Wednesday. 8/12/2021

The Monocle Minute
On Design

Opinion / Nolan Giles

On the record

For The Forecast – Monocle’s look ahead to 2022, which is available on all good newsstands now – our international correspondents and I sought the world’s most interesting graphic design firms for a story on the power of smartly run small studios. These nimble-minded outfits that punch well above their weight in terms of the scope of their projects include Herburg Weiland, a Munich outfit with a team of 11 that produces top-grade graphic-design work and art direction across multiple media.

My conversation with co-founder Tom Ising revolved around the clever motion graphics that the firm was producing for digital billboards, as well as dynamic websites for brands. But his eyes lit up when we discussed the beautifully printed books that the studio had produced for clients in art and architecture. This is not an uncommon experience when meeting graphic designers. In fact, I don’t remember an instance in which a finely produced piece of print hasn’t been their most prized project.

We live in an era when art directors have the opportunity to create visual magic on-screen, with seemingly limitless possibilities for experimentation. So it is heartening for print lovers like me that designers derive the most joy from ink being put to paper.

The project / Fritz Hansen Stay, South Korea

Double room

The Fritz Hansen Stay is a pop-up hotel in Seoul’s Gahoe-dong neighbourhood that offers rooms kitted out with wares by the Danish furniture firm. The Copenhagen-based brand worked with South Korean architecture studio Gaeun & Partners for the project. Together they transformed the interior of a traditional hanok structure, a Korean architectural style that encourages movement between the indoors and outdoors through large doors and generous windows.

Danish and Korean design sensibilities are blended in the space: guests can lounge on statement pieces from Fritz Hansen’s Poul Kjaerholm furniture collection, while enjoying peaceful views over the surrounding gardens and other hanok buildings. Designs by Arne Jacobsen, such as the Egg and Swan chairs are also scattered throughout rooms, with the new clam-style pendant lights by Ahm & Lund gently illuminating much of the interior of the timber building. All of this makes The Fritz Hansen Stay sound like a tempting place to, well, stay. Guests should get in quick: the pop-up is open until 21 December.

Design news / Begg x Co x Diptyque

Blanket plan

If your winter hibernation plans involve snuggling up by a fire with a good book in hand, then Scotland’s Begg x Co has produced the perfect throw for you. Its new design is made in collaboration with Paris-based fragrance house Diptyque and is adorned with the French brand’s hallmark Basile pattern. The geometric design was created in 1963 by one of its co-founders, Christiane Gautrot, and has become a key part of Diptyque’s visual identity.

The resulting design has been woven by hand in Begg x Co’s Ayrshire factory in two subtle shades of grey, using an ultra-soft blend of lambswool and Caregora, a responsibly sourced fibre made from angora rabbit hair. For added atmosphere, complement the throw with the glow and scent of a Diptyque candle.

Image: Karli Evans

Words with… / Wava Carpenter, USA

Happy returns

Every December, gallerists, curators and critics make their way to Florida for Design Miami. The international fair showcases the work of leading designers and its most recent iteration wrapped up on Sunday. Curated by Wava Carpenter, this year’s show aimed to highlight designers and practitioners who are working towards a more equitable future. To find out how this was achieved, we caught up with Carpenter for this week’s episode of Monocle on Design.

Tell us about the theme of this year’s show.
We called the theme “Human-Kind”. But it’s really about building on this new discourse around post-humanism and the concept of flattening the hierarchy between species so that there’s not an arrogance from a human perspective, through which we leave all other species decimated in our wake. This initial starting point also moved into an intra-human flattening of hierarchies. We want to look at work that doesn’t privilege certain groups of people over others in the systems that we create. This is what everyone who was participating was invited to respond to – to share any sort of vision for a more equitable or interconnected future and a more harmonious world.

Design Miami took place virtually last year. What was the mood in the city like on its physical return this year?
It was like a high school reunion; you feel it in the air at Design Miami. And you can see that energy in the work as well: so much of it is exuberant and joyful. There’s also a sort of fearlessness about having a strong message.

What’s the value of gathering people together again?
We’re at a historic inflection point culturally and geopolitically. There’s the pandemic but also, from an environmental point of view, there’s the question of how much international travel is necessary. It will be about finding the right balance but these events will continue because they inspire people, bring joy and make things happen with chance encounters that wouldn’t occur otherwise.

From the archive / Georg Jensen jug, Denmark

Royal appointment

This water jug might appear to be quite regal but it’s probably still a surprise to learn that it was designed by a royal. Sigvard Bernadotte was born a prince of Sweden; his father was King Gustaf VI Adolf and his mother a granddaughter of Britain’s Queen Victoria. But after he married a commoner in 1934, the family stripped Bernadotte of his titles, which was a fortunate turn for the creative community: the ousted prince turned to a career in graphic and industrial design.

Illustration: Anje Jager

In his new profession, Bernadotte became arguably far more influential in the daily lives of Swedes than his family. His designs include the poster for the country’s first movie and the logo of its most popular chocolate-maker, Marabou. But he might be best remembered for the silver tableware he designed for Georg Jensen: Bernadotte revamped the Danish company’s entire collection in 1930. We’re especially fond of this elegant pitcher from 1952, which has a perforated spout to ensure that no ice cubes splash into the glass while pouring. You certainly wouldn’t want that to happen at a royal banquet.

In the picture / Takt Cross chair, Denmark

Colour code

The Cross chair by furniture-maker Takt is quickly becoming a contemporary classic. The slick, flat-pack work – a creation of British studio Pearson Lloyd – has been winning admirers worldwide since its launch in 2019. And it’s a design that has now been updated to include a steel-legged version of the oak-framed original, which is available in a range of new colour variations, chosen by Copenhagen-based visual artist Malene Bach.

For Danish customers, these four new colours might look familiar: the muted cobalt, copper-tinted red, mossy green and pale duck egg are hues traditionally used to paint woodwork in the Nordic nation. From timber cabins to window frames, doors and fences, these colours have adorned dwellings up and down the country for centuries. So this new range provides a smart nod to the design heritage of the brand’s native Denmark.

Novel graphics / ‘ARN’, France

Gaul encompassing

Five years ago, photographers Eric Tabuchi and Nelly Monnier set out to document the architecture and landscapes of the 450 natural regions that make up French territory. The initial results of the project can now be found in a smart 384-page publication: L’Atlas des Régions Naturelles Vol. 1.

Co-published by Poursuite and Gwinzegal, the book features Tabuchi and Monnier’s images of homes, shops, churches and villages in regions such as Artois, Morvan and Béarn. The photographs do the talking – the only text is the location names – and a fold-out map serving as an index is slipped into the back cover. It leaves readers inspired and perfectly primes them to visit the spots themselves.


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