Nendo x WonderGlass

The Fizz takes a sneak peek at ethereal new furniture by Nendo, guaranteed to melt your heart of glass

BY DEE IVA

Previewed at January’s IMM Cologne fair, ‘Melt’ is a ghostly collection of cast glass furniture by award-winning Japanese design studio Nendo in collaboration with Venetian lighting brand WonderGlass.

WonderGlass has previously produced elegant lighting ranges with design luminaries including Marcel Wanders, Jaime Hayon, John Pawson, Raw-Edges and the Bouroullec brothers, but this is the Murano-based firm’s first stab at furniture.

ABOVE: Molten slabs of glass are cast into a sculptural chair
RIGHT: Oki Sato from Nendo examines his handiwork

ABOVE FROM TOP: The ‘Melt’ collection includes side tables, chairs, a dining table and vases; Oki Sato with Maurizio Mussati of WonderGlass
BELOW FROM LEFT: The hot glass glows under the watchful eye of WonderGlass craftsmen; Up close and personal, the surface of the glass retains texture from its molten state

Nendo designer Oki Sato was taken with the properties of flowing molten glass. Having seen how the craftspeople in the WonderGlass workshops approached this lava-like material, he decided to create a set of furniture that was dictated by the natural flow of the glass. The gravity-formed ‘Melt’ range uses a special technique of removing pliable material from glass molds to process it further by hand. Hot glass sheets were laid over steel pipes and suspended between steel bars to allow the glass to cascade into shape.

Breathtakingly icy, the ‘Melt’ range will be one of the coolest collections on show on the WonderGlass stand at Salone del Mobile in Milan this April. Budding ice queens take note…
wonderglass.com  nendo.jp/en

Salone del Mobile 2019 runs from 9-14 April at Fiera Milano, S.S. del Sempione 28, 20017 Rho, Milan, Italy

Astep

We're completely entranced by a new lamp by Astep that charges your phone via a single flickering flame. Sounds too far-fetched? Read on...

BY DEE IVA

We like to think there’s still magic to be found in the design industry every now and then. Things that shouldn’t work, products that shouldn’t be possible, installations that confound. Well, new Danish lighting company Astep has us under its spell with ‘Candela’, a clever table lamp by Argentinian designer Francisco Gomez Paz (right).

We spotted 'Candela' in April at the Palazzo Litta during this year's Milan Furniture Fair. At first it looked like an old-fashioned gas lamp with its soft flickering flame glowing hypnotically above an opaline glass lampshade. Closer inspection revealed it used bioethanol, a clean natural fuel derived from plants, to create the flame which generates its own electricity, powering LED lights within the shade and also handy for charging mobile devices via an inbuilt USB port.

ABOVE AND BELOW: 'Candela' table lamp by Francisco Gomez Paz, €530 + VAT. Available to pre-order now.

It’s the first product from Astep, whose founder Alessandro Sarfatti is descended from grandfather Gino Sarfatti, founder of iconic Italian lighting company Arteluce, and father Riccardo Sarfatti, founder of Luceplan.

From what we’ve seen it’s a bold and creative design that carries on the legacy of those two stellar brands. Innovative yet approachable, ‘Candela’ melds old world aesthetics with hi-tech 21st century technology, continuing in the tradition of elegant Scandinavian flame luminaries. This is what we want, right here, right now…
astep.design

Poltrona Frau

There's one piece of furniture that's making us go weak at the knees right now – the credenza – and Poltrona Frau's seductive 'Fidelio' range features the most stylish one we've seen so far...

BY DEE IVA

Whisper the word 'credenza' in our ear and we're all yours. Indeed, at this year's Milan Furniture Fair it seemed the credenza was having a moment.

There's something about this piece of low slung storage that's hugely appealing. It can conceal a multitude of sins, offer a generous surface for displaying your favourite objects, and its sleek lines give it instant supermodel status. Better known as the sideboard, it has been kicking around for decades but in recent years has quietly taken centre stage again.

When it comes to cabinets, we've loved Ferruccio Laviani's faceted 'Crash' for Emmemobili, Cristian Zuzunaga's pixelated 'Dreams' for BD Barcelona Design, and Pinch Design's geometric 'Alba'. Patricia Urquiola's stained glass 'Credenza' collection also had our hearts racing when we happened upon it at Spazio Pontaccio at April's Milan Fair, but Roberto Lazzeroni's luxe 'Fidelio' cabinet is the one we had to queue up for. Having battled through velvet ropes and bouncers on Poltrona Frau's stand at 2016's Salone del Mobile, we were rewarded with the sight of Lazzeroni's lush leather-clad range of storage units. 

