DSEGNARE

Meet architect and craftsman: Joshua Aidlin

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Brecon Estate Winery. Photographer: Adam Rouse

Brecon Estate Winery. Photographer: Adam Rouse

In 1998 Joshua Aidlin and David Darling founded the award-winning architecture and design firm Aidlin Darling Design. Over a span of almost twenty years the studio has won several awards such as the 2013 National Design Award by The Smithsonian Cooper -Hewitt Design Museum, the James Beard Award and two National AIA “Cote” awards for excellence in sustainable design. Aidlin Darling Design today is a multidisciplinary platform combining architecture, design, craftsmanship and engineering in a holistic way. If you happened to go to In Situ, the well-known restaurant inside of the SFMOMA, one of their latest projects, you would have a taste of their work. They are famous in the industry for their “designing for all the senses” philosophy, where a project is developed in a series of layers. This includes visual, psychological, material, acoustic and environmental elements. It is a design principle that they apply to all of their projects, including institutional, such as the Santa Rosa High-School, commercial such as Bar Agricole or the Emeryville Center for the Arts, and residential such as the Sonoma Spa Retreat. “Our ultimate goal is to create soulful building”, Joshua Aidlin explains.

We met Joshua Aidlin at his office to discuss the design philosophy for Aidlin Darling Design and the firm’s process in further detail.

How has architecture changed in the last five to ten years in San Francisco?

The architecture has become much more scientific in the performance of the building. Twenty years ago we could have presented just a plan of the structure of a project. Now we have to do mock up model, we have to deal with all the documentation about permits, the sustainability standards and certification. The amount of research that is done on the performance, the collaboration with engineers, the selection of materials, everything has become much more demanding and scientifically based. Before it was a more simplified process. Now, with Pinterest and online sources, the process is becoming an extended dialogue about lighting, fixture, ceilings, floor and more. People have more access to information. You have to become an expert on everything and your range of expertise has to grow tremendously.

Courtyard Residence. Photographer: Matthew Millman

Courtyard Residence. Photographer: Matthew Millman

How is Technology affecting your work?

From a fabrication point of view, now, we are able to use 3D printing and other technical tools that we could not have used in the past. These tools give to us more opportunity to work on a project even if we are not on site all the time, and to dig into details, in a more accurate way. On the other hand, we are also craftsmen as we make furniture with our hands, so we always try to balance artisanship and technology. If you look at the ceilings of In Situ, without technology that couldn’t have happened.

Could you explain to us the philosophy behind your “designing for all the senses” approach?

In the late ‘90s and 2000 and even today there was and there is an obsession for the visual. At that time as well as today, we are still not paying attention to the opportunity to investigate into the psychology of the building and the people. If you think about all the receptors we have in our body, our skin, the temperature and those within a space like the acoustic, the texture, if the building is made of smooth wood wall, or stone, or concrete. Consider all the elements that psychologically affect human beings. The question is what is the impact that everything has on the psychology of human beings? It is very important to ask to ourselves as well as our clients.

In Situ. Photographer: Matthew Millman

In Situ. Photographer: Matthew Millman

Could you tell us more about your creative process?

It is uniquely specific to the project or the people involved. Even if it is a remodeling of a building, we always ask a lot of questions to understand the clients needs. We want to understand their psychology because we are going to design a custom house for them. When we talk to clients we often see an interesting distinction between how they have lived in the past and how they want to live in the future. What is their pattern today? And how do they want to live now? We put them in a new environment that they can create. What are their rituals? What are their rituals going to be? At this point the process gets exciting because we start to see our clients dream about the potential of their lives. After this investigation phase, we combine and integrate all the architecture, the psychological and the material elements, collected. Then, we break everything down to create a realistic, powerful and magical environment where clients can pick and choose what they really want.

Could you tell us more about your design aesthetic?

Both David and I and all team are pretty obsessed with proportions. We make our furniture with our hands so we design our buildings with the same precision. Being able to balance all the proportion creates an undeniable elegance within any piece of furniture or building. The thickness of a table whether it is 2 inches or 3 inches makes the difference. This obsession is something that we don’t want to get rid off. We all agree that if you do it once, do it right.

 

Ventilla Writing Table. Photographer: Marcus Hanschen

Ventilla Writing Table. Photographer: Marcus Hanschen

In your team do you have people that work on just residential projects and people who work on commercial and public spaces?

We try to mix everything up. We have company creative retreats and we also talk to the people of our staff about what they want to work on. If they want to work on residential or on a public building, we try to satisfy their wishes. It is a collaborative studio and we tend to help one another. We don't care about who the idea belongs to. There are going to be equal opportunities. David and I are always involved in any project. Sometimes one is acting as lead designer and sometimes as the critique voice. The lead designer knows everything about the project and the critique voice doesn’t know anything. So during the meeting the role of the critique is to give a proper feedback and see what is working and what is not working from a point of view of someone who is not involved.

What kind of positive mark do you intend to leave?

I hope that with all I have done there is an undeniable level of craft and sensuality and that will inspire the culture to respect and love design. Design is open ended and our ultimate goal is to create soulful buildings. 

From the left: David Darling and Joshua Aidlin. Photographer: Marcus Hanschen  

From the left: David Darling and Joshua Aidlin. Photographer: Marcus Hanschen

 

Meet designers: Michael Garcia and Farid Tamjidi

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Kendo

Kendo

Michael Garcia and Farid Tamjidi, founders of Garcia Tamjidi Architecture Design, are known for their minimalist aesthetic and have established their reputation in the industry working on multiple scale projects such as Apple, Airbnb, Pixar, Index Ventures and Kendo. Both from the Bay Area, the pair met in the early 1980s at the UC Berkley’s school of architecture. After working for different companies in the industry, in 1998 Garcia and Tamjidi opened their own firm. They combined their skills and developed a holistic process for architecture and design.

We asked Garcia Tamjid a few questions about their firm and their projects.

 

How has local design and architecture changed in the last 5 to 10 years?

We’ve noticed an increase in local interest that’s keeping pace with an international surge in fascination with design. Compared to ten years ago there are so many outlets focused purely on design and visual culture. In the last five years in the San Francisco Bay Area, where we do a lot of our work, we’ve noticed that our clients come to us aware of visual culture and fluent in a visual language. There seems to be a strong interest in work that tells a coherent + consistent narrative, and also engages with these deep architectural issues like form, light, space, and more.

 

How is technology affecting the way in which you work?

We still start out with simple hand-sketches, which is always the first step/building block of design for us. What we try and do is to work at the intersection of multiple forms of technology - standing in a project site and getting a phenomenological feel for the place - the way the light bounces, the way the volume of the space feels and what elements need to be brought to the fore. And then, of course, we couple that with the ever-increasing ability to store amounts of information and images on a scale that wasn’t possible ten years ago. We work to keep ourselves tethered to the fact that everything we create will be lived (or worked) in by humans. So while tech helps us to keep better records and make quicker edits on drawings, we’re still always oriented towards creating spaces that people are going to experience without technological mediation.

Private Residence.

Private Residence.

 

When you have to start a new project. What do you do? Could you tell us about your process?

It’s different for every project, of course, but a basic framework is to clarify the program and identify limitations; we want to be clear on site, budget, schedule, and the client’s needs. The more information we have, the clearer the direction and the better the solution, but every client and every project is different. We have one client who is hyper-involved on the detail level, so we started working with him by having daylong meetings where we talked about everything he wanted to do and how to do it. And then we have others who want to have a much lighter touch, who want us to really frame and shape a solution in architecture that they couldn’t have even imagined.

 

Do you approach residential and commercial projects in the same way?

We'd say that we approach all architecture in a similar way by focusing on details, quality, that moment where you walk into a space, whether it’s a jewel box apartment or a 20,000sf office space, and just think “oh…. wow.” That’s what we’re going for. Of course, the parameters are different - sites, budgets, schedules vary for different types of projects. We like to think that there’s a consistency in our investigations into materiality, form, how to shape space. We’ve also noticed that line between what’s considered appropriate for residential versus commercial architecture is becoming increasingly blurred, with a cultural increase in thinking about issues like work/life balance. Commercial clients, for instance, are becoming much more interested in “life” issues. Residential clients, instead, are thinking more about how to incorporate spaces for work and thought.  We bring an emphasis on daily interactions and how they can be addressed and improved through design.

 

Could you describe to us your aesthetic?

Overall our approach is very restrained, we like to build what’s absolutely essential. We pay attention to detail so that we can create a space that appears simple and functional, and every single project devotes an enormous amount of thought and attention to natural light. We’re keenly aware of the play of light in space. Le Corbusier said that “architecture is the masterly play of form and light,” and that’s a way of framing the work we do that’s always resonated with us. We love how the eye tends to travel along long lines and really crisp forms. We did a residential project where there’s this curved marble kitchen bar that seems like such a simple shape but it anchors the entire open living space and turns itself into a work of sculpture. That’s the kind of aesthetic that we have. Quietly artistic, but also really workable/usable. One of the things we love is when our clients talk about a problem that they never knew they had, but that we’ve in some way solved.

 

Could you share with us the design concept behind Kendo?

One of the central issues was that we were creating an architectural identity for a company that’s entirely built around pillar brands, but didn’t yet have its own clear brand. So the new office was a chance for us to create a clear ethos for them. There’s a strong visual association with retail environments because Kendo is a beauty company, and devoted to amazing packaging and visual sophistication. So, we took that as a working idea and then incorporated our emphasis on volume, expansive spans, clean lines, and tremendous amounts of storage (to keep the sightlines clear). We worked closely with the Kendo team to create a space where their teams could work really closely together. As a result, there are a lot of areas for people to get together in meeting rooms, or pockets of seating areas that are bursting with natural light. We incorporated massive graphics on the walls that support each of the pillar brands, and those graphics pop because so much of the rest of the materiality is really sleek and simple. We found this incredible shiny black surface that we used to produce a central tableau that’s in the reception area, and then we designed the lighting to produce this really theatrical sense of display.

 

What is one of the most challenging project you have been working on so far?

