practical art clusters or constellations. The storage hole offers the perfect place to store keys and other precious pocket items. You can also use them like oversized coat hooks to hang your coat or bag on. As an added bonus they can also be used as a passive speaker to naturally amplify music from your smart phone’s loudspeaker. In an active state the vessels are highly functional design objects and in a passive state they become an art or sound installation.
Credits - Anwar Studio
The common feature for all of our products is a superior quality led-crystal from which both tableware and our lighting collections are made.
Bomma is a manufactory - in glass terms, what is a manufactory?
The fact that BOMMA is a glass manufactory means that we are able to cover the whole process of both developing and producing lighting and tableware products. The Latin word manus means hand and yes - all BOMMA products are made by hand, to be fairly accurate often by mouth.
You make lighting but also tableware and decoration – what’s the unique Bomma factor found in all your products?
The common feature for all of our products is a superior quality led-crystal from which both tableware and our lighting collections are made. Our significant attribute is the robotic cutting that we invented ourselves. We can also guarantee that we produce every single product by hand, (as I mentioned above) which is a result of the priceless value of the traditional Czech glassmaking craftsmanship. Another important value that is present in our every collection is the unique approach to design. Thanks to the cooperation with contemporary designers and artist, we are able to be truly special and to be successful.
The story of your brand starts like many of the best stories - from some misfortune and necessity?
Our story is actually kind of extraordinary, since our company first started with producing the glass-cutting sophisticated robots and after years began with designing the glass products when opening our own glass works. Bohemia Machine was established in 1992 as a producer of cutting technology (developing its own robots etc.) and since the company run successfully, its owner Jiří Trtík decided to re-open the local glass manufactory, which had not survived the glassmaking crisis and had perished. BOMMA, Bohemia Machine’s glassmaking division was introduced in 2012 and built Europe’s most modern production facility. It quickly became known for its precise cutting technology, exceptionally clear crystal, as well as oversized mouth-blown glass, retaining the highest quality. Since its very beginning BOMMA cherishes and combines the traditional know-how of glass-blowing together with the unique contemporary design.
What is unique about your crystal and what has been some of the main inspirations behind your new collection?
Our led-crystal is unique not only for its long-lasting quality but also for the exceptional clarity and brightness. At BOMMA, we concentrate on contemporary design. We always value simple shapes and minimalism but at the same time are open to new perspectives. A perfect example of our direction is the SHIBARI collection, which follows the idea of traditional Japanese method of tying-up with ropes. However Shibari is more than a technique of tying up objects with ropes. It represents a method of communication within a hidden system of lines and loops. The Japanese call it Kinbaku: The beauty of tight binding.
The DISC collection follows the idea of the TIM pendant with its exceptionally large amount of mouth-blown crystal. However, this time the round shape is defined by a mold. With its minimalistic design, fine materials and details, it gives the impression of something elementary and close, at the same time something unknown, mysterious and unique. Combining crystal with metal, DISC resembles a real space lighting object.
The PHENOMENA Collection was inspired by simple shapes: A circle, triangle, rectangle and oval. The term phenomenon comes from the Greek word for ‘appearance’. The forms are what first attract you. In Plato’s idealist philosophy, phenomena are transient and likenesses of the eternal, perfect and so not truly real. This definition seems fitting for a collection produced in a material that is so difficult, yet versatile, so strong, and yet fragile as glass. The cut version of the Phenomena collection - PHENOMENA CUT -combines the tradition of mouth-blown Czech cut crystal with a contemporary and smart approach to design. The precise geometric pattern is made with a sophisticated robotic technology developed in-house - the signature know-how of Bomma.
You attended two of the major fairs recently: Salone del mobile and Maison objet - what were the experiences like?
Our experience with both of these fairs was exquisite. The visitors’ responses were great. The recent Milano fair was a huge success for us, since we got the opportunity to meet and talk to a lot of industry professionals that were amazed by our in-house technology as well as the design itself. Being a new rising brand, we are happy that thanks to these fairs we may present our designs and attract new customers and partners – it is usually love at first sight, so we simply have to give them the opportunity to see it for their own eyes.
In your recent photo shoot you went for a brutalist theme in the Czech embassy in Berlin - what’s the story behind that?
The Czech Embassy in Berlin was designed by Vladimír and Věra Machonin and built between 1970 and 1978 and is a prime example of the then Czechoslovak brutalist architectural style. Their immense contribution to the development of modern Czech architecture, glassmaking and lighting design now creates the background for BOMMA’s current production. Lighting design and production is inherently tied to the Czech glassmaking craft and its history. Since the 19th century, Czech glassmakers produced monumental glass chandeliers for worldwide markets. Yet BOMMA highlights the often-overlooked era of 1960’s and 70’s brutalist architecture and design. It’s a style that had reason to flourish in the West, yet forms an integral part of the Eastern European heritage, with many ultra-modern and monumental works created during this era. Bomma is convinced that the brutalist architecture with its significant aesthetics is still vividly reminding the legacy and cultural heritage of the Eastern Bloc and therefore goes perfectly with Bomma’s contemporary edgy designs.