ABOVE: The sleek lines of Roberto Lazzeroni's 'Fidelio' credenza, from £11000
ABOVE RIGHT: Minimal slots for handles and elegant stitching are key features of the 'Fidelio' collection
BELOW: 'Fidelio Cassettiera', from £7392, a low cabinet from the 'Fidelio Notte' range of storage units

Intended for the living room, the 'Fidelio' cabinet is accompanied by 'Fidelio Notte', which consists of a low narrower cabinet, chest of drawers, tall boy and bedside cabinet handy for any room in the home, all featuring minimal styling and graphic details offset with deeply luxurious materials. Made of solid walnut, ash, maple and birch ply, each piece is finished in Cuoio saddle leather and features cutaway recessed handles and elegant stitching. There's a choice of surfaces too in this handsome and strikingly modern collection, ranging from polished Calacatta gold marble to rich Canaletto walnut. We just need to work out where to put the credenza. Tape measure please...
poltronafrau.com

BELOW FROM LEFT: 'Fidelio Comodino' chest of drawers, from £3168; 'Fidelio Settimino' tall boy storage, from £6912

IKEA Viktigt collection

Celebrating craft and natural materials, IKEA’s new 'Viktigt' collection is on our wish list…

BY SOPHIE DAVIES

We’ve long been fans of Ingegerd Råman, the renowned Swedish glassware and ceramics designer known for her minimal aesthetic. So imagine our delight at this April’s Milan Furniture Fair, when we discovered Råman had collaborated with IKEA to create ‘Viktigt’, a limited edition collection for the home, including understated furniture, lighting, storage and tableware.

ABOVE TOP: Ingegerd Råman with her subtle 'Viktigt' range for IKEA
ABOVE: Compact, light 'Viktigt' furniture includes a bamboo and woven paper-cord chair, £45; easy chair, £95, with woven paper-cord seat and backrest; and natural fibre sofa, £145, and armchair, £95

Launched in a verdant Tortona roof terrace apartment, ‘Viktigt’ (which means ‘Important’ in Swedish) celebrates craft and the handmade, with tactile, simple pieces created from rattan, seagrass, water hyacinth and bamboo. The range also features subtle glass and stoneware pieces, including a water carafe, jugs, bowls and plates, as well as a compact sofa, chairs and stools, pendant lamps, planters, rugs and baskets.

Råman worked with IKEA designers Nike Karlsson and Wiebke Braasch, and drew on the skills of artisan craftspeople in Poland, Indonesia and Vietnam. ‘The collection is about craft. It’s a project between the craftsmen and the designer. It has lots of energy and, for me, it represents love.’ Harnessing craft techniques from mouth-blown glass to hand-woven rattan, many pieces are unique, breaking away from Ikea’s usual sleek standardisation.

ABOVE: Renewable chic: 'Viktigt' water hyacinth hanging planter (set of two), £18; bamboo dish, available in two sizes, £9 and £12; and bamboo pendant lamp shade, also in two sizes, £20 and £30

Less is more in Råman’s book, and the collection is defined by its poetic but pared back functionality. ‘I take away, then take away some more,’ she says. Her glass jugs, for instance, are streamlined, with sculptural spouts but no handles. ‘Handles are simply non-essential.’ Pieces are designed to be ergonomic, but also to look good when on display. ‘When you’re not using the serving plates they are as beautiful just stacked together,’ says Råman.  Her palette is equally restrained, with signature clear, white and tricky-to-create black glass (the latter produced with help from expert European craftsmen).`

Always aware of touch and feel, she’s also passionate about everyday rituals. ‘Just pouring fresh water into a clear glass is in fact extraordinarily spectacular. The love of food is the basis of my interest in usable things – objects you use every day. For me every day is equally important,’ she says – so forget saving that gorgeous tableware ‘for best’!

ABOVE: Tactile 'Viktigt' tableware, including glazed black stoneware serving plates, £6.50 for a set of four, £13.25 for larger set of three; glass carafe with glass, £9.75; white serving plates, as before; clear glass jug, £6.25, bowl, £11.25 for a set of two, and bowl, £9.50 for two-pack, carafe, as before; renewable water hyacinth basket, in two sizes, £15 and £19

Some of the challenges of the natural materials proved to be an inspiration, as with the water hyacinth storage baskets. ‘I found the heavy brown fibre difficult to work with. However, resistance can be an advantage,’ recalls Råman. ‘The result was two large, patterned baskets in black and light brown, which became my favourites.’ Råman also encourages users to create patterns across various pieces, such as the reversible, black-striped seagrass rugs, which can be used in diverse combinations. ‘It’s a rhythm I’ve tried to capture.’

