Know your Designclassics!
May, 2019 - ongoing
Designs on cover
Jolan van der Wiel
History is important
Know your Designclassics!
For a new stories format we would like to educate the community. As a young designer you can take huge inspiration of the past and also learn a lot about different areas, contexts, materials and production techniques. From now on we share 6 designclassics every week via our Instagram stories and on the website we'll collect all of them with more information. Get to know them!
Designed in 1977 by Vico Magistrelli, over the years, Atollo has become the archetype of the table lamp. The geometric shapes that compose it - cylinder, cone and hemisphere - have resulted in a product that is decorative and essential at the same time, disconnected from the historical period and the fashions of the moment, and one that has now fully become one of the icons of Italian design.
Hans Brattrud is a Norwegian furniture designer best known for his widely imitated Scandia chair design, which combines laminated wood on a pliable wire frame, allowing multiple chairs to be stacked on top of each other for easy storage. Born in 1933 in Norway, he went on to study at the National College of Art and Design in Oslo where he first invented the Scandia chair for a class project in 1957.
Philippe Starck's first design for a toothbrush, with his trademark quill shape for the handle and a conical shaped stand. This shape was often referenced as Starck's nod to the work of Brancusi. Ten years later, a similar design titled Dr. Kiss was produced by Alessi. The production version of this toothbrush is in the MoMA collection, as well as many other international museum collections.
The Spun chair, designed in 2010 by Thomas Heatherwick has been described as terrifying, exhilarating, and playful - all at the same time. 'You feel your back stretching, your legs up, you get a different perspective on the world and then come back 'round. Normally somebody gets terrified of going all the way around and then realizing that they can - there's a sot of art to doing it', explains Heatherwick.
The Voido Rocking Chair was designed by Ron Arad for Magis. A characteristic example of the designer's conceptual approach, the Voido Rocking Chair blurs the boundaries between luxury furniture, abstract sculpture and mobile art installation. It is made from moulded polyethelene and is suitable for outdoors as well as indoors. With its twisted, figure of eight shape, it is perfectly poised to be set in motion with a gentle push of the hand or the sitter's foot.
Sapper's 1982 kettle design for Alessi features two whistles, each tuned to a different note, so that a harmony is produced when water in the kettle boils. "The idea of Sapper was very clear," Alessi explains. "He wanted to design a kettle that can be multi-sensorial. Not only to the eyes, but also to the ears.'" Alessi says they struggled to realise Sapper's idea, until his sister discovered a German craftsman who made tuning pipes for musical instruments.
The CLAY series by Maarten Baas were first launched in 2006. The spontaneous and naïve designs made of industrial clay and finished in bright colours has led to a wide collection. All CLAY pieces are unique, as each is made and shaped by hand, without the use of a mould.
The Aalto Vase (1937), also known as the Savoy Vase, is a piece of glassware created by Alvar Aalto and his wife Aino that has become an internationally known iconic piece of Finnish design. Aalto never made money with the vase, because the design belonged to the factory.
Piet Hein Eek is famour for his scrap wood furniture. Piet didn’t think it was possible to make this chair in scrap wood because the back of the seat back was made of planed wood, resulting in little visible texture or colour when you pulled up the chair. He realised much later that it was possible to also make this chair in scrap wood because we laminate it. I felt like I had spent years walking around in a daze because, despite repeated attempts to make the oak chair in scrap wood, I was continually held back by a wrong thought.
This self-assembly chair is designed by Italian designer Enzo Mari already in 1974 - but first got into production for Artek in 2010. Customers purchase pre-cut pine boards, nails and instructions and construct the chair themselves using just a hammer. The chair is part of Mari's 1974 project called Autoprogettazione, a collection of furniture to be made from the most basic and affordable materials. Mari was one of the first designers who thought about the DIY subject.
French designers Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec have designed a modular room-dividing system called Clouds for Kvadrat. Clouds consists of textile pieces held together with elastic bands to make free-standing or hanging structures, which can be used to divide space and absorb sound. Clouds were originally developed for the showroom in Stockholm - the task was to create a showroom that could exhibit Kvadrat’s textiles in a way that the textiles were a part of the room.