You have assembled an electrifying mix of elite designers and young talent - what makes a designer the right partner for you?
For a designer it is vital which technology/ material the company disposes. Thus we are convinced, that our in-house technology and specific know-how of glass making is what appealed to the designers. And of course for us it is absolutely essential to cooperate with gifted designers who are approaching us with new ideas, perspectives and their unique mindsets. Developing and designing of every collection is an exciting journey for designers just like for us. Finding new options and techniques, defining new shapes and desired forms, while keeping in mind the function and core values...that is the real beauty of design.
DESTIG is also about giving our readers reasons to visit places – tell us about Světlá nad Sázavou?
Světlá nad Sázavou is located in a beautiful natural area rich in forests and rivers. The city itself is nice and neat. Along with the glass factory, one can visit a local castle built during the baroque era or just enjoy the Czech small-town calm atmosphere. A part of our management, Sales department and Marketing team is based in Prague, which is also definitely a cool place to go...
Credits – Bomma
DESTIG Magazine - JAMINI DESIGNS - an intriguing journey between two worlds where reality takes on a poetic elegance.
Jamini, a Hindi word meaning the colour purple, is a lifestyle brand that took root in India and took flight in Paris.
By Lydia Thurlow
Blending patterns and textures from different eras and places she curates unique ranges of handcrafted lifestyle pieces. At the heart of Jamini’s philosophy lies a profound belief in the value of drawing on the past to live creatively in the modern world. Jamini is a window into Indian culture and its skilled artisans, opening up a dialogue between Indian savoir-faire and French joie-de-vivre. Beyond its colourful harmony, its deeper beauty lies in its celebration of the people at the centre: the men and women passionate about their land and their crafts.
Usha glides effortlessly between these two worlds, with deep understanding and affection for each. With the inventiveness of an alchemist, she identifies and isolates, orchestrates and composes, distils and transforms. Jamini is much more than a lifestyle brand; it is an evolving, intriguing journey where reality takes on a poetic elegance.
Jamini finds inspiration in the heart of Assam, with its fabrics, techniques and culture. It was here that Usha grew up, surrounded by tea bushes and immense forests under the administrative authority of her grandfather, home to rhinos, elephants and tigers. This region is not only extremely rich in natural resources - tea, wood, fuel and coal; it also has a thriving textile industry. Although despite being rich in natural beauty, due to its geographical location it has lagged behind in economic development and suffered various political instabilities. Assam’s mélange of people and tribes is one of the principal reasons for the proliferation of diverse weaving techniques that the region is so famous for. This is why it is such an immense source of inspiration and experimentation for Jamini.
Usha decided to leave this wonderful land to shape her future, one that she imagined to be more exciting than her adventure-filled childhood. At the age of 16 she headed towards Delhi and followed an exemplary path: attending the best school, university and business school in India, the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. After completing her business degree, Usha expanded her horizon towards Hong Kong and worked in a marketing position for an American firm. A change of meridian came soon after she met someone who became the father of her children and moved to Paris, the city of love. With a love of beauty and the knowledge of where to look for it, she joined L’Oréal for a few years. But the birth of her first child made her realise she needed to create a bridge with India. A chance discussion with a close friend made her realize that she could apply her sense of aesthetic and work as a freelance-sourcing agent for some of the top French brands for textile ideas from India.
A few seasons later, Jamini was born as a natural extension of Usha’s passion to showcase the elegant beauty of textile traditions and the skills of expert artisans from her country. More than just an aesthetic adventure, it is a committed endeavour to confront human and ecological challenges, which we face in a world with rapidly shrinking boundaries and resources.
“With the inventiveness of an alchemist, she identifies and isolates, orchestrates and composes, distils and transforms.”
The handloom weaving industry has been intimately linked with the culture of Assamese people since the 17th century. Almost every home has a spinning wheel and a hand operated loom, and women weave their own fabrics, which enables them to earn some sort of economic freedom. Each tribe has their own code for weaving motifs of humans, animals or purely graphic patterns. Jamini works with different weaving clusters focusing primarily on Eri silk or a pure quality of cotton.
Eri silk is also known as peace silk because only after the silkworm had become a butterfly, and flies away unharmed, is the cocoon harvested and spun into silk. It takes its name from the Assamese word ‘era’ which means castor: the plant the silkworm feeds off. Its production is not only sustainable and eco-friendly; it also empowers small, marginal farmers in Assam. This region’s weaving industry produces an incredible 95% of the world’s Eri silk.
