Tag Archives: product design

Green Goods: Sustainable storage and millwork

(Cross-posted from Azure magazine‘s blog)

Committed to environmental stewardship, industry leaders like Collins and SierraPine manufacture sustainably harvested hardwoods or particleboard and medium-density fiberboard made without urea formaldehyde, one of the largest interior sources of carcinogenic gases. Here are our top five picks for eco-storage building options.

1. Green cabinet and millwork by Green Cabinetworks
This design/build firm specializes in the manufacturing of sustainable cabinetry and millwork, sourcing responsibly harvested hardwoods and using traditional cabinet joinery and craftsmanship. A FSC certified woodworking company, GCW’s green operations include: assembly of custom-built products with formaldehyde-free glues and adhesives, finishing with water-based stains, and recycling 100 per cent of its wood wastegreencabinetworks.com

2. Architectural woodwork by Towne Millwork 
This premier woodwork manufacturer’s portfolio includes a number of prominent projects in North America, such as upgraded interiors at Vancouver’s BC Place stadium and the Anchorage Museum expansion. Along with supplying and installing sustainably harvested hardwood products, Towne Millwork conducts environmentally safe material disposal and recycling, keeping salvageable cut-offs in storage for later re-usetownemillwork.ca

3. Interior veneers and plywood panels by Columbia Forest Products
The decorative veneer and hardwood plywood in Columbia’s cabinetry, furniture, and architectural millwork is made using a soy-based, formaldehyde-free adhesive adhesive known as PureBond. Befitting for residential and commercial applications, these non-toxic, moisture resistant panels can contribute toward LEED credit requirements and are cost-competitive with traditional veneer-core hardwood plywood options. columbiaforestproducts.com

4. Composite solutions by SierraPine
Interiors from healthcare to hospitality have specified SierraPine for casework, wall panels and artistic elements, utilizing exotic veneers such as sycamore and horizontal grain teak over SP’s sustainable fiberboard substrates. The manufacturer’s line of formaldehyde-free particleboard and MDF products are made with recycled wood fiber and meet or exceed the most stringent global emission standards – representing the future of engineered composite panels. sierrapine.com

5. FSC-certified wood products by The Collins Companies
Collins produces softwood and hardwood lumber as well as particleboards manufactured with 100 per cent post-industrial wood fiber. Founded in 1855, this family-owned timber and sawmill business became the first privately-owned forest products company in the United States to be certified by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) and to adopt the principles of The Natural Step and integrate them into their business operations. collinsco.com 

For more, see Azure‘s annual Green Building Guide, published in the May issue, a comprehensive reference about the trends, materials and systems that will help you transform any project into a bastion of sustainability.


Roundup: The greenest fabrics and rugs

(cross-posted on Azure Magazine‘s blog)

Material innovations like Kvadrat’s Waterborn are joined by super-modern wall coverings and carpets from Ruckstuhl, Conrad Shades and more, made from the natural-fibres of fast-growing grasses and plants like sisal, hemp, jute, banana, and soy.

Waterborn microfibre fabric by Kvadrat

The innovative production process of this sustainable microfibre textile, made sans solvents, involves recycling warm water in a closed system, resulting in less water consumption and carbon dioxide generation than in conventional methods. The slim fabric, a combination of polyester and polyurethane, is smooth and easy to upholster furniture. Patterns can be precisely embossed into its surface, whose palette includes natural tones and contemporary colours. kvadrat.dk

Rugs and carpets by Ruckstuhl

Ruckstuhl offers a range of area rugs and carpets made in combinations of coir, linen, pure wool, sisal and hair yarn with natural backings. For more statement-making options, the artist-designed rugs of Edition Ruckstuhl explore techniques such as hand tufting and embroidered typography. In addition to flooring, the company also manufactures acoustic panels in wool felt. ruckstuhl.com

Hand-woven window coverings by Conrad Shades

Conrad Shades has been hand-weaving custom Roman fold shades from renewable natural fibres for over 50 years. The collection includes drapery, sliding panels and motorized roll-ups of finely crafted weavings of grasses and reeds in a range of patterns and textures that lightly filter sunlight while preserving outside views, or provide opaque solutions for sun control and privacy. conradshades.com

Natural window fashions by Earthshade

These shading devices not only use natural materials, but are made with smart production and manufacturing processes. Hand-woven with a heavy cotton based thread, Earthshade’s custom natural fibre coverings, offered with a variety of operating options, have the industry’s only chemical-free hemp-based lining fabric – insulating for savings in winter heating and summer cooling. earthshade.com

