ALMA DE LUCE
ALMA DE LUCE is a brand that reveals memories of traditions, places, myths or legends, symbols, and of people, through the senses and transmits and preserves overtime. Uses the application of noble materials, the Portuguese craftsmanship and design to express feelings and emotions generated by memories, which are reflected in the pieces of furniture with soul and unique identity. The brand challenges the past through design and craftsman to build strong cultural heritage giving them new life.
EARTH BY PININFARINA AND CASALGRANDE PADANA
A partnership of two outstanding examples of Italy’s excellence: Casalgrande Padana, leading manufacturer of state of the art ceramic materials and Pininfarina, the world-renowned design house.
EARTH by Pininfarina is a unique collection with a distinctive character born out of the combination of Casalgrande Padana’s know-how and Pininfarina design. The originality of this project lies in the great versatility of the system, which combines tiles, whose re ned and essential design conveys luxury and charm, with décors inspired by the automotive world.
KALPAK TRAVEL - LEADING central Asia Tour Operator guides you to the Magical World of the SILK ROAD.
The five Central Asian republics cover a vast and diverse area. To make the most of your visit, you need local knowledge and expertise, and tour operator Kalpak Travel.
Building the Silk Road
For thousands of years, the Silk Roads were the sole links between Europe and China. Men, goods, and ideas travelled back and forth the crisscross of trading routes, and at the crossroads wealthy cities blossomed, famed across the known world. The central part of the Silk Road, the great Eurasian steppe and the mountains and deserts of Central Asia, was the most challenging part of the route but also the most rewarding. Merchants and missionaries dreamed of walking the golden road to Samarkand, of reaching Noble Bukhara, or nding themselves in the markets of Kashgar. Centuries on, the Silk Road had lost none of its appeal: If anything, the fact that Central Asia slipped behind the Iron Curtain for much of the 20th century has increased its intrigue. The UNESCO treasures of Khiva, Samarkand, Bukhara, and Turkestan might be familiar to readers of National Geographic, but few travellers have ever had the chance to see them for themselves. The region’s natural and manmade wonders appear regularly on people’s bucket lists and now, thanks to improved communications links and a reduction in local bureaucracy, they can nally be ticked off.
The Silk Road in Central Asia is a work in progress, and it has been for more than 3,000 years. Vestiges of the oldest, most fragile archaeological sites still remain, waiting to be explored, and above and around them stand medieval masterpieces of art and engineering, and buildings erected to the glory of God. No tour of the region would be complete without taking in Central Asia’s extraordinary urban centres, past and present, and in attempting to understand the beauty (and sometimes brutalism) of the built environment. This whirlwind story is to inspire your very own Silk Road odyssey of one or more of the five fascinating Central Asian republics.
The Ancient World
No one knows when man rst settled in Central Asia: There have certainly been people here since the Neolithic era, and possibly before. The earliest population would have been pastoral nomads, and their nomadic descendants survive even to the present day, but as early as the 4th millennium BC there were already those who settled down and built themselves villages and towns.
5,000 years ago, people in Tajikistan’s Zarafshan Valley had already established a mining centre at Sarazm. They processed copper and turquoise from nearby mines, and had sophisticated forms of agriculture. Visiting Sarazm (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) today, you can still clearly make out the city’s mud brick walls and streets.
Across the border in Uzbekistan, the same is true of Samarkand. Canals were dug to supply the Iron Age city with water, and by the time that Alexander the Great arrived in 329 BC, Samarkand was already ourishing. The most impressive archaeological nds from this period are in the Afrosiab Museum, and they include exceptional frescos showing life on the ancient Silk Road, and the diversity of people and cultures living here. Statues, weapons, coins, and ceramics have also been found.
The Golden Age of the Silk Road
The infamous Genghis Khan rode through Central Asia with his Mongol horde in the
13th century, leaving devastation in his wake. Entire cities were razed to the ground, their inhabitants killed, but then they rode on. Those who survived rebuilt their cities from scratch, creating buildings and public spaces, which pushed the engineers and architects of their day to their absolute limits.
Travelling through Uzbekistan, it can feel as if every town, every city, has an architectural masterpiece. Wealthy merchants endowed religious institutions and public buildings alike, ensuring that they would be remembered long after their own time on earth had ended. In Shakhrisabz, Emperor Timur’s Ak Serai (White Palace) boasted a 65m tall tower decorated in blue, white, and gold mosaics, a signi cant portion of which still stands. Kokand, too, has its palace, mosque, and madrassa, and in Andijan the turquoise tile-clad domes still punctuate the skyline.
But it is the sites of Bukhara, Khiva, and Samarkand which visitors long to see, and rightly so. These three cities, all of them UNESCO World Heritage Sites, are nothing short of magni cent. The entirety of Khiva’s Ichan Qala is an open-air museum where you can wander in the courtyards of mosques and madrassa, climb colourful minarets, and muse about the fate of women who once lived in the khan’s harem. Some 140 architectural monuments survive in Bukhara, from the Poi Kalyan — one of the few buildings to avoid Genghis Khan’s wrath — to the extensive Ark fortress and the mausoleum of the Biblical prophet Job. Samarkand’s Registan, a square anked with three stunningly decorated madrassas, was the centrepiece of the Silk Road city, but no less important are the Bibi Khanym Mosque, the Shah-i Zinda necropolis, and the astronomical observatory of Ulugh Beg.
The Soviet Union
The Bolshevik Revolution and the birth of the USSR was undoubtedly a period of turmoil, and in the course of the 20th century there were uncountable individual tragedies. But in Central Asia, the Soviet Union brought with it rapid development, industrial, economic, and social. The still predominantly agrarian (and sometimes nomadic) population began to urbanise, and this necessitated a new era of building in cities and towns.
Though the likes of Almaty, Bishkek, and Dushanbe had been laid out by the Russians in the late 19th century, it was under the Soviets that they blossomed. The Soviets built public buildings in neo-classical and Stalinist gothic styles: For the first time there were museums, theatres, and universities and, of course, statues glorifying Soviet heroes. In Bishkek it is still possible to see a statue of Marx and Engels, right next to a large statue of Lenin; and in Almaty the Memorial of Glory remembers the sacrifice of 28 guardsmen who are said to have destroyed 18 Nazi tanks but in doing so almost all lost their lives. Tashkent, the capital of Uzbekistan, suffered a devastating earthquake in 1966, but this gave architects the chance to build a new, planned city from scratch. They laid out the wide boulevards, which are still the arteries of the city today, and lined them with trees for shade. There are plazas, fountains, and inspiring monuments, as well as block after block of standardised apartment blocks built for the Soviet workers.
Central Asia Today
Independence came suddenly to Central Asia, and it was a shock: No one anticipated
the Soviet Union would fall, or how quickly. The newly independent states — now the republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan — had to establish their own identity and project their power at home and abroad. This was essential if they were to bring together their disparate populations into a cohesive nation. Architecture was one of the tools they chose to use.
Each of the Central Asian capitals has its post-independence highlights, from Dushanbe’s Presidential Palace and giant ag pole, to Tashkent’s Amir Timur Museum and statue of Amir Timur. But two cities in particular stand out: Astana, built almost from scratch as the brand new capital of Kazakhstan; and Ashgabat, the oil-rich capital of Turkmenistan. Astana has no parallel. You could describe it as the steppe’s answer to Dubai, or a real-world Magic Kingdom, but these comparisons do not do the vision — or the skyline — justice. For Kazakhs, Astana demonstrates the future of their country: They want to be leading the region not only economically and politically, but also artistically and culturally. The world’s leading planners and architects, including Japanese Kisho Kurokawa and British Lord Norman Foster, have all made their mark. Here you’ll nd the Khan Shatyr, the world’s largest tent; a glass pyramid; the gleaming Emerald Tower; and the Central Concert Hall, a dynamic turquoise structure that looks like a shard of glass. Less visited, but equally ambitious, is Ashgabat. Here everything seems to be built of marble, shining white in the sun. The Alem Cultural Centre has the world’s largest enclosed Ferris wheel, and the soaring Arch of Neutrality is topped by a gold statue of Turkmenistan’s first president, Turkmenbashi. The Independence Monument is no less impressive.
Exploring Central Asia
The five Central Asian republics cover a vast and diverse area. To make the most of your visit, you need local knowledge and expertise, and tour operator Kalpak Travel (www.kalpak-travel.com) combines this with Swiss professionalism and attention to detail. Kalpak arranges bespoke and small group tours to every country in the region, and you can also have a taste of them all with the 13-day Central Asia Express tour (€3,890 per person) or the more in-depth Best of Central Asia (21 days; €3,290 per person). You can expect the services of a passionate local guide who will immerse you in the sights, sounds, and culture of each city you visit. This is your ticket to the inside story of each republic today, the quirky hotspots, unforgettable views, and best restaurants that the locals normally keep to themselves. Explore Central Asia with Kalpak Travel.