Block printing (Dabu) is a printing technique using hand-carved wooden blocks. It’s a method often associated with Rajasthan, but is now quite commonly used across different parts of India. It’s this technique that Jamini for printing tableware, computer cases and tote bags.
Usha’s father was a person determined to protect the environment and offer a source of income for the women in the villages surrounding the forests. So he started up a business called ElRhino that makes paper from elephant and rhino waste without ruining the precious forests of Assam. It’s this paper that Jamini uses for its beautiful notebooks. The family has also created a trust that helps protect the forests from poachers and deforestation – environmental issues that are not commonly discussed.
Alongside the range of fashion and home accessories is a new collection of wicker baskets. Made from a plant called Water Hyacinth, an aquatic plant that originally comes from South-East Asia, it became popular at the beginning of the 21st century because of its beautiful lilac-coloured flowers. It grows at a phenomenal speed, and has consequentially become a serious problem in Assam, floating in large masses that quickly block sunlight and starve other plants and fish of oxygen. Two years ago, the Assamese government introduced a project designed to turn this invasive plant into a fibre with promising, ecological advantages. By creating a new range of hand-woven baskets with this fibre, Usha is proud to contribute to this eco-friendly project, which benefits the villages of the region. Behind every method and material used by Jamini, there is a strong determination to preserve beautiful, centuries’ old tradition, in full respect of their human and natural environments, while harmoniously integrating them with a contemporary aesthetic.
Credits - Jamini Designs & Lydia Thurlow
Porcelain on walls is not just for collector’s plates. Alice Riehl’s 3D wall-art is good evidence of that. This involute porcelain artwork transforms an impersonal wall into a lively statement. These gorgeous and timeless pieces decorate luxury apartments, villas and hotels around the world.
Your latest work, “Lignage” is a very personal reinterpretation of the family tree, what did inspire you?
Since the very beginning, my work has always been inspired by plants, trees, flowers, by the powerful movements and life found in nature. I want to make as if porcelain was literally coming out of the wall, in a suspended motion. This time I took interest in the concept of family tree, which is a very special combination of nature and life. Usually, it is a traditional representation of the family with the official links between its members, in drawings that people proudly show on the wall of their homes as a tribute to their ancestors.
I started working on this idea, trying to bring another dimension, to show the intimacy behind the links, and the quality of the relationship. As for most of my mural work, there are several levels of understanding. From a distance you see a general pattern, and when you get closer to the piece, you see more details that lead you further into the story.
I see some sort of French heritage, from the 18th Century or even Art Nouveau in your work, renewing the tradition of decorative elements inspired by nature. Is it something you claim?
Absolutely! I see my work as timeless, away from fashion trends. I have the chance to live and work in Paris, where my studio is located, and of course it has a strong influence on my artwork. But sensitivity to nature is universal. It is a common legacy. I gather a lot of images and ideas wherever I travel. And ultimately I work on projects in different countries with very different cultural backgrounds.
As an Artist, what is your creative process?
To me creation is a whole and a continuous process. It is a permanent collection of signs that will be integrated when the right time comes. There is no gap between design and making. I like the initial stage when I imagine my next work, but I have to put my hands into the clay to bring it to life. This is one of the things I like the most and besides, porcelain has very special properties that make it part of the creation process. For instance it keeps memories of shapes that reappear during firing. I like to see my work with porcelain as a partnership!
The vertical dimension is unusual for materials like porcelain. What lead you to propose 3D wall-art?
Traditionally, ceramists work mostly on bowls or table sculptures. Initially, I did it too. But I became somehow frustrated by the limitation required by the size of the kilns. As my work is complex and full of details, it was challenging to consider bigger pieces, so I started looking for ways to work on larger dimensions and very quickly the idea of mural installation came out. It took me several years to monitor the technical aspects and now I can work on almost every dimension indoor and outdoor. This allows me to propose more ambitious projects.
You have a prestigious list of customers and luxury projects around the world, like the Intercontinental Hotels, a “Chateau” in Margaux, or even the Princess of Monaco, how do you typically work on a project? Well, one of the interests of my jobs is that, like my pieces, every project is unique. Each time it is a new adventure, defined by the place and its inhabitants, whether it is residential, hospitality or corporate. Each space has its own atmosphere and constraints, and a hotel or a family does not have the same expectations. Bespoke is about adjusting to each scenario and find the rightness. Most of the time, I collaborate with an Interior Designer, an Architect, an Art Consultant, or an Art Gallery.