After WW2 Edward Craven Walker developed an idea he saw in a country pub in Dorset, England. The pub had a one-off device which used two immiscible fluids as an egg timer. While it was rudimentary, Craven set up a laboratory in a small shed where he mixed ingredients in bottles of different shapes and sizes. He discovered one of the best containers was a Tree Top Orange Squash bottle and its shape defined the lamp design - now widely known as a 'Lava Lamp'.
Eliminating the distinction between craft and industry, the ‘Knotted Chair’ (1996) unites conflicting aspects, methods and materials. The design by Marcel Wanders begins with an aramid braided cord around a carbon fibre core that is manipulated in the traditional technique of macramé to form the shape of the chair. The slack threads are impregnated with epoxy and hung in a frame to harden thus using gravity to accomplish its shape.
Front's 2006 Animal Collection for Moooi consists of a pig-shaped side table and full scale models of a horse and a rabbit with lamps on their heads.
"Marcel Wanders said: 'Make us a lamp that even my grandmother would like,'"
"Our first thought was to make something that is taken from nature and just presented as a piece of furniture. When we presented it to Marcel, he just loved it."
The Jens Risom Collection was the first furniture ever commissioned and manufactured by Knoll. Knowing that the war would disrupt the supply lines, Hans Knoll sought a design that could be produced locally in New York. They found each other in 1941 —just 23 and 24 years old. Risom later recalled: “There was no furniture, nothing to be had…everybody was anxious to buy everything they could get their hands on."
Slight black lines like the traces of sketches drawn in the air made transparent surfaces and volumes appear, which Nendo assigned practical functions too. They are condensed expressions of meaning, similar to Japanese calligraphy. The designs gently break the relationship of before and behind, and traverse at times the space between two and three dimensions.
One of the most acclaimed design pieces in the world, the Proust armchair by Alessandro Mendini was launched in 1978, when it was used to furnish the Palazzo dei Diamanti, in Ferrara during an exhibition. Shortly thereafter, the piece’s postmodern appeal captured the attention of connoisseurs and design insiders on an international scale. Mendini is also famous for joining the Memphis movement.
Since the 1960s, Ingo Maurer has been applying his creativity and sense of fun to lighting products. Introduced in 1992, the Lucellino series was one of Maurer's most famous creations. Nobody had previously thought of adding a set of angel wings to conventional light bulbs, and it took a mind like Maurer's to do so. The result is a playful, instantly appealing lighting product - one which takes a normal accessory and adds personality.
Chest of drawers had its première in 1991 and has since become a true icon of conceptual design. A criticism on consumerism, Tejo Remy collected found drawers, gave them new enclosures and loosely bundled them into a chest. His pioneering vision was to make one’s own paradise with what one encounters, as Robinson Crusoë did on his island.
Polder Sofa contains a mix of fabrics, colours, industrial elements and craft details. The name and the design refer to the typical Dutch ‘polder’ landscape: the artificial land reclaimed from the sea by means of long horizontal dykes and intersecting drainage canals. Polder Sofa was Hella Jongerius’ first industrially designed piece of furniture and marked the start of her intense collaboration with Vitra.
The Tulip chair was designed by Eero Saarinen 1955. The chair is often considered 'Space Age' for its futuristic use of curves and artificial materials. Saarinen said: 'The undercarriage of chairs and tables in a typical interior makes an ugly, confusing, unrestful world. I wanted to clear up the slum of legs. I wanted to make the chair all one thing again.'
Internationally renowned Welsh-born designer Ross Lovegrove was commissioned by Tŷ Nant to create the sensational new Ripple (PET) bottle, boasting a form which was ‘impossible to produce’.Tŷ Nant’s determination and a passion for innovation brought the ground-breaking bottle to life, creating a radical work of art truly evolving the traditional mould and rewriting the rules of bottle design.
This design by Achille Castiglioni was one of the founding experiences of the Italian design culture, where, as if by magic, a real racing bicycle saddle (Sella) appeared, mounted on a stainless steel column supported by a heavy hemispherical base, capable of a ‘dynamic balance’. The object was designed as a ‘telephone stool’ for unusual postures and occasional sitting, and made a clear reference to the world of bicycle races (its colour reminds of the pink jersey worn by the winner of the Giro d’Italia).
