Wednesday. 14/9/2022

The Monocle Minute
On Design

Image: Skall Studio

Objects of desire

We’ve been browsing homeware this week and have come across the tactile and smooth Stay Calm cup and plate (pictured), a sideboard that mimics Finnish forests and the work of Ismail Tazi’s forward-looking outfit Trame. We’ve also been flicking through furniture brand Flexform’s new magazine and wistfully wishing that Franco Campo and Carlo Graffi’s 1950s magazine basket was still in production. Nolan Giles, however, has been in Paris…

Opinion / Nolan Giles

Lighting the way

The French capital has always been heralded for its fashion talent but in recent years its design scene has lacked a strong identity. Of course, Paris has its design stars: Philippe Starck is perhaps the best known, while top architects such as Franklin Azzi and Studio KO have continued to deliver a high level of work. These names, however, have defined themselves through their unique styles rather than by being part of a cohesive scene or movement.

Visit Paris Design Week, which wraps up on Saturday, and you’ll discover that things are changing. A new generation of designers is promising an exciting future for the nation’s creative industries and doing it in a complementary manner. This is felt at Signé, a new collectable design gallery in Paris’s Saint-Germain-des-Prés, an area better known for its antique shops and classic cafés. Here gallery owner Maxime Bouzidi is providing a platform for lesser-known designers with the aim of presenting their work to smart collectors and increasing their renown (alongside the value of their work). Currently on display is a fine series of ceramic lighting by young French design duo Marie & Alexandre, who will have the opportunity to showcase more of their creations across a variety of mediums in the months ahead.

Their work and process, which involve collaborating with artisans, reflect a broader movement in the city and the country beyond it. This new crop of design studios tends to be defined by people who have cut their teeth in larger firms and are now venturing out on their own. Producing sophisticated interior-design projects and furniture pieces, their work honours France’s craft and manufacturing history, while moving it forward in a compelling manner.

The Project / Apartamento Augusta, Brazil

Past perfect

São Paulo has countless mid-century buildings with apartments that are ripe for a tasteful refit. And studio H2C Arquitetura’s recent remodel of a 1960s fourth-floor home is a perfect example of how to do this well. With an artist as a client and a brief to merge a painting studio with the living area, the practice’s founder, Helena Camargo, set about knocking down internal walls to expand the latter into a former bedroom. The outcome is a space with vast white walls that feels generous and filled with light, and incorporates an area where the client paints and displays his canvases.

Image: Renato Navarro
Image: Renato Navarro
Image: Renato Navarro

Despite this transformation, the home still retains its mid-century feel, with newly discovered architectural features preserved in the renovation. “The expansion brought out some previously hidden structural elements in the building, such as beams and pillars,” says Camargo. “When we discovered them, we decided to bring them into the design, leaving them in exposed concrete.” It’s a move further enhanced by Camargo’s decision to furnish the flat with Brazilian modernist pieces, such as chairs by Carlo Hauner and Martin Eisler. In all, the project is a reminder that a refit doesn’t need to result in the stripping away of heritage character – instead, it can be a chance to celebrate it.

Design News / Stay Calm cup and plate, Denmark

Soft drink

The Stay Calm cup and plate is a new collaboration between ceramic artist Franca Christophersen and Danish fashion and lifestyle brand Skall Studio. Made in Christophersen’s cosy Copenhagen studio from European grey clay, each set has been individually wheel-thrown, ensuring that every piece is unique. Christophersen hopes that those drinking from the vessel will be reminded to slow down by its gently curving form and soft colour.

Image: Skall Studio

“We kept in mind the importance of balance, while adhering to a more traditional cup feel through the use of a classical handle,” she says. The limited-edition cups and plates are finished in a simple and durable glaze, which highlights the subtle nuances in the stoneware, as well as the handmade process. It also ensures longevity – and a great cup of joe (or tea, if you’re so inclined).

Words with... / Ismail Tazi, France

New dimension

Trame is a homeware brand that celebrates Mediterranean craftsmanship through collaborations with independent makers. Co-founded in 2020 by France-based Moroccan creative Ismail Tazi, the company has just finished showing its collection at the latest edition of international furniture fair Maison & Objet. To find out more about Trame’s production methods, we caught up with Tazi at the event for Monocle On Design.

