Inventory No. 33 | Monocle

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Luz Difusion/light

In the 1930s, Alvar Aalto pioneered the use of laminated bent plywood in furniture design and applied it to his chairs and stools. Eight decades later, Barcelona-based lighting manufacturer Luz Difusion has used the same technique for its concave suspension light “Suomi”. Made from four 2cm-thick blocks of oak that are moulded then laser-cut into shape, Suomi, which means Finland in Finnish, was named in deference to Aalto.

Paul Smith for Stelton

To celebrate their 50th anniversary, Danish product designers at Stelton looked across the North Sea and approached British designer Paul Smith to rework some of their archived designs. The result is a typically technicolour version of some of Arne Jacobsen’s designs, including the Cylinda jug.

Less is More/hair products

When Vienna-based hair stylist Hannes Trummer and chemist Doris Brandhuber teamed up, they fused their interests and skills together to produce an environmentally friendly hair-care line. Using local herbs where possible, the duo set up their first research lab in a back room of their own salon, rustling up items such as lavender and apricot conditioner and a gloss spray made from linden flowers and blossoms.

More trees/calendar

Made from recycled wood, this “more trees calendar” is part of a collection of products launched to raise awareness of a tree-planting initiative headed by composer Ryuichi Sakamoto. “It should remind you of the charm of wooden products,” says designer Keita Shimizu, whose simple wooden designs are intended to make the user more aware of the value of wood.,

Parfum des Oliviers/ mustards and oils

Throughout his career, retired Michelin starred chef of Château Les Crayères Gérard Boyer found that it is important to choose the right type of oil to suit certain dishes, to enhance the flavour not dominate it. With this in mind, he developed speciality oils for foods such as pasta, salad and cheese. His mustards (the raisin mustard goes well with onglet) also improve what they were designed to accompany. For purists though, Boyer’s Dijon cuts the mustard.


“We’re big on rockabilly,” says Ian Paley, the co-owner of west London shop Garbstore, and that’s the style its new archetypal worker boot, the Workerbilly, is based on. This is the store’s first piece of footwear designed in collaboration with The Vintage Showroom. The shoes are handcrafted in Portugal with duck-canvas inners and a sturdy rubber sole.

‘Le beau pour tous’/book

Written by French-Canadian journalist Sophie Chapdelaine de Montvalon, this book pays homage to two of the most influential women in contemporary French design – Maïmé Arnodin and Denise Fayolle. It follows their adventures during the 1960s and 1970s discovering designers such as Emmanuelle Khanh, Sonia Rykiel, Jean Paul Gaultier and Kenzo.

Masking Tape/stationery

Made out of rice paper, these rolls of re-peelable adhesive tape are by Japanese company Masking Tape. You can write on them too, unlike Biro-proof Sellotape. Masking Tape has also joined forces with French store Merci on special Liberty print rolls.,

Studio Samira Boon/ business card holders

When Monocle attended the opening of Herzog & de Meuron’s VitraHaus, we spied these nifty little “furoshiki shiki” business card holders. Made from a single sheet of semi-transparent vinyl film, they are designed by Amsterdam and Tokyo-based Studio Samira Boon and are available in seven sprightly colours.

Bag ’n’ Noun/knapsack

Hand-made in a small factory in Osaka, these canvas backpacks are by Bag ’n’ Noun, founded by Takeshi Ozawa. The brand is proud of its Made in Japan provenance and the knapsack is from the Canvas series, which includes wash-bags, shoulder bags and totes that come in red, sage or quirkily named banana or ocean. Visit the latest Graf-designed store, which opened in Osaka’s Namba Parks Shopping Centre in March.


Based in Helsinki’s artist-filled Vallila district, where Harri Koskinen got his start, Kauniste launched in 2009 with a collection of 1960s and 1970s-inspired linen kitchen towels. “Original designs are all cut and printed by hand. It seems more precious that way,” says founder Milla Koukkunen, one of Kauniste’s team of four, whose goods are sold in Finland and Japan.

Quico/butter dish

This is made by Yoshinobu Shibata – one of the few remaining craftsmen specialising in “magewappa”, meaning “bent woodware”. It’s a 400-year-old Japanese craft originating from the northern city of Odate in Akita prefecture. The process involves finely shaving cedar wood, boiling the shavings and then bending and fastening it into shape.

Globus/organic food

Swiss department store Globus’s new organic range of over 140 foodstuffs includes everything from olive oil to truffles. Branding and packaging was done by Zürich-based design agency Schneiter Meier Külling, who kept Globus’s black-and-white theme but incorporated 20 simple illustrations using Japanese black-ink painting techniques.

‘The Geometry of Pasta’/ book

With over 300 pasta shapes in existence, from ribbon-shaped farfalle to squiggly Ligurian trofie, chef Jacob Kennedy, of Italian restaurant Bocca di Lupo, introduces us to a few favourite recipes and their histories. The tome’s tight monochrome aesthetic is thanks to designer Caz Hildebrand and the graphic approach is refreshing amid the current tidal wave of food-porn photography cookbooks.

Archetoys/model cars

These hand-made boxy metal toys are from Dutch designer Floris Hovers, who also dabbles in furniture design. Alongside his collection of cars and trucks are New York-style taxis, London Routemaster buses and even a funeral hearse.

Eno Studio/shoe-clean kit

This beech shoe-cleaning box is by Milan-born designer Donata Paruccini, who has worked with Alessi. It was designed for Eno Studio in France and comes with nylon brushes to shine your Stefanobis and keep them in good nick.

Yoikigen Sake/hakka shochu
One of Okayama-based sake brewery Yoikigen’s offerings is a rare shochu flavoured with the Japanese mint hakka. It’s best paired with rich foods as the menthol cuts through the fat.

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