Credits - Kalpak Travel
We meet Florian, the King of urbex (urban exploration) - that means the visiting and investigation of abandoned man-made structures.
What does urbex exactly or un-exactly mean to you and how did you get involved?
To me urbex is the greatest hobby in the world. I love doing research to find places, piecing little bits of information together. I love travelling to see other parts of Japan. While I could do without the sneaking into a location part, I love looking for interesting objects and angles. Running an urbex blog just adds to the experience, as I love writing articles without being restricted, except by my own limitations. And finally I love seeing / reading the reactions of people looking at my articles, often engaging in conversations, sometimes making new friends. It’s a very active hobby that challenges a large variety of skills. I think I’ve always been fascinated by the aesthetics of abandonment.
What do you feel in the moment when you are 'urbexing'?
Curiosity is what connects all locations, but more often than not it’s just the second or third layer. What I feel while exploring really depends on each individual location and factors like the weather, time restraints and whether I am exploring alone or with a friend. Some locations I connect with and feel 100% relaxed at, others I don’t even really want to enter. At some locations I could stay forever, others I want to leave as quickly as possible. So sometimes I feel relaxed, sometimes I feel anxious, sometimes
I feel relieved, sometimes I feel nervous, sometimes I feel proud, but most of the time
it’s a mix of emotions that can change from one second to another – especially when you think or know that you’ve heard something strange.
On your blog Abandoned Kansai you write with lots of details about your subject matter?
Of course it would be a lot easier and faster to just take a dozen of photos or two and put them online with a couple of basic information, like a (fake) name and maybe the year of abandonment. A lot of urbexers do it that way, including here in Japan. But when you see fascinating photos of an abandoned place, isn’t the rst question you ask yourself: “I wonder what happened there?” And that’s the same question I ask myself when I am exploring. What happened there while the place was buzzing with life – and what went wrong? More often than not it’s hard or even impossible to nd out more about a location. Because it didn’t have a major significance, because it was closed before the age of the internet, because nobody cared to keep the memories alive. So I do some research... On location I look for the last calendar that was put up, maybe plaques or some documents – and the real name of a place. That information
I use to do more research online. If I am lucky, I am able to tell fascinating stories but when I end up with no facts, I still try to make it informative. I write about owning a car in Japan after exploring an abandoned driving school, about relationships in Japan after visiting a deserted love hotel, about the Japanese health care system after exploring a desolate hospital. But whenever I can I make it all about the respective location.
How do you select the sites that you explore – what draws you to a location and not another?
There are actually several factors that in uence which locations I choose next. Generally I prefer abandoned theme parks and abandoned hospitals to abandoned hotels and abandoned restaurants. Since I am not into this for the thrills, I prefer my locations really abandoned – if a place has alarms, security or even just nosy neighbors it goes down to the bottom of the list. If I can go to a good place by myself or to a mediocre place with a friend, I usually take the location where I have company. If the weather to the north is rainy, but there’s sunshine in the south, I’ll head towards the “better” weather. (Though “bad” weather can contribute to the atmosphere) Easy access without having to jump a fence, climbing a steep slope or ghting through thick vegetation is another big plus, too. I also prefer rather unknown locations to famous ones, just because the feeling of exploring is much stronger and I don’t want to take the same photos two-dozen people before me have taken.
It seems to me that in these sites one can witness a battle - the resilience of nature in the face of human relentlessness?
While I like the aesthetics of nature taking back human made structures, I don’t enjoy being on that battle eld as it is often much too hot and much too humid for my taste, especially in Japan. And don’t get me started on the fauna. Giant Asian Hornets, wild boars, swarms of mosquitos, venomous snakes and spiders, leeches – I’ve had contact with all of them, and never did I feel like: “Yes, this is so much better than sitting on my couch watching a movie while eating pizza!“ I love spending days in the countryside and wish I could live there, I enjoy the quiet of a remote abandoned place and the beauty of nature.
You mentioned on your site that there are 8 million empty homes in Japan and 3 million are abandoned – why is there such a high number of unused homes?
There are basically three factors in my opinion; the first two are facts, the last one is my experience. Japan has an extremely low birth rate and at the same time an extremely low immigration rate, which results in a decreasing population. People are getting older, but that only slows down the decrease and makes the second factor worse – the continuing urbanization. Young people move from the countryside to bigger cities and from bigger cities to large cities mainly to get a college degree – and then they stay there, because the jobs are there and they got used to certain conveniences. At the same time older people don’t have anybody anymore to take care of them, which means they leave their houses if for nothing else than medical treatment or assisted living, with the result of millions of empty homes. And then there is the “out of sight, out of mind“ attitude of Japanese society. If you don’t have a single responsible person and hold their feet to the fire, it’s most likely that your problem won’t be taken care of. A general problem of a country with a group mentality I guess – most people try to dodge responsibility in hope another person will take it.
You have visited Chernobyl and what is known as the Zone of Alienation – tell us about that experience?
It was mind-blowing. I am old enough to remember when the Chernobyl disaster hit
the news, and since I grew up in Germany, the radioactive cloud was heading our way. (Which is also why the town of Chernobyl, south of the power plant, is still inhabited by people who work in the zone, while the city of Pripyat, west of the plant, was evacuated.) A few years later in high school nuclear power was both a topic in German Literature as well as Social Studies, we even visited a nearby nuclear power plant in Germany as a eld trip. So shortly after I picked up urbex as a hobby, I went to the Zone of Alienation for two days, because it had (and still has) that typical urbex look, but a much higher historical relevance – which is why I consider that trip less urbex and more dark tourism. The Zone of Alienation is not abandoned, quite the opposite, it’s highly guarded. Sadly a lot of tourists there lacked the respect a place like that deserved – a couple of computer game nerds even wore camouflage gear as if they were heroes in a game set in Pripyat! Spending two days in Pripyat with a guide and a driver was an intense and highly recommended experience. I could tell anecdotes for hours, including how I spent the night in a container hotel in Chernobyl... Strangely enough I was just writing the second to last article about that trip for Abandoned Kansai, when the Tohoku earthquake of 2011 wiped out the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, just about 600 kilometers away from where I live.
You also visited North Korea – how did your visit come about?
I grew up in a country that had similar circumstances as there are on the Korean Peninsula now – Germany; fortunately on the western side. My family had no relatives in the eastern part, I was 13 years old when the country was reunited, and I was not particularly interested in politics, so I wasn’t aware of the significance of what was going on there. More than two decades later I finally had read up on things (including a few classes about Korean history at university) and thought it would be a good idea to visit the last somewhat communist / Marxist-Leninist state on earth after the Soviet union dissolved and both China and Cuba kinda softened in that regard. You know, to get a taste of both the German Democratic Republic and every dystopian novel I’ve ever read...
What are your 5 top abandoned sites and why do they make your top 5 list?
Nara Dreamland – a run-down theme park that was abandoned without a single ride,
a single arcade machine, a single paper clip being removed.
Tokushima Countryside Clinic – a countryside doctor’s private practice in excellent condition; closed in the 1980s, with handwritten patient files and interior dating back to the 1930s.
Wakayama Hospital – a medical cooperative that went bankrupt, leaving the elderly investors without their money and their medical support; still completely stocked. Japanese Sex Museum – a few years ago one of the few remaining hihokan treasure houses; eclectic adult collections, everything from phallic art to frivolous mechanical mini games.
Kejonuma Leisure Land – another nearly pristine abandoned theme park; much smaller than Nara Dreamland, but with a Ferris wheel and a driving range.
Credits - Abandoned Kansai
Creating a Budget, and sticking to it: the task of creating a budget can be daunting, but is an absolute must.
Creating a Budget, and sticking to it.
Whether you’re considering a renovation, revamping furniture, or starting from scratch with a new build, the task of creating a budget can be daunting, but is an absolute must. I often advise my clients to take a ‘top-down’ approach, which ultimately means deciding on a dollar figure that you’re comfortable with, and deducting estimated costs from there, to make sure it is realistic.
For example, if I’m looking to undergo a renovation on my main floor to open up my living space including the kitchen, living room, and dining room, along with redoing the powder room, I first need to prioritize the spaces. Once quotes begin to stream in for products, fixtures, appliances, labour, permits, etc., deduct these from the initial budget to ensure you are on track. Once these numbers have come in, add an additional 15-20% - this is your contingency, or, in other terms, your cushion. This contingency absorbs additional fees not included in quotes, such as shipping, delivery, freight, etc., and should leave you with some room in the event of unexpected costs. Many people don’t like to include this percentage as it involves numbers that don’t exist yet, and can seem quite high. Let me assure you, this is necessary, and you will thank yourself later.