 We approach each project with the same desire to learn as much as we can and to challenge ourselves - so each project! If you look at our website, each project has a similar ethos of simplicity, attention to natural light, formalist investigation - but we don’t have an immediately recognizable style; no two projects look the same. And that’s because we take each project for what it wants to be, for what the clients want it to be, and for the opportunity it presents for all of us to learn something new; whether that’s about doing something like that marble bar for a recent residential project, or using the window spans in Kendo to produce an almost Gursky-like effect of San Francisco outside. We are as fascinated with architecture today as we were when we met at UC Berkeley’s architecture program, and so in a way we make each project be the most challenging.

 

What are your thoughts on the future for San Francisco and the Bay Area, from a design and architecture point of view?

It’s such a recognized cultural center for new ideas and innovation, and we feel it’s our job to hold down the fort in a way, to lead by careful intellectual study, experimentation, high level of professionalism, so that we continue to reinforce the role and value of architecture. There are companies being founded every day, and we see ourselves as stewards of a type of precise thinking and exploration. We’ve been working here for twenty years, our twentieth anniversary is coming up, and so we’ve seen so much change. And yet, the fundamental questions that we address are the same: how can we live better? How can we mobilize what is already here (light and air)? How can we help this city to grow in a thoughtful way? How can we nestle our projects into the urban fabric? An example of that is our work with the Parker Institute for Cancer Immunotherapy, where we worked on this incredibly historically important site on the Presidio and gave the team a space that can be grown into. We’re conscious of San Francisco’s past and also its future. and we hope to continue to be shaping the spaces in which all of this art and thought and innovation happen.

 

How do you plan to leave a positive mark on the city?

We hope to do that every day with all of our projects, by showing clients that they can work in something really beautiful and really inspiring, and that it’s going to change how they feel every day. It’s not that we’re going to build the tallest skyscraper, that’s not our thing. It’s that we’re going to keep building commercial and residential projects that bring people joy when they go to work, when they come home from work. We remember walking into the Kendo space with the team for the first time, and they were so excited. They hadn’t ever seen an office space that was this compelling - and they couldn’t wait to move in. So that’s hundreds of people who are now looking forward to going to work that much more - that’s a positive mark. And then there are our super-private residential projects, like a really intimate library we just did for an entrepreneur in Marin. This specific client now has a place to go and be silent and rest and think really deeply. We’ve made a positive mark on him, and who knows what kind of city-influencing ideas he’s going to come up with from here! We see our role as architects as creating the spaces that allow more magic to happen.

 

What is design for you? 

Design to us is everything - it’s why we get up in the morning. Because we can’t wait to get to the sketching pad or the CAD file to solve that problem we’ve been thinking about for weeks. It’s the enormous satisfaction that we feel when we get that “aha!” moment. It’s the tremendous joy of seeing clients walk into a space that they’ve seen renderings of and get it - of watching more and more people start to understand how deeply important and specific architecture is - that we’re here to answer deeper questions than where the furniture should go (although we also answer that!) We want to do good work that impacts people’s lives - and architecture and design is one of the most powerful agents for that kind of change.

 

 

 

 

Meet designer: Cory Grosser

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Elle furniture collection. 

Elle furniture collection. 

Los Angeles-based designer Cory Grosser is fully committed to design. In 2002 he opened his own studio and has attracted the attention of internationally renowned companies such as MDF Italia, Walt Disney Signature, Bentley Motors, Ford, Samsonite and SpHaus. Grosser uses what he calls a “Creative Intelligence” approach, which aims to produce pieces that are both practical and appealing. According to the designer any object should be beautiful, poetic, useful and should tell a story. This is a philosophy that Grosser teaches to his students at the Art Center in Pasadena. Over the span of his 15-year career Grosser has been recognized for several outstanding achievements. These accolades include the ID Magazine Design Review Award, Best of Neocon, a Gold Award at IIDEX and an I.Dot selection for the best of Italian design.

In between his travels to Milan, where he attended the Salone del Mobile, and Los Angeles he found some time to sit down with us to answer a few questions.


What is your design process?

I don’t believe that we have a single process. A process suggests repeatability and if you do the same thing over and over, it will work out: but creativity can come from anywhere - it’s far less linear. Instead of concentrating on a single process, we focus on a set of tenets. Our principles include: design should be beautiful, design should tell a story, it should be simple and it should be commercially viable. Visual strategy, sketching, model-making, 3D printing and rendering are our most common techniques. 

DesignLab interior architecture for SypplyFrame. Photo credit: Benny Chan. 

DesignLab interior architecture for SypplyFrame. Photo credit: Benny Chan. 


Could you explain what your “Creative Intelligence” approach is?

Creative Intelligence is short hand for our goal of creating design that is “smart." And by smart I mean design that it is both cultural and commercial. The cultural part is about creating objects and architecture that is beautiful, poetic and culturally relevant. The commercial part is about design work that creates value for our clients. With objects like furniture, value is often tied to sales; and for architectural projects, value is often about productivity or participation. For example, we recently completed a project for the Library Foundation of Los Angeles in which we created micro spaces within branches of the Los Angeles Public Library where kids can get help with their homework. In this case, value was created through a tremendous increase in student participation for the twenty branches with our student zones. 


Could you tell us more about the Atelier or workshop model?

I teach part time at the Art Center in Pasadena. I really enjoy working with the students and the mutual benefit of sharing what I know in exchange for their youthful energy. For many years, the studio was an extension of my teaching practice where young designers, usually former students, would spend a year or so working and learning how to be professionals. This worked well for quite a while, but recently our projects have become larger and more complicated and we have embraced a different model. I now work with associates that have more experience and more responsibility managing projects and clients. That said, we have always maintained the fundamental idea that this is still a workshop and we are all still creating and exploring. 

Student zone at Los Angeles Public Library. 

Student zone at Los Angeles Public Library. 


If you weren’t an architect/designer, what would you be doing?

I’ve wanted to be an architect since I was four years old. I’m really happy with my choice, but I also like sports and I think it would be cool to coach American Football.

Could you describe to us your aesthetic in few words?

Pure, graphic and insightful. 

Alta Swivel chair. 

Alta Swivel chair. 


What are you working on right now?

We are designing a wood chair, a collection of stools, architectural lighting, a creative office space for Disney and a car design studio for Hyundai. 

Who were and are your role models?

My parents. They pushed me to achieve my best, but with humility and kindness. 

When you run out of inspiration, what do you do?

Like all people, some days I feel less motivated; but I don’t have too much trouble with inspiration. I don’t believe that inspiration is the real fuel for creativity. Inspiration seems precious, like a non-renewable resource; but creativity is fueled less by inspiration and more by observation. Opening our eyes to the world around us is less daunting. When in doubt, I create something - a drawing, writing, a scale model. Then I observe it and decide what to do next. 

Bucket armchair. 

Bucket armchair. 

How has technology changed your job?

The worst part is that I spend too much time with email and not enough time thinking and drawing. The best part is that we have access to all of these advanced tools and techniques. We can 3D print a chair and then evaluate an actual object. For spaces, we can create very life-like environments in photo-realistic renderings and in virtual reality. These tools help us work more quickly and are a tremendous asset when communicating our vision to our clients. 

What is your favorite piece you designed?

We did the corporate headquarters for a tech company based in Pasadena called Supplyframe. It’s a large project with a good budget and we were able to create an entire world aligned with our design principles. The client and the employees are happy with the project and I’m very proud of it.

What is your dream project? 

I want to design a Hotel. It would be a dream to create it holistically - from the concept, to the lobby to the room experience, to the bar menu. We focus a lot on workplace design, but I think offices are becoming more like hotels and hotels are becoming places where work gets done. I’m interested in exploring this intersection. 

What does design mean to you? 

Design is the creation of things that are beautiful, a narrative, and is good for business. Everything man-made is designed on some level - why not try to make them as best we can?

Cory Grosser. 

Cory Grosser. 

Meet designer: Pamela Babey

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The Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli, Italy 

The Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli, Italy 

Pamela Babey, founding principal of San Francisco-based interior design firm BAMO, is a globetrotting enthusiast. Pamela is internationally renowned for her visionary designs. She masters the art of combining unique arrays of colors and patterns and elevates artisan crafts to luxury standards. A member of Interior Design’s Hall of Fame and Hospitality Design’s Platinum Circle, she has collected an award-winning portfolio by working on a variety of projects. Her design portfolio includes projects such as the Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli, the Four Seasons Hotel in Milan, a residential compound in Beijing and a yacht built by Benetti.

Between a work trip to Venice and another one in Hong Kong, she took some time to share with us her passion about her job and her point of view on the industry.

How has the hospitality industry changed in the last five years?

I think hotels are getting a little bit more boring than what it used to be in the past. Few months ago, I was looking for a hotel for my trip in London and did some research on hotel.com and expedia.com. I went through all the list of available hotels and they all looked like the same: the upholstery, the white sheets, the white pillows, the accente blanket on the bed. It was just boring. I know that a room in a hotel has a limited number of elements available, yet I think that there is an opportunity to make those elements more interesting. For instance, adding more layers to a fixed formula. When you look at magazines, you see the greatest historic hotels, such as the Ritz Paris or the Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli with their historical elements. Reading about them and looking at the pictures, you perceive a kind of soul within them and you know that there aren’t any other places that look like them. I believe that hotels do have a personality and it is not about expensive materials but about the use of creativity in the space.

Matsuri restaurant, Santiago, Chile.

Matsuri restaurant, Santiago, Chile.

Could you tell us about your process?

In the industry we developed the concept that a process starts from the eyes and goes to the hands. I always start a plan by asking the client a lot of questions. Then I pick up a pencil and I start drawing something about what the space could be. So I think, it could have a mezzanine or a particular door or a wall that can become an art wall, and maybe I can place a sofa in front of it. I just begin to build up these ideas of what the space could be and how a person can have dinner in it, spend a cold night in front of a fireplace, or stay in on a warm day. The next step is to think about the materials, the lighting and what I want the place to be visually.

Could you explain to us the concept of “design storytelling”?