Floor treatments by Alternative Flooring 

Luxurious and hardwearing natural wool carpets (Eco collection) by Alternative Flooring are hand-woven on traditional carpet looms. The woollen thread is woven on to a base of cotton and jute and then a cotton backing is secured with a natural latex layer. Likewise, the sustainable natural fibre flooring options, made from sisal, grasses, coir and jute sourced from around the globe, come in a variety of textural weaves and natural hues. alternativeflooring.com

For more, see Azure’s annual Green Building Guide, published in the May issue, a comprehensive reference about the trends, materials and systems that will help you transform any project into a bastion of sustainability.

Countdown to Milan: Belgium is Design

At the Milan fair and beyond, the country’s top designers – including Julien de Smedt, Gauthier Poulain and Alain Berteau – will flaunt their talents.

Despite its small size, Belgium has three regional institutions dedicated to fostering and promoting good design. In a collective initiative by 101% Designed in Brussels, WBDM and Design Flanders, two exhibits of products and prototypes will be exhibited in the loggia of Milan’s Pinacoteca di Brera – one of the world’s most prestigious museums, best known for its collection of Renaissance and Baroque paintings by such masters as Raphael, Caravaggio and Tintoretto.

The Belgian show marks the first time that design will be showcased at the palazzo. The presentation will create a link between classical art and modern furnishings and lighting in a scenographic framework of architectural modules by industrial designer Stefan Schöning that’s poised to wow visitors.

Meanwhile, Belgian design will also take over a chunk of Salone Satellite at the Milan fairgrounds as well as the enviable locale of Lake Como’s Isola Comacina – a series of villas actually dedicated to the nurturing of cultural interchange between Belgium and Italy.

At Pinacoteca di Brera

Young designers brimming with promise and innovation are handpicked for the 101% Designed in Brussels annual showcase. This year’s select five – architect Julien de Smedt, furniture designer Benoît Beneufbourg, industrial designers Corentin Dombrecht and Julien Renault and recent ECAL graduate Vanessa Hordies – show their most representative furniture and light fixtures. In honour of the program’s five-year anniversary, a retrospective will show 25 photo portraits of the chosen participants to-date.

Meanwhile, the exhibition Lightness explores such notions as physical lightness and a gentle environmental impact and, in a philosophical sense, the folly of design, expressed as the invention of irreverently flexible or modular furniture, textile and lighting solutions. Featuring the works of 21 designers, the curated collection includes Gauthier Poulain’s Wing pendant, a standout design that’s powered by LEDs and is shaped like a disc whose surfaces are peeling away.

At the show and off-site

You can get another fix of Belgian design at the Salone del Mobile’s Rho fairgrounds. In Salone Satellite, WBDM will showcase eight designers from Wallonia and Brussels, including Raphaël Charles, Stuut and Adeline Beaudry.

Meanwhile, an unprecedented design initiative takes place at Isola Comacina – the only island in Lake Como – in a move that reinforces the Bergo-Italian cultural institution. The recently renovated Belgian-Italian artists residences designed in 1935 by architect Pietro Lingieri have been refurnished with the works of a fortunate few contemporaries, like Mathieu Lehanneur and Alain Berteau, displayed alongside iconic Belgian classics by Maarten Van Severen and Jules Wabbes.

Belgium is Design will be held at FuoriSalone: the Pinacoteca di Brera at Via Brera 28, Milan from April 12 to 17.

(Cross-posted from Azure, a Toronto-based magazine of architecture and design)

Artek gets graphic

(Below is a post I wrote for Azure magazine’s blog.)

The renowned manufacturer lends its iconic furniture to German artist Tobias Rehberger, who has used it to captivating effect in the design of a Finnish café.

Rehberger’s passion for experimentation is well suited to the city in which his latest project is causing a big stir. Turku has been designated this year’s European Capital of Culture. The Logomo café, located in its core, is a buzzing cultural hub that opened in mid-January to coincide with the festivities.

For its yearlong run, Rehberger’s interior transforms the café into a comprehensive art installation where paint ignores traditional boundaries. While furnishing the space with Artek seating, such as the Stool 60 and Sedia 1 chair, the artist has created his own interpretation on how to utilize the pieces, painting the typically unfinished wood products to blend into the overall scheme. Artek custom designed the one hue – a vivid orange – that weaves through the black and white space as a stripe and as the finish on a pendant light here and there. But the most striking thing about the Turku café is the ensemble effect: an all-encompassing, visually disorienting environment created by a painting method based on the ‘razzle dazzle’ decorative style used to disguise battleships during the First and Second World Wars.