Now that you have this number – how is it? If you’ve been able to stay within the initial figure you considered, great! If you are over budget, at least you now have an idea of how much it will cost to complete everything on your wish list. This is why the list of priorities is necessary, so you are able to eliminate areas off your list to stay within budget. I am a firm believer of the saying ‘if you’re going to do it, do it well’ – this applies to so many situations in life, including the design and aesthetic of your home or workspace. Rather then working on all rooms with half the budget/effort/love they require, pick just one or two rooms, and make them amazing.
Sticking to it.
Seems simple once you have followed the top down approach and have all the estimates and figures you require to complete your project, and guess what – it is! Stick to your initial design, and don’t sway in another direction. I have found that some of my clients start adding items and details to their scope of work once deposits are made. There is nothing wrong with wanting more and adding on, but everything adds up in the world of interior design, and you need to make sure you’re keeping tabs on everything you approve. Not doing so, even for the minor add-ons, can creep up on you and result in financial stress. Lifestyles shouldn’t be negatively affected by budgets that you’re in control of – just make sure you stick to your preliminary planning, and enjoy the process – it will be worth it when you’ve created the space that you love and feel joy from.
Alex works as an Interior Designer in Vancouver, Canada, with over 10 years experience. Leading her own design firm, she specialises in residential renovations and new builds. Her passion lies in design forward functionality, as she understands the value of creating spaces that are both esthetically beautiful and custom to every family’s lifestyle.
Credits - Alex Dampsey
OPTIC COLLECTION BY SOFTHOUSE
Softhouse introduces Optic Collection, created by Studio 63, to show the union between Art and Design.
This new Furniture line takes inspiration from Frank Stella’s work and Cinetic Art from the 60’s.
The result is amazing: dynamic effects due to special workmanship of glazing on mirror, inlay on wood essences.
The use of varnishing in contrast with delicate pastel tones makes this collection even more contemporary and unique.
NEWTON COLLECTION BY MAISON VALENTINA
Defying the laws of physics, this futuristic collection represents an outstanding moment of inspiration. The black and golden spheres resemble a cluster of bubbles oating in a soaking bath. It’s the perfect choice to get an intense and beautiful bathroom look!
Our designer Joaquim Paulo says: “The aim of the Newton Collection is to offer you the same comfort and luxury that you are able to feel in other room division, keeping an exclusive and bold design in your luxurious bathroom”.
The purpose of authentic feng shui is to first establish the information required to match people to their homes and workplaces within the time cycles and energy rhythms of nature, as this is how to ensure that people will have happy, healthy, wealthy, and harmonious lives.
Authentic feng shui is an accurate science that is used to encourage health, luck, opportunities and prosperity, and as such has a direct impact on positively transforming the lives of people, and of the spaces they live and work in.
It is important to determine the energies of a building according to its date of construction, location, plot, aspect, and so on, as well as the personal energies of the occupants who live and/or work there, established using their birthdates. The person most affected by the misalignment or imbalance of energy in a home will be the breadwinner, so they must take top priority. The order in which to tackle the issues in the lives of the occupants is health first (health is wealth), followed by relationships (for support) and then finances (if your health and your relationships are good, then fortunes will follow).
Authentic feng shui priorities, timing and energies
The five factors that most impact on the energies in the home include the front door and hall where all the energy enters the building and affects all aspects of the occupants’ lives.
A front door should face a good direction for the occupants, be aligned to a certain compass degree reading, and not be directly aligned to create a taboo situation (such as lined up directly with a back door with nothing between them to slow down or stop the energy passing through too quickly).
By booking an authentic feng shui consultation each year, homeowners can avoid taboos, stimulating misaligned energies that occur according to certain time cycles in different sectors of the home, as well as the potential for issues brought about by energy imbalances. These issues include sleeplessness or waking up exhausted, no focus/concentration and memory problems, accidents and illness, difficulty in relationships and a lack of family harmony, struggles with money and lack of opportunities, career stagnation and no financial security.
The authentic feng shui consultation process
A site visit by a consultant who checks factors such as those mentioned previously, draws up personal energy charts for every member of the household, conducts an analysis of the property using a lo pan compass, works out the static energies chart of the building based on the sectors (as well as the moving energies chart of the building), and then checks for taboos that require correction – layer upon layer of data that requires concentration, accuracy and expert knowledge.
A good practitioner may use many schools of practice. The time it takes to do the job thoroughly will depend on the number of people involved, the size of the building, the analysis of the information and the proposed recommendations and changes, the seriousness of the situation, and whether the occupants are self-employed or running a business. The consultant must also consider the health and nourishment or wellness of, and the inter-re- lationship or oneness with, the building and its occupants, to create balance and harmony between both.
Changes must be carefully proposed as everything has a knock-on, domino-like effect,
so it is important for an authentic feng shui practitioner to impress the need for their client to apply these recommendations in a holistic way for optimum results to be achieved. The outcome is then more effective and measurable. The aim is to help the occupants to leap forward in all aspects of their lives - anything from 20% to as much as 80%. Naturally, the more positive the transformation, the better for everyone involved!
Nina Kati - Irish interior designer and authentic Chinese feng shui expert
I can positively transform you and your family’s personal energies, and improve the health, wealth, harmony and happiness of your whole household. I specialise in providing uniquely tailored feng shui designs and makeovers based on birthdates. This involves decluttering, reorganising, repurposing, restyling and remodelling your home, using mostly what you already have, to create calm, elegant, healing interiors. People trust me completely because they know I know feng shui like no one else. Delivering a positive outcome is at the heart of everything I do.
For further information or to attend her workshops, please contact Nina via:
Credits - Nina Kati Interior Design
DESTIG Magazine - COMELITE ARCHITECTURE - go green and sustainable with eco friendly restaurant design.
Have you ever given thought to the eco friendliness of an establishment?
Eco friendly restaurant design focuses on creating such healthy and safe dining ambiences for consumers, with minimum adverse impact on nature.
The qualities of healthy, hygienic and hearty meals should be reflected in the environment in which the food is being served. Eco friendly restaurant design focuses on creating such ambiences for consumers, with minimum adverse impact on nature. One of the key reasons restaurants are creating greener spaces is to obtain the LEED certificate, which is complex, as a range of criteria needs to be fulfilled. Apart from obtaining a recognized verification, restaurateurs are implementing the economical sustainable growth because of its rewarding nature in terms of promoting the authenticity of a brand image and cost reduction in the long run. The journey of sustainability in restaurant design may not have a definite ending point in fact a steady progression towards each step that is taken.
Optimum Management of Waste
As much of importance is laid on the green infrastructure, a systematic approach that dictates the design curriculum is of vital importance. The vision is to foresee the industrial waste being recycled if not discarded appropriately yet within the reach of the quality of sustainability. Reduction of limited natural resources such as energy and water are important factors within the design management.
Efficient use of energy
Focus on Energy consumption is at the forefront of the hospitality industry, as the usage of energy.
Earn a gold star
Yet, an engaging step towards an energy efficient future is to purchase energy star appliances. Being approved by energy star brings you a step closer on the journey of a sustainable future in comparison with the average kitchen equipment that consumes energy more than it should. Initial cost being high, energy star products are always a smart idea in the long run.
Restaurant energy costs per square foot are significantly higher than in comparable commercial buildings. It is advisable that the users perform a thermostat check on the equipment to make sure it functions to the right temperature as energy star puts it.
Lighting and Electricity usage
Lighting plays a huge role when it comes to light fixtures, signage or other decorative elements in a restaurant. Energy star light fixtures are designed to reduce the energy and the heat that it produces by 75 per cent, which can be easily evaluated by the amount you will end up saving in your pocket. Certain types of lighting such as fluorescent, LED is a better option and it is equally important to confirm these fixtures are being illuminated in appropriate terms.
Last but not least, another smart solution towards sustainable urban restaurant design is to incorporate sensors in areas that need to be illuminated only when it’s occupied (Ex: restrooms, refrigerators). It is yet another approach of energy efficiency that dramatically cuts down the unnecessary cost.
Protection of water
The amount of water that is wasted can add up to millions of gallons. Using energy star appliances or low flow faucets contributes in reducing the water consumption. Using sensors that analyse movement or integrating systems of re using the water are ideal ways of approaching sustainability in today’s world. Living in a polluted world where no one is ever ready to take up the responsibility, encouraging employees to use bikes, buses and car pools is the direction to go. What’s more is the initiative of offering special parking slots for hybrid car owners.
The idea of sustainability within the hospitality industry should be seen as a new dimension
of ensuring quality to the consumer where consumerism delve into the design principles of the particular restaurants. And most importantly remember to stay ahead of the game. EU legislation is on its way and it won’t be long before your business is forced – by law – to meet high environmental standards.