The Ball Chair was designed in 1963 and is one of the most famous and beloved classics of Finnish design and it was the international breakthrough of Eero Aarnio. After his Ball Chair he made his famous Bubble chair: 'After I had made the Ball Chair I wanted to have the light inside it and so I had the idea of a transparent ball where light comes from all directions. The only suitable material is acrylic which is heated and blown into shape like a soap bubble.'
Barber & Osgerby were approached for advice on the furniture choices for a new secondary school academy. There was a quick realisation that there were few compelling chair options on the market, and few that offered good design and good value. Barber & Osgerby set about investigating how they could design a chair that was good to use at a desk or table, ergonomic, beautiful, and economical.
It is the Butterfly stool for which Sori Yanagi is chiefly remembered. Made in 1954 and continually in production ever since, the stool’s simple outline has been likened to the torii gates of a Shinto shrine. The deceptively simple construction is made by attaching the two identical halves with a brass rod underneath and using just two screws. It was created with the plywood moulding techniques developed by Charles and Ray Eames, and was an unusual piece for a Japanese designer as the country had no tradition of seating, preferring instead the traditional tatami mat.
In the 1950s when most chairs were made of rigid wood, the Harry Bertoia furniture line – with welded wire and a springy feel – were totally innovative.
The Diamond Chair was first displayed in 1952 and actually in production by 1953. Bertoia developed his initial chair design ideas while working with Charles Eames and others in California in the late 1940s.
Richard Hutten's Dombo mug features two large handles on the sides so that young children can drink from it easily without spilling its contents. Richard originally designed the cup for his son: 'At that time, my eldest son was two years old,' he says. 'I thought it would be nice to make a mug where the drinking movement is really exaggerated.'
Guido Drocco is perhaps best known for his iconic Cactus coat rack, a piece he co-designed with fellow Italian Franco Mello for the Gufram brand. Playfully rebellious, Cactus questions the dividing line between indoor and outdoor, natural and synthetic, and exemplifies the kind of experimentation that was enabled by the era’s rapid advances in new materials.
Chair_ONE by Konstantin Grcic is constructed just like a football: a number of flat planes assembled at angles to each other, creating the three-dimensional form. Konstantin thinks his approach was a mixture of naivety and bluntness. Given the chance to work with aluminium casting he thought that he should take it all the way. The more he worked on the models the more he learnt to understand the structural logic behind what he was doing.
Certain types of flowers close at night, for self-defense and to conserve their resources. This highly evolved natural mechanism is called ‘nyctinasty’ and inspired Studio Drift to create Shylight; a sculpture that unfolds and retreats in a fascinating choreography, mirroring that of real flowers.
Japanese industrial designer Naoto Fukasawa has created a series of creative fruit juice packages that have the look and feel of the fruit they contain: “I imagined that if the surface of the package imitated the colour and texture of the fruit skin, then the object would reproduce the feeling of the real skin.”
This glass hanging lamp, the Milk Bottle Lamp by Tejo Remy is derived from the old-fashioned milk crates of the past; 3 x 4 bottles in a neat grid, but without the traditional wooden crate. A modern nod to an old product. The cable(s) of the lamp is 3 meters long; This gives you the opportunity to take the hanging lamp with you, as an eye-catcher in a beautiful vide, from just above the ground as an art object, or ...
The Camaleonda sectional sofa is designed by Mario Bellini. The Camaleonda sofa immediately became famous when it was introduced. This ‘landscape’ sofa is flexibel in use. The sections can be used separate or together. The backs and armrests are attached with rings and carabiners and rope which allows for them to be placed wherever necessary. The sofa can also be expanded with additional Camaleonda sections.
Akari Light Sculptures by Isamu Noguchi are considered icons of modern design. Designed by Noguchi beginning in 1951 and handmade for over half a century by the original manufacturer in Gifu, Japan, the paper lanterns are a harmonious blend of Japanese handcraft and modernist form. The lamps are created from handmade washi paper and bamboo ribbing, supported by a metal frame.
The inspiration for Poised by Paul Cocksedge comes from the elegance and amenability of paper. Half a ton in weight, the steel table appears improbable upon investigation. Created following an intensive series of calculations regarding gravity, mass, and equilibrium, the table looks as though it is about to fall, but is perfectly weighted and stable.