The process is as I mentioned before, it is about telling a visual story. Sometimes the storytelling is unraveled into a mini series like at the Grand Hotel a Villa Feltrinelli, which tells many different stories. There are four different buildings in the hotel and each building has its own personality, its own soul. Legendary hotelier and owner of the hotel, Bob Burns began his career in the industry as bartender for a hotel. So we did some research on cocktails to get some inspiration in order to incorporate some of Bob’s personality and life story into the design plan. However, from time to time the story we built from dies upon completion of the project. This happens because sometimes the management changes and they want to make adjustments based on their own vision of the needs for the space.

San Francisco Residence.

San Francisco Residence.

How have your travels influenced your work?

I have always traveled. When I was very young I used to travel a lot with my parents. I am sure I got a lot of insights from my trips, but I am not sure about how much all the places I visited have influenced me. I know it gives me a broad base to draw upon. At BAMO, we like to define ourselves as an International style design firm.

What was one of your most challenging projects?

When I was doing the Regent Hotel Milan (now Four Seasons Hotel), I remember when I went there for the first time that I was quite nervous. It was my first big hotel assignment. I was a designer from San Francisco and I had to design a hotel in a city where there all the best interior and fashion designers in the world are. So I shared all my thoughts with Paolo Moroni, owner of Sawaya & Moroni, an International firm of architects and designers, and he told me; “Thank God they have hired you, have you ever seen a hotel designed by an Italian that works?” Our concept behind the project was to leave everything as it was, old as old, new as new. So we added a modern flair without redoing or touching an al fresco that we found on the wall. At the beginning we didn’t realize it, but later we discovered that the concept “old is old and new is new” applied to the hotel, reflected the temperament of the city and the people. In Milan, you see people living in old apartment buildings with modern furniture a happy marriage.

Four Seasons Hotel, Bora Bora

Four Seasons Hotel, Bora Bora

What do you like about fabrics?

I guess that I inherited the interest from my mom and then later in college I became drawn to tribal fabrics and I would go and collect them. That was probably the first step into it. Then I met Fortuny and that was it. Fortuny has everything I always loved. Their items are made of natural fabrics and layers of colors. Those layers create the interest an cotton in such "simple' material.

How does technology affect your way of working?

I don’t quite understand technology and when people ask me about it I try to determine whether they are talking about the people that work in the Technology industry or the tools that we are using in our daily jobs. I think that the conversation is not about the Technology in itself but it is more about the wealth that Technology is bringing in.

Lady Candy Master Suite Lounge

Lady Candy Master Suite Lounge

 

Do you approach the hospitality projects and residential ones in a different way?

No, the process is always the same. Moreover, at BAMO we don’t have designers that only do residential or only do hospitality projects. We all participate. Personally, I think that I have a lot to offer in residential because of my hospitality experience. Of course, the process for a house is more involved and personal. Hotel projects are involved too, but you have to please different people’s needs. However, the quality of both residential and hospitality projects is the same. Both translate into the feeling of being at home.

What is design for you?

I don’t know what design is, honestly, or what it is for me. There is always an excitement related to the project that I am doing, or that I am going to do. Sometimes I sit in a bar and I look around and I think what if that wall was painted with that color, or what if they had put that coffee table there, then this place could have been a totally different experience. It is a great profession because it always changes. 

What kind of positive impact do you want to leave to the industry? 

When you are dead you are dead. I think that there are really few people that have left a positive impact worldwide. I love my job and I love working and always thinking about the next project. I just hope that my address book doesn’t get lost, there are very interesting people in it. BAMO is based on creativity and I guess that this is the impact I want to leave.

Pamela Babey. 

Pamela Babey. 

Meet designer: Francesco Bettoni

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Mia armchair  

Mia armchair

 

 

According to Italian designer Francesco Bettoni, design requires careful consideration of the ways we interact with the people we work with and of how we build our relationships with them. This design philosophy brings meaning to how we make use of design products and how we establish a dialogue with them. The essence of the design can be understood through the point of view of the designer, the craftsmen, and from the consumer’s perspective in their relation to the product.  Discipline and non-judgment are the key principles of Francesco Bettoni’s process, compounded with a great amount of curiosity and experience. Since 1992, Bettoni has been working for a variety of notable manufacturers such as Arflex, Colombo Design, LG, Dada, Toto Design Japan and MDF Italia, to name a few.

We spoke with Francesco Bettoni to get the inside scoop on his work process and design vision.

D: What’s your design process?

FB: Design is a complex process. If we set aside the classic analysis-synthesis-feedback procedure, we soon realize that our work is mainly based on relationships. The collaboration among people inside and outside the firms, the daily interactions we have, it is all part of the process that goes beyond the simple “drawing on paper” and the creative aspect. It involves rational thinking; the capability and availability of everybody to let the concept and the design evolve until it becomes a real product.

D: If you weren’t a designer what would you be doing?

FB: I studied to be a designer and I cannot see myself in a different role.

D: Could you describe to us your aesthetic in a few words?

FB: If by aesthetics we mean a formal aspect then, I do not think that it can be traced back to a predetermined model. I like to experiment, to get inspired by the past, the present and by other industries. Then I like to shuffle the cards until I get a result that fulfills me.

Last year, Mia armchair was the lead design piece of the "Rosae, rosarum, rosis" installation curated by architect Paola Silvia Coronel, at The Triennale di Milano.

Last year, Mia armchair was the lead design piece of the "Rosae, rosarum, rosis" installation curated by architect Paola Silvia Coronel, at The Triennale di Milano.

D: Can you tell us a bit about your current projects?

FB: At the moment I am working on a few different projects: furniture, visual, interior design.  I like to roam freely between different fields because everything contributes to the growth of my design character.

D: Who were and are your role models?

FB: I find it rather difficult to point out the models that inspire me. I take in everything I see, study, experience. Then, I translate all into the famous aesthetic we were talking about before. Obviously, great designers, as well as cinema, music, theatre and visual arts occupy an important place in my research. They are all part of my baggage and it is difficult to disentangle the various elements.

D: When you run out of inspiration, what do you do?

FB: Phillips Starck wrote in one of his books that one ought to design 20 minutes each day. I am not that rigorous, but I take note of everything I find interesting and have the potential to become products. So I have a storage full of inspiration that I can use when I am designing.

D: How has technology changed your job?

FB: I was initially reluctant to approach technology for my work until I realized that technology is just an instrument, like a pencil or a sheet of paper, only a more evolved one. It makes it possible to interact with a product from the very beginning, it allows us to visualize complex objects and study its reactions without the need to produce a real model. Technology enables us to establish direct connections with the most advanced production systems, which is obviously a remarkable feature.

D: What is your favorite piece you designed?

FB: Always the next one.

Mia sofa.

Mia sofa.

D: And the one you have always dreamed to design?

FB: We all have secret wishes and childhood dreams, but I prefer to call them objectives: they stimulate us and make us grow.

D: What does design mean to you?

FB: For me design is a combination of creativity and business. The awareness of the times we live in and the ability to convey it into a project, turn it into a product and make it a marketing success. All this is design.

 

Francesco Bettoni.

Francesco Bettoni.

Meet designer: Chiara Andreatti

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Chiara Andreatti portrait.

Chiara Andreatti portrait.

Some of her pieces like pottery and glass bottles, vases and home decor accessories are now part of the exhibition W-Women in Italian Design on view until February 19th at La Triennale di Milano, design museum: a show about the development and the impact of female designers in Italy. Chiara Andreatti is a young, talented and eclectic designer whose production goes from a portable bookshelf for Atipico, to a wallpaper series for Texture, to a coffee table for Glass Italia, to a rug collection for cc-tapis. As a promoter of diversity in all of its aspects, art, architecture, culture and life in general, she is able to infuse her design with her passion for everything that is different from her. You can see it from the variety of objects she creates: they are all a result of an intersection between genre. A pattern for a collection of pottery can be inspired by a graphic design motif, a shape of a vase can come from a silhouette of a dress. In the creative process everything is connected and there is no space and time for separation, because the right idea or the right path to follow can come from something unexpected.

As they are rich of poetry, raw adventure and folk tradition, we decided to focus this interview on her rug collections, to discover her ability to transfer her broad experience on the design of a textile. 

D: What do you like about rugs?

CA: I have always wanted to design carpets, as I am really passionate about them, most of all the Iranians ones, Caucasians years ’40s ‘50s, knotted from Anatolia. I have always brought some rugs home from my trips and I always had a very strong connection with the world of textiles and textures, through trimmings and embroideries. Rugs are real pieces of art and are like storytellers because they reveal the history of a tradition. Moreover they add a sense of warmth to any house and with their decorations they highlight a certain type of style bringing a sort of exotic touch in any domestic interiors.

D: Who were or still are your role modes? Those who have been crucial in your training?

CA:  Lately, I have been focused on women, looking to discover their lives and their worlds through their trademark design, analyze their artistic skills, their feelings and their personalities. Louise Bourgeois, French-American artist, with her textile work, Hella Jongerius, Dutch industrial designer, for the originality with which she has been able to combine industry and handicrafts, Nathalie du Pasquier, French textile designer and painter, whose works transpire African travels. I have always been attracted to free spirits, most of all women from the past, travelers, controversial women characters.

Primitive Wave 1

Primitive Wave 1

D: How did you come up with the idea of Primitive Wave series for cc-tapis?

CA: When I was doing some research for Primitive, my imagination traveled to Morocco exploring typical Beni Ourani handmade rug, the African symbolism and the textiles of Agda Österberg, Swedish artist, and Anni Albers, German-American textile artist, from Weimar School. Primitive Weave is the result of the mixture of these worlds. The inspiration started from the classic Berber carpet but revisited with the addition of graphic elements and the geometries of the early '900. The typical works of Kilim melted into a higher knotting is going to create an unexpected three-dimensionality. I was inspired by the interiors of 1900 by Walter Gropius, German architect and founder of the Bauhaus School and Josef Hoffman, Austrian architect and designer, and his Art Deco carpet collection.

D: When you have to start a project, what do you do?

CA: It depends on the project. Usually I begin with something that I saw or I found in my archive. I pay a lot of attention to my surroundings and I do a lot of research on contemporary art, architecture, craftsmanship. When I travel, I enjoy the search of new aesthetic and methods. If a project starts from a brief it is certainly more difficult because, at first, it can be less instinctive. Then, when I begin to dig into it, everything becomes clearer. I am able to give the shape that I want by putting all my experience and my visual language in a unique object. 