Credits – CAS
I use my vast experience as a yacht designer to create challenging interiors that resonate with the surroundings in a similar way.
A thin line between the interior and the exterior.
Blending the interior with its natural surroundings implies a type of design based on principles that boost implementation of nature in architecture. To put it simply, these interiors are in harmony with the landscape. And it is not just for the aesthetic reasons.
Medical research showed that the appropriate use of nature in interiors reduces stress, improves therapy outcomes and supports pain management. This is exactly why this type of architectural design is being used for healthcare facilities. These benefits are also enhanced if the greenery is introduced in the interior, whether as a green wall or as simple ornaments. Of course, all of the above can be applied to residential interiors as well.
And how do we do that?
Connecting with the environment is fine, but it’s not a simple idea. The best examples of interiors designed in harmony with the landscape are usually seen in yacht design. Since this is a place where I am coming from, I will now share several words of wisdom about environ- ment-friendly interiors. To make them work, a designer has to keep several things in mind. First of all, the use of right materials is crucial. When creating such designs, my team at the Salt & Water design studio relies on materials with a distinctive structure and color. We also make sure we enhance their natural beauty, and make them work with other elements of the interior, furniture and technology equipment.
Another thing we also keep in mind when designing nature-inspired interiors is the room order. Setting a room on the right side of the world is very important, even if it completely takes you off from the original idea. For instance, the right thing to do would be to set a living room in the south and a drawing room (or a home office) in the north. The reason for this is very simple, although it could be a bit challenging for developers in some cases. Yet, how and when the sun enters one room is significant if a client desires a nature-inspired design, because the dynamics of a space basically depend on this solution. In other words, like every architectural design, environ- ment-friendly spaces should use the maximum of their genius loci (or the prevailing spirit of a place).
Nature-inspired interior should be a frame of its surrounding with a clear intent to become a part of it. The identity of such interiors is based on the details and innovative features. The same applies to the exterior, which should be simple and aligned with the general theme. The big glass surfaces are dominant in such design, as they help the interior blend with the environment. When working on these projects, my team usually uses sliding windows and sliding glass doors, which are easy to control and maintain. When opened, these elements provide the illusion of the literal interweaving of nature and the indoor world.
To see how the idea of big glass surfaces works in the completed design, just look at the catamaran apartment my team designed a while ago. This design gained a lot of attention and we are positive a lot of it comes from the fact that not only is this object eco-friendly, it also has a unique connection with nature around. Although this object was designed particularly for water, a number of interested buyers asked us if it is possible to move it on the ground. Naturally, I loved the idea.
Another focal point is the weather conditions of the region. The materials used in creating such projects have to be UV resistant and damp-proof. They should also be covered with at least one layer of suitable sun protection. In the past few years I used my vast experience as a yacht designer to create challenging interiors that resonate with the surroundings in a similar way. Moving these ideas on the ground was no surprise. Since I love designing small naval objects, designing a tiny foldable house ready to fit into any landscape was a logical step forward. The house is mostly made of natural materials, such as wood. Its specific layout provides users with much-needed privacy, relaxation in the natural environment, as well as complete safety. Just like every design should. Only when all the above criteria are met, we can label a design as environment-friendly. This kind of design is the one that directly affects the quality of life.
About the studio:
Salt and Water is a young design team and a winner of several prestigious awards in the field of yacht and aviation design. Among the most significant awards of ours are the Millennium Yacht Design Award – MYDA 2015 for the “Floating Hotel with Catamaran Apartments” project and the International Yacht & Aviation Award 2014 for the best interior design of the private plane “Boeing 787 VIP Dreamliner”.
For the past five years, Salt & Water team has successfully combined the extensive practical knowledge in all mentioned fields to numerous projects. In all their endeavors, they strive to create designs that are highly functional, customized, practical, innovative, daring and stylistically impeccable.
Credits - Salt & Water Studio
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
MARION REYNOLDS - Interview with the Fashion and Interior Designer who has styled young Kardashians and Diddys.
Fashion Designer turned Interior Designer - Marion has styled the children of royals and celebrities like Kim Kardashian, P. Diddy, Angelina Jolie and Sarah Jessica Parker. We ask her why fashion designers create great interiors.
You have had a stellar career in the fashion industry - what would you say were the key ingredients of your success?
Determination and hard work. Be a trendsetter, not a follower. The creative industry is a busy place and in order to be seen you need to have the ability to surprise and take risks.
You recently wrote: ‘When Fashion designers collaborate outside of their familiar catwalk, something magical happens. How has your career in fashion translated into interior design?
This describes me very well. I am from a fashion background that has transitioned into interior. I have not been trained in the boundaries, which gives me the freedom to create and daring to take risks. Moving into interior was a natural step for me. Design and interior has always been my passion. To surround myself with beautiful objects and interior is a part of my identity.
You have lived and worked in London, New Delhi, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Oslo, USA and Denmark - what draws you to embed in various cultures?
Living and working in so many countries has influenced me in many ways. Leaving behind what is familiar to settle in the unfamiliar comes with it’s own challenges. Everything is new, the job, colleagues, city, streets, culture, house and food keeps you on your toes. How you deal with this is what makes you grow as a person and enriches your life. This is a lifestyle. I find it more difficult to come ‘home’ where you feel everything is as you left it. This is when I feel my creativity stagnates. I find different cultures incredibly fascinating and always learn something very valuable from my interactions with people at all levels, from street vendors to Bollywood directors.
Your work in fashion and interior design strike me as ‘eclectic influences meet uncompromising refinement’ - How would you describe your style in your own words?
Thank you; I think it is easier for people on the outside to define my style but if I were to try,
I would describe my style as opulent but also nostalgic, I love the diversity in elements and expression. My style will always have a subtle undertone of lux.
You finished top of your class at the prestigious French Fashion Design University, Esmod – how did your education help to future-proof your career?
I remember my first day, on the notice board it was a list of suggested vitamins to take. I thought it was odd at the time but a month in, it made perfect sense. It was French teachers and discipline all the way. My first meeting with the teachers left me thinking what have I signed up for. The information was clear, there were no excuses not to deliver a project on time, the class would reduce to half after 6 months and for the next 3 years the word vacation would be a vague memory.
I would say these are the key points that has shaped me as a designer:
Be a trendsetter, not follower.
Always keep to the deadline, always!
Change – you can never fully prepare yourself for it but the understanding that when you think a collection is complete; it never is.
Work ethics and discipline.
You have a vast amount of sourcing knowledge – ranging from Rugs by Dianne Von Furstenberg to Petrified Wood Furniture from Indonesia – how do you work with clients to gently expand their horizons?
The key for me is the understanding of the client and their needs. Whether it’s a new restaurant to open, a private home or a property going on the market. Only after understanding the client’s needs, can I influence and use my esthetic knowledge. During this creative process it’s vital to keep within the clients universe and to bring them along on this creative journey as then they will be more receptive to change and design they would not naturally have embraced themselves.
Part of your proposition is deep knowledge of the local market – why is it important for design consultants to also be property investment consultants?
We can see the potential in the property. Having the ability to see past the renovations, clutters or decoration is a skill not everyone processes. It’s our job to help the client see past this and present them with the opportunity and the potential that is in front of them. This allows the client to make a fully informed decision in their buying process. At the end of the day it all comes down to one thing, sales. With property it’s all about getting one more bidder in the auction. It’s my job to attract the client to the property by creating a visual universe they can see themself living in.
In your online shop you curate ‘carefully selected treasures’ that are affordable – why is it important for good taste to be accessible?
The world has become very small, which means the choices of things people are faced with are huge! My Grandparents would visit their local store and choose from the stock they had but now it is difficult to know what options are available to you. Part of my passion is keeping up with not only the latest trends in interiors but also what vintage items will mix well with them. When selecting my treasures, I like to keep a balance of style and quality.
You have focused on styling young girls in the past – is the furniture industry missing out on high quality products for that group?
I feel in Scandinavia we have focus on children’s furniture, quality and design. Having said that, many are led by trends and price over quality, no different then from the fashion industry. There is amazing design furniture with heirloom qualities for children on the market but the market is unfortunately led by quick purchases in volume at lower cost. Comparing the two industries the interior industry is less volatile.
What are your biggest all-time and current creative influences?
Hotels. On my travels over the years I always prioritized staying in good hotels. I can make my itinerary around a hotel, so the Hotel sets the destination. It’s the perfect illusion and stages were I can be the most creative.
You settled in Helsingborg to raise your daughter – what was it about this town that makes it a great place to live?
