April 28, 2005
Porta Faucet Makes a Big Splash
After nearly 60 years of crafting contemporary and modern faucets, Porta Faucets has come stateside -- and in style. The Italian maker of kitchen and bath faucets had its coming out party in February at Snaidero's Beverly Hills showroom. Plans are for the faucet and cabinet makers to pair up at all of Snaidero's showrooms.
Offi Dominates Modern & Contemporary Children's Furniture
Since the company's inception in 1997, Offi's pared down, functional, modern, even minimalist pieces have created maximum hype among designers and consumers. It's been so well recieved that Offi has pushed its high-end designs outside the secluded world of architects and the design obsessesd and into the egalitarian online marketplace of Target.com. But what makes these designs so appealing to such a wide segement--common-sense usage, lack of unnecessary adormant, fresh colors––are the same things that make Offi the perfect company to reign in serving contemporary design's most underserved audience, children.
Offi's genius for kid friendly contemporary is no doubt borne of collaboration with the right people. Offi's scored big by working with, among others, TRUCK Product Architecture's Jennifer Gardner, a mother of one with one on the way; Roberto Gil of the Bebe Line; Scott Klinker, who earned Offi a designation in Fortune Magazine's "25 Best Products of the Year" with his Spaceframe Sculpture Kit; and Eric Pfeiffer who served as Design VP for the company for a few years and created some of its most enduring products.
Offi stars include the Woody Chalkboard Table, a pint-sized bentply design with a round chalkboard top and handy center bowl for storing chalk and erasers; the Tiki Stool, available in bright beach ready hues; the Built-By-Me and ConnectMe collections, easy to assemble pieces that the kiddies can take some personal pride in; and of course, the Spaceframe Sculpture Kit, building blocks for a whole new world.
But Offi isn't content to slow down on its children’s line just yet and it's recently launched some of its most forward leaning products to date. Our favorites are the Roll Top Chair and Roll Top Bench. These space saving, toy-storing seats keep clutter at bay and boast a whimsical, snake-like design. Kids tug the bright red tongue to hide their goodies and can sit right over them, on the seat’s antique desk-like roll top. Creative, fun and an aid in keeping toys picked up, both Roll Top versions, bench and chair, seem like the type of furniture kids and their parents will become attached to.
It's Hip to Be Square
People coming away from this spring's High Point Market might have taken with them a new perspective on dining and entertaining. If so, it’s no doubt one that puts guests and hosts on equal footing. While rectangular dining tables with their inherent "head of the table" status conventions were still very much the norm, a new, more equable shape for dining took the helm in cutting-edge showrooms throughout the market: the square.
Square's achieve the camaraderie of circles without the generic, hotel ballroom feel most people try to keep out of their homes. Some are relaxed, bohemian versions, like the Losquare from the Platform Collection by Shermag's Normand Couture, Canada's reigning mogul of modular. The low profile table sits atop metallic sweeps that keep it looking light instead of anchored to the ground. And while you're enjoying all the good conversation this table invites, you wont be distracted by bumping fellow guests' knees and feet. In Couture's design, everything has its place and everything has its reason.
From Excelsior, the Positao dining table is square and formal, with metallic accents for the sake of beauty, it's a table that lets guests be equal but reminds them to keep their backs straight and their elbows off.
April 27, 2005
Kagan for American Leather
Vladimir Kagan's always busy, even if his generally futuristic focus is in the past. He recently updated a previous design (lots of that going on these days) for American Leather's fabric division, AU (American Upholstery). Here's the Vanessa in fuchsia.
April 26, 2005
Front-Loader by GE
Here's a secret: My laundry room doesn't look like this one -- but I can dream. The new GE front-loading duo was designed to be shown off -- even if the rest of the room isn't. By the way, in case the visiting team is staying at your house, the unit holds 22 towels.
Blog Site Nominated for Webby
April 22, 2005
Product Design Input
If you've ever dreamed about being a product designer, here's your chance to help out in the process without the rigorous schooling. Dario Antonioni of Orange22 sent us this note asking for a little input and we thought you could help, too...
We here at Orange22 are diving into new territory and excited about it!
This year we will design a new line of travel accessories and take them to market through our good friends at Flight001.
We designed all their stores and now we’d like to learn about a new industry and shake it up a little!
We’d like to do something that’s new and never been done quite the way we imagine it could be.
We need your advice....
Brandon Lynne, a super talented designer that I’ve had the pleasure of working with in the past, will be the man behind this new line. He’s created an online survey that will help us gather information to better inform us of what we are up against.
Please, if you have 5 minutes, help us out and give us your two cents!!
Thanks for your help !!!
Click on the link below to get started:
April 21, 2005
Rowe of Elite Deals
Rowe Furniture and Elite Leather each capitalized on their first forays into licensing deals when they nabbed two stand-alone names in design, Jonathan Adler, the pottery king with a manifesto, and Lulu de Kwiatkowski, the luxury fabric designer and owner of Lulu DK. Both bring a high-end clientele and the relaxed aesthetic of the chic but accessible urban sophisticate to their respective affiliates, Lulu with Elite and Jonathan for Rowe.