Bio - FROM SEVRES TO PARIS
Alice Riehl discovered porcelain in Sèvres during her training and it has become her medium of choice since then. She developed her personal touch by combining it with laces. The texture effect it produces has become the signature of her work. Alice entirely models with her own hands all the pieces, in her studio located in Paris. No mould is involved in the process, so each piece is unique, signed by the Artist and carries its own expression and its specific move.
Her inspiration comes from nature, under metaphorical and idealized shapes. She captures its impressions and impulses to relate an oneiric universe, and invite to a 3D journey into imagination and wondrous.
Credits - Boigontier, Yvan Moreau, Alice Riehl
To celebrate the release of her film “Collecting Paul Evans”, NYC’s leading art advisor discusses the life and work of the furniture designer/maker.
The Allure of Paul Evans
It is hard to believe, but if you wanted to know anything about furniture designer/maker Paul Evans (1931-87), or about the metal art furniture that he created in the 60s and 70s up until five years ago, there was nowhere you could find any piece of information. There was no single book, no publication, no archives, which Evans happened to destroy, no articles. Nothing. Hard to believe, I am saying, because Evans was recently hailed as the world’s most collectible American designer by the NYT, and his pieces have come to fetch astronomical figures, being constantly sought-after by art and design collectors worldwide.
In fact, it was not in the museum arena or in the academia that Evans was rediscovered, but rather in the marketplace, attracting collectors, interior designers and architects, who consequently turned his name prolific again after decades of neglect. It all began in 2009, when the design collection of famed party planner and chic tastemaker Robert Isabell was offered for sale. His love for Paul Evans’ furniture was then revealed when images of his stylish West Village town house were published.
Evans’ beginning was not as global and not as glamor as we may think. He was born in Newtown Pennsylvania, and went to study metalsmithing at the School for American Craftsman at the Rochester Institute of Technology, the academic institution that came to train makers during the postwar years. When moving back to Pennsylvania in 1955, he settled in Bucks County and began collaborating with self-taught furniture designer Phillip Lloyd Powell, who owned a small shop in the picturesque town, a pilgrimage site at that time for artists, critics, design lovers, and tourists.
It was a decade later that Evans had first achieved his mature visual language. With the colorful sculptured front screens and cabinets, where he shaped the metal in his own signature way, departing completely from the traditional metalsmithing in which he was trained at the school. He invented a new type of furniture crafted like never seen before. He was weaving their facades in intricate collages of bronze, steel, brass, enamel, and gold leaf, creating design, which was radical, personal, and dynamic.
In the 60s, ambitious Evans devoted his life to expanding his growing business, and in 1964 he entered into a new business relationship with Directional Furniture, the prominent modern manufacturer based in North Carolina. With showrooms across the country and an extensive marketing program, this collaboration had brought his name to the national spotlight.
But the engagement with Directional came to end Evans’ link to craft world, bringing him into the heart of the world of industrial furniture. He reinvented himself in an ambitious prolific career, and transformed his studio in New Hope into a prototype shop, establishing a second
workshop as a production facility.
A constant introduction of new lines by Directional throughout the fifteen-year collaboration came to maintain Evans’ name in the world of American furniture. Some of these lines enjoyed a particular commercial success. One of them was Argente, crafted in black and white welded aluminum and steel, featuring cubic forms etched in a variety of patterns. Evans’ innovative treatment of aluminum enabled him to achieve surfaces that looked as rich and deep as sterling silver. In 1969, he introduced another blockbuster, the Sculpted Bronze line. Known also as Goop, it was composed of furniture pieces that look as if they are crafted of bronze, though they are made of plywood coated in epoxy resin, textured, and sprayed on with bronze and silver deposit.
In 1971, Directional introduced Evans’ blockbuster streamlined Cityscape series, the most successful and widely received of all of his collections. Reflecting and named after the urban skyline, which he loved viewing when traveling to Manhattan, Cityscape was more architectural, sleek, and glowing than anything he had done before. Featuring smooth reflective shining surfaces, these glamorous pieces of furniture couldn’t have been more different than the early massive textured work. Cityscape was modular, based on repetition of geometrical plates in steel, chrome, and brass welded together, a great representation of the Age of Disco. Evans developed nine lines in the series of Cityscape, ranging from Cityscape II, which consisted of faceted surfaces, broken into planes and angles like cubistic collages through introducing wood veneer in Cityscape III, streamlined forms, and other variations.
By the late seventies Paul Evans’ Directional lines proved too costly and complex to maintain, and the relationship with the company was terminated. In 1979, he opened his own showroom in the design district of New York City, where he presented furniture, which was not that different than what one would typically find in the neighborhood shops. In 1987, at the age of 55, he retired, but died of a heart attack the following day, living less than one day in retirement.