Had you asked me 10 years ago if I would ever live in Sweden, my answer would be no. It was never on my list of places to live. Some times life has its own plan for you. We moved here from London setting up our design company with the intention to move back. During our first years here we traveled a lot so it was nice to return to a place where the pulse was a few beats down from New York and Shanghai. This gave me the calmness to create new collections. We live 100 meters from white sandy beaches with the same distance to the forest; an ideal place to raise our daughter. We are on our 7th year and are enjoying a more laid back lifestyle, for now. When I get a big city urge I take the car and we’re in Copenhagen in an hour. Having everything within reach is amazing.
What local furniture brands and artists would you recommend we check out?
Scandinavia has so much creative talent and difficult to limit the list. I have favorites within the different design houses, and not the range as a whole. Here are a few: Bruno Mathsson, Arne Norell, Eric Sigrfid Persson, Overgaard & Dyrman, Poul Kjærholm, Verner Panton, Arne Jacobsen, Hans J. Wagner, Preben Fabricius, Gubi, OX Denmark, Sigurd Resell, AYTM, Smaelta, Louise Roe Copenhagen, Menu, Skultuna.
Credits – Pastiche
ANTONIOLUPI PRESENTS CONTROVERSO
Controverso springs from a thought, from action and transforms the product into an experience. Controverso is a proposal that comes from respect for nature shared by the designer Paolo Ulian and antoniolupi. Controverso is a marble monolith of geometrical shape, squared, which is processed to detonate all its inherent strength. A strong and delicate gesture at the same time, an interpretation of the creative act that meets production, a sink that fits into contemporary environments but also in different contexts.
FLOWER EVOLUTION FROM GLASS DESIGN S.R.L
Freestanding washbasins born from the passion and commitment to create more than just a simple washbasin, but rather a real sculpture from the ground up. This essential product is embellished by exclusive colours and finishes making it a true protagonist of its environment.
Designed by the architect Marco Pisati, FLOwer Evolution is a free standing washbasin inspired by the world of nature. The project is rooted in the desire to create a washbasin of soft and enveloping shapes, which can gently fit into the modern bathroom environment. Designed by Marco Pisati
We talk to the Founder and Creative Director of MYA ROSE about contrasts, soft and sophisticated feminine styling, business, family and Devon.
What does MYA ROSE do for the woman that wears it?
Mya Rose is aimed at women who are interested in art, design and culture, who value beauty, style and intelligent design and want to express this in the way they dress and present themselves. They don’t want to wear the same as everyone else, instead taking pride in finding something unique and crafted. But that uniqueness cannot come at the cost of elegance. The garments must always be flattering and luxurious. Mya Rose enhances the woman, rather than overpowering her. Attracting attention, not by shouting, but with a sophisticated originality. The woman is at the core of the brand and it is important to me that the clothes are comfortable and flattering to wear.
Contrasts are a key theme in your work – what are your design inspirations?
I have always been interested in two very different areas of design. A directional, contemporary look from designers like Chalayan and Philip Lim. But also designers like Valentino and Nina Ricci who bring a femininity I find irresistible. The Mya Rose perspective came from bringing these very different points of view together within the context of the season. Modern architecture is something I am very drawn to, from the uid, curved lines of Zaha Hadid to the neo-futuristic style of Santiago Calatrava. I like to combine graphic lines and structure with texture and fluidity, exploring the contrasts in form and fabrication. I also like to look at vintage fashion for inspiration, particularly the way garments are cut and constructed. There is an intelligence and craft to creative pattern cutting, which is more prevalent in vintage pieces.
You named your debut collection Abstract Equilibrium – what’s the meaning behind the name?
It describes the process of bringing together abstract and contrasting elements to a conclusion that is harmonious, while maintaining the character of the opposing themes. The debut collection needed to be an introduction to the brand and to express the identity of Mya Rose, so the challenge was to represent the contrast between the architectural, contemporary styling and a wearable femininity. I took inspiration from abstract architectural photography, which frames only a cropped shape or detail from a piece of contemporary architectural design. Being out of context of the building, the image becomes like a piece of contemporary art. The pieces have personality and a unique style, which I feel is both flattering and directional, which is what I wanted to achieve.
Your creations are handmade with a fastidious level of attention to detail?
I do the pattern cutting and toiling of garments myself, because I enjoy it, and because for me it’s an extension of the design process. When your drawing comes to life on a mannequin you see it from a new perspective and it gives you the opportunity to move around the body and explore the design in a more sculptural way. I can spend days working on the design of each piece in this way. Then the sampling process begins, cutting and sewing multiple samples, adjusting the fit and detailing until I’m happy with the result. Even then there is still a lot of work getting the luxury finish inside the garment. Whether it’s lining, binding or hand finishing
the internal construction, these details that are generally unseen are just as important to the woman wearing it, and in complex styles it can take a surprising amount of problem solving. Once all of the sampling is complete and patterns graded, the process of hand making the piece for a customer is done by a skilled seamstress in England. Instead of sending it to a factory, where each machinist makes a section of the garment, before sending it down the production line to the next, Mya Rose pieces are carefully cut and sewn, from start to finish by one skilled seamstress who can give that piece the love and attention a luxury product deserves.
You have worked at exciting brands such as Bora Aksu, Chris Liu and Temperley London – when/how did you realize that you were ready to launch your own brand?
It was something I had always wanted to do, but there was a time last year when it suddenly felt that all of my experiences so far, and even things that were beyond my control, were leading me to this point. I temporarily moved from London, back to my countryside home of Devon with my young family, and loved bringing the girls up here. I had also been working freelance as the sole designer for a new womenswear brand, and working in a very small team gave me an insight into much more of the business. I gained so much more experience and belief in myself, it showed me that I already had a very good grounding, and that the business areas that were newer to me were things I could take on and learn. I felt empowered and realised that instead of this just being a fanciful dream, it was a chance for me to combine my professional and personal life in a way that allowed me to take control of the career I love while also allowing me to be there as a mother to my girls.
What makes a product luxurious - how do your customers discover luxury in your creations?
In simple terms, as a product category, luxury is mainly de ned by the price, which in turn gives it a sense of exclusivity. But the high price of luxury is a result of what has gone into the product, from materials to manufacturing. This positioning then has to be justified on an emotive level, it has to look and feel special and of exceptional quality. For Mya Rose, it’s luxurious because of the whole design and manufacturing process, as well as the fabrication, which is important to making the garments look and feel special to wear. It’s the attention to detail that goes into the design, construction and the way each piece is handmade and nished internally.
You come across as having huge passion for both design and business - what are your aspirations for MYA ROSE?
I do genuinely enjoy both the design and business elements of the brand. This was another realisation that helped me to take the plunge and start the company. So many designers are nervous of the business aspect and I felt that having that entrepreneurial desire as well the love of designing had to be a good sign! Naturally, I want to see Mya Rose grow to be a recognised luxury brand with a selection of well-matched stockists, and to grow the collection to include a wider offering, four times a year. However I think there are great benefits to growing steadily and organically, so rather than rushing I want to focus on developing a core collection that I believe in, and can deliver beautifully made pieces in partnership with quality suppliers and manufacturers. My main focus right now is to make the business sustainable and secure the privilege of being able to do what I love every day.
What is required to make a designer a good businessperson?
I think they are two very different things and take very different mindsets. The biggest problem is separating your creative vision from the commercial considerations, or how to make the two work together. It can be easy for a designer to get wrapped up in what they want to create, and believe that if they just make something good enough, people will buy it. But you have to think a lot harder than that. You have to be true to your creative vision, or there is no point adding another brand to the already over-saturated market, but you need to consider how to make it different to everyone else, how it fits into the market and who your customer is. What does she want, and how can you get it to her? It’s a difficult balancing act between the freedom to be creative and analysing the collection for commercial balance. Are there enough tops / day dresses / fitted dresses / pieces with sleeves? Do you cater to a range of body shapes? Can it be made to a range of price-points? You have to be free to explore your vision but then think commercially and make dif cult editing decisions. This can be hard for a designer because it’s so personal, but if you get it right it’s rewarding, and personally I enjoy the challenge of working like this.
You have mentioned that your mum (who took the risk to make feature films) inspired you to go for your dreams?
My family are the biggest inspiration, they have never followed the traditional path. As you mentioned they are now making feature films, which my Mum writes. But before that they made success of ventures including writing, organising entertainment events and running a family attraction, going back to my grandparents who ran a circus in Australia! When one business ran its course, instead of looking for a traditional job, they would come up with a completely new business idea and plan how to make it work. This independent, open-minded approach to business and life showed me that there is no set path, and that we really are in control of the life we lead. My husband also has his own business and is hugely supportive of what I’m doing. We are both very driven, and I love that at the end of the day we sit down together with a glass of wine and enjoy talking about our businesses and bouncing ideas off each other. Having your own business is all consuming and being able to share that experience is fantastic.
You recently moved back to Devon with your husband and daughters Mya and Rose. Why is it a good place for creativity?