Primitive Weave 4

Primitive Weave 4

D: What's design for you?

CA: Being able to create an object that express poetry and conceal the intimate and personal process that's been behind. It can arise from a specific search, then enlightened by a process, or a reference to a historic period. Everything starts from the way you look at things, your ability to discover something that has been hidden to others and only you can see. Once you have found this secret you have to keep it and work on it in the most authentic and honest way. If just a small part of this process transpires in the project,  in my opinion, it means that the development of it was well managed, and the result is a perfect mix of good aesthetic and attention to proportions.

D: What does inspire you? Where do you find your inspiration?

CA: I love diversity. I am interested in mixing two different ways of working such as handcraft and industrial process. I like also to think outside the box and get inspired by fashion or graphic design industries. I don’t consider myself as a real industrial designer. I am attracted to the emotions that emerge from an object, the feelings that you can perceive when you look at it. 

 

 

Meet designer: Piergiorgio Cazzaniga

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Tense Material, Brass. 

Tense Material, Brass. 

His contribution to modern design is well recognized, in Italy as well as abroad. Since he started his career at Boffi as Development Department Manager, Piergiorgio Cazzaniga, designer and founder of Studio Cazzaniga based on Levante sul Seveso, Italy, has always worked on finding the perfect formula to melt artisanship with technology. “For me everything starts with a sketch. It can be a chair, a table or a sofa. This is my creative process where I can put all my experience and my technical know-how,” the designer told us.

We virtually met him to ask few questions about his latest collection of tables he designed in collaboration with his son, Michele Cazzaniga.

D: How did you come up with the concept for the Tense Material table?

PC: I thought that the application of primordial materials, like oak wood, stone and brass, could have been the natural evolution of the Tense tables collection. 

D: What are the differences between Tense table and Tense Material? 

PC: Tense Material, as implied in the name of the product, enhances the tactile characteristics and the perception of the materials used. Tense, instead, is more abstract and it has a sort of metaphysical distance from any material attribute. The new Tense Material introduces the particularly wrinkled and lived oak, which becomes a true experience both visual and tactile. The brass, perfect, rigorous, recalls ancient gold thanks to a soft surface brushing. The stone, obtained by artificially sedimented river arenas, is brushed to obtain a surface which in nature is produced by the continuous flow of the water. 

D: What do you do when you have to start a new project? 

PC: Each new project for me is like the beginning of a journey to an unknown place. I travel around carrying a baggage full of curiosity.

Tense Material, Oak wood. 

Tense Material, Oak wood. 

D: Where do you find inspiration? What does inspire you? 

PC: The inspiration comes through sketches. In this process I put all my experience and it helps me also to understand the best use of the technology that is applicable to that project. I would say it is the experience and the technology that mainly inspire me. 

D: How has design changed in the last 5-10 years? 

PC: I think the design in the last 5-10 years has undergone a metamorphosis, brought by technological progress and the changes experienced by our society.

D: How does technology affect the way you work? 

PC: Technology is the tool that allows me to give birth to new concepts that slowly I/we develop. It is an essential element to any design work I do.

D: What is design for you? 

PC: Design is the willingness to continue to pursue what we have inherited from our predecessors to meet the needs of our contemporary society, in a more conscious and responsible way.

Piergiorgio Cazzaniga. 

Piergiorgio Cazzaniga. 

Meet designer: Oki Sato

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Oki Sato.

Oki Sato.

 

According to Oki Sato, 39 years old, Japanese designer and founder of Nendo, design firm based in Tokyo with an office in Milan, improvements happen by repeating the same things everyday. In this daily routine the designer believes that we all plant the seeds for an important change that can have an impact on our lives. It is in this repetition that Mr. Sato achieves the harmony, simplicity and a bit of irreverence that marks his style. He opened Nendo when he was 24 and in more than ten years of prolific work he was able to design products for an array of International companies like Kartell, Shu Uemura, Kenzo, Tag Heuer, MDF Italia to name just a few. His works have been collected by the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Centre Pompidou in Paris. 

We interviewed him to know more about his creative process. 

D: You are one of the most prolific and talented worldwide young designers, would you like to explain to us what is your creative process?

OS: I aim to design products that are pure, natural, a candid reflection of what I feel. I think that there are designs that are like a stew that develop a flavor after being cooked over a long period of time. For me, personally, my designs are more like sushi where I give a lot of importance on the freshness of the ideas. I try to work with deft hands, shaping the fish before the heat of my body is transferred on it. Regardless of what the object may be, the design process remains the same. Of course, there will be a number of technical differences between designing a small piece of chocolate and a large interior space. However, in both cases, there is always a relationship between a person and his human touch and the object in itself. The goal of eliciting an emotional reaction in both processes doesn’t change in the slightest, It is always the same.

D: How do you find your inspiration?

OS: I’ve noticed that daily work routine really helps me. If you keep on repeating the same things every day you’ll start noticing small differences. I feel that those small differences are, in a way, my source of inspiration.

D: Who are your role models?

OS: I consider the Japanese manga series Doraemon to be my “master.” In each story the main character (Nobita) ends up in trouble and each time Doraemon is able to build a sort of gadget used to rescue him. Doraemon is not the smartest humanoid of the world, however he is always able to create gadgets that have an intuitive design and a fun and likable look Also, the tools are never perfect and this imperfection drives the development of the stories. These pieces that Doraemon pulls out of his pocket change with each episode. There’s no end to them. 

SAG for MDF Italia.

SAG for MDF Italia.

D: Could you tell us more about SAG? How did you come up with the concept of this project?

OS: SAG is the stool designed for MDF Italia. The legs of classic stools are normally constructed from column-like parts. However, SAG was conceived based on a single mold of rigid polyurethane so as to give a soft and supple impression. The legs design inverted arch shapes, in the manner of suspended cloth, that fuse together from three directions into a single form. The concave arch structure gives a sense of overall strength which effectively disperses forces whereas the curvature and flexibility of the resin absorb the loads. There are two versions of the stool, one with a resin seat and the other one with a bamboo laminated seat.

D: What is your favorite project you have worked on?

OS: Every design has its own unique story and it is difficult for me to pick one I like the most. That said, I worked with fashion designer Issey Miyake on a project called the Cabbage Chair, and he said: “The difference between art and design is that with design you have to make people happy, with art you can do whatever you want.” It’s a very simple concept which was really inspiring for me. So that’s why I think design should be friendly and should have a little humor or some spiciness to make them friendlier. Those qualities make furniture more accessible to people.

Cabbage Chair.

Cabbage Chair.

D: And the one that you would have wanted to design and someone else designed instead?

OS: When I look at things, I’m always thinking: “I wonder how this would turn out if the designer would have worked on it like that,” or “I wonder what kind of finishing touches this manufacturer would put on this.” All these questions contribute to improve my ability as a designer.

D: What is design for you?

OS: Creating an object that lacks an idea at its core is not design. That is nothing but an empty shell. I’m always searching for the kinds of ideas that have the power to move people regardless of the form. Those are the ideas that can go beyond culture and transcend space and time to touch a greater number of people.

D: Do you think technology is affecting the design process and the concept of design in itself?

OS: Yes. However, I try not to start from technology. Sometimes I find an interesting technology, but I try to get away from that. I begin from small stories and I am inspired by small things. Then it’s like a puzzle. I look for the best matching that can be technology or some materials. Sometimes technology can design a product for you and you start to feel like God, like you can do everything. Just think about the potential you have with a 3-D printer. You use it to produce your works and you feel that you can design anything you want.

D: When do you know that a product you are working on is finished?

OS: This is a very difficult question. I was trained as an architect, which meant I had a goal to fulfill and the need to finish every project. As I said I worked on a collection with Issey Miyake and taught me that I really don’t have to finish any project. He said “When you feel that it’s finished, it’s finished.” That was really interesting and inspiring because we are the ones who create our own goal. That’s what makes design so free and interesting. Every project has a different purpose. 

D: What are you working on right now?

OS: We will show a new collaboration with Jil Sander this coming spring. We also have a pop up shop and an exhibition at Bonmarché. A solo retrospective exhibition will follows in Belgium.

Hirata No Boshi installation at Spiral Gallery, Tokyo. 

Hirata No Boshi installation at Spiral Gallery, Tokyo. 

Meet designer: Alberto Meda

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As a former engineer he has a deep understanding of the structural shape of any pieces of furniture and home accessories he designs. As a well-known International designer he has a profound knowledge of any aspects of the industry and, after more than twenty years of experience, he realized that beauty and elegance come from a sense of simplicity and lightness. Alberto Meda is one of the most talented, prolific and successful Italian designer who has been working for well established companies like Kartell, Alessi, Alfa Romeo, Alias, Philips, Olivetti and Vitra. He started his career in 1970 as a technical director of Kartell and after a few years he decided to pursue his passion and work as designer entrepreneur. His signature style is probably the ability to melt industrial material into ergonomic and refined frame that fulfill the need of any kind of environment. His portfolio includes various products like lighting, seating and tables that led him to win many awards like Compasso d’Oro, Red Dot, Design Plus and Designer of the year.

He kindly accepted to be interviewed, despite his many commitments and busy schedule. 

D: How did the design industry change in the last 5- 10 years?

AM: The role of designer has changed.  Now the designer is more involved, since the beginning, in the strategic process of products and services. His competence and his ability to give a shape to a concept, to display it and prototype it, is an asset and a skill that any companies need. Nowadays, a designer is part of a complete system which includes an array of expertise like research, distribution, production, the ability to find the right resources, to provide sustainable solutions and to satisfy clients expectations.  Due to the economic crash and recession, the industry is more afraid of taking risks and exploring new ways of designing objects. For young people there are less job opportunities because companies prefer to be safe and hire well-known designers. The younger generation has difficulties to express itself and it is forced to walk on the path of entrepreneurship, seeking not only new products but also new production processes that include 3D printing or laser cutting techniques. The positive side of it, is that those original methods can lead to innovative and interesting aesthetics.

D: How is technology affecting the way of developing, building and producing a product?

