DSEGNARE

Meet designer: David Weeks

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Cubebots.

Cubebots.

 

Designer, painter, sculptor and jewelry-maker. David Weeks is an artist, a tinkerer. Founder of the David Weeks’ Studio in Tribeca, New York, he has been working with Cardenio Petrucci and DSEGNARE since September 2014, introducing his line of lighting fixtures and accessories. We asked him few questions about his latest projects Cubebots, MR B and the Wooden Animal sculptures, while waiting for his new products.

DS: How did the project with Cubebots and your wooden animals start?

DW: The initial inspiration behind Hanno, the gorilla, was Gilligan’s Island. I always loved when the professor would make cars of bamboo, or radios out of coconuts. I like the counter-intuitive idea of creating a hi-tech object out of an organic material. Before Hanno was created, the original idea was to make a wooden robot. I started sketching and carving different body parts and the robot started to get more animated. A gorilla seemed to be the most obvious next step. Another source of inspiration was playing with my son, Fenner. He has a lot of action figures and I was inevitably analyzing them as we played. We started collecting lesser-known action figures over the years and ended up with a good sampling of forgotten heroes: everyone from an anonymous motorcycle rider named Boomer to a half-man, half-fly creature named Piggy. I also liked the idea of combining this Kidrobot aesthetic with iconic Danish wooden toys. The result has been a great crossover toy, appealing to the urban toy collector as well as parents interested in wooden toys for their children. Built to last, our hope is that the toy pass down to younger generations.

Kopra Burst.

Kopra Burst.

DS: People in the industry think about you as the father of New York's "exploding" lighting scene. With the series of wooden sculptures toys are you showing to the design world that you are more than that?

DW: Since founding the studio in 1996, I have designed all genres of furniture but became well-known for my lighting fixtures – especially as the fixtures kept expanding in both scale and ambition. But my design practice has always been focused on a multidisciplinary approach; I consider the wooden toys to be a part of that. They were exciting to me in that they provided an opportunity to really create an aesthetic and apply the same quality and level of detail that is in the lighting, but in a more accessible way.

Saurus.

Saurus.

DS: What's your favorite character of your wooden toys?

DW: MR B is our newest wooden character, released this fall. He’s my current favorite – probably because we had such a good time designing and promoting him in collaboration with e15 (German design studio). The toy’s launch played a part in the celebration of e15’s 20th anniversary and two decades of their iconic wooden table BIGFOOT. Using the footprint of one table leg and the mythical creature as inspiration, we created this guy for their collection of accessories. His playful features and the Bigfoot/Yeti lore made this an especially fun launch, complete with a stop animation video we created to play with his range of motion. As we like to say, Get Yeti for MR B!

Sculpt Sectional sofa. 

Sculpt Sectional sofa. 

DS: Are you working on a new project now?

DW: Yes! We are in the process of finishing a new line of lighting fixtures, to be released in the spring of 2016.

From the left: Cardenio Petrucci, DSEGNARE founder, and David Weeks. 

From the left: Cardenio Petrucci, DSEGNARE founder, and David Weeks. 

Design, Architecture & The City: a rendez-vous with San Francisco local designer and architects.

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Hall Winery ST. Helena tasting rooms.

Hall Winery ST. Helena tasting rooms.

Design is a way of living. It is a lifestyle. It combines beauty and functionality. “As designer we have the duty to serve a function because what we design has to support people lives. At the same time it has also to be beautiful and emotional uplifting” said Nicole Hollis, creative director and principal of NICOLEHOLLIS. Listening what a house, a building, a room has to reveal is part of her creative process. Making connection with clients, architects she works with, researching natural materials like stone, woods is part of the exploration of a new environment, of a new challenge. “When I start a new project I am more focused on what other people have to say, what are their needs, expectations, what are their habits and lifestyle. From there I start my journey in finding the ideal solution for them”. Beauty is an essential part of her work which has nothing to do with perfection. “Imperfection is beauty. It is more human and it makes you at ease, at home. That’s why I love artisanship, it embodies the power of the human touch that brings an emotional connection to where you live”.

We sat with the designer in her office talking about the industry, San Francisco and the importance of mentorship.