I find the openness of the countryside gives me room to breath and the clarity to focus on my work. It suits me better than the city. We also live just a few minutes from the sea, and when
I need to work something out I just walk down the road and along the beach. The sound of the sea on the sand is so calming and always allows me to think things through clearly and return to work with a renewed focus. Devon is a beautiful part of the country made up of many contrasts. Lush, green rolling hills, the dramatic scenery of the moors, beautiful rivers and woodlands and both northern, and southern facing coastlines. There are charming historic villages, buildings and castles, rural market towns and coastal resorts. The pace of life here is relaxed and the people are friendly. The varied landscape inspires artists and encourages people to enjoy the outdoors with activities like sailing, surfing, hiking and horse riding. It’s a place known for fresh shing and farming produce, cream teas and seaside holidays. It is not particularly known for fashion, but who knows, perhaps that will change!
Visit the Website: www.mya-rose.com
MIRIT WEINSTOCK - interview with the triple threat: fashion designer, jewelry designer and artist who lives and works between Tel Aviv and Paris.
Your Facebook page features the motto: “The less fashion she wears, the more beautiful she is”?
I liked this quote by Armani that I found years ago. I think it is about staying true to who you are instead of trying too hard and becoming a fashion victim.
You are a triple threat of fashion designer, jewelry designer and artist - where does one begin and end?
All those three elds in uence and inspire one another. In my jewelry there are details and inspirations from fashion, while the jewellery are often referred to as “art pieces or small sculptures”. In my art works I use materials that I initially used in my jewelry and fashion such
as eyelashes, embroidery, porcelain etc. This creates a versatile body of work that explores not only questions inside fashion, jewelry or ne art but also the dialogue between them.
You described your collection as: ‘dreamy, poetic and slightly humorous, drawing inspiration from childhood memories and souvenirs to create a surrealist nal showcase.’ How do you distill the above into polished luxury offerings?
I’m fascinated by materials; mostly ones that possess a poetic aspect in them such as origami boats, eyelashes, sparkling ornaments etc. I play with them in the studio and transform them into jewelry by dipping them in silver or gold and later designing a completely new and surprising jewelry combining them with pearls, stones and other motives from the classic jewelry world. I think “Luxury crafted ne jewelry” is the best title to describe my jewelry, given by Colette when the collection was launched there in 2011.
You honed your skills alongside Alexander McQueen and Alber Elbaz at Lanvin – what was that experience like?
It was 13 years ago when I decided to travel to Europe and nd internships in fashion houses.
It was my dream after graduation! I was lucky to have the opportunity to work in those masters’ studios. At McQueen I worked mostly on hand made pieces like a shoelace dress and
a pompom coat – two beautiful pieces that ended up on the runway! At Lanvin most of the internship period I was the only intern in the studio (!), which allowed me to work quite closely with Alber Elbaz. He included me in many studio activities: I did research for the new collections, helped the design team, was part of things and helped towards the runway shows. It was magical, inspiring and stressful like fashion is...
How tricky was it to forge your own style while working for such big names?
I was too honoured to even think about my own style. I admired both McQueen and Alber Elbaz so much! Of course I hoped that one day I could be as amazing as they are / were. When I decided later to launch my own brand I realized how much the experience in uenced my style. Maybe even too much in my rst collections
What are your abiding memories of Alexander McQueen?
The way he did tting, it was like watching magic... a piece of fabric suddenly became a sculpture on the model’s body.
You launched your ready to wear collection for women in 2004 - how do you maintain your super-enthusiastic energy?
My RTW collection is a capsule collection, produced in-house and sold only in Israel. Although it is not sold internationally like my jewelry, and is rather small it is a precious creation for me because fashion is my rst love, and I guess that is what keeps me enthusiastic. In my collections I focus on two big loves: romantic dresses and vintage pieces that I nd in ea markets around the world and later hand work on them.
M♥W is a high-end luxury crafts jewelry collection - Tell us about your new jewelry collection for fall?
For Fall/Winter 2017 jewelry collection I present “Tatamu” – “to fold” in Japanese. The collection is inspired by Japanese paper arts, translating the paper textures, creases, folds and structures into jewelry. I’m presenting sparkling pieces with a 1980’s inspiration spark, focusing on geometric shapes such as hoops, circles, and holes.
What is your creative process for Jewellery?
My creative process is all about exploring materials and transforming them into completely new objects. I look at a shuttlecock ball and see jewelry. I search and play with materials constantly: eyelashes, whistles, party ornaments, dry owers, papers, origami, balloons, small plastic animals, cocktail straws... All are potential jewelry for me. When I visit a 100yen shop I get dizzy from ideas. It is such a creative, fun, playful and surprising process and it is endless as there are so many wonderful materials around us.
Your work has been exhibited at top boutiques around the world such as Joyce HK, Galeries Lafayette Beijing, Maryam Nassir Zadeh NY etc. - which other countries would you like to expand into?
I’m so honored that my jewelry are exhibited in those boutiques and many more! Since 2015 my jewelry sales are expanding in Japan. This is very exciting and I have since had the chance to visit a few times. With each visit I’m more and more fascinated by Japan’s culture, crafts, style, art and design. I would de nitely want to expand my brand visibility in Japan, show my art works there and spend more time in this inspiring country.
You completed your Masters of Fine Arts Degree in 2013 - why would a fashion designer need to study art?
I was flirting with the fine art world for years before applying to the MFA program. I felt that I wanted to go deeper in to the art world, explore new ways of thinking and medias to create in. It was such a journey! Very different from design; I did use in my art works my skills as a fashion and jewelry designer but it is a whole new approach and thinking to create works that have only a symbolic meaning rather than a functional one. In my MFA I started doing video art and sound works, text works and photography.
Your first solo exhibition “Love Does(nt) Exist” You were inspired by a curious linguistic phenomenon in an Azerbaijan traditional language, Juhuri, in which there is no word for ‘LOVE’??
I was speaking with my friend Mark about his girlfriend and their love story. He replied that he doesn’t think about it that way. Mark explained that his parents are originally from Azerbaijan and in their language Juhuri the word love doesn’t exist. I thought that was quite fascinating and weird at the same time. Two years later when I started working on my solo exhibition I began exploring and interviewing immigrants from Azerbaijan to learn more about their language and the use of the word love. They explained that each love is different, so they express it in different words and don’t refer the single term “love” to everything they love from a lover to child to food. This raised many questions about the use of the word love in English, French and Hebrew (the languages I speak) such as why do we use only one word to describe such different emotions? Why do we use this word so often, almost without thinking about its meaning..? That was the beginning of my exhibition. Later, inspired by Juhuri I invited writers, poets and philosophers to write a text about the thing they love the most without using the word love. I chose 11 texts and created 11 art works, each work referring to a text. A small book with the texts was exhibited alongside the works.
Are you participating in any exhibitions currently?
Yes I am, and for the rst time in a museum! I’m showing “My Sad Houses” – paper sculptures dipped in silver and gold in the Israeli Paper Biennale “On The Edge” at the Eretz Israel Museum in Tel Aviv. It is a wonderful show that will exhibit until the end of summer to: It is a wonderful show that will exhibit until the fall.
You’ve established yourself as a leading fashion brand, jewelry designer and artist - what type of creative collaborations are you potentially interested in?
I would love to collaborate with fashion houses I love such as Simone Rocha, Ashish or Mui Mui creating a jewelry collection for them. I would also love to expend my collaborations with boutiques that carry my jewelry and collaborate with them in the eld of ne arts. I’m dreaming about site-speci c installations in those boutiques amazing spaces, that will create new dialogues between fashion and art.
You split your time between Tel Aviv and Paris - What’s the TA fashion scene like? How does it differ from Paris?
TA fashion scene is much more experimental than the classic established fashion we see in Paris. I think TA is full of energy and talent. It is quite difficult to be a designer in Israel as it is a small country without much government support for designers and the production industry. Many designers own small shops and produce their collections in-house. In the past years we see more and more Israeli designers that show and sell internationally which makes me very happy! Marketing is key - the romantic approach of an artist that only sits in his atelier and creates doesn’t exist in our era, and I wonder if it ever did. Good marketing requires creativity too and can be quite interesting sometimes.
Credits - Mirit Weinstock
ALEXANDRA SCHÄFER - the network of VELVENOIRś art consultants dedicate themselves to creating unique and authentic hotel experiences through art.
Creating unique and extraordinary experiences with original art for hotel properties around the world. Increasingly, travelers appreciate unique hospitality brands with strong personalities that are both working environments for urban nomads and places to meet people and enjoy interesting experiences. The discerning guest wishes to feel like they are experiencing something that has been carefully designed and considered, with meticulous attention to detail. Together, these elements constitute the overall hotel ‘experience’. They want to feel like they have found a hidden gem that they can recommend to other discerning travelers, which in turn will re ect their own criteria for unique and one-off hotels and serviced apartments.