Dirk van der Kooij's house-developed extrusion process expands the capabilities of unlikely source materials. In the case of the chubby chair, discarded refrigerator interiors are reintroduced as autonomous, indestructible. The chair’s final form is achieved by bending strata of printed material inward.
Finnish designer Eero Aarnio created a puppy as seen through children’s eyes: A head, a body and legs—abstracted, rounded shapes that come to life in this friendly, colorful polyethylene pup. As a huggable toy, sculptural stool, or decorative dog, the sturdy but lightweight companion is ready for endless moments of fun, both indoors and out.
The Favela chair created by Humberto and Fernando Campana comes from Santo Cristo, a town in the Rio Grande do Sul (Brazil), and is constructed piece-by-piece from the wood used to build the favelas, hand-glued and nailed. Looking like a primitive throne, the puzzle of pieces of scrap wood results in pieces that transcend the dimension of pauperism in order to attain symbolic style.
Boasting an airy, organic form, the Vegetal by brothers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec was modeled after trees in 19th-century gardens that were pruned carefully into functional furniture. The chair which took four years to design was influenced by the structure of plants. flat, branch-like ribs are asymmetrically intertwined on three levels to form the seat shell of ‘vegetal’, which is shaped as an irregular circle and supported by four legs.
Like all his new products, the Random light was born from Bertjand Pot’s love for material experiment: Here, a yarn of resin is coiled randomly around an inflatable beach ball. Sounds easy, but it took him three years to develop. When the yarn has solidified into a translucent fabric the ball is deflated and removed through the round top opening.
The Bocca sofa has become popular all over the world… It’s said that the idea came from Salvador Dali. It’s also said that Marilyn Monroe was the inspiration for this sofa – La Bocca means The Mouth in Italian. In any case, shaped as woman’s lips Bocca Marilyn sofa was designed by Studio 65 to become an icon of Modern Design.
Smog Free Project is a series of urban innovations led by Daan Roosegaarde to show the beauty of clean air. As a tangible souvenir, Roosegaarde creates Smog Free Rings made from the compressed smog particles collected from the Smog Free Tower. By sharing the Smog Free Ring you donate 1000 m3 of clean air to the city.
The ‘Rabbit Chair’ is the last creation that came out of Stefano Giovannoni’s magic hat. The idea of the rabbit comes from the connection between its silhouette and the silhouette of a chair, where the rabbit’s ears become seat back. It has two variations, for adults and for kids, so that young and old can sit down and enjoy the comfort of the rabbit. The rabbit is a gentle animal, lovable and tender. In Western and Eastern culture it symbolizes love and fertility.
Designed in 1928 this chair became famous in 1965 with Cassina, the LC4 is the definitive chaise longue: built in a shape designed for relaxation, the chair was created when the Le Corbusier put man at the centre of the design, taking the idea that form and function should be at the service of relaxation, creating a perfect balance between its geometric purity and its ergonomic intent. The stability of the frame – for any angle of inclination – is guaranteed by the friction through rubber tubes that cover the cross bar of the base.
It was 1968, and Gaetano Pesce was in the shower. “I had the sponge in my hand,” explains the Italian designer. “When I pressed the sponge, it shrank, and when I released it, it returned to its original volume.”An idea occurred: Couldn’t a chair behave the same way? Pesce began experimenting with vacuum-packing the hippest material of the moment: polyurethane. Soon he’d developed a gravity-defying model: a four-inch-thick disk that, when removed from its PVC envelope, would rise from the floor into a cushy armchair. Fittingly, he named it Up.
The Zettel'z 5 is one of Ingo Maurer’s best known lamps. It gives the user plenty of room for his or her own creativity, and can be set up so that it is space-consuming and loose or narrow and dense. The blank sheets of paper supplied with it are designed to be used for your own messages or sketches. The Japanese paper is very thin and translucent. Two bulbs provide good light.
Designer Christien Meindertsma created this groundbreaking material that combines the natural fibres of flax with strong bio-plastic fibres, making a revolutionary material that can be heat-pressed into unbelievable shapes. Christien designed the chair to be made from one sheet of composite measuring roughly 2 feet by 3 feet, with very little waste.