Pictured, sinful pillow by Jonathan Adler; and Elite's Shirley group by Lulu de Kwiatkowski.
While Elite and Rowe both bank on using the rank of their collaborators to reach a new, young, urban audience, they might notice a crossover too in the collections themselves. Both Jonathan and Lulu revert to an "Old Hollywood" theme for naming convention and design.
Elite gave a raised section of its showroom to three groups, each called by the first name of a sassy star of inspiration and style: Shirley Temple, Ava Gardener, and Rita Hayworth. In white leather with multicolored buttons, scattered like Skittles on a room-dividing screen or arranged in neat bright rows on the sofa, the Shirley collection embodied all the fun carefree sophistication as Temple herself. A pinwheel of an ottoman was created with six tear shaped pad-topped tables, shown in white leather with red legs. The other collections, Rita and Ava were much more classic and subdued, set off more by their surroundings––Creative Elegance tables and case goods, Oscar de le Renta rugs, and Lulu’s own bold red printed fabric on one wall––than by their own flair or ingenuity.
At Rowe the Jonathan Adler collection, which will appear to all but the trade as a separate company unaffiliated with Rowe, showed the accessories that created Adler's Barney's buzz among a full collection of sofas, chairs, and case goods. Modern pieces with references to shaded bon vivant lifestyles of unforgettable starlet characters like Mrs. Robinson of “The Graduate” and Eve Harrington from "All About Eve," Adler's collection promises fun, sophistication, and even a little mischief.
High Point in a Nutshell
The International Home Furnishings Market just finished its Spring showing, and the news for contemporary lovers was largely ugh. With the exception of a handful of exhibitors (which we will address in subsequent postings), the offerings were a cliche. There was so much "wenge" it looked like entire showrooms had been dipped in chocolate. Fabric hues were slightly more imaginative warping from white chocolate to orange chocolate to milk chocolate and dark chocolate.
While the fall was awash with colors -- hot pinks, polka dots and a smattering of oranges -- this spring was dreary and muddy. If color is a signal of economic prosperity the industry is in a freefall. What is more likely is that the showroom barons are concerned and confused about the quickly shifting manufacturing landscape and are responding in predictable fashion: retreat and play it safe.
Modern lines were softened to contemporary ones, and contemporary ones were distilled to transitional. There was nothing too forward nor intrepid happening throughout many of the hundreds of thousands of square feet that we schlepped. However, set against this Willy Wonka backdrop there were a few notable exceptions, Hjellegjerde introduced a new line of sofas and chairs that were colorful, comfortable and contemporary. Poltromec srl had many its assortment of fun shapes introduced last fall and wrapped them in bright colors. Sofas International, which never disappoints with its flexible modules for urban living, was vibrant in turquoises and reds.
Steve Bailey at W. Schillig admitted that a Filmore Harty sectional in the front of his showroom that had been done up in beige -- was a "huge mistake" and should have been in red or orange (like the clever curved sectional with half-moon ottomans). "People might ultimately buy these pieces in brown, but they are attracted to the bright colors," he said. Another downside was the location of the sectional -- because it was up against the wall it was hard to see the innovative roll that was attached along the back.
On the lower end of the upholstery scale, Blu Dot had fun fabrics (courtesy of Angela Adams) and Innovation Living boasted great-shaped futons in geometric prints. Stone International continued with its painted "faux pony" upholstery to provide a visually stimulating and tactile experience -- without the pins and needle effect.
In case goods, the new material is infrared. Display cases transform to entertainment systems with the touch of a button -- which means you need to add another remote to your collection. But the star of the casegoods was Visu -- with its bentwood features, canny storage and artful pulls that are the trademark of founder Francine Couture. Another Canadian company, Ticana, known for its rich Scandinavian designs, was one of the few to curtail the wenge and head back toward blonde. The effect was striking.
There were other bright spots too. Haziza had glorious acrylic sculptures in an assortment of rich jewel tones while Marquis Collection offered quieter yet substantial sculptures in marble, granites and organic materials topped with resin. And Elite Manufacturing, which looks like it is changing its name to Elite Modern, moved to market with new metal finishes, including a very fresh bronze.
It remains to be seen whether or not this High Point will be a pivotal one -- but our prediction: at 17, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in New York (in May) has come of age and is going to be playing a bigger role on the buying stage. Don't be surprised if it takes top honors from High Point.
April 19, 2005
More Better Net
Those faster Internet connections are causing more people to spend more time online, reports Forrester Research and Headline Vision for Yahoo and WPP Group's Mediaedge:cia. The research, based on in-home ethnographic research and a survey of 3,200 U.S. consumers, found those with high-speed Net access visit twice as many Web pages than those with dial-up connections. According to the study, about 70 million Americans now have broadband connections. The changing media consumption patterns were more pronounced for those with home wireless broadband connections. The study found that group spent 25 percent more time online and watched 11 percent less TV.