VELVENOIR recognise and understand the future changes that will take place within the luxury hotel market. Working with our international network of experts, we bring industry know-how and a global scope that allows us to offer a tailored and authentic guest experience.
Expectations are on the rise, and it is crucial to differentiate the hotel brand from all others through a developed art concept which complements and re ects the individual values, philosophy and design of a hotel company. Due to the rapidly growing luxury hotel market, hotels are now seeking a way to distinguish their business from the competition, by creating a clear brand identity and offering a truly unique guest experience. Building a carefully curated and engaging art collection with VELVENOIR can help achieve this. Selected artworks would serve as both an aesthetic and nancial asset, but would also generate marketing and publicity for the hotel through clients sharing images and locations via social media.
Times have changed, and guests are always on the look-out for something new, unique and authentic that matches their lifestyle. Therefore, it is essential for hotel owners, developers
and interior designers to acknowledge the importance of acquiring one-of-a kind artworks, that not only accompany the interior design concept but also have an individual story to share. The guest can participate and be inspired by this narrative in the interior, by strolling through the hotel and exploring the art collection. Some boutique hotels have already discovered this concept and displayed provocative pieces of art, which designers have incorporated within the hotel to de ne a mood or tailor the experience based on the target audience. Whilst other boutique hotels have taken this idea a step further and purchased artwork to house in their own galleries, which in turn has provided a ‘must see’ attraction and another reason for guests to visit. Likewise, public areas in these hotels are a unique space in which guests can experience large art installations, and re ect on their abstract concepts. A stay in such a hotel
is not only very special, but allows guests to participate in the process of artistic exchange and critique.
How does an international network of art and hospitality experts assist developers in completing this vision?
VELVENOIR has selected the best in class to work on each project to achieve an aesthetic of understated luxury and engagement with art outsourced from international career artists. The network assists interior designers and project managers from budgeting and concept planning, to procurement and installation. Together, the team aims to develop and execute a well-conceived and fully realised art collection, tailored to each hotel and their guests.
Boutique hotels are created for a reason. Guests no longer want to simply ‘stay’ in a hotel. Instead, guests want to play, work, enjoy and experience a thoughtful hotel concept together with elements that inspire and engage them. It is here that ne art and interior design feature to transform the hotel experience. However, individuality is a key component that has to be incorporated to the design and art concept. As a living art space, the hotel should offer its guests the chance to enjoy its site-speci c collection in an exclusive, relaxed and unrestricted manner. A collection should grow organically over a period of time, and integrate with its environment.
“Collaborations are key for VELVENOIR. Together the network is able to access a broad spectrum of various mediums from international artists to create tailored experiences where the art re ects the richness of the property, interior design concept and the person living or visiting. With a strong network of partners, we are able to offer a service that goes beyond our clients’ expectations. We are delighted to share the same vision and mission with our partners in showing clients how original art makes a difference in residential, commercial and even hotel projects.” – Alexandra Schafer
As each hotel is a unique project for the VELVENOIR network, we are keen to develop a concept that strives to engage with guests, so they make an emotional connection with the hotel and its staff from the rst moment they arrive at the hotel. This “emotional luxury” also relates to the ideas of authenticity and heritage. Therefore, we seek to develop and execute an art concept that inspires and engages guests with each hotel brand, with an authentic artistic connection that invites guests to experience the rich cultural heritage of surrounding areas.
As with many hotels, the network proposes a concept that merges a traditional yet contemporary, local yet global art collection, which will blend the culture of the country where the hotel is located with a wider vision in keeping with the philosophy of each hotel concept. The design itself will capture the essence of the hotel brand, speci cally created by various interior design rms – VELVENOIR brings in regional artworks, installations and commissioned artworks to tailor a truly unique guest experience.
Credits – Velvenior & Art Consultany Partners Merten Riesner
A mixed media artist from Poland – lived in Britain, Switzerland and Spain. We find out how it all comes together.
You are a mixed media artist working with a variety of materials – how do you achieve harmony between such vastly different elements?
I started experimenting with mixed media at university, particularly within my figurative work where I would regularly use pastels and acrylics together. Since registered as a full time self-employed artist I have really dedicated my practice to refining my style and developing my own techniques, in particular with the inclusion of gold leaf. I’ve found out that each technique has it’s own impact and interactions with the others. There is always an element of randomness in each of my works where I will allow the medium to temporarily dictate the direction that the painting will take. For example, in “Exploration 4” I used an acrylic base to create the underlying structure of the landscape then allowed the watercolours to flow as it chose in order to capture a sense of natural liquidity.
Your figurative works demonstrate your interest in representing female expression?
I consider myself to be an abstract expressionist artist and am most fascinated in attempting to represent individual moments of experience and capturing a sense of the mood of the subject. I am not trying to achieve hyperrealism and although I regularly paint nudes, I rarely work on paintings that I would call erotic. My figurative paintings tend to be quite personal and whilst they are certainly not self-portraits in the traditional sense, they usually represent some aspect of myself. I began working on figuratives at university. This was a particularly difficult and turbulent period for me and my figurative paintings from that period are consequently quite dramatic and in some cases also quite dark. The faces of the women that I painted during this time were always covered by a streak of white, representing bandages covering my personal internal wounds. My recent figurative works have lost their bandages and are far more positive and uninhibited and hopefully appear more mature and refined.
Land and seascapes also form a part of your portfolio, alongside flowers and portraits?
I am very aware that having a recognisable style is essential in the art world. I enjoy maintaining a presence in both the abstract landscape and figurative genres as it allows me the creative freedom that I need and feel that my style in both areas is unique. The diverse nature of the subjects means that there are different audiences for each but I have found that my core audience appreciates the variation. In short, the variety of subject matter is essentially a historical artefact due to the manner in which I have trained and developed as an artist. I am proud of my earlier work and still happily paint the occasional floral or maritime scene for a commission, but my focus is no longer on these subjects and I always try to draw attention towards the direction that my current work is taking me.
You are from Lublin - what are your greatest Polish artistic influences?
I feel that my art has been strongly influenced by two particular aspects of Polish Art. On the one hand, I love more the traditional, representative art yet on the other hand I also love non-traditional media, textures and use of colour. Polish pre-expressionism, from the late 19th and early 20th century was a movement that began to shift away from highly traditional representative painting, allowing the artists the freedom to express themselves whilst still maintaining a sense of reality. Paintings from this period tend to use stronger, more expressive colours and bolder brush strokes. Wojciech Weiss and Jan Stanislawski are two of my favourite artists from this period. Art from post Second World War Poland, especially the 1950s/1960’s began to move away from traditional painting techniques and media and started to include much more in the way of sculptural form and textures. As a textile artist, this obviously resonated with me whilst I was studying at college and gave me a degree of confidence about incorporating unusual mediums into my work. Magdalena Abakanowicz (1930 – 2017) was a Polish artist/sculptor and fibre artist, known for using textiles as a sculptural medium. One of her most recognizable works is a 3 dimensional fibre work called Abakans and also her figurative and non-figurative series called Humanoids. I have found her work inspiring ever since I was in Art College studying textiles as she was merging textile art and sculpture.
You have lived in England, Switzerland and now Spain. What is the experience of an artist in a new land?
When I first moved to Cambridge in 2005 I barely spoke a word of English. I had never tried selling my own paintings before and had high expectations of instantly being able to make a living as an artist. I quickly learnt that dreams and reality can take rather longer to coincide and that the contemporary art galleries in Cambridge were, for some reason, not particularly interested in representing an unknown, unsolicited, uninvited and often quite damp and bedraggled artist wondering in off the streets clutching a nicely decorated album of photographs of my paintings.
With the help of my husband, I managed to secure a few local exhibitions before being introduced to the Nantais Gallery by a friend. All of this was happening at the same time as the arrival of our first child and I even managed to find time for a graphic design and advanced computer art course and English lessons at the local training centre. It was a difficult period for me in many respects, but it boosted my confidence about my language abilities as well as providing me the opportunity to continue to be creative whilst trying to figure out the complexities of being a first time Mum in a foreign country.
After my husband received an irresistible job offer in Switzerland, we packed up and moved
to a small town near Zurich. This time I was slightly more prepared for the language change, although German will always be something of a mystery to me, and after a bit of settling in to the new environment, I found time to get the paints out more and more regularly. History repeated itself and in 2011 I found myself nursing my second child in another foreign country. I continued to paint for the Nantais Gallery and also for myself and my work began to take on a more abstract form, possibly influenced by the quite noticeable Swiss trend towards minimalism. With the help of a close friend who had been a curator for the Henry Moore Foundation, I held a well-received exhibition focussing on my figurative work. Just before Christmas 2014 we found ourselves choosing between staying in Switzerland or heading somewhere more suited to our dreams of living a self-sufficient and artistic lifestyle, so we headed to central Spain. It was supposed to be a temporary stopping off point whilst we figured out exactly where we wanted to be, but as these things tend to work out differently from how we imagine them, we’re still happily here.
