Design | Monocle

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On the money

Oslo [Metric design]

An old logotype used by Oslo Sparebank formed the inspiration for the refreshing new identity and wayfinding work for the city’s new creative venue Sentralen. The shared work space and hospitality hub, which made its home within (and took some of its funding from) Norway’s oldest savings bank, had a charm about it that resonated with Oslo firm Metric Design.

“It certainly had a black-letter feel but there was also an experimental look with a real typographical twist that was very unusual for a typeface that old,” says designer and partner Christian Schnitler, who used the reference to build an entire font family for Sentralen. The timeless typography works just as well set on brass plates on the bank’s old marble columns as it does on black plastic signs in Sentralen’s edgier industrial corners.

Building a legacy

Japan [Sumida Hokusai museum]

Katsushika Hokusai’s woodblock print of a towering wave with Mount Fuji in the distance is one of the best-known images in Japanese art; Tokyo has finally built a museum dedicated to him. Designed by Japanese architecture firm SANAA, it’s of a scale that suits the neighbourhood.

Making it work

Köln [Orgatec]

Office-furniture fair Orgatec rolls into town every two years and when it does the industry takes note. For this edition more than 600 companies from 40 countries showcased their latest designs, not least Germand designer Werner Aisslinger and his Mesh shelving system, debuted by Piure.

In the early days of the fair the focus was on filing cabinets but that is no longer the case. True, some stands resemble a maze of chairs but others, namely that taken over by Swiss furniture giant Vitra, are pushing the envelope. “We’ve designed this hall as a workspace for Vitra and all these other companies,” says Pernilla Ohrstedt, who joined forces with Jonathan Olivares to create a new vision and identity for the offices and fairs of tomorrow. “It’s a very important space for them to work and think, meet clients and have conversations that will shape all of our future workspaces.”

Take a peek

UK [Barbican]

Photographer and Barbican resident Anton Rodriguez’s project on London’s revered brutalist estate was born out of nosiness: “I used to walk through the corridors, get a hint of someone’s apartment and wonder what they all looked like.” His book, Residents, shows a mixed bunch of interiors, from mid-century design gems to Victorian furniture-filled flats.

Weapons of choice

UK [Tools of Coventry]

Ever since it started producing harnesses for the British army’s parachutes in 1939, Tools of Coventry has been making hardy metallic gear for use in the military and beyond. Its team of precision engineers and tool-makers now weld, press and powder-coat hardware for companies including defence stalwarts BAE Systems and DSG Defence Support Group.

These foldable chairs were first born in 1970 for use in camp but have started appearing in Japanese department stores too; you will be hard pressed to find anything sturdier than this aluminium, birch and canvas combo.


Pedro Gadanho

Director of MAAT


After three years as a curator at Moma, Pedro Gadanho has now taken the lead at Lisbon’s new blockbuster Maat museum. Inaugurated on the banks of the Tagus River last October, the futuristic building designed by UK architect Amanda Levete aims to exhibit art, architecture and technological works.

What made you decide to bring together such apparently diverse fields?
Nowadays reflections on technology and urban culture are some of the most important fields in contemporary art. The challenge will be intersecting these fields, as opposed to exhibiting them side by side. Borders are already vanishing.

It’s a spectacular building. Will the architecture influence content?
When you have the opportunity to create a museum from scratch it makes sense to create a building which is in itself a cultural statement. Being such a unique structure, with special features such as curved walls, it ends up influencing the creative process. There are site-specific projects that you will hardly see somewhere else.

What highlights are you looking forward to in 2017?
The second part of Utopia/Dystopia, a collective exhibition that reunites more than 60 artists and architects. Also Artistes et Architecture, Dimensions Variable, which will be a reflection around architecture.

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