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

NH: The design industry is becoming more sophisticated and more international. Visibility is now more on a national and international stage thanks to the innovation in technology that has brought more attention to the Bay Area. Design has been elevated by Apple, IDEO and all the tech companies. More architecture firms are opening offices here, designers and clients are more demanding. I think, in general, that clients are more knowledgeable than ten years ago. Their eyes have been trained by more information, more possibility to travel, more creativity and more trust on the design industry to deliver.

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

NH: Tech companies are investing in design more than in the past. It started few years ago when Google was building playgrounds in its locations. At that time it was weird. Now it is a trend. Tech companies are becoming more experienced and they look for higher quality. They are willing to hire fine artists, designers and famous architects to build and renovate their offices. This is good for the industry because it brings more money in. They are hiring more qualified firms like Gensler, for instance. I think as technology is evolving design is evolving too.

 

Sonoma Live Oak fireplace

Sonoma Live Oak fireplace

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

NH: I like the de Young Museum. I love the San Francisco Federal Building. I think that when Thom Mayne of Morphosis Smithgroup designed it, he took a risk because it is not a common San Francisco project. The new SFMOMA is very exciting and there are some really great residential architecture going on right now. Salesforce tower is supposed to be interesting too.

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

NH: We have many extremely talented and up-and-coming designers here at NICOLEHOLLIS.

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

NH: We need more affordable house. Otherwise we are going to be one single society of technology engineers with no artists or creative people. This is a shame. 

The Palladian Hotel in Seattle, meeting room.

The Palladian Hotel in Seattle, meeting room.

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

NH: I think that a lot of good design is coming to the city thanks to this bubble we are living in right now. I am looking forward to seeing more good buildings. Just look at restaurants or hotels, for instance, owners are paying much more attention to interior design. People are buying houses and they are investing money to restore them. This is a good sign.

D: What are you doing to leave a positive mark on San Francisco and the Bay Area?

NH: I think mentoring is a good way to leave a positive mark. Honestly I am not so interested in leaving a mark on the city in itself, but I am more stimulated to have an impact on people. As a woman, most of all, I always encourage all the women that work with me to speak up and to not be afraid of sharing their ideas. We deserve respect as men in this industry and I want them to be confident. At the end of the day self-confidence is the key to be successful.

 

Nicole Hollis.

Nicole Hollis.

 

 

 

 

 

Design, Architecture & The City: a rendez-vous with San Francisco local designers and architects.

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LinkedIn

LinkedIn

 

Self-confidence and self-awareness are the keys to succeed in design and architecture industries. This is the mantra that Louis Schump, account executive at Rapt Studio, keeps repeating everyday to his team and his clients. “In any project that we work on at Rapt Studio, our focus is on the client not on us. They trust us because we have worked hard to build the confidence they are looking for and we want to pay them back designing their dreams based on who they are,” Schump said. His words of wisdom are so inspiring that after talking to him you feel a sort of wholeness inside of you and the only thing you can do is to be grateful for what you have. In any conversation he never forgets to mention his 12 years old daughter and how much he is learning from her and from being a parent. Lessons he applies every time he has to approach a new challenge. “Sometimes to solve a problem you have to break some rules, as you do, sometimes, as a parent. Nobody has ever won a competition by following the rules. How do you do that? By asking questions and pushing yourself very hard.” Why would someone shop at this store rather than some other stores? Why would someone stay in a hotel rather than any other hotels? Why would someone work for you rather than someone else? What is it that makes you so special? Why are you doing what are you doing? Why do I care? Those are just a few questions Schump asks himself, his team and his clients each time they have to work together. “What we are offering is not a final product, it is an experience. Design is all about this experience”. 

We met at a coffee shop on 18th Street at 8 am to talk about design, clients, San Francisco and life. 

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

LS: Many design and architecture firms have been acquired by engineering and construction companies. Clients nowadays want comprehensive and coordinated design, engineering and construction services. Time and money are too tight to allow for the traditional “waterfall” process. Rapt Studio adopted an interdisciplinary, agile approach to allow us to focus on creating experiences for our clients. As other concerns surface some designers and architects lament that design is losing importance. I don’t think so. I think there are just more people at the table. 

