It seems ironic that the design school at Northumbria University‘s two most famous graduates would be Max Lamb and Jonathan Ive. At one end of the spectrum is Lamb, a designer so consumed with the act of making and the transparency of process that he films himself fabricating each piece from start to finish and posts the results on his website. On the other is Ive, who’s responsible for an object that’s more of a cipher, one that conceals its mechanics within and successfully erases any questions about the way it works or the context in which it was made. But perhaps the difference between the two designers is as simple as the difference between their concentrations at university: Ive graduated from a Northumbria program known as Design for Industry, which focuses on consumer experience, while Lamb finished a course called Three-Dimensional Design, where the act of making is as paramount as the artifact itself.
It’s the latter program that’s yielded the Designers in Residence who have exhibited at ICFF, for two years running, a collection of products known as Tools for Everyday Life, and it’s in Lamb’s footsteps that those designers follow. The residency program offers resources and workshop space to design school graduates who stay in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne region, and the pieces in the collection use the utilitarian language of those workshop tools as a jumping-off point. This year, the collection — which ranges from spun-copper lamps to cabinet pulls reminiscent of things like wing nuts — picked up an ICFF Editor’s Award for best products and accessories, and the booth’s elegant offerings set the blogosphere salivating. But few fairgoers seemed to have noticed a small newsprint takeaway at the booth called The Northern Tool, which documented the process behind each of the objects in question. Luckily your eagle-eyed editors spotted it, and we’ve reprinted for you its highlights along with images of the objects for anyone who didn’t make it to New York.
Long ago, wallpaper was reserved for royalty — a handcrafted thing made with high artistry and hung with equally high aspirations. But since then, with a few very recent notable exceptions, it's become the ambitionless cop-out of modern-day interior design, a failure blamed on wimpy printing techniques but which probably has to do more with a lack of imagination. Among those getting it right is the Athens-based design collective 39.22., which draws both its name and its stable of talent from its own geographical coordinates.
Juliette Warmenhoven grew up in Holland’s so-called bulb district, near Haarlem, in a small village called Hillegom. Her father is a flower farmer. If it all sounds very quaint, it might have been 20 years ago — but then tulip production went the way of the meat industry thanks to globalization, and farming became a race to create the maximum amount of homogenous bulbs in the shortest amount of time. “My father feels farming is like working in a factory now,” says the Arnhem-based designer. Just as shrink-wrapped steak has been divorced from the killing of the cow, plants are more about the perfection of the end product than the actual growing process. “I believe that when you explain that process to people, they get more feeling out of it,” she says. For Everyday Growing, her graduation project at Arnhem’s ArtEZ school, she built a series of small monuments to plants’ humble — and often imperfect — origins.
The first thing people marvel at when they see the furniture of the young duo Sebastian Herkner and Reinhard Dienes is its industrial, institutional cool — bare wood against metal against richly colored glass, in shapes evoking old spotlights and torches and desk chairs. The second thing is how these hip, talented designers — whose first collection this year caught the eye of Wallpaper, DAMn, and Monocle — landed in Frankfurt, a middling city of 650,000 without a glimmer of Berlin’s cachet.