AM: New technologies offer the possibility to integrate different systems and to reduce the number of structural elements involved in the products. This allows us to create objects and furniture that are simpler in their shape and more organic than in the past. Technology changes also the focus. The attention, today, is more on the relationship among the different parts of the product and between the object and the user. 

Lola, winner of Compasso D'Oro 1980-1998

Lola, winner of Compasso D'Oro 1980-1998

D: In your long and successful career as designer, who have been your role models?

AM: I have always appreciated the work of Charles Eames and Jean Prouvé. What I like about them is their development of a project. The final object is always a result of constant trails and coherence in the creative process. This is true for both of them. 

D: When you have to start a new project, what do you?

AM: I try to start from a concept rather than a shape. I don’t follow any structured rule or process. Usually, I begin from a thought, leaning on a physical object, a texture or a technique. The shape of it will be revealed along the way. Sometimes the concept comes from a suggestion around which the object grows. Then, through a sketch and the search of an elegant solution, I will come up with the shape of the product.  Everything happens unconsciously.

D: Could you explain to us the concept behind the Frame collection, especially Armframe soft and Longframe soft that you designed for Alias?

AM: Frame, the collection of seating for indoor and outdoor environments, arises from the hypothesis to harmoniously integrate two different technologies, such as aluminum die casting and aluminum extrusion, and the intent of melting in the same piece the mesh fabric and the structural elements. This integration helped me to reduce the number of the constituents part of the chairs and achieve a light and solid structure.

D: Do you think that nowadays with all the information available online, a proper education is still important in the definition of the identity of a designer?

AM: Through curiosity and analysis of the world around us, we can learn a lot. The pleasure of discovering and understanding the intelligence contained in any objects is a strong incentive to learn. What you learn in this way it is difficult to forget. The knowledge is stored and, one day, it will be used or it will be reinterpreted in an unexpected way. I think it is not necessary for designers to have an experience on a specific field, but we must be able to relate and communicate with professionals who belong to various fields and use what we have learned from them when the project requires it.

Rollingframe for Alias.

Rollingframe for Alias.

D: Beside designers or architects, there are writers or artists who have inspired you or have had an influence on you and on your research as a designer?

AM: Fausto Melotti, Alexander Calder, Richard Serra, Constantin Brancusi.

D: Are you currently working on a new project?

AM: Yes. I’m working on new ways to experience the city, exploring the possibility to design leisure areas for children and to solve the problem of temporary and permanent fences of construction sites.

D: What kind of positive mark do you want to leave in the design industry?

AM: I want products that last for a lifetime, not gadgets or unnecessary objects, meaningless, that you throw in the garbage. For the future, I hope that designers will think more about the opportunity to design sustainable products with ethical and aesthetic solutions, in tune with the needs of human experiences.

D: What is design for you?

AM: Design is not a linear process. It is a complex activity, almost chaotic, with a lot of back and forward, trials, failures. It is a fascinating and mysterious mechanism. The designer is like a fisherman who fishes in many different rivers, seeking for creative suggestions. I'm interested in the world of technology, because it represents the modern expression of a man’s imaginative capacity, his ingenuity, fueled by his scientific knowledge. However, there could be the risk that technological development will move forward without legitimacy, without worrying about the meaning of the choices we make. So we have to use technology as a tool to serve humanity. We should reject the industrial concept of the object made by technology that don't satisfy human needs.

Alberto Meda

Alberto Meda

The artist behind the window: Kelly Waters and her Gensler team

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The new DSEGNARE window designed by Kelly Waters and her team. 

The new DSEGNARE window designed by Kelly Waters and her team. 

 

It is feminine, fun and it reminds a fairy tale. The new DSEGNARE window is a combination of cultural influences, tribal legends and ancient design technique inspired by traditional embroidery aesthetic and the latest fashion trends. Kelly Waters, senior designer at Gensler Hospitality Studio, and her fabulous team, designed the window using Rabari 1 rug by Nani Marquina, Spanish rug designer. The project was created for Nanimarquina’s event, the showroom hosted on October 6th, and to celebrate Nani Marquina's career and her latest collection. 

Between time spent at Gensler and at DSEGNARE to build the window, Kelly Waters was able to reply to our questions. 

D: Could you explain to us what the window is about?

KW: Nani Marquina’s work is especially inspiring to our design team – not only for its beauty, but because of the rich stories and cultural influences behind each piece. The gorgeous Rabari 1 rug is no exception. It was born of the designer’s personal experiences with the embroideries of the nomadic Rabari people of India. Marquina took their traditional embroidery aesthetic and translated it through a modern lens to create something truly unique.

One of Gensler Hospitality studio team member while working on the window.

One of Gensler Hospitality studio team member while working on the window.

D: How did you translate this rich cultural narrative in your project?

KW: With her interpretive thought process in mind, our installation takes it one step further to bring the embroideries to life. As though the individual elements transcend the boundaries of the two-dimensional weave, hand-crafted interpretations of the jewels/ figures create a three-dimensional experience. Our piece thus represents the inherently referential, iterative and global nature of design.

Gensler team and Nani Marquina.

Gensler team and Nani Marquina.

D: How did you approach the project?

KW: We approached the window like we do any project regardless of scale. Research, ideation, collaboration, editing and execution.

D: Is there anything else that inspired you besides Nani Marquina’s design?

KW: In addition to Marquina’s design approach, we were inspired by paper craft dioramas and their ability to tell a story in one scene. Specifically Gucci’s SS 2017 invite and works by Sarah Illenberger for Hermes.

Kelly Waters.

Kelly Waters.

Design, Architecture & the City: a rendez-vous with Andrew Dunbar, principal and founding partner of Interstice Architects

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Minna Street DREAM:shop

Minna Street DREAM:shop

 

A philosopher, a thinker, a literate. Andrew Dunbar, principal and founding partner of INTERSTICE Architects, a local architecture firm specialized in landscape architecture, urban design and visual art, has a clear vision of what San Francisco should do to improve people lives. Investing in the street, try to transform the city in a place where pedestrians have more power than cars. An utopia or a mission that he is willing to pursue in order to improve the quality of citizens lifestyle. He is doing it already. Just look at some of his most popular projects, the Sf Botanical Garden Pathways, the Sunset Parklet, the Kaiser Special Medical Office courtyard and the lower Polk alleyways, to name a few. Minna Street DREAM:shop is one of his most innovative work he created with the collaboration of his restless team. The project was honored with the prestigious 2016 Kirby Ward Fitzpatrick Award for excellence in Architectural Design. The building is a minimalist multifunctional space for events, all kind of workshops and laboratory located in Mission District. 

We met Andrew Dunbar at his office in the Tenderloin. 

D: How did the local design and architecture change in the last five to ten years?

AD: The city is becoming very expensive. There are more design and architecture firms that are moving to the city and there is also a more International interest in San Francisco because of the economic prosperity. These changes are affecting mainly smaller practices. Big companies have more opportunities to establish connections to people and to resources than smaller studios. Well-known firms are supported by an array of subsidiaries, so if they fail the impact on the business is not going to be so catastrophic as could be on the smaller ones. This is an important shift that is influencing the democracy of the city and the ability for small companies to survive.

D: How is technology affecting the concept of design and architecture, the development of a product or a building?

AD: Technology is changing completely the way in which we communicate with clients, within a working space and how we work. At Interstice Architects, for instance, we don’t send drawings to clients anymore. We send them files with 3D images and they can see and experience the project. We use Virtual Reality to give to people the feeling of what they are going to receive from us. With VR we allow them to dig into the project, as we do, and to explore all the possibilities, as we also do. Moreover, technology is changing the way in which we work. It brings more people on the table, it simplifies the collaboration and it modifies the expectations. Although, clients forget sometimes that, despite the advancement and the speed of technology, it takes time to build a house. In that sense technology removed the appreciation for the process, for the action of building something and the ability to wait. 

555 Bartlett courtyards.

555 Bartlett courtyards.

D: What are your favorite design pieces and architecture buildings in the Bay Area? 

AD: In San Francisco we have a lot of great buildings. The California Academy of Science, for instance, which is all about openness, the De Young Museum which is, instead, more about secrecy because of the collections it contains inside. The SFMOMA which is a deep dialogue between the old building and the new one. The old one is rational, logic, structured, the new one is fluid, liquid, smooth, mysterious. These two spaces have found an interesting way to coexist in one location.

D: And those you don’t like? 

AD: In general I believe that if a building explores an idea it will always be successful, if it doesn’t, it is probably going to be a failure. Besides the good and the bad, I believe that San Francisco has to find new ways to improve the street, to make pedestrians safer and happier, to expand the way in which people live the roadways. It is one of the most dense city in the country, how can we transform San Francisco in a city for pedestrians? Regarding architecture projects, I have to say that even though I like the Federal Building, I think that the plaza in front of it, It is a lost opportunity. That space outside should be a place where people can sit and enjoy their lunch, the view, it should be more livable. The Federal Building is a public piece of United States why shouldn't that plaza be as beautiful and useful as the building is?

SOMA:Penthouse.

SOMA:Penthouse.

D: In your opinion who are the new and talented designers and architects in the Bay Area? 

AD: San Francisco has many talents. Mark Jensen, Aidlin and Darling just to name a few. Designers have always to renew themselves because we face continuously new challenges according to the change of the societies, the requests of a client or the problems of a particular projects. In that sense design keeps you childlike.

D: What do you think about housing affordability? Is there a solution to solve this problem? 

AD: It is a huge problem and we cannot solve it in the way in which we have done so far. This is a city of transition and people tend to live here for 3 years, that’s the average, then they move somewhere else. To be more affordable the wealth in the whole city has to be much more well distributed. We need to find new path to be funded, to be more responsible and take the ownership of what there is in front of our door. That can be a good change, even in terms of affordability.  

Private house.

Private house.

D: What are your thoughts on San Francisco’s and the Bay Area future?

AD: San Francisco is an interest place because there is an urge of modernism and, at the same time, there is an attachment to the old Victorian style. On one hand, there is a need for diversity, innovation, on the other hand, there is a demand for keeping the tradition alive. Besides this duality, I believe that San Francisco will be the place where people are going to test the changes that will affect the whole country. 