The Aluminum Gradient Chair by Joris Laarman was designed and directly laser sintered in aluminum. Using generative design tools and new material research he basically created a lightweight aluminum structure like foam that is engineered on a cellular level to address specific functional needs for different areas in the object.
A perfect balance of art and design, this iconic coffee table was created when sculptor Isamu Noguchi joined a curved, wood base with a freeform glass top. After six decades of creative work, Noguchi considered his eponymous table his only furniture success.
The White PH Artichoke lamp (a Danish modern light fixture with white lacquered artichoke-shades) is considered to be a classical masterpiece designed by Poul Henningsen more than 40 years ago. The structure of the PH Artichoke is made of twelve steel arches. On this structure are 72 "leaves" in twelve circular rows with six blades in each row. This design allows viewing the fixture from any angle without being able to see the light source located in the center of the PH Artichoke.
Belgian-based Studio Job created a range of seven glowing banana lamps for an exhibition exploring the layered meanings held by the popular icon of visual culture. Each light is made from polished bronze base that cradles a mouth-blown glass fruit containing LED lights. Speaking of the idea behind the exhibition, Smeets stated, “the banana is becoming a monument […] it refers to Andy Warhol – and bananas are the most popular fruit in the world.”
Standing on four chunky legs, this dish-shaped seat is crafted in raw fibreglass for strength and durability. This product by Faye TooGood is meticulously handmade by master artisans one piece at a time. It is therefore quite difficult, if not impossible to make identical items. Any natural blemishes or irregularities should not be misconstrued as flaws. These are what make each handmade piece unique.
Drawing on 15 years of colour research, designer Hella Jongerius presents a series of installations that deepen our understanding of colour. She has created a collection of specially designed objects that demonstrate how the experience of colour and form is affected by changing daylight throughout the day.
This Nendo' installation of 50 manga chairs is the result of adapting the strong symbolic nature of manga comics to furniture design. Manga consist of a series of frames on a single sheet of paper that creates a sequence. Similarly, 50 standard chairs are lined up in a grid, each one conjures up a sense of story, and each with a design element from manga. For example, a “speech bubble” or “effect line” are added to visualize sound or action.
Alvar Aalto's stools are perfect extra chairs, easily stackable as a beautiful tower when they are not needed. The design was presented for the first time in 1933 and it was a sensation in the design world of its time. The stool’s revolutionary L-leg structure was a major boost for all the modern Scandinavian design. To bend the leg of Aalto’s stool, the same technique is still in use.
The Barcelona Chair achieves the serenity of line and the refinement of proportions and materials characteristic of Mies van der Rohe's highly disciplined architecture. It is supported on each side by two chrome-plated, flat steel bars. Seen from the side, the single curve of the bar forming the chair's back and front legs crosses the S-curve of the bar forming the seat and back legs, making an intersection of the two. This simple shape derives from a long history of precedents, from ancient Egyptian folding stools to nineteenth-century neoclassical seating.
Obsessed with the idea of creating an imperfect, organic and naturalistic lighting object, Melt was created by Tom Dixon. Melt is evocative of molten glass, the interior of a melting glacier, or images of deep space. The lamps are created through a process of blow moulding and vacuum metallisation to achieve melted orbs with abundant and unusual luminosity.
A combination of different chairs and tables have been wrapped in an elastic synthetic fiber by designer Jurgen Bey. The material shrinks around the different pieces and forms a smooth elastic skin, giving them an entirely new appearance. By cross-breeding and grafting, products and materials of a different nature can merge and develop into new products.
Designer Alessandro Mendini was inspired by Anna Gili, a friend and fellow designer. “I remembered as a child when my grandmother would open a bottle of wine at the table it always seemed like a good performance, a kind of ritual ballet: the turning of the head, the arms moving up and down, the sound of the cork popping from the bottle,” says Mendini. “That’s when I decided on an anthropomorphic object. I made a drawing of a ballerina, a female figure. It was evident, though, that I had subliminally drawn a portrait of Anna.”
Shiro Kuramata’s approach to designing objects was informed by the innovation in postwar Japan. By 1970, he had introduced alternative materials such as acrylic and glass into his furniture, which played on traditional ideas of materiality and form. Transparency, the appearance of weightlessness, and a Minimalist vocabulary quickly became his signature aesthetic. In 1976, Kuramata designed Glass Chair. Its reductivist and planar form reflects his interest in geometry as well as the effect of light as it transforms and illuminates the glass.
