All grown up
Originally designed in 1966 by the late architect, designer and sculptor Angelo Mangiarotti for a children’s school, the diminutive JUNIOR furniture collection is now available for adults. Under the supervision of the still active Studio Mangiarotti, Japanese distributor and retailer Metrocs has been charged with producing the re-issue in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, the heart of Japan’s furniture industry. The playful plywood series features a sideboard, chest of drawers, two free-standing shelves and an armchair that are all made up of slats of wood that cleverly slot together.
A visit to a Swedish exhibition is a reminder that focusing on your national talent makes a more interesting show.
By Tom Morris
Wandering around the halls at Stockholm Furniture Fair, there’s no doubt where you are the world. Blond wood, elegant shapes, pale pastel colours (not to mention an eye-catching blond and elegant crowd). This is a pure-and-simple showcase of Scandinavian design (see page 240).
A handful of non-Nordic brands present their wares here but it’s predominantly a local audience revelling in local design. Plus voyeurs like myself (just 27 per cent of visitors were international) having a good perve at it all (the furniture of course).
Of course, few territories have the same design heritage as Scandinavia but wouldn’t it be nice if all trade fairs, design weeks and market expos were as loyal and locally grown as Stockholm? Like many other creative industries, the design world has become incredibly flat. That’s great for retailers who are keen to cherry pick the best of the world’s furniture in their own back yard, or for interesting brands wanting to reach corners of the world that they would otherwise not be able to. But you wonder what makes them different from each other: the same manufacturers and, more often that not, the same products.
French interiors trade fair Maison et Objet launches its first Asia edition in Singapore in mid-March. Next year it will also hold the debut m&o Americas in Miami. We will hold judgement for now (read next month’s issue for our report on m&o Asia), but the exhibitor lists include the same old suspects – those with the budgets to join the caravan of trade fairs that parades around the world each year. We can’t expect all marketplaces to be as blond and handsome as Stockholm but why can’t they all be as patriotic?
Inspired by Dorothee Becker’s Uten.Silo Wall Tidy organiser of the late 1960s, this Luis organiser is one of the first items from new Barcelona design studio, Oli13. The firm was set up last year by Juan Luis Domínguez and his wife Isabel Trias de Bes, who both left their jobs (he in retail, she in marketing) to pursue their design ambitions. The cubbies and shelves of this playful piece, available in yellow, navy or plain, were all calculated to suit your daily needs. “We wanted a real functional piece and also a nice object to see without its function,” says Domínguez.
Set up by Emily Arciszewska, Julia Sandoval and Jana Sandoval, London-based Bococo combines its founders’ backgrounds in finance, social enterprise and design respectively to manufacture a contemporary take on traditional craftwork. Launched last year, the brand’s first collection of cushions includes seven handwoven and five screen-printed designs made from cotton from the Philippines. “Our key motivation was to work with artisans in the country,” says Arciszewska, “and to bring appreciation back to the art of weaving while applying fair practices.”
Q&A- Alejandro Villarreal
Founder, H Furniture London
Alejandro Villarreal founded Hierve, a design consultancy based in Mexico City and London, in 1999. This year marks the launch of his new venture, a furniture brand called H Furniture which was launched at IMM Köln in January with three collections: Leather, Brick and Corner.
How did H Furniture come about?
I was frustrated by how difficult it was to approach manufacturers with my ideas and get a fair deal. So I decided to set up my own brand and take back some of the control.
What is your background?
I was an architect until the downturn of 2008 then I decided to pursue a path more related to product design. I love furniture, how it can enhance everyday life and how quickly it can be developed (compared with buildings).
Tell us about H’s Leather Stool.
It was influenced by mid-20th century Scandinavian design and by classics such as the Barcelona chair.