D: What are you going to do to leave a positive mark on the city? 

AD: We have done interesting landscape and urban architecture projects that are already having an impact on the city like the Sf Botanical Garden Pathways, the Sunset parklet, the 826 Valencia Tenderloin Center. Now we are working on a Nano Condo to fulfill the needs of those family that cannot afford to live in San Francisco but that they don’t want to move out of the city.

Andrew Dunbar.

Andrew Dunbar.

In conversation with: Marc O. Eckert, Bulthaup CEO

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B3 kitchen atmosphere. 

B3 kitchen atmosphere. 

Kitchens are not only places to cook, but most of all are rooms for conversation. The kitchen is the space in the house where the communication happens. It can be an intimate revelation, a big announcement, a fight, a moment of laugh and joy. It is a place that marks our lives.

We met Marc O. Eckert, CEO of Bulthaup, award-winning kitchen manufacturer based in Germany. He shared with us the process of creating a good kitchen, the importance of functionality, design and comfort and how nowadays we live and experience our kitchens. 

D: When you start working on a new kitchen project, what are you looking for?

MOE: Bulthaup is and has always been a company thinking about kitchen as a socio-cultural environment. Thus, sociocultural changes guide our product developments. We say “form follows function that serves the people”, which means that the key priority we start with are people, their needs and habits. As people´s needs change, nowadays multifunctional concepts of space become increasingly important, like our new systems b3, b+ and b1 presented in Milan 2016 show.

B1 kitchen island and workbench. 

B1 kitchen island and workbench. 

D: Where do you find your inspiration?

MOE: My inspiration comes from many sources, like meeting and talking to interesting people or reading. Even though, my main inspiration comes from traveling and getting to know different cultures, philosophies, ways of living and cooking. Japan has always been a very inspiring experience for me. You can learn a lot there about perfect craftsmanship, perfect harmony with regard to spaces and objects. Whether it is a restaurant in the heart of Tokyo or a Ryokan in Kyoto, the Japanese culture with its architecture can really create rooms which are a perfect combination of rhythm and balance. The result is a human perception of a profound atmosphere. 

D: How do you create a kitchen?

MOE: When we create a kitchen, for us it is more important to think about what people really need today. How do we live today? What does this mean for a kitchen? Does our current idea of kitchen still give an answer to the people’ s needs? Therefore, we are a team of a few engineers and designers in which the development of a new product or system is a constant flow of energy. You cannot really verbalize or rationalize this process. Product Innovation is always the result of an emotional process based on values and convictions. 

B3.

B3.

D: Why do people spend the majority of their time, especially during dinner parties, in the kitchen?

MOE: When you prepare food in your kitchen, you like talking to your family and guests. A dinner party is for communication - we will probably forget what we have eaten, but we never forget the people we spend our time with, what we were talking about and our emotions and feelings. The kitchen fulfills a social function nearly everywhere in the world. Even hundreds of years ago the Bedouins living in tents used to get together around the fireplace, which was not just a place for cooking, but also for conversation and sharing time with friends and family. Sharing food and good stories is transcultural and it mainly happens around the kitchen table. 

B+ solitaire display cabinet.

B+ solitaire display cabinet.

D: How did the use of the kitchen change in the last 10 years?

In the past a kitchen has been a kitchen, a place for storing, preparing and cooking your daily food – a place for the workflow “cooking”. Today most of us only spend about 40 % of our time in the kitchen for the preparation of the food, the rest of the time is for communication and enjoyment. Values such as family and friendship are rediscovered. We wish to shift away from a hectic world and long for a world of moments where we feel connected to ourselves, where we feel at home. The center of where we live is the kitchen table, here we come together with family and friends to enjoy precious time. 

D: What kind of kitchen do you have at home?

MOE: At home I have a Bulthaup b3 laminate kitchen with laser edges – traditionally classic and simple. Of course, I love all Bulthaup products. You will never experience that we launch any product that I am not absolutely convinced of. As an entrepreneur I love each single Bulthaup product.

B+ solitaire table. 

B+ solitaire table. 

D: Do you cook? If so, what’s your favorite recipe?

MOE: Unfortunately, I do not have a lot of time for cooking. However, one of my favorite recipes is for sure Caprese, a salad with fresh tomatoes and mozzarella. Most of the time I spend in my kitchen is for enjoying an espresso and reading the newspaper. 

Marc O. Eckert. 

Marc O. Eckert. 

Design, Architecture & the City: a rendez-vous with Gary Hutton, interior designer and owner of Gary Hutton Design.

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Schreyer Lagoon House. 

Schreyer Lagoon House. 

When he welcomes you into his studio on Jesse Street it is like entering in his private home. There is a kitchen where he cooks sometimes for his employees and for himself. Gary Hutton, one of the most talented and popular interior designers in San Francisco and owner of Gary Hutton Design, has a peaceful and intriguing way to engage anybody in a conversation, most of all when he talks about his projects. You can feel his excitement and a bit of deserved pride when he shows you pictures of few of the houses that he worked on and furniture that he personally designed. A craftsman, an artist a thoughtful and eclectic designer, he has a strong opinion about where the design industry is going and what people need to keep creating and producing projects that are solid, timeless and functional.  Born in Santa Cruz, he grew up on his grandmother's orchard in Watsonville. He soon realized the world was bigger than the 30-acre ranch when he saw actress Kim Novak during the filming of Alfred Hitchock’s “Vertigo”. Passionate about art he studied at UC Davis under the teachings of masters like Robert Arneson, Manuel Neri and Wayne Thiebaud, who helped him to find his real vocation.  His signature piece the Ciao Table has been copied and reproduced by some of the biggest home retailers in America.  

We met him in the quiet of his studio on a Friday afternoon.  

D: How did the local design and architecture change in the last five to ten years?

GH: Certainly the technology has changed things dramatically, especially when you have to deal with younger clients.  They don’t understand waiting for anything. This has made my job more difficult because you have a process of education that you have to get through and the younger ones don’t understand. When you do something special everything is not available right there, you need time. There is a lot of education that has to happen around that. My older clients understand that because they know the process. They have been there already and they know how long it takes to complete a project. For younger people there is a sort of impatience and sometimes they refuse to accept what you tell them . They tell you “I have furnished the whole house in an afternoon why you cannot do this faster”. Our job is different. We are not furnishing a house. We are creating a complete environment and it is something very different than picking up some furniture. Good design is about understanding the relationship with time, space and people and you create a whole environment around that.

D: How is technology affecting the concept of design and architecture, the development of a product or a building?

GH: With all this information available clients now are more sophisticated. In the past you knew about an Italian designer or certain types of furniture if you were in the industry. Now, people know about everything because they look online and they discover a cabinet from 1960 or a particular designer. They know what they want, more than in the past. Few years ago we did a project for the number 8 employee of Google. His girlfriend, now his wife, she knew everything about design by reading blogs, magazines etc. We had to work very hard to keep a step ahead of her because she knew everything. 

D: What are your favorite design pieces and architecture buildings in the Bay Area? 

GH: Joe Eichler building on Washington and Spruce Street. The scale and the proportion of the house are perfect. The Bank of America building in downtown and the interior of SFMOMA. 

D: And those you don’t like? 

GH: I don’t like all the new buildings in downtown.

D: In your opinion who are the new and talented designers and architects in the Bay Area? 

GH: Nicole Hollis, Matthew Leverone, Aidlin and Darling. There are many talented designers in San Francisco.

D: What do you think about housing affordability? Is there a solution to solve this problem? 

GH: I don’t think that the current trend of thinking is going to solve the problem. It is difficult to deal with the Department of Building and to communicate with them. The process to get the permits and the approval is too long. The city has to re-evaluate it and make it faster. The lack of affordability isn’t something new. San Francisco has always been an expensive city. I moved here in 1973 and for my first one bedroom I paid 250 dollars. I remember my parents told me that it was very expensive and I was going to leave soon because in their opinion I was not going to be able to pay it. I think that one of the biggest problem we are facing now is the homeless situation. In Salt Lake City people have a lot of money. They decided to invest their money in building houses for the homeless where they can live and stay. Now the situation is better there. I think that the city has to find a new way of solving this problem. They keep doing the same thing and they expect a different result. This is insane. They need more creative thinking. 

D: What are your thoughts on San Francisco’s and the Bay Area future?

GH: San Francisco is home to many good designers and I think that we are going to attract more talented people during the next few years. In the past for good design people used to go to New York or Los Angeles, now they come here too. I used to go to LA to shop, but now I find everything in the city and my friends from LA are coming here too. I think that people want to move to the city because San Francisco is a beautiful place to live, people want to help one another and there is a strong sense of community that you cannot find anywhere else. 

D: What are you going to do to leave a positive mark on the city? 

GH: I try very hard to create a special place to live for my clients that they are willing to take care of. I don’t want to make history, I don’t know if people will remember me but my hope is that when they are going to see a piece of furniture I designed they will recognize the quality and the solid value of that particular product. 

Design, Architecture & the City: a rendez-vous with Collin Burry, design director and principal at Gensler.

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Airbnb. Courtesy of Gensler.com

Airbnb. Courtesy of Gensler.com

In 2013 he was included in the Interior Design Magazine’s Hall of Fame. Collin Burry, design director and principal at Gensler, is a celebrity in the industry. He has earned more than 60 design awards and publications in international design and business media. His creative brain, contemporary and yet grounded gaze has transformed the interiors of International companies like Apple, Samsung and Dolby. Humble and aware of his talent in each single project he is committed to create a sense of community where people are equally respected and feel at ease. He firmly believes that design is a responsibility and it has a clear function: it has to serve the planet and has to improve people’s lives. 

We chat with him about the industry, the city and the future. 

D: How did the local design and architecture industries have changed in the last 5-10 years?

CB: San Francisco probably every ten years is involved in a complete renaissance driven by innovation and new business models. Those new business models tend to migrate to the rest of the country and even worldwide. In the last five years we have seen this creative renaissance where people and clients became more savvy and more directly involved in any projects. They have learned to communicate and share their own idea and expectation of what they wanted. They became definitively more aware of themselves. 