How has knowledge of various countries impacted your work?
Every country has left its indelible mark on my work. Each has it’s own unique cultural idiosyncrasies, artistic preferences and heritage and I’m very aware that I only scratched the surface of what each country has to offer.
My work in England was very much influenced by the weather and landscape, with blue being a particularly dominant colour, especially with flower paintings.
Switzerland imparted a far more abstract feel to my work and set me on the path towards being more restrained with my choices of colour for an individual painting.
Spain’s influence is by far the most noticeable in the contrast between my works of different periods. We love exploring remote areas and have experienced some of the most amazing scenery I’ve ever seen in our regular trips into the various Spanish mountains. The incredible cool turquoise waters of the Alto Tajo, quite literally took my breath away as we all plunged in for the first time. The tranquillity and spectacular scenery of Asturias, on the northern coast, provides a never-ending source of inspiration. And of course, the sunshine. My use of gold leaf in most of my recent work is in no small way due to the need to try to represent the sunshine that dominates the land I now live in. Culturally, Spain’s surrealist history also plays a strong part in my figurative work. Whilst there is a strong hyper realistic art movement at work here, the enduring influences of Dali and Picasso provide a wonderful framework for enabling artists to experiment with alternative forms of representation and I have found that my figurative work has much support here.
You are featured in the Saatchi Art catalogue – must have been a boost?
When I first went full time, I hadn’t realised just how hard it would be to get noticed. The small successes that are visible on social media are dwarfed by the phenomenal amount of effort it takes to achieve them. I have been lucky enough to have work regularly included in RiseArt’s curated collections and that always helps to raise my visibility but being featured in the SaatchiArt Catalogue was undoubtedly one of the largest boosts my career has had to date. It was an honour to be selected for the catalogue and it has started something of a chain reaction as I have now also been featured in their New This Week series and am scheduled to be included in their forthcoming Artist of the Day series. SaatchiArt’s Instagram post of my painting “Blush” attracted over 3000 likes, which definitely helped!
What types of Interior Design projects are you looking to get involved with?
Whilst I am always delighted to work on any project, I love getting involved in larger projects, as it tends to compliment my natural way of working where I’ll work on a number of related pieces concurrently. My paintings are generally quite organic and peaceful and also a little luxurious; I think that this combination of qualities may find particular relevance within the healthcare, real estate and hospitality industries. I would like to think that my work brings a peaceful sense of the natural world into a space. I hope that it offers designers the opportunity to incorporate something familiar yet also highly contemporary and a little exotic into their projects and that my work can be used to accentuate their designs with a joyful yet considered sense of playing with colour and light. I believe that my work can provide an attractive focal point without being too overbearing or demanding.
What exhibitions do you have coming up?
I have actually just about finished a pretty intense period of exhibitions all over Europe, including Cambridge, Florence, Marbella, London, Madrid, Alkmaar and Cologne.
A selection of my work is permanently on display at the Darryl Nantais Gallery in Linton, near Cambridge, England, Corte-Real Gallery in Paderne in the Algarve, Portugal and by the time this goes to press, also in Galeria Retxa in Ciudadela on the island of Menorca.
I’m currently in discussions with galleries in Lisbon, Madrid and Cuenca regarding exhibitions later this year and early 2018. I shall also be exhibiting at a solo stand (24) at Malaga Contemporary Art Fair from June 30th – July 2nd and will be represented by the Darryl Nantais Gallery at the Edinburgh and Cambridge Art Fairs, both in mid November this year.
What are your favourite places in the four countries you have lived in?
I have many fond memories of Cambridge, but Jesus Green stands out particularly as I used to walk there beside the river every day with my daughter. My favourite place in England is West Dorset; I love the rolling hills and Jurassic coastline and have spent many weeks there staying with my husband’s parents.
My hometown of Lublin has a lot of history and I still love the cobbled streets and vibrant atmosphere of the old town. My favourite spot, however, is about 30km East of the town, beside the fishponds sunk into in the gentle hills where I used to spend my summers as a child. I still take my own children there as often as I can. Switzerland is renowned for it’s spectacular scenery, in particular the central line of the Alps, however, my favourite spot has to be the tiny fishing village of Gandria, located in the Ticino region in the south, on the edge of Lago di Lugano. Exploring the maze of narrow streets with an excited 5 year old and husband was a wonderful experience!
I adore Spain. Whilst I do enjoy the occasional day on the beach, there are spectacular hidden gems all over the country that I definitely prefer. The mountains north of Cuenca, to the East
of Madrid, hold some of the most beautiful river scenery that I’ve ever seen and there is something absolutely magical about floating in the almost deserted turquoise waters of the Alto Tajo on a hot summer day. The other area that I fell in love with immediately was Asturias, on the northern coast. After crossing the mountains heading north from Leon, there’s a moment when Asturias simply unfolds before your eyes. The mountains gradually become orchard covered hills that could almost be mistaken for a slightly more extreme version of Dorset, if it weren’t for the palms and banana trees! Keep travelling north and you reach some of the most amazing coastline I’ve ever seen, with a mix of sandy and rocky beaches, caves and cliffs. I hear that it’s busy during the long Spanish summer holidays, but if you manage to go in early September, the weather and the water are still easily warm enough for swimming and there’s no-one else there. Bliss!
This article is the first in a series resurrecting an approach to understanding art, first introduced by the famous New York furniture dealer Israel Sack (before anybody reading this but me was born). I will pick a different maker and form every three months. If there is something you would like to have included here, please write to me directly.
“Good, better, best” should read exactly as it sounds. Today we’re looking at three levels of coffee tables by the famed New Hope, Pennsylvania designer George Nakashima. As many of you know, Nakashima is the man who first popularized “free edge” furniture, working from the late 1940’s until his death in 1990. His daughter Mira, a formidable designer in her own right, carries on the tradition through today.
Nakashima made furniture of every stripe but he is best remembered for his coffee tables, the prices of which are supported by a world-based market. As Mira once noted while giving a lecture at my auction hall, her father used roughly hewn, “flitch cut” pieces for his creations because they were inexpensive cast-offs. When given lemons, make lemonade, and so rich a tonic was never produced with such vitality and distinction.
Good: Slab coffee table, New Hope, PA, 1973; Figured walnut; Signed with client name; 14” x 53 1/2” x 22 1/2”
Sold for: An elegant, basic Nakashima coffee table - The base, or support structure, is simple and more typical of George’s work from the 50’s and 60’s rather than this later date. As we shall see, the idea evolved into more architecturally complicated and pleasing. The wood used for the top board is interesting enough, though it lacks the intensity of his best work. The edges are relatively restrained, and there are no butterfly joints reinforcing in gaps at the top.
Sold for: $9,375
Better: Fine Minguren I coffee table, New Hope, PA, 1975; Figured walnut, rosewood; Unmarked; 15 1/2” x 77 1/2” x 32”
A better table in several ways - First, the top board is clearly more organic and exciting, yielding to an asymmetric edge. Further, the gaps and weak points in the board are secured in several places by Nakashima’s use of butterfly joints, usually of a contrasting material like rosewood. Additionally, the base structure, “Minguren 1” is a radical departure from his earlier work, more in line with traditional American furniture. This is a very strong piece of Nakashima.
Sold for: $30,000
Best: Exceptional walnut burl and East Indian laurel Conoid Long Coffee Table, 1966; Provenance: Toby Royston, Folly Cottage, Exton, PA, copy of original invoice available; Unmarked; 15 1/4” x 82” x 22 1/2”
Nakashima studio, at the risk of oversimplifying his work, produced three levels of furniture. The first are fairly simply, functional pieces, either mild or straight edge. Most of his padded lounge chairs, sofas, and ottomans come to mind. Next, like the two pieces mentioned above, are one-offs of fine quality but typify most of his production. The third level seem to be pieces made for friends of the family, or at least people with whom George had a deeper relationship. These have at least one of the following: Rare wood type, extraordinary free edge, numerous structural details, and unusual function. This table made for a friend of Nakashima who lived in a Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired house “without a right angle”, is a “one in a hundred” piece in several ways. The piece of wood used for the top was both rare in Nakashima’s work and posed an unusual problem in making a compatible base. Nakashima made a sleigh base for this table, one of a small percentage found on his coffee tables. The scale is also atypical, longer and thinner, serving more as a piece of sculpture than a functional table. I am sure there is something else like this out there, but I haven’t seen it.
Sold for: $146,40
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