Skill set - Issue 9 - Magazine | Monocle

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Vicente García Jiménez
This Spanish industrial design graduate is set for a promising career. Jiménez, 29, set up his studio in Udine, Italy, just two years ago, but he has already worked for some of Italy’s most notable manufacturers including Tacchini, Karboxx, Foscarini and Palluco Italia. He is also art director for the Spanish lighting company Fambuena. Best known for his abstract but elegant geometric-inspired designs, Vicente’s full potential as a designer is yet to be fully realised, but he’s exploring new terrain – expect his first sofa to launch next year.

Mitsubishi Heavy Industries
It doesn’t sound like the type of parent company that’s developing an agile, lightweight regional jet, but that’s exactly what’s happening in Mitsubishi Heavy Industries’ design studios and test facilities in and around Nagoya. Having been out of the civil airliner market since the 1970s, Japan is attempting to block advances by China’s aerospace industry and soak up about 20 per cent of 5,000 forecast orders for the 70-90 seater aircraft segment over the next 20 years. Dubbed the MRJ (Mitsbushi Regional Jet), its nose makes it look like a little brother of Concorde and its interior is part Shinkansen, part sports coupe – complete with TOTO toilets. Designed completely in-house, the jet looks set to be formally offered to airlines later in 2008.

Britt Lintner
After 14 years of working in the world of finance, the US-born Lintner made a change of career – although she sidestepped any formal training in fashion. She designs clothes that could be worn in the office or out on the town, such as a silk skirt with demure kimono prints that can be made to look more dramatic with the addition of “funky” Lintner accessories. “While I was at Lehman Brothers in New York, my wardrobe was completely segregated,” says Lintner. “It was either jeans and T-shirts or clothes that looked too neat. I wanted to create an intermediate style I’d never seen before,” she continues. We predict that many international career women will be adding Lintner pieces to their wardrobes over the coming years.

Donn Koh
Koh, 25, graduated in 2007 from the National University of Singapore with a first-class honours degree in industrial design, and he’s already winning industry respect for his ingenious work. His LeapFrog prototype, a walker for children with impaired mobility, won the top award in this year’s biennial BraunPrize competition. Next up is a one-year training scheme at BMW’s DesignworksUSA studio in LA. “I am interested in creating meaningful products,” says Koh. We’ll be keeping an eye out.

Graf began in Osaka in 1993 as a group of six – architect, product designer, carpenter, furniture maker, artist and chef. It has built up an impressive portfolio of work, designing its own products (such as Sunao cutlery and glassware) and furniture; creating interiors for bars, restaurants and hotels (including Arcana Hotel in Izu); and collaborating with contemporary Japanese artists (Yayoi Kusama and Yoshitomo Nara).
Graf’s warm, woody style is encapsulated by its home base in Osaka – a row of buildings on Nakanoshima island in the middle of the city including a workshop, office, gallery, restaurant and shop filled with Graf designs and Japanese crafts. Having already dipped its toes into London, it won’t be long before the group’s style travels beyond home turf.

Brendeland & Kristoffersen
Established by Norwegian architects Geir Brendeland and Olav Kristoffersen in 2002, this Trondheim-based practice is revolutionising pre-fabricated wood construction with its daring, imaginative designs. “We are trying to map the new possibilities of this material,” explains Geir. Since winning critical acclaim for a housing project (the tallest wooden apartment block in Norway) in Trondheim’s Svartlamoen district, the duo are now working on larger-scale sustainable residential schemes such as these homes for coal miners working in Svalbard, the islands in the far north of the country. The practice has also been shortlisted to design parts of the athletes’ village for the London 2012 Olympics.

Building on success

Three more up-and-coming architecture and design practices you’ll be hearing about in 2008

One is German, the other is Spanish, and their industrial design practice is based in Zürich: Schindlersalmerón is truly pan-European in its outlook. Both from architectural backgrounds, Christoph Schindler and Margarita Salmerón met in the Netherlands in the 1990s but moved to Switzerland because, says Salmerón, “we were missing some Swiss quality”. This quest for precision and innovation is pivotal to their work, and their approach is scientific rather than purely aesthetic.
Take their prototype Zipliege chair, conceived using ground-breaking computerised joinery and a vacuum technique that bends “zipped together” sheets of wood into a flawlessly undulating day bed. The manufacturing process won them a research prize in 2007 from the Swiss Federal Department of the Environment.
A residential holiday development in Alicante will be the duo’s first new-build, combining Mitteleuropean sensibility with architecture that is sympathetic to the Mediterranean. “We believe architecture has a regional element you can’t globalise,” says Salmerón. The development will have a communal garden, solar power and fresh-air circulation rather than power-guzzling air-con.

Having constructed buildings in its home country of Austria, Marte.Marte is now hoping to bring its designs to the rest of Europe. Currently entered for various international competitions, Stefan Marte, who founded the practice with his brother Bernhard, is optimistic about the future. “We are only going to set up a foreign studio after having won competitions abroad, but this is what we are expecting to happen,” he says. This year the practice, based in Weiler, renovated a former Tirol convent into a stylish school for disabled children.

Established in Amsterdam by Madir Shah in 2000, this architectural practice opened a Swiss studio in Zürich last year. “We want to merge eclectic ‘Dutchness’ with rigorous and durable Swiss design,” says Shah. The firm’s most ambitious project to date is a mixed-use development scheduled to start next year in Bern. The blueprint includes a hotel, apartments and, most challenging of all, the Haus der Religionen, with areas for Buddhists, Muslims, Hindus, Christians, Jews and Bahá’ís to worship in. Shah reconciles potential tensions with a sensitive and inclusive scheme.

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