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

LS: We have this idea that all problems can be solved by technology. Sustainability is a technology problem rather than an exercise in remembering how things were built before World War II. With the raise of technology we are all concerned about how long a project is going to last. It can be six days, six weeks or six years. We don’t know. I think what we can offer today is an immersive experience, like in a theatre,  where we are engaging people by telling them a story rather than focusing on the time. Nothing is permanent. People feel like they want to buy an image because it satisfies an interest on Pinterest. We all know that this interest is not going to last forever. So the question is what is it going to last? What is the meaning of time? How we are going to remember? My house is full of my husband’s family pictures, pieces I designed, objects that have a value for us. How are we going to share this value? What kind of value do we want to build and share? Is technology going to be able to share this permanent and meaningful value?

 

Campari.

Campari.

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

LS: The Oakland Museum, The Hallidie Building, someone argues that it is the first curtain wall. The interstice facade on 26th Street, Peter Gutkin’s Klazo tables. 

D: And those you don’t like at all? 

LS: That is a longer list. 170 Columbus Avenue, The Herman Miller "Sayl" chair. 

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

LS: Young is relative. People say an architect or a designer doesn’t really hit his stride until fifty. I think Owen Kennerly of Kennerly Architecture & Planning, is very talented. There are some amazing young talents at Rapt Studio. Those precocious few who can see the big picture and find a detailed, beautiful response to it. 

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

LS: Technology is to San Francisco what entertainment is to Los Angeles and finance to New York. Technology is a big part of San Francisco and I think it is always going to be there. The question is “how we are going to use technology to shape our future?”

Google San Francisco. 

Google San Francisco. 

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

LS: A cynical vehicle to sell magazines. 

D: And about housing affordability? Is there a solution to solve this problem?   

LS: If we want to solve the housing problem we have to break some rules. Acknowledge that as the housing market goes up some renters (and some home owners) will lose the option to move unless they move out of the city. Understand that the pressure on many families to leave the Mission is not because of gentrification reasons. It is because of the poor quality of Public schools. People move to suburbs because schools are better there. One solution can be to allow smaller apartments, co-housing and other illegal unconventional solution. Dismantle the San Francisco brand of participatory democracy that stops change “for the greater good”. Bullshit.  

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

Working at Rapt Studio and helping a new generation of business leaders to understand the power of design to connect. 

Louis Schump.

Louis Schump.

Design, Architecture & The City: a rendez-vous with San Francisco local designers and architects.

anna volpicelliComment
Olle Lundberg

Olle Lundberg

 

When you walk into his office, before meeting him, you meet one of his big passion: a huge collection of whiskey's bottles he personally buys from collectors all over the US. Olle Lundberg, architect and founder of Lundberg Design, in DogPatch, is not the typical designer you expect to meet. He is a down-to-earth man, easy-going, well-educated, passionate about his job, a thinker. You can spend hours talking to him about anything: from literature, to art, to food and drinks, San Francisco and of course design. Knowledge he built by traveling and studying different subjects. He has a major in English Literature from Washington Lee University in Lexington, Virgina, and in sculpture where he probably learned the art and craft of creating anything from scratch using different kind of raw materials. A skill which brought him to study architecture. The first project he made was a renovation of an old church in Lexington that he bought for $10,000 and he rented out to his friends. This business helped him to pay school tuitions. Today he is a well-known designer and architect in the city and his studio has designed remarkable projects like The Slanted Door, Hard Water, Twitter Headquarters, a pied-à-terre in Pacific Heights for Lawrence J. Elliot, chief executive of Oracle and the SFTMA bus shelter.  The studio, or “the shop” as he likes to call it has not only a fabrication area where they build everything but also it includes an apartment for Olle and his wife Mary Breuer. We caught up with him to share some thoughts about the evolution or involution of design and architecture industries in the Bay Area. 

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

OL: The design industry has expanded. There are more big firms now than in the past and those firms have even become bigger because of the Tech industry. Technology has produced an interesting amount of work in San Francisco. Firms nowadays are doing more good modern projects than they used to do in the past and I have been here since 1980. Our studio has done different kind of projects. We designed the interiors of Twitter in partnership with IA (Interior Architects). It was a big assignment and we focused on what we call “the sexy things” like the entry lobby, the cafeteria and dining space, the custom furniture and fixtures.

D: How is the Tech industry affecting the idea of design and architecture, the development of new products and new building?