Your brand is Paris-based and works with makers all around the Mediterranean. How do you build your collections and collaborations?
Every collection starts with a trip where we take three new designers to find inspiration from a place in the Mediterranean and meet craftspeople there. Then, based on that visit, we conceive new pieces and collections. Our most recent excursion was to Andalusia, where the mathematics and the algorithms of the Alhambra’s architecture sparked ideas for us. We used these to produce a collection of 3D-printed, hand-glazed ceramics, creating an encounter between new technologies and contemporary designers.

How does 3D printing fit in with the traditional understanding of craftsmanship?
First, we need to be clear that 3D printing does not go against traditional craftsmanship, it’s industrial production that does. Second, with digital craftsmanship, as we call it, it’s important to remember that it’s about iteration. It’s a test-and-fail, test-and-fail process until you get the final product. There’s a belief that people working with 3D printers just press a button and say, “There you go, you have a product.” But the machine doesn’t do everything, there’s still the craftsman behind it, iterating and making sure that the output is a beautiful product.

Your brand is relatively young. How do you see the future of craft?
Since we started, we have had the opportunity to think about the product design of the future and how craftsmanship will evolve. We wanted our 3D-printed collection to showcase this. For us, digital methods are equal to traditional practices in terms of craftsmanship but they use 70 per cent less material. They also allow us to integrate the concept of decentralised production, where you can work with facilities around the world that can 3D print and make your product close to home. In this way, we can create globally but produce locally.

For more from Ismail Tazi and Maison & Objet, tune into this week’s episode of ‘Monocle On Design’ on Monocle 24.

From The Archive / Magazine basket, Italy

Pile with style

There’s a particular pleasure in consuming the news in print. But if a broadsheet lands on your doormat every day, piles of papers can quickly clutter even the most meticulously kept home. It’s a problem solved by this 1950s magazine basket, designed by Turinese architects Franco Campo and Carlo Graffi. The design, with its generously proportioned wicker body perched on steel legs, turns a potential nuisance into an elegant statement piece.

Illustration: Anje Jagerr

Campo and Graffi studied at Turin’s Polytechnic under famed architect Carlo Mollino, who took the pair under his wing after their graduation in 1950. Unlike Mollino, who mostly crafted one-off pieces, Campo and Graffi wanted to make furniture that was more widely accessible and set up their own atelier, called Home. This magazine basket was part of their collection. Sadly, production abruptly ground to a halt – and the duo’s collaboration came to an end – when their factory was destroyed in a fire in 1964. However, as long as there are people who like having a healthy stack of newspapers at home, we feel it’s not too late for a revival.

Around The House / Bastone sideboard, Finland

Tree line

Finnish cabinet-maker and furniture designer Antrei Hartikainen has added a new sideboard to his Bastone collection. Produced by Helsinki-based brand Poiat, it’s made from sturdy Finnish oak and is available in a black or natural finish, with or without doors. Like the other cabinets in the collection (which come in different sizes and feature multi-level shelving), this new piece is inspired by Finland’s forests, with Hartikainen drawing upon the slender silhouettes of a woodland treescape to inform the design.

Image: Poiat
Image: Poiat

“I have always admired how the light shifts through the tall trees in the forest,” says Hartikainen. “I tried to reflect that experience by using wooden dowel rods to create an arched form that is riddled with light.” The result? A piece that captures the effect of this light and appears light too, making it a neat and welcome addition to any home.

In The Picture / FLEXFORM ‘PAPER’, Italy

Home pages

Eager to move away from catalogues that present products in sterile or staged settings, Flexform has released a new magazine called Paper. It’s the Italian furniture brand’s first publication aimed at showcasing its collection in a range of real, lived-in homes. Across its 284 pages, readers (and potential customers) visit a Veneto countryside abode, a loft in a former industrial building in Milan and an airy contemporary house on Italy’s Lake Maggiore.

In each place, the owner’s relationship with the building is told through short anecdotes and crisp photography that shows their furniture paired with Flexform pieces. The hope is that those leafing through the magazine will not only enjoy the original reportage but also see how Flexform’s products can fit with the style of their home, as the people profiled had the opportunity to do.


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