With the increasing interest in Paul Evans’ legacy and the art furniture that he created, several projects have come to shed light on the story of his life and career. The first, “Paul Evans: Designer & Sculptor” by Jeffrey Head was published in 2013; the ambitious retrospective and the catalog attached to it “Paul Evans: Crossing Boundaries and Crafting Modernism” opened at the James A. Michener Art Museum in 2014; and finally, the film I have created “Collecting Paul Evans,” a part of the series of Collecting Design, supported by Rago Arts and the New York School of Interior Design will air on YouTube this month.
Daniella Ohad received her Ph.D. degree from the Bard Graduate Center for Studies in the Decorative Arts, Design and Culture. For the past two decades, she has been committed to education in design history, theory, and the decorative arts. She has been a faculty member at the Department of Architecture, Interior Design, and Lighting of Parsons the New School for Design since 2000, and has taught at Pratt Institute, Bard College, and Bezalel Academy of Art and Design Jerusalem. Mrs. Ohad has been teaching, conducting, and curating public lectures, as well as speaking in conferences and publishing in scientific journals and popular magazines. As an art advisor, she has assembled distinctive private collections of 20th-century furniture and decorative arts. Ms. Ohad takes part in the museums arena as a member of several acquisition committees of major museums in New York City.
Watch: Collecting Paul Evans
Credits – RAGO Arts
The highest design require nothing less than the highest manufacturing skills. Since 2005, Porzellanmanufaktur FÜRSTENBERG has been creating unique, hand-made porcelain objects, designed SIEGER.
THE GLEAM OF LIQUID GOLD
Just sparkling – the handcrafted Sip of Gold champagne goblet from SIEGER by FÜRSTENBERG is a combination of wafer-thin porcelain and the finest precious metal. With its 24-carat gold plating on the inside and a wall thickness of around two millimeters, it offers a special drinking experience in which light is reflected hundreds of times to create the beguiling effect of liquid gold. In order to achieve such finesse, Christian and Michael Sieger, the owner of the German SIEGER brand, work with masters of their craft. At Porzellanmanufaktur FÜRSTENBERG the beautifully designed products and objects are precisely crafted and decorated.
BETWEEN THE ANCIENT AND THE MODERN
Designer Michael Sieger drew his inspiration for these exceptional drinking vessels from a classic silver goblet that he was given as a gift by his wife and muse, Bettina. The piece soon became one of his personal favourites and gave rise to the Sip of Gold collection as a modern-day adaptation. Some of the tumblers are smooth, some feature an elaborate white, black or platinum relief on the outside, whereas others appear with graphic patterns – but all of them can be combined in countless, unique ways.
In late 2016, new graceful and enticing goblets were added to the range. They combine gleaming precious metal, jet black and pure white in
four sensuous decors: graphic stars or dots, a crystalline diamond pattern and striking check. These tumblers supplement the 14 existing models in the collection.
Since 2005, SIEGER by FÜRSTENBERG is a part of and spur on the renaissance in tableware that we are increasingly witnessing. Because many people have once more come to appreciate the art of laying a table with top-quality pieces. In keeping with this development, the products encapsulate not only modern shapes, but also traditional and complex manufacturing methods. They all bear the signature of the very highest standards in terms of the materials, functionality and emotiveness.
Credits – SIEGER
DESTIG Magazine Interview - STANLEY JAY FRIEDMAN - We discuss the business of creativity with the USA’s most prolific product designer!
You have been in the industry since the 1970’s– how has the design business changed since you started out?
In a word: ‘computers!’ in 40 plus years, the design industry has grown enormously. The industry was a tightly knit group of individuals and manufacturers that controlled and “showed us what to buy”. Today the consumer is savvy. Most people are aware of design like never before - films, TV, newspapers, design and fashion magazines, online social media, and ecommerce has made it impossible to be oblivious and not pay attention to design. We are inundated with “being in the know!” Years ago, one could only purchase designer furniture through designer showrooms in which entry required going with a designer. Now the field is wide open. Today we all want to express our own personal individualism whereas in the past, egocentricity was frowned upon.
Your designs are described as bold, clean, barrier breaking and modern – do you ever play it safe?
I think I play it safe. I’m not looking to design museum or art product. I design product for manufacturers and I have a responsibility to design product that can be successful.
I sometimes push them a bit and give them a bit of a progressive aesthetic, but I’m careful not to push too far. Having said that, I will not do things that bore me or that I find objectionable to me personally. I still have to satisfy myself and I still have to design good relevant product. Yes, many manufacturers think of my designs as barrier breaking, and for them they might be. However, if and when I feel there’s a right time, I’ll show what I believe is not playing it safe.