OL: Tech companies are interested in design but they operate in a such a high speed, they need to move into quickly so you have tight deadlines. For me this fast pace is not very appealing. I have nothing against it, it is just that our shop is not as good as maybe bigger firms are. Moreover, I think that those buildings are not going to last for a long time. After ten years they will need to be remodeled. What I have seen so far is that there is a new group of young and wealthy clients, the 1%, who are very design-oriented. They are very private, so before starting any kind of project we have to sign a disclosure. It is a new era in which a lot of great design is going to be hidden because of this privacy. It is unfortunate for us because we cannot publish it and this is one way to get more clients. When you go to school you believe that design is more about sharing values in societies. Then you start to work and you understand that the reality is very different. Which sometimes can be good. 

Entry lobby -Twitter Headquarter.

Entry lobby -Twitter Headquarter.

D: What do you like to do?

OL: I like to do what I haven’t done before because I like the challenge and I like to bring new solutions. I am a craftsman so I am more oriented on personalization, on providing unique solutions for a single client. That’s why we don’t do multi-family residential because we love to explore all the possibilities that a house can offer. Our portfolio is diverse. We have done wineries, restaurants, a bunch of residential, just to name a few. What we are doing now is more related to homes that are not proper homes. We are designing a house which is a museum, another one which is a horse farm and we hope to get a project to turn a house into a fitness facility. Those are personal and corky assignments that are bringing on the table a different kind of design vocabulary in terms of materials, organizations, thinking. 

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

OL: I think that there is an interest in San Francisco that is not going away soon.  The current generation is looking for their own style. San Francisco has always been conservative in terms of architecture's buildings and interior design. Even though there still are people who are fighting to keep their neighborhoods as they are, those who believe that modern architecture doesn’t belong to Pacific Heights, for instance, we, as designers, are seeing a change. For this young generation modern design is emblematic of their culture, their history, their roots, the place where they live in. Technology is a modern business and they see the link between where they work and where they live. 

Lawrence J. Ellison residence.

Lawrence J. Ellison residence.

D: Do you think that the city is getting some kind of benefit from this quest for modernism?

OL: There is a sort of honesty in this modernism. People are keep questioning about themselves, their lives, their spaces which can bring to new opportunities and new challenges. It is great to see Mid Market revitalized thanks to Twitter. That specific area of Market Street is finally getting a life. There are more pedestrians on the street and in the Tenderloin too.

D: Talking about the Tenderloin, what do you think of the design competition promoted by Eleven magazine, a publication based in London, focused on remodeling the Tenderloin?

OL: I don’t know. I just think they need some sort of attention.

D: What do you like about San Francisco? 

OL: Its diversity, even though we are losing it because of economic reason. It is becoming more and more a place for wealthy people. It is going to be like Manhattan and all the diversity will be out of this center. Tech people want to live in San Francisco and they are settling down. Google, Salesforce, they all understood that. 

D: What are your favorite buildings in San Francisco?

OL: The Federal Building which is very different from any other building in the city. V.C. Morrison Gift Shop, the only building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and San Francisco’s Ferry Building. I think the Ferry Building is becoming the center of the city. San Francisco is built on the water and the Ferry building is a symbol of it. 

D: What are the ones you don’t like?

OL: I think unfortunately Hotel Vitale is a lost opportunity but It was not easy to work on that. There were many difficulties. 

Lundberg Design.

Lundberg Design.

D: You have done many restaurants in the city what are your favorite in terms of interior design? 

OL: Usually when I go to a restaurant I pay attention more to the food than the design. Anyway I think Nopa is nice.  My favorite was Stars which closed in 1999. It was the restaurant of chef Jeremiah Tower, former chef of Chez Panisse. A wonderful space with great interior, open kitchen. It was close to City Hall so there were a lot of politicians and celebrities there. It had a New York vibe.  

D: Who are the current stars of design in San Francisco in your opinion?

OL: David Darling and Joshua Aidlin of Aidlin Darling Design, Greg Mottola of Bohlin Cywinski Jackson. I am a big fan of Peter Bohlin, founder of the firm. Many years ago Peter built a house for his parents which was published on the cover of the New York Times magazine. When I saw that image I realized I wanted to be an architect. 

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

OL: I have already contributed building the SFMTA Bus Shelter. This is my city signature. Besides the shelter, with The Slanted Door we have been the fist designers to introduce in the city unisex bathroom. 

Slanted door

The Slanted Door.

Meet designer: Jean-Marie Massaud

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Jean-Marie Massaud.

