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Beautiful Objects Built to Last, By a Tech Refugee Turned Furniture Designer

Not every designer considers UI when approaching a furniture collection, but then Zürich-based Isabell Gatzen isn’t every designer: A brief stint in Silicon Valley a few years back left her disillusioned with the short product lifecycle that seems to be a hallmark of so much tech industry innovation and eager to apply strategic thinking to a more traditional craft.
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Florian Seedorf

Come All Ye Faithful, Curated by Carson Chan

In our most recent Saturday selects post, we pointed out a recent mini-trend of design exhibitions being staged in residential contexts, including the subject of this post: Come, All Ye Faithful, a show in which Berlin-based curator Carson Chan has replaced all of the objects in Zürich curator Florian Christopher Seedorf's home with works by his favorite European artists and designers. Opening last month and running through January 12, the exhibition was timed to coincide with the holiday shopping season, when consumerism runs rampant and people are in a state of frenzied acquisition. With Come, All Ye Faithful — which also functioned as a kind of tongue-in-cheek holiday pop-up shop, since everything in it is for sale — Chan wanted to examine the consequences of all that acquiring. "When purchased objects enter the home, they assume new roles, entangling themselves with the lives and emotions of their new owners," he explains in his curators' statement. "Come, All Ye Faithful is an exhibition that observes our relationship with the objects we live with." Chan took time out of his busy holiday schedule to answer a few questions about the project for Sight Unseen.
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Each typology in the collection — in this case watering cans — is often represented by dozens of examples, some anonymous, some designer: The cans with the longest spouts are by Swiss designer Wilhelm Kienzle.

Inside the Zurich Design Museum Collection

For centuries, Swiss design was synonymous with watches, army knives, sewing machines, and other precision utilitarian objects. Then came the rise of Swiss graphics and typography in the 20th century, when the grids and sans serifs of talents like Josef Müller-Brockmann and Jan Tschichold created a legacy that dominates the tiny country's design reputation even today. But inside the 10,000-square-foot universe of the Museum Für Gestaltung Zurich’s collection archives — behind whose doors normally only curators and students are allowed — every chair, teapot, and cigarette lighter is either a product of or an influence on Switzerland’s industrial design history, which the museum strives to promote through the five to seven temporary exhibitions it produces each year.
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Carmen D'Apollonio (left) and Guya Marini (right), in a portrait taken by their friend Walter Pfeiffer, the Swiss photographer. The designers often collaborate on projects with other creative talents, including their lookbooks, which are art-directed by a different person each season. Pfeiffer did one, as did Urs Fischer.

Ikou Tschüss, Fashion Designers

It takes the Zürich-based fashion duo Ikou Tschüss a full week to hand-knit the blankets from their winter collection — each ringed with dangling sleeves to appear as though it’s hugging the bed — and maybe a day to knit one of their bulky sweater dresses. Even silk shifts are hand-printed and edged with rows of crochet, the pair's signature trope. Add to all that labor the fact that Carmen D'Apollonio spends the majority of her time in New York, where she’s been the right-hand-woman to Swiss artist Urs Fischer for the past eight years, and it’s a good thing she and partner Guya Marini have help. “Most of our knitting is done by Swiss grandmothers now,” says Marini.
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Freitag’s Zurich Headquarters

When you arrive in Zürich, you arrive with a few certainties: The trams will run like clockwork, the city will be spotless, and at least a third of the population, it seems, will be carrying a Freitag messenger bag. During my weeklong stay in Switzerland this spring, the Freitag bag — with its recycled truck-tarp shell, seatbelt strap, and inner-tube edging — began to seem something like a national accessory.
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