You studied at the renowned Parsons School of Design but you radiate the authoritative confidence of a self-taught expert?
When I went to parsons (it seems like a century ago), design and theory were taught with a very different approach than it is today. First, Parsons at that time was entrenched with the classics and traditionalism. Computers were nowhere in sight. Modernism was spoken of, but not glorified. Bauhaus was certainly discussed, but not rejoiced. My education at Parsons was superb. I learned thoroughly about art history, the periods, and exhaustively knew every curve a Louis fifteenth fauteuil had. I was nevertheless frustrated about not investigating modernism more. The fact that I was frustrated about this issue gave me the impetus to go (on my own) and study and learn about the modernists. Though at that time, I didn’t realize how rewarding the understanding and study of art history was and how it was essential in becoming a complete designer. A slow evolution was emerging within me. The understanding of the periods began to unfold for me into having a better clearer picture of what modernism was all about. From the early works of Adolf Loos through the beginning/ending of Bauhaus, then on to the later forties and fifties of American and Scandinavian design and architecture. Personally I can attribute some of the reasoning for why it’s important to go through that kind of progression to what I saw in the work of Pablo Picasso. It was his early blue period of realism and how it evolved to the most extraordinary abstract work the art world has ever known.
You teach Evolution of Modernism in America – why do designers make good teachers?
To answer your question simply, it’s the passion. It’s your life. It’s what you breath, and it’s the need for expounding your feelings and getting it out. When you see young design students with eyes wide open, you remember how you were and the exhilaration you had. But not all students have an insatiable thirst to learn, but when you do find a student that does, it’s wonderfully gratifying to teach and nurture them. Then we can go nonstop discussing, lecturing, arguing or concurring what’s good and bad about today’s design vs. the past. What can we as designers do about it?
How do you keep your finger on the pulse to stay relevant to a younger generation?
Read, dream, and keep your eyes open - the news, politics, travel, real estate, fashion, design, architecture and the cinema. When I was very young the cinema served as an enormous influence on me. The fashion, set design, exotic places, lighting, drama, architecture, and what the world looked like. I lived vicariously through the styles and travels to places that I might never get to see. All of it gave me reason to dream beyond my expectations. Today I feel exactly the same.
When did you realize that design would be your life?
As a child, I always drew extremely well. I helped all the other children in class. That built my confidence. Most studies bored me and I did poorly. But I never stopped drawing. To this day, I sketch everyday in my little black books. I even keep a book by my bedside for the times I wake in the middle of the night with an idea. I knew in high school that my life would be in art. My family accepted that I wasn’t a great student, and they knew I loved to draw. They knew I wasn’t going to be a lawyer or a doctor. The truth is, I might have preferred to be a painter.
I was talented. But my family steered me in the direction of design, in fear I would be a starving artist.
What are your all-time creative influences?
My top most creative influence has to be the cinema (as mentioned). I loved it and still love going. Though I must admit, I miss the old films. Of course I have many other creative influences. I loved what Jean Michel Frank did with style and design. Chareau, Scarpa, Prouve they are some of my favorites. Saarinen, Wright, Le Corbusier, Aalto, Mies Van Der Rohe, Kahn, Barragan, and artists like Bacon, Shiela, Giacometti were all influential to me. Then there are today’s architects. Piano, Botta, Hadid, Ban, Koolhaas, Meier... I could go on and on.
You gave up your interior design practice to focus on product design – Why did you make that decision and how do the two disciplines differ for you?
Actually, I always designed products, and designing interiors was fun for a long time. I like people and that business is creating environments for people. I like and still do enjoy making beautiful things happen. Whether residential or commercial you have to satisfy the client. That’s not always easy. I did it for many years and had a large office staff. I think I just got burned out. Now I primarily work by myself with one or two freelance draftsmen-de- signing (strictly) product. The overhead and the responsibility are much lower. It gives room to free my mind. I love it this way!
You have earned many design awards during your career, if you could have a Stanley Jay Friedman Award what would it be for and why?
Passion, Discipline, and Perseverance. The PDP award!!! Without my passion, I would not have had the discipline and perseverance to go on for so long or just to go on at all.
You became the Design director for Brueton. What qualities do you look for in designers you work with?
Sometimes designers submit designs without knowing and understanding what the company’s capabilities and focus are. They just send things. That’s the wrong way to get your product accepted. I have always told new designers to learn as much about the company you plan to design for before submittal. It also goes without saying, that a designer’s portfolio and experience tells me immediately if they’re talented, capable and focused.