D: How is technology affecting the design and architecture industry, the development of new products and new buildings?

CB: Our clients are younger and more comfortable with technology, they expect us to use it, most of all when we have to show them their projects. So we need to learn how to deal and manage new software to meet their expectations. What I like about this new wave of clients is that they don’t want just a beautiful place where to work or live, they want something that has a deeper meaning. They want something that reflects their personalities. When we worked on Airbnb’s location we had to explore the identity of the organization: who they were, what kind of people were working there, what kind of people were using their platforms. Information that were important to establish the personality of the company, their unique role in the community of travelers.

888 Brannan.

888 Brannan.

D: What are your favorite design pieces and architecture projects in the Bay Area?

CB: I like the De Young Museum, I think it reflects the spirit of the Bay Area, SFMOMA, 88 Octavia because it is a building that really interacts with the surrounding. What I like the most is the Bay Area culture. The people who live in the Bay Area are people who choose to live here, they are really committed to the city and they are using all the amenities available to build their lives here. 

D: And those you don’t like at all?

CB: I am not a big fan of Linea Condos. I think that San Francisco is an humble city and it has an egoless soul. I believe that each building should embody this spirit.

D: In your opinion, who are the new Bay Area’s talents in the design and architecture industries?

CB: I think Karyn Gabriel, design director at Gensler, what she did with Wired magazine location in San Francisco was amazing. Denise Cherry, 32, principal of Assembly design studio, Sondra Law, associate, hospitality design director at Gensler. 

D: What are your thoughts on San Francisco’s and the Bay Area’s future?

CB: The Bay Area’s future is bright. My hope is just that we are going to work in a more normal speed. I believe that in five years maybe we are going to have another explosion of creativity which will be different from the one we are having now. I don’t know in what terms yet, but in my opinion it will be more community-oriented where we will work all together to build and realize projects that are going to be great for the city, but also for individuals and their social interactions. 

D: What are you doing to leave a positive mark on it?

CB: I try to treat everybody with respect. I like to create an environment where all ideas are welcome, where collaboration, openness and thoughtfulness are the foundations.

 

Collin Burry. 

Collin Burry. 

Design, Architecture & the City: a rendez-vous with Enrique Sanchez, associate at Studios Architecture

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California Health Department.

California Health Department.

"Designers nowadays have to be flexible and nimble" Enrique Sanchez, associate at Studios Architects and Principal at Green Shoots Creative, a life coaching organization, those are qualities needed to overcome the pressure that people in the industry have to deal with. As an award-winning designer (his designs won the Merit Award from BusinessWeek & Architectural Record, The America Architecture award from the Chicago Athenaeum and more), he has been able to combine his life coaching philosophy with his ability to create environments that can inspire and empower people everyday. Curiosity, empathy and creative thinking are tools that help him to manage challenges and to find in the most difficult and demanding projects always an opportunity to grow, evolve and become a better professional, a better person.

D: How did the local design and architecture industries have changed in the last 5-10 years?

ES: They have changed a lot, most of all in terms of the process of completing a project. There has been a lot of pressure to get things done quicker. This is happening because of the tech industry and its needs to finish a work as quick as possible. Sometimes I feel like It would be nice to have time to breath and to think about what we are doing and what we are offering to our clients. If we are offering the best or if we are working in a thoughtful way. This fast pace way of working requires designers and architects to be flexible and nimble. 

D: How is technology affecting the design and architecture industry, the development of new products and new buildings?

ES: Technology is a central tool for many people. It can accelerate the process of any kind of work and this was impossible just a few years ago. The demand is higher and the expectations too. Clients are asking to do everything fast, good and cheap. Those are new values which are challenging and very difficult to achieve. You cannot have it all, all the time. You have always to choose and prioritize. The question is what is the value that is going to be sacrificed to adapt to this high speed?

D: What are your favorite design pieces and architecture projects in the Bay Area?

ES: I really love the De Young Museum. I like the way where it is located, the material they used to build it, the tower, the access to that great view at the top floor. It is a great example of thoughtful design. The California Academy of Science and The San Francisco Federal Building. 

D: And those you don’t like at all?

ES: I think that San Francisco is a very young city from a design prospective. I am not going to mention any buildings but what I can say is that I don’t really appreciate new buildings that replicate and reproduce the old ones.

D: In your opinion, who are the new Bay Area’s talents in the design and architecture industries?

ES: IwamotoScott Architecture, they are much into researching and experiences, Aidlin Darling Design.

SFMoMA

SFMoMA

D: What do you think about housing affordability? Is there a solution to solve this problem?

ES: It is a complicated issue. There are so many regulations involved that it is very difficult to find a solution. I think that this problem cannot be solved by a single organization but we all have to be involved, architects, designers, planners, institutions. Spur, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association, is a fantastic organization. They are working on finding solutions to this big problem, but again I think we all have to work together. 

D: What are your thoughts on San Francisco’s and the Bay Area’s future?

ES: There is an incredible growth of population. This is happening thanks to Silicon Valley. San Francisco is going through many changes because of this growth and I think we all have to be aware of the opportunities and challenges related to it that are coming along.

D: What are you doing to leave a positive mark on it?

ES: There are a lot of interesting clients and being part of this process is very rewarding. I like the idea that architecture and interior design can inspire people and I think I would love to keep working on projects where I feel inspired and that can inspire other people. 

 

The artist behind the window

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courtesy of Carrie Daway

courtesy of Carrie Daway

Stop by DSEGNARE and admire the new and colorful window installation: an oak cabinet by Bulthaup full of Humboldt butter boxes. Created by the team at Gary Hutton Design, the new project displays and shows how an ordinary object can become a piece of art. 

We met Gary Hutton, renowned designer and founder of the studio, to talk about this project. 

D: How did you come up with the idea of the window?

GH: The brief received by Cardenio Petrucci was to create a window using the cabinet. We didn't have any additional information, he gave us the freedom to play around, underling that he didn’t want anything related to pots and pans. We had meetings in the office, as usual, and we came up with the idea of the butter's boxes. We pursued a couple of different creameries and Humboldt was kind enough to accept our project. The company sent us the boxes and we decided to place them into the cabinet like a roman mosaic. We developed the patterns to see how it could fit into the space, which was given, and we tried different options. The one we liked the most was the red and blue motif, it was perfect. Then it was just a matter of assembling the boxes and put them into the cabinet.

D: Is this usually your creative process?

GH: I have a fascination with using really ordinary material in an odd way. We used toilet paper for an installation we did long time ago for a house and for another project we covered an entire wall with brushes. For the window it was the same process. We had this idea with the butter and we started form there.  

 

SF Design Week: Happenings.

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Starting from June 2nd for seven days San Francisco will become a design hub. This year SF Design week will be full of events, workshops, panels and conferences to highlights how the industry is evolving and is impacting the city. On June 3rd LOCZIdesign studios, interior design firm, studio collective and art gallery will host the special event “Living (in) color: within boundaries of space”.  An interactive exhibition that showcases the art works of artists like Gabriel Dunne, Phil Reyneri, Charles Aweida, Ryan Stubbs, The Frank Brothers and Leslie Benson.

We met Paige Loczi, founder of the firm, to know more about the event. 

D: Could you tell me a little bit more about the event? What should we expect?

PL: LOCZIdesign studios and the designedCOLLECTIVE hold quarterly design events through the studio. Sometimes it’s an art gallery opening, other times it’s a panel discussion. We try to mix things up, contributing in different ways to our design community.  This event will have a mix of great art, great people, surprise guests and three amazing DJ’s.  We’ll be unveiling new technologies which should have a large impact on those artists working in new media. That’s exciting for us and we’re honored to showcase such talented and diverse artists. My brother, Zach Loczi is a well-known DJ in Vegas. He’s coming out to play along with Ryan Stubbs aka Duser, voted one of San Francisco’s best DJ’s. It promises to be a great event!

 

D: Why did you select those artists? Is there any connection with your design firm?

PL: Each show we throw is unique and focuses on different themes and artists. This show explores how others perceive spirit and space. LOCZIdesign are purveyors of space, that includes cultivating these community experiences where we come together, connect and rejoice.  We always try to do things we haven’t done. We also showcase the work and contribution of others in our community making a difference.  Laura Guido-Clark has been an Industry master and her non-profit Project Color Corp is a model for design in action!  You can see her in speaking at an event we threw a few years back. https://vimeo.com/53409700.

D: Few artists are using technology to create their pieces, as we live in San Francisco and technology is a big part of the economic and financial growth of the city, in your opinion how has the use of Technology changed the way in which people make art and design product?

PL: Three of the pieces and artists collaborating in this show are using technology to create their art. One award-winning artist, Phil Reyneri, will be unveiling a new way of projecting images and light through a single device, one that he’s developing through his residency with IDEO.  Another artist, Gabriel Dunne recently exhibited at the Jewish Contemporary Museum’s “New Experiments in Art and Technology”. Charles Karim Aweida is a new media artist exploring the intersection of science and art. His work is focused in manipulating the physical through robotics and custom actuated machines driven by digital representations inspired by natural world. These artists are redefining what art is.  I think that mastery over form and material is essential but with today’s technology what that material is changing. Art has always been a reflection of or response to society or our inner-worlds. This show explores those different views of society, technology and where spirit dwells, if at all, within those realms. 

D: Are you going to have other events like this one in the future? 

PL: Yes. The designedCOLLECTIVE is an ever-changing, ever-expanding group of artists and doers. We always throw at least one big party a year and a holiday bazaar in December to invite all our maker friends to share their wares. We hope to hold a panel discussion in September, taking on the themes of technology, art and meditation. We try to keep it interesting and surround ourselves with talented people doing good work, designing a better world.

 

Design, Architecture & the City: a rendez-vous with Johanna Grawunder, San Francisco/Milan-based designer.

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Casa Cote D'Azure.

Casa Cote D'Azure.