Jean-Marie Massaud.

He found the perfect design algorithm: a comfortable elegance. Jean-Marie Massaud is a renowned French architect and designer with an unforgettable signature: a sophisticated ease which is clear in every piece of art he creates. A versatile talent, Massaud has been working on a variety of projects from a chair to a new stadium for Guadalajara, in Mexico, to a car. His portfolio is full of International successful brands like Axor, Cassina, Poliform, Toyota and MDF Italia. A restless thinker and maker his first approach to a project is more focused on the feeling and the experience a product can deliver. This is the reason why his works are a light synthesis among pleasure and environmental responsibility, individual and collective needs, economic requests and industrial efficiency. While he is working on a new chair for the last edition of Salone del Mobile in Milano (April 2016) he took time off to reply to our questions about the Flow chair, his role models and inspirations. 

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

JM: Flow is not a simple chair. It represents the ambition of designing a chair that matches personality and context of each user. I created a system composed by a shell ergonomically mounted on different types of legs (heritage wood, modern aluminum, steel). The seat can be filled with a duvet for a better comfort. The elegance of Flow embodies different personalities based on the environment it is placed in: it can be intimate and warm in a living room, professional and efficient if used in an office. Since its debut in 2009, Flow has been the first chair to provide a domestic ease to a work environment.  After its launch we have seen a number of similar products flourishing on the market, copying the style and the approach to that particular comfort.

 

Flow armchair

Flow armchair

 

D: What was your inspiration?

JM: Flow is the synthesis of many chairs that caught my attention. From the more traditional wood to the most iconic and modern ones to those of Eero Saarinen, the famous Finnish-American architect and industrial designer, who was able to deliver a relaxing experience through upholstery chairs.

D: Who are your role models in the design industry? Those who have been crucial in your training?

Within the design industry my role models are Charles and Ray Eames for their intelligence, elegance and style. Achille Castiglioni for his smart and unusual gaze, Philippe Starck for his eclecticism, Antonio Citterio for his accuracy. Many people have been crucial in my training like Leonardo Da Vinci, whose works have had a great impact on my whole idea of creativity and creation when I was a child and Thomas Edison, a unique inventor. More recently, I should say, Steve Jobs for broadening the vision of design as a way of shaping a message and the identity of a whole company.

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

JM: I work all day lying down in search for an inspiration. I try to immerse myself into the quality of the experience that this new project should offer. At the beginning my focus is more about the feeling, the sensation and the intuition of what kind of experience the project should deliver.

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

JM: On April we will launch a new chair system similar to Flow. It will be more accessible in terms of price through the use of more industrial technologies.

D: What’s design for you?

JM: It is the art of thinking and improving the quality of life by offering goods and services that give us the freedom from our daily routine. It is a progressive discipline that aims to do more with less. On this purpose it is necessary to have a vision that is both global and synthetic. It is important to learn and understand the contexts of the project, identifying the issues, defining ambitions and ways to realize it. Design is a solution provider and not a problem solver.

Flow and its three types of legs. 

Flow and its three types of legs. 


Meet Designer: Nani Marquina

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Melange's collection. 

Melange's collection. 

She spent her youth watching her father’s commitment to his art. Her father was Rafael Marquina, spanish architect and designer, well-known for his Marquina oil cruet. His passion for his work and his engagement in the creative process has been crucial in defining her ambitions and her career. Surrounded by beauty, culture and constant inspiration Nani Marquina, designer and entrepreneur, discovered her talent for designing textiles. An art she completely invested in Nanimarquina her rug design company.  Founded in 1987 her dream was to travel around the world to learn from India, Pakistan, Peru and Turkey how to combine traditional carpet’s manufacturing technique with a more contemporary aesthetics needs. Today Nanimarquina’s rugs are renowned and awarded for their designs, quality and philanthropy message. The entrepreneur took time to reply to our questions about her career, her travels and, of course, rugs. 

D: How did everything start?

N: My father Rafael Marquina played a huge part in where I am today. He was one of the first industrial designers in Spain, he was a pioneer. Every day when he came back home with new designs he had created, I was totally captivated. He passed on to me his great passion for designing. I embarked on this career after studying industrial design at the Escuela Massana of Barcelona where I produced my first made to order textile designs. It was a big success. 

 D: What made you decide to pursue a career in designing rugs?  

