Small concrete in Hong Kong

By Penny Craswell

Two recent graduates of architecture from Hong Kong University have created All Goods of Concrete, a new range of products exploring the use of concrete in small-scale objects and accessories. Yip Yi Kwan Jennifer and Lee Ka Anthony first started to experiment with concrete when building architectural models at university.

“Concrete appeared to be a dirty and difficult material to handle at the time,” says Jennifer. “Only when we started using it to make study models did we appreciate its simple and pretty texture.”

Mahjong in concrete, by Small Goods of Concrete. Photo: supplied, The Design Writer blog
Mahjong in concrete, by Small Goods of Concrete. Photo: supplied

 

In February 2016, the pair decided to extend their university experimentation with concrete, inspired by architects such as Tadao Ando who use it at a larger scale, pushing the boundaries of the material into industrial design and home decoration.

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Object stories: Sprint chair by Sean Dix

By Penny Craswell

The Sprint chair by Hong Kong-based US designer Sean Dix is a lightweight, stackable chair and stool with a simple profile that belies its complexity. Originally developed specifically for the Bar Veloce, an Italian bar in Beijing, the series was named after the Vespa “Sprint Veloce” which is an Italian design classic.

Sprint chair by Sean Dix for Zenith. Image: supplied
Sprint chair is a stacking chair by Sean Dix for Zenith. Image: supplied


The origins of Sprint as a bespoke design for an interior are characteristic of many of Dix’s industrial design projects since he also runs his own interior design practice and often will design products for an interior that subsequently have a life of their own. For Dix and his team, the opportunity to feed industrial and interior design projects off each other brings many advantages, both creatively and for the business. Read more

Milan 2016: Ex.t thinks beyond the bathroom

By Penny Craswell

Based in Florence, Italy, ex.t has always pushed boundaries when it comes to bathroom design, striving for simplicity and elegance while thinking outside the basics of bath, basin and bowl. This year, they launched two new ranges, in both cases commissioning a non-bathroom designer to create something different to go alongside their bathroom products.

Plateau and Raso designed by Sebastian Herkner for ex.t. Image: supplied
Plateau and Raso designed by Sebastian Herkner for ex.t. Image: supplied

In the case of the new Plataeu and Raso collection, German furniture designer Sebastian Herkner was approached to design a range that includes mirrors and pendant lights in addition to washbasin, console and bathtub. An architectural language is created through the use of a shelf that sits just behind and below the rim of the basin, console and bath, creating a functional space to rest bathroom items, while also adding the illusion of a shadow or extra dimension. The mirror features the same shadow, an extension to the oval shape by way of a transparent frame on one side only. Meanwhile, the Raso lighting pendants in pink, grey, white and transparent glass offer a complementary design object that softens the bathroom interior. Read more

Object stories: Carafe Table by Charles Wilson

By Penny Craswell

The Carafe table has a visual and structural complexity to it that is characteristic of the work of Charles Wilson, a Sydney-based designer who worked in close collaboration with Herman Miller over a period of years to complete the project.

Living Edge_Carafe table designed by Charles Wilson for Herman Miller_009-5
Carafe table with drawer designed by Charles Wilson for Herman Miller


The underside features a series of compartments in moulded plywood including open shelves as well as a closed, sliding drawer that opens both ways, sloping inwards to create a geometry that is tucked in under the tabletop. The leg structure spans to the corners of the table, supporting the shelves but visually forming a third layer underneath that is drawn together at the centre in a distinctive T cross-section which Wilson says references industrial structures. Read more

Object stories: Softly sofa by Nick Rennie

By Penny Craswell

Melbourne designer Nick Rennie was recently in Paris where French design brand Ligne Roset launched his latest design at Maison & Objet – the Softly sofa. For Nick, the sofa is really about comfort, creating a compact shape with high cushions that provide effective support while being extremely comfortable.

Softly sofa by Melbourne designer Nick Rennie for Ligne Roset. Photo: supplied
Softly sofa by Melbourne designer Nick Rennie for Ligne Roset. Photo: supplied

“The idea came from placing a number of cushions together vertically to form the sides and the back of the sofa,” says Rennie. “It has quite a high seat level as well, so its super easy to get up from. And the higher back and sides also have a little flex to them and yet retain their stiffness, which allows great support.” Because of its compact size, the sofa is much more flexible than many other options. Read more

Interview with Rolf Hay at HAY Sydney store

By Penny Craswell

Rolf Hay visited Australia at the end of January to open the new HAY Sydney store with retail partner Cult. Here is my interview with Rolf Hay on communicating design, the pros and cons of storytelling and what sets Danish design apart.

Penny Craswell: I’m interested in your approach to communicating design, because I’m writing my Masters in Design on design narratives at the moment.

Rolf Hay: To be honest we have always tried to be quite straightforward with communication. I’ve always had problems in wrapping products into stories. Storytelling is interesting if it’s relevant, the question is what is the important information. It’s different when it comes to communication of the brand and the values of the brand. But for products, we try to do as little as possible.