East meets West in Jaime Hayon’s playful tweak of a traditional Asian lantern in a contemporary expression. Paper lanterns have been around for centuries, in different sizes, shapes and colours, which signify different things depending on the culture. Often used for celebration or simply decoration to reflect hope and prosperity. With Hayon’s Paper Lanterns, various sizes and shapes appear together, reflecting his penchant for playfulness. Breaking away from any cultural restraints to reinvent something old but new.
The Bubble chair was designed by Eero Aarnio in 1968. According to Eero’s notes, the Bubble hangs from the ceiling because ‘there is no nice way to make a clear pedestal.’ It shares the same unique acoustics as the Ball Chair, a little cocoon that shields off the outside world. The hanging Bubble chair is made from acrylic and solid stainless steel.
The Gravity Stool by Jolan van der Wiel was created with the use of the Gravity Tool, a machine existing out of large magnets that are pulled upwards by two weights. By pulling up the magnets new shapes and structures emerge. The works are characterized by the unpredictable shapes that are so typical of nature itself.
The Rag Chair is designed by Dutch designer Tejo Remy for Droog. The chair is made from old clothing and is fully customizable. The chair weighs about 55 pounds and is held together with metal straps. The best part about this chair is that you can simply send in all the old clothes and the company will customise the chair & send it in within 8 to 12 weeks. So, the next time you plan to dispose your old clothes, think again!
Bořek Šípek is best known in his home country for his work for former Czech president Václav Havel, who appointed him court architect of Prague Castle, his official residence. Abroad he is associated with the colourful "neo-baroque" glass pieces and sculptural furniture he created, particularly for Italian brand Driade, which describes him as "an outstanding presence" and his work as "highly sensual" with origins clearly rooted in Bohemian baroque.
The Go stacking chair, already an icon of contemporary design, is hard to pin down. Its organic form exudes movement and growth, and its robust frame, made of magnesium, makes it comfortable both inside and out. Created by visionary Welsh designer Ross Lovegrove, the Go chair makes a bold statement that the future is now. The Go chair features a silver powder-coated magnesium frame with a white polypropylene seat and stacks three high.
Smoke was Maarten Baas’ graduation project at the Design Academy Eindhoven, in 2002: “In nature, everything is in flux, which creates a certain beauty. Yet, it’s a very human tendency to keep things as they are supposed to be and keep them beautiful as they originally were. Smoke plays with both perceptions of beauty.” After the pieces are charcoaled, they’re preserved in a clear epoxy resin, which makes them usable again.
Tapio Wirkkala can be described as one of the icons of Finnish design and a symbol of the international success of postwar Finnish design. He was a versatile designer and artist who could shift fluently between different materials and crossed established professional boundaries.The most important materials for Wirkkala were wood and glass – he never ceased to explore the possibilities they offer.
Although seemingly these masks tell stories, this started out as a material experiment for Dutch Designer Bertjan Pot: 'I wanted to find out if by stitching a rope together I could make a large flat carpet. Instead of flat, the samples got curvy. When I was about to give up on the carpet, my friend Vladi came up with the idea of shaping the rope into masks.' The possibilities are endless: 'I’m meeting new faces every day.'
The contours of George Nelson's Coconut chair invite you to surround yourself in comfort. Originally introduced by Herman Miller in 1955, the Nelson coconut chair is a 20th century furniture icon. A chair designed to look like a section of coconut shell wasn't a stretch for someone who said: "Total design is nothing more or less than a process of relating everything to everything." The Coconut chair offers a simple, striking shape, and it's also a very comfortable place to unwind at home or in the private office or lounge.
Ettore Sottsass' Carlton bookcase was the defining product of the 1980s Memphis Group. Sottsass' Carlton bookcase – designed for the group's first collection – epitomises his use of brightly coloured laminates, graphic forms and non-functional elements that became the defining style of the decade. With Memphis, Sottsass wanted to define a new approach to design that broke free of the restrictions of functionalism.
"When I was young, all we ever heard about was functionalism, functionalism, functionalism," Sottsass once said. "It's not enough. Design should also be sensual and exciting."