N: Designing carpets wasn’t a decision that was made overnight. I started out by designing prints for interior décor after studying product design. When I started in the 80s, I realized that there were no rugs in accordance with the new aesthetics of design. I invested special attention and effort in finding the right raw materials and manufacturing processes from the very beginning. All factors that enrich the aesthetics of my designs, the main reason for the brand’s commercial success.

D: What is a rug for you?

N: Rug= Emotion! A Nanimarquina's rug embodies the desire to connect with people through a carpet, to surprise and excite them.

D: How many rugs do you have at home?

N: In my house, I would say at least one in each room, including the kitchen! I use my home to test prototypes so I’m always changing. 

D: Do you have any favorite?

N: Each collection has a special value for me, so it’s impossible to choose just one.

Pattern

Pattern

D: In your opinion which is the country that makes the best rug?

N: Rugs are symbolic of history and origins of countries such as India, Pakistan, Turkey, Peru, Spain. Each place has its own tradition. They all use different techniques and fibers to create various types of rugs. I would say in Pakistan, you could find the best Kilim, Spain the best Jarapa.

D: When you search for raw materials what are you looking for?

N: The intrinsic beauty of the natural fibers connects us with the natural world. These fibers, of organic origins such as nettle and jute or of animal origin such as silk and wool, have been specially selected to create this collection of carpets and to reflect the plurality that nature has to offer.

D: How do you select your designers?

N: They usually contact us directly with an idea of design. Then we work together. We start a creative process to look for the perfect design and the best way (technique, fiber) to produce it. When different creative minds work together, so many new ideas grow, which is so enriching. The new prospective that designers can have on a rug is very useful:  they don’t know how difficult it is to make a rug.  They come out of this process more creative and more innovative.

D: Are you working on a new collection right now?

N: Of course! We have always on going projects! Right now we’re focused on three different collections that we’ll present at Salone del Mobile in Milano on April 16th 2016.

D: Can you explain to us the concept of design rug?

N: Every rug is a result of a team work. From the first idea to the last rug’s knot we are all involved in the process of designing something unique. Moreover I spend a lot of time drawing and sketching with my pencils.

D: As a woman was your journey more difficult than a man?

N: No.

D: If you weren't Nanimarquina founder, what would you be doing?

N: My secret vocation would be hiking!

Nani Marquina

Meet designer : Keiji Ashizawa

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Ishinomaki Laboratory. 

Ishinomaki Laboratory. 

 

He took the challenge and he gave to his community a new hope and new possibilities. Keiji Ashizawa is a Japanese designer and director of Ishinomaki Laboratory (ishinomaki-lab.org), a design workshop lab in Ishinomaki-city, Miyagi prefecture, Tokyo. The lab was born after the tsunami and the Great East Japan Earthquake which devastated the whole area on March 2011. Born as a common utility area for locals to conduct their work, Ishinomaki Laboratory launched a new disruptive idea of community design pushing the boundaries of DIY: an ensemble of meetings that provides training for mastering design skills, producing handmade products as well as regular technical guidance for local high school students and children. With this new business model Ishinomaki Laboratory won “2012 Good Design Award” in Japan. Currently the laboratory is involved in a series of workshop with Switzerland. We caught up with Ashizawa to talk about Ishinomaki Laboratory and his new International design venture. 

D: Would you like to explain us the concept of Design Workshop?

KA: The workshop concept was elaborated by Pierre Keller, former director of the Swiss design school ECAL in collaboration with Patrick Reymond, co-founder of the Swiss design studio atelier oi. The idea was to establish a sort of bridge between Switzerland and Japan in order to explore the two different approaches to design. For each workshop they select ten designers, five Swiss and five Japanese, who have to spend five days in Switzerland, first, and then in Japan to work together on a project. In Switzerland designers work with the industrial furniture company WOGG, which provides all the materials,  and in Japan with Ishinomaki Laboratory. The aim of the program is for each designer to come up with a design for possible products suitable for the International market. 

D: How did it start?

KA: It started in Switzerland. The first assignment for Japanese designers was to have a taste of Swiss lifestyle. They organized for us a tour where we were able to see different landscapes, taste local food and meet local producers. The intention was to give us a chance to understand the mind-set, to touch and experience the kind of products are desirable in Switzerland. 

D: How does the workshop work?