She has the mind-set of an artist and the practical skills of a designer. Her works are pieces of art that have been shown in art galleries in Europe, like Carpenters Workshop Gallery in Paris and London or Galleria Antonella Villanova in Florence, and in the US, including the Workshop Residence San Francisco with “Dirty Toys” exhibition: a collection of unique and limited editions lights locally made from pre-owned industrial components scavenged from local recycle yards and dumps. Johanna Grawunder, owner of Johanna Grawunder design, is an International designer and architect with a studio in San Francisco and Milano. Her portfolio includes companies like Flos, Boffi, GlasItalia, the Museum of Art and Design in New York, San Francisco MoMA, Fendi, Chanel Gold Bar in Madrid. For Fendi she designed lighting installations for their travelling exhibition “Un Art Autre” and an integrated color and light installation for the facade of Fendi Miami, inaugurated during Art Basel Miami.  If you go to the Luxembourg Freeport, the high security storage facility adjacent to Luxembourg Findel Airport opened on September 2014, you can see her permanent installation of “light tags” throughout the building, as well as a unique light façade. Graduating from CalPoly in San Luis Obispo with a degree in Architecture, she worked first with Cristiano Toraldo di Francia (Superstudio, Florence), until she met Ettore Sottsass. He saw and recognized her talent immediately and they started a long and productive collaboration. From 1985 to 2001 she worked with Sottsass Associati, becoming a partner in 1989. Here she had the chance to learn from the Maestro and to define and discover her own style, her own personality. Johanna now collaborates with many prestigious architects and designers, including Peter Marino, Noe' Duchaufour-Lawrance, Stanley Saitowitz, Steven Volpe, and Jensen Architects.

D: How did the local design and architecture industries have changed in the last 5-10 years?

JG: Three main trends emerge regarding Design and design discourse. Firstly, it is much more international, with resources like Dsegnare and Dzine filling the void left by the very much missed LIMN. At the same time, it has also become more local with institutions like the Workshop Residency, and the Makers events around town. These two factions seem to compliment each other quite nicely. Happily, the discourse has not erupted into a moralistic sum zero game, but all sides seem to want to allow design to be a major cultural and economic force in the City. And finally, technology has taken its rightful place in the design discourse in the Bay Area. And I don't mean just IDEO or Apple, but in general, the awareness of design, whether experienced through the medium of a cell phone, a glass table, a custom chandelier, or a Tesla now acknowledges a debt to technology in the broadest sense.

Sottsass and Associati.

Sottsass and Associati.

D: What are your favorite design pieces and architecture projects in the Bay Area?

JG: I love the De Young Museum. It is a miracle of tenacity (I mean, that it even exists) and really a sculptural masterpiece. I love the Sculpture Garden at SFMOMA (still there, by the way, untouched by the expansion). It is a rooftop oasis of perfection and simplicity. Classically, I love and have always loved the Trans America building. Again, amazing they actually built that. A classic and simple form that defines the skyline.

D: And those you don’t like at all?

JG: There are a lot of nondescript things going up all over, especially in SOMA. A sort of texture of mediocrity.

Series of tubes - Dirty Toys collection.

Series of tubes - Dirty Toys collection.

D: In your opinion, who are the new young and talented designers and architects in the Bay Area? The future stars of the industry?  

JG: The Bay Area is a very tough customer and it takes so much to build well here. So the "future" architects, at least the near future, are probably not "new young". There is a small group of amazingly talented professionals who have been around for a while but are finally getting opportunities, that perhaps an architect in Los Angeles gets much more of and much sooner. Some are clearly masters, like Jim Jennings and Stanley Saitowitz. Firms like Jensen Architects, Fougeron Architects, Mark Cavagnero also come to mind.

D: What are your thoughts on San Francisco’s and the Bay Area’s future?

JG: The success is not going away anytime soon, so we probably need to accept this fact and start to find solutions to all the problems made worse in the last few years (homelessness, traffic, housing, prices etc).

Chanel GoldBar light installation, Madrid. 

Chanel GoldBar light installation, Madrid. 

D: What do you think about the Eleven Magazine new design competition focused on restyling the Tenderloin?

JG: I am not that familiar with it, but generally, re-styling is not a good word. Also not a good idea. Design is a multidisciplinary profession that even in a simple form, like designing a chandelier, has many cultural, environmental and philosophical implications. The Tenderloin is not a re-styling problem. For design to have any effect, it needs to partner with politics, economics, sociology, etc. And still, not an easy fix, as we have seen.

D: What are you doing to leave a positive mark on it?

JG: Staying under the radar.

 

Johanna Grawunder. 

Johanna Grawunder. 

Meet designer: Christophe Pillet

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Novel.

Novel.

There is always an intimate relationship between a designer and his object, as for a painter and his painting. This relationship goes beyond love, possession and business. It is based on the freedom of just being in the same room, very close, looking into each other so deeply and carefully, merging one into another and yet being two separate entities. This is the sensuality of a profound connection that Christophe Pillet, french designer, establishes each time with his pieces. During his long career he was able to work for and with furniture, fashion and beauty companies like Lema, Trussardi, JD Cecaux, L'Oreal, Shiseido to name a few.

For Lema he designed many pieces including Novelist and Novel desk. Novel is available at DSEGNARE.

We talked to him about his works, his relationship with design and future projects. 

D: How did you come up with the idea of Novel?

CP: The idea behind Novel, Novelist and for most of the Lema pieces is to create, in a contemporary language, the timeless feeling of a very individual, very personal affective relationship between a piece of furniture and oneself. A very warm relationship with an explicit reference to classic and exclusive pieces of furniture which are reinterpreted in a very simple and functional way that give them a sort of modern charm.

D: Who were or still are your role models? Those who have been crucial in your training?

CP: There are many people who have been inspiring in my training. The list would be very long. However those who have been very important are Andrea Branzi, Italian architect and designer, John Lautner, American architect and Shiro Kuramata, Japanese designer.

Novelist. 

Novelist. 

D: When you have to start a project, what do you do?

CP: A good project always starts from scratch. I try to approach it with an empty mind, asking to myself a simple question: how this should help me to live a better life?

D: Are you working on a new project for Lema right now?

CP: We  started our collaboration in the 90s. Few years ago we met again and we expressed the desire to establish a long term collaboration.

D: What's design for you?

CP: Design for me means illustrating, giving birth to an object that can fit our environment and satisfy our expectation to live a better life

 

Christophe Pillet. Photo credit Romain Cabon. 

Christophe Pillet. Photo credit Romain Cabon. 

Meet Designer: EOOS

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Jaan Living.

Jaan Living.

Sometimes to find the right inspiration, the right approach to a project you have to investigate the past. You have to travel around and through archetypes, myths of your predecessors who were able to provide new ways to express their inner creativity. Discovering old and ancient rituals and how they can be applied to the modern world. A long process that can lead to craft intuitive images, pure reflections of an unconscious world that, once on the surface, can shape poetic design objects. This is the poetical analysis method created by EOOS design, a studio based in Vienna, Austria, brain child of three talented designers: Gernot Bohmann, Harald Gründl and Martin Bergmann. The metaphoric formula conceived by the artists helped them to merge the archaic universe with a more contemporary high-tech point of view to solve complex design problems related to our daily life. Founded in 1995 the firm has been working with several International companies like Giorgio Armani, Adidas, Alessi, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Walter Knoll.  For Walter Knoll they designed Jaan Living, a sofa which is one of the master pieces available at DSEGNARE.

They took time off from their work to reply to our questions.  

D: How did you come up with the idea of the Jaan Living sofa system?

EOOS: We thought about designing a seating system with a floating base like a second level in the room. On these platforms the upholstered elements are generating some islands with different zones, conceived in a kind of “broken linearity”. All individual elements could be arranged like a collage and the result is something which is united and separated at the same time.

D: What was your inspiration?

EOOS: Jaan is clearly part of our work to invent a certain language for Walter Knoll. It is more about evolution and less about invention. We started the project thinking about a “Living Landscape” where you can turn off elements to activate the space behind the sofa and Jaan has no real back side. This led us to the Jaan bench and also to design the Jaan bed with the same kind of floating platform.

Saddler chairs.

Saddler chairs.

D:  Who were or still are your role models? Those who have been crucial in your training?

EOOS:  The futurist Fortunato Depero, for example, who worked with his radical artistic view for Campari and designed the most beautiful bottle ever. The designer Bill Stumpf, who designed the internationally renowned Aeron chair together with Don Chadwick for Herman Miller, who made a design checklist consisting of questions like: “Does it advance the Arts of living and working?”,” Is it original and artful?” ,”Does it truly satisfy?”, “Is there a wow?”, “Does it advance technology?”…..Very hard to say yes to all those questions, and we never could.

D: When you have to start a project, what do you do?

EOOS: We need to find a kind of gravitation field where we can stand on our feet. Thus we need our poetic analysis to find this ground. Images, rituals, myths help us a lot in this process. Finding the poetic DNA of a company is crucial for us. As soon as we have found this field where our identity and the one of the company overlaps, we have the chance to develop a certain language. Our ultimate goal is always to have a result where we can say this is 100% EOOS and our client says this is 100% him/herself.

Living Landscape 750.

Living Landscape 750.

D: Are you working on a new project for Walter Knoll right now?

We strongly believe in the continuity of relationships. It is all about having a good communication and respect for each other. Next year we'll celebrate our 20th anniversary with Walter Knoll. For Walter Knoll we design about 10 to 20 new projects at the same time, all of them having different timelines, with a mix of short and long term projects. We try to keep the flow, to stay in motion. Our next projects for Walter Knoll will be launched at Orgatec this year and the IMM in Cologne and the Salone del Mobile in Milan next year.

D: What's design for you?

EOOS: For us design is a poetic discipline that gives an orientation to people and society. We think that everything always happens in between getting burned and getting lost. Design is about finding the balance. Moreover, the width in our work is very important for us. We designed products like tableware for Fürstenberg and sofas for Walter Knoll but also a toilet for the Bill and Melinda Gates foundation dedicated to the third world and right now a social furniture program for refugees in Austria, which will be shown in the Austrian pavilion in the Venice Biennale of Architecture. We believe that there are a lot of different ways to use the power of design.

EOOS team. From the left: Harald Gründl, Martin Bergmann, Gernot Bohmann. Photo credit Elfie Semotan.

EOOS team. From the left: Harald Gründl, Martin Bergmann, Gernot Bohmann.

Photo credit Elfie Semotan.