ABOVE: 'Viktigt's covetable craft pieces span black and clear glass; renewable seagrass flatwoven rug, £25

IKEA has just launched a book about the life and work of Ingegerd Råman, and an exhibition of her work is on show at Stockholm's Nationalmuseum this summer. ‘Viktigt’ continues the trend for quiet, low-key, natural craft-led pieces, embraced by designer Ilse Crawford in IKEA’s earlier ‘Sinnerlig’ collection, which we flagged up in our Spotlight section in May 2015. Think the opposite of built-in obsolescence. ‘I want to make objects that can live a long time without feeling out of date,’ says Råman. Now that is important…
ikea.com

Ikea’s ‘Viktigt’ collection launched in May 2016 and will be in global stores for a limited run of around three months. Exhibition 'Ingegerd Råman' is at Sweden's Nationalmuseum until 14 August 2016 at Kulturhuset Stadsteatern, Sergels Torg, Stockholm, before transferring to Vandalorum art museum, Skulpturvågen 2, Vårnamo from 3 September to 27 November 2016

Cassina

Italian design brand Cassina has got its edge back thanks to award-winning designer Patricia Urquiola whose artful direction brought drama to its new collections at this years Milan Furniture Fair... 

BY DEE IVA

Cassina's appointment of Patricia Urquiola as Art Director has breathed new life into this stalwart Italian design house. As Cassina prepares to celebrate its 90th anniversary in 2017, Urquiola is boosting the brand's reputation as a cutting-edge company with a formidable design heritage.

At April's Milan Furniture Fair, Cassina’s Milan showroom at Via Durini 16 and its stand in the Salone del Mobile were art directed by Urquiola to showcase new pieces for 2016, including sofas, chairs, tables and accessories. Inspired by Dutch De Stijl architect and designer Gerrit Rietveld’s 1955 Rietveld Pavilion, the 2016 collection was displayed like artwork in a contemporary art gallery.

German designer Konstantin Grcic took this theme to the nth degree with ‘Props’, a range of sculptural metallic surfaces that can be used as architectural sideboards and side tables. Made of 5mm-thin metal sheeting, each piece is laser cut and folded to create minimal furniture with an industrial edge.

ABOVE: Konstantin Grcic's 'Props' collection of side tables and consoles resembles a site-specific art installation
ABOVE RIGHT: Cassina's recently appointed Art Director, Spanish designer Patricia Urquiola
BELOW FROM LEFT: 'Props 2'; 'Props 3' by Konstantin Grcic

ABOVE: Limited edition 'Utrecht' chair in 'BoxBlocks' fabric by Bertjan Pot

Gerrit Rietveld’s iconic ‘Utrecht’ armchair, originally designed in 1935, is one of Rietveld’s few upholstered chairs that actually went into production. Now relaunched as a limited edition in ’BoxBlocks’ fabric, a graphic geometric fabric by Dutch designer Bertjan Pot, it’s one of Cassina’s most colourful and eye-catching pieces.

Not to be outdone, Urquiola’s own ‘Gender’ armchair mixes playful colours with gentle curves to create a cocoon of soft seating with soundproofing wings. Available in five poppy colourways, the leather-clad ’Gender’ also features a tilting back, and an additional upholstered footrest.

ABOVE: 'Gender' armchair by Patricia Urquiola

The art theme was also picked up by Ron Gilad, whose ‘Deadline’ mirror collection resembles modern artworks of the 20th century. ‘Daydream’ references Rene Magritte’s cloudscapes, ‘200 Lines of Realism’ evokes the minimal linear works of Agnes Martin, while ‘Memory of a Lost Oval’ has more than a touch of Ellsworth Kelly about it.

ABOVE, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: Ron Gilad's 'Deadline' mirrors riff on 20th century art; 'Memory of a Lost Oval'; '200 Lines of Realism'; 'Daydream'
BELOW: 'ZH One' chair by Zaha Hadid

Finally, the most poignant piece on show was the cuboid ‘ZH One’ chair by the late Zaha Hadid, shown as a prototype. Hadid’s signature curves are evident in the fluid legs and cutaways in the upholstery, displayed in deep cobalt blue. When this chair goes into production it’s bound to become highly coveted as a lasting reminder of Hadid’s ability to bring her unique architectural style to small-scale furniture and accessories.
cassina.com