KA: For five days ten designers have to work on a project. Usually the process starts by learning and analyzing raw materials used by WOGG and Ishinomaki Laboratory.  From there, they have to understand what kind of skills are needed and issues like productivity and marketability. Of course, during the process the design of a product changes as designers get to know each other. This approach helps them develop their know-how in a new context and market through the realization of a project abroad. Merging different cultures and approaches can lead to unexpected and innovative outcomes.

 

Keiji Ashizawa. 

Keiji Ashizawa. 

 

D: How is Ishinomaki Laboratory involved?

KA: Ishinomaki Laboratory is the host maker in Japan. Since the inception in 2011 our policy has been to produce furniture with designers engaged in workshops. Gathering together ten talented and busy professionals under the same roof for a very short period of time is a rare situation. We asked them to design few prototypes for our new collection of products was coming out last summer. We are a young company and we need fresh energy from outside. 

D: Can you share with us how Ishinomaki Laboratory was born?

KA: It was born as voluntary workshop place for the local community in Ishinomaki-city, Miyagi prefecture, which was devastated by the tsunami and by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March 2011. At the beginning it was just a common utility area for locals to conduct their own work with materials provided by designers in Tokyo. Then, slowly, it became a center for DIY until local shops started to contact us to repair and renovate their stores. Now some of Ishinomaki Laboratory’s core activities include running a design workshop to provide training for mastering design skills as well as providing regular technical guidance for local high school students and children. 

D: What did you learn and what are you still learning from this cultural design exchange between Switzerland and Japan?

The approach to design is very different. Japanese designers are more practical and focused on the product in itself. Swiss designers, instead, are more focused on the idea, the process and on developing new method to get the best out from a particular situation.  They study raw materials as a chef studies ingredients for a new recipe. It was very interesting for me to watch them working and I learned a lot about the importance of materials in designing a project. 

D: What’s the main challenge?

KA: As a host of the workshop the main challenge was to make great result for this workshop in a short time. For me communication is very important so my commitment was organize meetings everyday to talk about what they were working on. 

 

Drawers.

Drawers.

 

D: What kind of projects did you realize during the workshop at Ishinomaki Laboratory?

KA: Table, tray, small bookcase, chaise lounge using wood. We showed all the the prototypes during Tokyo Designers Week 2015 and at International Furniture Fair Tokyo 2015. 

D: When is going to be the next event and what will be the project you are going to work on?

KA: I just finished a design workshop with architecture students in Taiwan. In 2016 Fabien Cappello, a product and design studio based in London, and I will organize a workshop with architecture students in Japan. The workshop will take place at Ishinomaki Laboratory. Students will learn how to use timber, wood prepared for use in building and carpentry, to make our furniture. 

D: What do you like about Design Workshop?

KA: It's fun. It's efficient.

D: Do you think that after this experience your idea of design has changed? If so, what is your new point of view on design?

KA: It evolved in terms of possibilities. It made me realized that I want to host more design workshop with designers and architects from around the world. 

Meet designer: Tabuchi Tomoya

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Tabuchi Tomoya holding Onda's prototype

Tabuchi Tomoya holding Onda's prototype

Minimal, sober and pure. These are some qualities that define Tabuchi Tomoya’s style. The well-respected Japanese designer, after working for several firms in 2010 Tabuchi founded Office for Creation (officeforcreation.jp) a multidisciplinary design lab based in Tokyo. We had the pleasure to talk to him about his philosophy of design and about Onda, a chair he designed available at DSEGNARE. 

D: Can you explain to us how you came up with the idea of the Onda?
T: My intention was to adapt the chair to the modern lifestyle, keeping the structure of traditional Windsor style. I came up with the idea of the bent wood because it wraps and supports the body completely. 

D: What materials did you use to design the chair?
T: I used ash wood. I studied all the proportions by making a small scale model first and then a full scale model using foam polystyrene. 

First Onda's prototypes

First Onda's prototypes

 

D: What made you decide to choose an Italian name for the project? 
T: ONDA means “ wave “ and it reflects the particular shape of the chair.

D: What is design for you?
T: It is the joy of embodying my idea into reality. It is the pleasure of working with people and communicating with them. 

D: What is in your opinion the new frontier for design? 
T: The new frontier for design for me is to create new values and be engaged with society on a deeper level.

Onda'small scale model

Onda'small scale model