The artist, who began his career in the early nineties, has been exploring the conflict between functionalism and aesthetics for a while now. His conceptual work, which combines painting, sculpture, architecture and design, was originally put to use for Artek in a similar installation in 2009. His camouflage intervention in the cafeteria at the Palazzo delle Esposizioni was even awarded a Golden Lion for Best Artist at the Venice Biennale.

“I like the idea of creating a visual art project which is about ‘not seeing something.’ The sculpture I created for Turku is based on the same concept as the one in Venice,” says Rehberger. “It applies a completely different pattern to the space, but despite its very different look, it should have the same dazzling effect.”

Tobias Rehberger’s art installation/café is on view daily from 11am to 7pm through December 18, 2011.

All eyes on Stockholm

Light is largely absent in Scandinavia at this time of year. Not so during Stockholm Design Week where lighting is a large focus at the design spectacular that centers on the Stockholm Furniture Fair and Northern Light Fair. Here is a copy of the post I wrote for Azure magazine’s blog:

Kicking off tomorrow, the Stockholm Furniture Fair is packed with great new furniture and lighting by such designers as Inga Sempé, Arihiro Miyake and Timothy Schreiber. Here are five things to watch for on the show floor.

With its bevy of Scandi-flavoured furnishings and products – as well as lighting at the concurrent Northern Light Fair, which shares the fairgrounds – this show is a must-see for design lovers.

Homegrown talent gets the spotlight treatment. Manufacturer Swedese is expected to unveil new products by the likes of Claesson Koivisto Rune, Staffan Holm, Lime Studio and Roger Persson; and Design House Stockholm similarly struts the talents of its young collaborators.

But with some 750 exhibitors, the fair can’t help but bring attention to international stars, too, such as guest of honour Arik Levy and Dutch company Moooi. Not to mention German-born Stockholm-based industrial designer and interior architect Katrin Greiling (featured in Azure‘s March/April 2011 issue, on newsstands soon). She has created the cardboard-and-plywood Design Bar and VIP Lounge, which references both European and Middle Eastern cultures. Or, as Greiling puts it, “It calls to mind the genuine European, the old town, but also conjures up an artistic idiom characterized by cultural diversity that harks back to my time in the Middle East.” It’ll no doubt provide a place of repose at what should be a fun-packed fair, with tonnes of great things to see on the show floor.

Here are a few of the highlights.

1. Invited to create a combined bar and exhibition area, Alexander Lervik (who recently won the competition of the redesign of Nordic Sea Hotel) has contributed the Light Bar, filled with the latest lighting innovations – several hundred black pendants that hang in the bar to form “walls” – and a dazzling installation of his own. Also on display is his sculpture, Dimension, custom-made and on loan from Skandia’s head office, which consists of 1,728 heads, half men, half women, symbolizing the company’s employees. Each head is separately controlled with LED lights, which form a three-dimensional screen.

2. Parisian product designer Inga Sempé shows off the Österlen ash chair and table designed for historic Swedish furniture manufacturer Gärsnäs. The U-shaped cuts made into the chair’s legs and bent parts flatten the curves, endowing the surfaces with shadowed or lightened reliefs.

3. London based designer Timothy Schreiber launches the Plooop chair, a follow-up to its sleek armchair precedent. It’s formed from three continuous loops of plywood created with CNC-assisted technology with traditional wood craftsmanship, for a harmonious form.

4. Moooi‘s novelties include faceted table and floor lamps by Arihiro Miyake, as well as new incarnations of the company’s already iconic designs: the 16-task lamp composition Dear Ingo by Rod Gilad – now in white – and the Random LED floor lamp by Bertjan Pot, which complements the bestselling pendant.

5. Design House Stockholm presents new houseware items for 2011: Lena Bergström’s cotton-wool stools recalling birch tree stumps; Catharina Kippel’s bone china tableware hand-painted in deep blue cobalt; and, the Timo glass by Timo Sarpaneva – now available with an outer spiral-shaped layer of silicone for easier handling of hot beverages.

The Stockholm Furniture Fair and the Northern Light Fair run from February 8 to 12.