You have designed for Chinese manufacturers – what’s the state of China’s high design sector? China has come a long way. You can still buy junk, but you can also buy high quality product. The prices are still rewarding for us in the American market and most places in the world. I’ve seen in recent years some truly beautiful product coming from China. Having said that, Italy still outdoes most countries with design and quality. The reason once again, is passion. Italians seem to have it in their DNA. Everyone in Italy supports the design industry. They’re fervent about design. So until the Chinese or other countries understand that, Italy will remain number one.
You are a native New Yorker – what are your favorite places in the big Apple?
NYC is like most large urban places in the world. All of the once downtrodden areas are being gentrified. In NYC we have the highline, the meatpacking area, Chelsea (the new art gallery scene), Tribeca, Soho, and the Battery. Uptown, walking Madison Avenue is always an elegant treat. 5th avenue along Central Park, all the way up to museum row is a beautiful trek. And visiting all our great museums is always rewarding, as well. New York, New York it’s a wonderful town! But my all-time favorite place has to be Central Park on a Sunday.
You have a British connection (your wife is a Brit) what are your favorite places in the U.K?
I love walking around Southbank, Canary Wharf, always love Mayfair, tea at the Ritz.... dinner at the Connaught is like an experience you won’t ever forget. We yanks get so self-conscious over our accent but English pubs make us feel right at home. Harrods, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, New Bond Street, Saville Row, the great museums and restaurants. Out of London the lake region and the Cotswolds are incredibly charming. I could go on and on. I appreciate the elegance that permeates the traditions of Britain. My wife being a Brit, while being in the fashionbiz, has been a plus towards getting to know and see what’s happening in the UK especially the London scene. Because of her, I’ve become highly aware of fashion. London is easily one of the best spots to see the latest trends.
Aside from bringing some more modern classics to life what are your other plans for the future?
Never retire! I’d like to keep on doing what I love. I’m convinced I’m yet to design my best product. One day I’ll present some of my very progressive designs. I’ll leave you with a favorite quote by Ayn Rand “A creative man is motivated by the desire to achieve, not by the desire to beat others.” That quote aside, I still must admit to sometimes seeing a newly designed product and thinking, “Why didn’t I think of that?”
Visit the Website: www.instagram.com/stanleyjayfriedman
Credits – Stanley Jay Friedmann
A self-taught artist, who developed her passion for art thanks to her family. Having studied for many years with a Belgian Expressionist artist in Switzerland, she developed her own aesthetic and style of painting. Primarily painting portraits of women, she focuses her works in the feelings of her subject, as for example in ‘The Scream’. Her works have been exhibited internationally and are exhibited in MOCA (Museum of Contemporary Art) in Beijing. During Art Basel, she showed her works at Scope Art Show.
PETALS FROM TOKYO BY SERGIO CALATRONI
According to Sergio Calatroni, “Petals from Tokyo” is the result of personal research into beauty and it is essentially composed of photographs of petals.
Calatroni’s pictures give birth to a poetic and exclusive collection composed of eight photographic subjects proposed in the form of wallpapers, synonymous of trends and visual experimentation up to the limit of a masterpiece, capable to turn the surface of a wall into an original scenography.
DESTIG Magazine - Interview with JOMO TARIKU - Is it finally time for Modern African Furniture to go mainstream?
Is it finally time for Modern African Furniture to go mainstream? A conversation with designer Jomo Tariku.
How long have you been designing furniture; in your case what you define as Contemporary African Furniture?
I would say since 1993 when I did my industrial design thesis on Contemporary African Furniture at the University of Kansas, School of Art and Design.
Why on and off and can you give me some background?
Well my life is no different than most immigrants who come to the US either to attend college or better their lives. I was born in Kenya, raised in Ethiopia and came to the US to attend college in my teens. After finishing college I struggled to get my immigration papers in order but surprisingly my ongoing extensive design work on contemporary African furniture helped me attain a work permit under “Alien of extraordinary ability”. Since then I have been working on developing new designs but even that has been a challenge since furniture design and prototyping is an expensive endeavor. I also believe my timing was off. Back in 2000 the market was not ready or fertile enough to see contemporary African design other than the items people were accustomed to like carved stools and masks from Sub-Saharan countries. Actually this is my second attempt after not building furniture for 7 years.
What made you come back into it again?
Sometime in 2015 an author who was working on a book titled ‘Contemporary Design Africa’ contacted me, which pleasantly surprised me since I only had old work. All my new work never left my sketchpads. I kind of felt ashamed in a way that I have not been inside a shop in years and was relegated to sending my old work just to be part of the publication. In a way my frustration of not being ready rekindled my passion to work on new ideas.
So from your perspective what is different between now and then?
