Max Lipsey’s father is an architect, and his mother is an artist, but it might be Murray Moss who’s most responsible for turning the Eindhoven-based, Aspen, Colorado native on to design. In the early 2000s, Lipsey was attending NYU, studying design in what he calls an “extremely academic” way. On his commute every day from Chinatown through Soho, he’d pass the windows of Moss’s design emporium, which at the time highlighted the work of Dutch provocateurs like Maarten Baas, Hella Jongerius, and Marcel Wanders. “It sort of made me realize there was a place somewhere I could get my hands dirty and make things rather than writing about them,” he says. Lipsey applied and was accepted to the Design Academy Eindhoven — one of the rare Americans who ever attempt it — and by his first project he was hooked: “I made a belt buckle,” he remembers. “I was playing with sandcasting tin and I made a mistake where the sand broke apart and scattered in the mold, leaving tiny pockmarks where the crumbs had landed. When you polished it, it looked really nice, and it helped me learn to keep an eye open for mistakes. You have to play and experiment and you’ll discover things you wouldn’t have been able to imagine before.”
That kind of experimental, let’s-see-what-happens attitude would at first seem a rejection of the precision-based craft of his father’s architecture — except that the project that’s earned Lipsey the most notoriety since graduation is a series of dining chairs, loungers, and stools whose colorful steel frames are based on the manufacturing techniques and elegant geometries of classic racing bikes, which happen to be among the most meticulously crafted objects around. Called Acciaio (Italian for “steel”), the stools employ a metal-joinery technique known as fillet-brazing as well as a tapered profile and optional racing-stripe stickers that all call to mind the kind of vintage ride that Lipsey has long obsessed over. His breakout collection perhaps more reflects an idea he’s been toying with since his graduation project, for which he made a set of branch-shaped coat hooks that looked like trees growing through the wall and into the house. The project was about bringing the outdoors inside, a concept he’s been meditating on lately after so many years abroad. “I really miss being in nature. In Colorado everything you do for fun involves being outside. You don’t exactly feel that connection to wilderness in Holland.”
Thing you love most about Eindhoven: “The people.”
Thing you hate most about it: “The weather.”
Music most played while you work: “It changes depending on the work. When I need to think and concentrate, it’s Goldberg Variations by Bach. When I need to get some energy and to crank out some production, Devo or Talking Heads. If it’s boring work that I need to distract myself from: podcasts.”
First thing you ever made? “I made some fucking brilliant wood and paint compositions at our ‘wood workshop’ in kindergarten.”
As the youngest child of a Parisian architect — with three older brothers working in the same field — Victoria Wilmotte had one thing going for her when she started studying furniture design at London's RCA four years ago. But she also had a few handicaps: she was only 20 years old, she had just been rejected from Paris's ENSCI school, and her professor at RCA, Jurgen Bey, couldn't comprehend her strange working methods. Obsessed with materials and surfaces, she wanted to spend all her time in the workshop, skipping the thinking and brainstorming part and going directly to prototyping. "Jurgen Bey was really into concepts," says Wilmotte, now 24. "He was more about a table telling stories, but I only wanted to talk technically. He basically said, 'I don’t understand you. But continue.'"
Julien Carretero's work invites metaphor the way cheese fries beg to be eaten — make a bench that's perfectly shaped in front and slowly morphs into chaos in back, and suddenly it could be about anything: humans' ultimate lack of control over the universe, politics, the pressure to succeed, mullets. For the Paris-born, Eindhoven-based designer, though, it's mostly just about one thing.
By now we're used to furniture designers making art, artists making furniture, and every possible variation along that spectrum. But in 2009, when three of her friends started the Fashion Clash festival in her hometown of Maastricht, the Netherlands, designer and blogger Matylda Krzykowski was convinced her colleagues outside the fashion industry might have something to contribute. She rounded up 10 furniture, textile, and graphic designers and asked them to modify their work for the catwalk — in most cases having no idea what they would come up with until the final "outfit" was delivered to her door. The first year, artist Tanja Ritterbex donned a glittery pink Barbie dress and asked to be rolled down the catwalk while she waved at the audience like Queen Elizabeth. The second year, a designer-artist couple from London created a massive, wearable Tyvek tote bag and requested it be modeled by an old man. And for the 2011 show, presented last weekend, one of the designers encased her model in a mountainous wooden cake, with only her head poking out at the summit — in other words, nothing you wouldn't expect to see at an actual fashion show. We asked Krzykowski to tell us a little bit more about the project and about five selections from this year's collection which are shown here, alongside the participant's usual work.