Reception with marble counter, HAY Sydney store
Reception with marble counter, HAY Sydney store

PC: I’m interested in which stories are told about products – and I have been quite critical of the celebrity designer angle.

RH: I totally agree. I think in the fashion industry and the furniture and design industry, a lot of people perhaps feel a little bit insecure in the fancy salons. The design industry has a reputation for being arrogant and hard to get. This has to do with an overload of information and stories behind how fantastic the company is, and how amazing the products are. For us, it’s important when we meet our clients that we meet them with an open and honest attitude. And of course it has been very important that we meet the client with a lot of knowledge about the product – about materials, about production, about environmental issues. For the client it’s less important if the designer had an idea to do this chair when he was at the beach or on the toilet. Read more

Object stories: Macadamia wood design by Quench

By Penny Craswell

Quench is a group of Queensland-based designers who have been coming together each year for five years to exhibit their work both in Australia and overseas. In 2015, for the first time, the designers of Quench decided to take a more unified approach, deciding on one material – macadamia wood – and one theme – objects relating to food. The result is a series of objects that are handcrafted and beautiful, creating a truly Australian collection that tells a story. The name of the exhibition, which was shown at Tokyo Designers Week in 2015, is “Table Stories”.

Dr Crunch by Marc Harrison for Table Stories. Image: Supplied
Dr Crunch by Marc Harrison for Table Stories. Image: Supplied

For Table Stories, each designer has created a different story to tell. Marc Harrison, known for his Husque tablewares made of processed macadamia shell, has designed a macadamia nut cracker called Dr Crunch. Alexander Lotersztain, an Argentinian-born multi-disciplinary designer working under his brand Derlot, handcrafted Sclpt, a series of four spoons; Jason Bird, who sells furniture and objects under his brand Luxxbox, designed three objects called Vessel; Surya Graf, whose work spans architecture and industrial design, created Hex, a mortal and pestle grinder for fresh spices; and David Shaw, who designs furniture and is founder / director of the Street and Garden Furniture Co, created Prop, a sculptural object for holding hot food as well as a tea candle. Read more

Gelato design at Christmas

The culinary geniuses at Sydney’s Gelato Messina have released an amazing new gelato design in time for Christmas – a giant Christmas bauble which they are calling “Michael Baulblé”.

Michael Baulblé by Gelato Messina is a giant chocolate and ice cream Christmas bauble. Photo: supplied
Michael Baulblé by Gelato Messina is a giant chocolate and ice cream Christmas bauble. Photo: supplied
Michael Baulblé by Gelato Messina served up. Photo: supplied
Michael Baulblé by Gelato Messina served up. Photo: supplied

A gold-dusted chocolate shell hides a spherical ice cream cake flavoured with burnt butter and gingerbread, with pear mousse and fruit mince florentine, and is served with vanilla brandy custard.

“Designing gelato cakes is our version of art,” says the Gelato Messina team. “Each elements comes together to (hopefully) make something look, and taste beautiful. At Messina we love experimenting with new shapes, colours and textures to create something special.”

Just take a look at what happens when you cut into this gelato design delicacy in the video below.

Available via special order from Gelato Messina’s website and can be picked up from select stores in NSW (Rosebery, Miranda and Parramatta), Victoria (Fitzroy) and Queensland (Coolangatta).

More at Gelato Messina

Video: Christmas with One Two Tree

This is such a nice design story. Lucy and Ant McNamara were looking for a sustainable, Australian option for a Christmas tree when they decided to just go ahead and make their own. It was such a success that they created One Two Tree – trees that are not only beautiful, but also eco-friendly and long lasting, making them an excellent alternative to other Christmas tree options. Please enjoy their story in the video below.

One Two Tree with spots
One Two Tree with spots
One Two Tree comes in two sizes: 85cm tall and 150cm tall
One Two Tree comes in two sizes: 85cm tall and 150cm tall
Ant and Lucy McNamara of One Two Tree
Ant and Lucy McNamara of One Two Tree

Shelter Hacks event as part of Fugitive Structures

This post is really more of a thank you note for the Shelter Hacks event I curated on Wednesday – to the Sherman Contemporary Art Foundation‘s Gene Sherman who is a continual inspiration, and to Danielle, Sophie and the rest of the team for being great to work with. Also thanks to the speakers: Fenella Kernebone for being a wonderful moderator, NSW Architects Registrar Timothy Horton for giving his time and expertise (as well as a good dose of humour) and Heidi Axelsen and Hugo Moline of MAPAA, the artist/architecture duo behind Owner Occupy at SCAF for sharing their ideas which were the inspiration for the evening’s discussion.

Tim Horton, Hugo Moline, Heidi Axelsen and Fenella Kernebone at Shelter Hacks. Photo: Penny Craswell
Tim Horton, Hugo Moline, Heidi Axelsen and Fenella Kernebone at Shelter Hacks. Photo: Penny Craswell

The panel discussion turned out to be a fantastic opportunity to throw around ideas about shelter, new housing models, how cities grow, the role of architects and policy-makers in creating human-centred dwellings. Read more