There are more designers producing amazing contemporary African furniture design in and outside of Africa now. When I used to attend ICFF in and around the year 2000 there were no contemporary African furniture to talk about. I think a healthy and diverse community is finally developing that is here to stay and impact the furniture world. I also think the perception of Europeans or non-Africans only being influenced by African culture to produce new work like Picasso did in his paintings or the French designer Pierre-Emile Legrain in the 1920’s has also been put to rest. I hope work produced by designers and artisans like Babacar Mbodj Niang will not go unnoticed in the age of Instagram, global design festivals and collaborative work between designers.
I believe African contemporary furniture is unique in its own right just like contemporary Italian, French, Danish and Oriental furniture. Our works are adorned by patterns that reflect our surroundings. We don’t cleanse our work to the point it is invisible. We are fans of bright colors and wavy lines and fractals. We don’t totally abide by the minimalist principal of design but we somehow incorporate all these exuberant colors and lines into modern furniture.
What other changes are you noticing?
As small as it may, I think one of the bright lights recently is works of African designers like Bibi Seck of Senegalese decent collaborative work with Italian brand Moroso, as well as Cheik Diallo experimental furniture pieces from Mali. All the praise architect David Adjaye is getting for his African inspired architecture work on the Smithsonian African American museum can only help expose the caliber of work that can come when designers utilize their African heritage. The design world needed to be exposed to this type of work to get over the stereotype that Africans can only produce stools, masks and other small household objects and crafts.
But do you think that is enough?
There’s still a way to go. I think the licensing of African designer’s chairs and tables by major manufacturers and distributors should be the next hurdle. If you look at the designer’s section of any large and established furniture company websites you will be hard pressed to find any one working on contemporary African furniture. This has to change and it will change. I think one of the recent positive signs though is related to Ikea’s collaboration with Design Indaba out of South Africa. Ikea choose 20 African designers to work at their headquarters developing new products. I am not sure how much of that will be furniture related but this type of relationship needs to be encouraged. As Africa industrialises there is a lot to learn from companies like Ikea also who are specialists not only in design for the masses but of logistics and fabrication. The relationship created with others at Ikea will be an invaluable asset as well as this designers go back and work on their own portfolio.
How do you think that could be achieved with an industry that sometimes feels entrenched, promoting mostly contemporary European styles?
The biggest shift or disruptor of this industry has to be the influence of design festivals that keep popping up all over the world. I am the beneficiary of one of those. When I revived my career, it was not even in the US. The organizer of a design festival “Design Week Addis Ababa” in my native country Ethiopia invited me. This was right after my work being published in Contemporary Design Africa. I was in the process of reviving my furniture design work but I had no prototypes so I sent my 3D rendering ... even that was not refined. That still led to being invited to Downtown Design Dubai through Design Week Addis Ababa where I demonstrated my prototype and got media coverage. That led to being invited to Africa by Design in Accra, Ghana, Venice Design 2017 and ICFF NYC 2017. With each invitation, I refined and worked out the ergonomics and fabrication issues of my chair also. So in less than 2 years I achieved something I couldn’t attain in about 10 years of my furniture design career.
Can shows like Venice Design 2017 and ICFF 2017 in New York exposing design like yours help mainstreaming contemporary African furniture?
I think so. The shows by themselves are not built for specifically promoting African design. ICFF actually stands for International Contemporary Furniture Fair. But the International part rarely had any contemporary furniture from Africa except for a few designers’ work. So ICFF agreeing to give space to Design Week Addis Ababa to show the work of an Ethiopian American furniture designer is important in a sense they are understanding there are unique and new perspectives from a region that is rarely associated with contemporary furniture design. Because of this opportunity an Interior Design magazine editor picked my work as “The products that caught our eye at ICFF”. While Venice Design 2017 was more of a curated design show, where they picked about 50 international designers and fortunately I was one of them. It is presented also as a long-standing installation so it is a perfect space to show experimental and conceptual designs. Shows like this help flush out ideas and create relationships.
I hope the next ICFF and Venice Design or similar shows incorporate more African designs. There is nothing like seeing your work on the international stage with other high caliber designers next to you.
Where else do you think there is room for improvement?
Half of the job of a designer is trying to get exposure and I feel there is no one else who holds that key more than design publications like DESTIG and others of the same caliber. I see this issue even in popular design blogs but both mediums potentially could be a simple reflection of their editors visiting only the popular shows and events. I think print and blog editors have to spend time outside of their comfort zone searching and visiting small studios and checking portfolio pieces that will never make it to design shows. A simple Google search might find you the next best thing also. The other missing part is funding schemes and easy access to major furniture makers who license their work from other designers.
The products shown within this article (with the exception of the main image on page 46 – designed by Jomo Tariku) are by the other designers mentioned within this article – in no specific order.
Visit the Website: www.jomofurniture.com
Credits – Moroso & Various & Bemnet Yemesgen @Elasticreative