Taxi Fabric

The Fizz goes for a ride in Mumbai and Delhi's incredible pattern-tastic taxis and rickshaws. All aboard!

BY DEE IVA

If you’ve caught a taxi in Mumbai or Delhi in the past year you might have noticed that the interiors have moved on from worn out plain leather, velveteen and traditional intricate illustrations. There’s now a whole new wave of Indian designers putting their stamp on India’s taxis, bringing a bright, fresh and contemporary vibe to your ride around town.

Based in Mumbai, Taxi Fabric was founded in 2015 by art director Sanket Avlani to form a platform for local designers to use symbols and stories from the city to create new designs for its fleet of taxis. Artful typography, Bollywood stars, Mumbai art deco architecture and heroic female figures are just some of the images that now adorn the interiors of both Mumbai and Delhi’s taxis. 

ABOVE: 'Bombay Deco' by Sarah Fotheringham and Maninder Singh of Safomasi is the result of a collaboration with Architectural Digest India and Taxi Fabric
ABOVE RIGHT: Taxi Fabric founder and curator Sanket Avlani

ABOVE FROM TOP: 'Pitter Patter' by Chithkala Ramesh references India's rainy season; Aniruddh Mehta's monochrome 'Auto Chaos' rickshaw designs; Under the influence of ultraviolet lighting with 'Nocturnal' by Aditi Dash

Each design is digitally printed on fabric and then applied to seating, doors and ceiling to create an immersive design experience. Whether you’re feeling the force of Chithkala Ramesh’s Indian monsoon,  or tripping out under Aditi Dash’s psychedelic UV installation, it’s one cab ride you won’t forget in a hurry. Unusually for a continent known for its searing colours, monochrome has also made its mark in striking geometric designs by Aniruddh Mehta, who used a mix of rhomboids, triangles, stripes and dots to create an optically stimulating architectural interior in one of Mumbai’s motorised rickshaws. To celebrate the fourth anniversary of Architectural Digest India, Mehta was one of four designers chosen by ADI to devise architecturally inspired interiors with Taxi Fabric.  

ABOVE FROM TOP: Inspirational female activists and freedom fighters are captured in 'Celebrating Women Leaders' by Kruttika Susarla; Taxi Fabric's first collection of textile designs for the home

Originally started as a Kickstarter campaign, Taxi Fabric is now branching out into textiles for the home, with colourful graphic fabrics suitable for upholstery and soft furnishings. Beautifully drawn, we're hoping to see them popping up around the globe in 2017. Keep your eyes peeled and watch this space…
taxifabric.org

Pictures: Architectural Digest India, Amey Kadam, Sanskar Sawant, Pulat Bhatnagar, Taxi Fabric

Are you a Design Tourist?

Design tourism is on the rise, with hordes of us hopping from one global fair to the next. So is the big draw the products, the pictures, the people or the parties?

BY DEE IVA

'We are all design tourists,' declared Tom Dixon at this year's Milan Furniture Fair. It was a term we'd never heard before but it has stuck in our minds ever since.

UK furniture and lighting whizz Dixon was referring to the hordes of design aficionados who flock to the major design fairs each year to see the new collections and product launches from around the world.

Most of these design devotees are buyers for retail brands, journalists, PRs, agents and designers themselves. Instead of returning home with pictures of the local sights and landmarks, hours are spent uploading photos of furniture, lighting, accessories, architecture and fresh talent to Instagram and Pinterest in a 21st-century version of sharing holiday snaps. So forget La Scala, ciao Salone del Mobile. Never mind the Mona Lisa, check out Maison et Objet. And who needs the Tower of London, when you've got the London Design Festival?

This endless round of snap-happy globetrotting also applies to the fashion industry. The second a new look sashays down the catwalk, whether in New York, Paris or Milan, it's snapped and shared on social media for all to see. It's increasingly true of the international art fair scene too, and food blogger-flocked restaurant and bar launches worldwide.

ABOVE FROM LEFT: The Cos X Hay floor in Cos Kensington, London; Tom Dixon's own limited-edition crash helmet; Sebastian Herkner's 'Salute' side tables for La Chance at designjunction 2015; Sculptural architecture in Dungeness, Kent; Jaime Hayon's witty ceramic birds for Bosa
ABOVE RIGHT: Tom Dixon announces 'We are all design tourists' in Milan

ABOVE FROM LEFT: Jaime Hayon's Instagrammable 'Monkey' side table for BD Barcelona Design at Salone del Mobile 2015; Milan revisits Memphis at the Milan Furniture Fair 2015; Artist Jim Lambie's graphic striped staircase at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2015
BELOW: Rebekah Hutchinson's abstract wallpapers, New Designers 2015

It's a double-edged sword for designers, of course. On the one hand they want the world to know about their new collections, but many also fiercely try to guard their work from prying eyes, fearing copycat copyright rip-offs (we've all seen those paranoid 'no photos' signs on graduate design fair stands). But in our increasingly teched-up world it's almost a given that once something's out there it's being shared immediately. Our tip? Embrace social media, create your own hashtags, and trust that if your product is associated with you first, you should get the credit and ultimately reap the benefits.

Back in the day we would go on holiday, wait for our prints to be processed and then bore the pants off family and friends with out-of-focus, badly lit holiday pics. Now we're capturing our inspirations and sharing our snaps with the world, only this time around we're promoting what we've seen and disseminating that information in an instant, like passionate PRs.

ABOVE FROM LEFT: A dreamy installation of folded pink paper cranes at SeehoSu's Surry Hills showroom created with Sumu Design for August's Sydney Indesign 2015. 'Adnet' mirror by Jacques Adnet for Gubi; We fell for these bent-wire chairs by Gaurav Nanda for LA company Bend Goods at Darlinghurst showroom Own World during Sydney Indesign 

'I think everyone who takes in any form of culture when they travel could be deemed a design tourist', says Max Fraser, former Deputy Director of the London Design Festival and publisher of the London Design Guide. 'After all, it is the manmade anomalies of different places that draw our fascination, be they spectacular examples of ancient settlements, modern developments or small everyday details that are different from our own. At the core of our interest in these things is design and, indeed, we are fixated by the seemingly endless beauty of nature's design too.'

'But then there is the 'hardcore design tourist', a group within which I am included. We travel specifically to hunt out design in all its guises, coinciding our trips with major exhibitions or design festivals. We enjoy the inevitable socialising that comes with it. With travel so cheap and easy, more and more design tourists are traversing the world and cultural expectations in different cities are mounting. That said, design is my profession and when I'm on holiday I like to escape the manmade and sidestep cultural excursions altogether!'

PAVILION.jpg

ABOVE: Design tourists caught in the act at SelgasCano's 2015 Serpentine Pavilion in Kensington Gardens, London

But is it only people working in design and its associated industries who become design tourists (or should we say 'design hunters')? We don't think so. We're forever seeing excited design junkies snapping away at fairs, showrooms and events, obsessing about this new cushion or that new light in much the same way as One Direction's fans go gaga for their latest single. Some are selfie-seeking students, others silver-haired culture lovers, and almost all are party people, enjoying the accompanying launch cocktails or DJ tunes. This may or may not lead to an actual future purchase but what it does do is spread the word, bring the customer and the designer closer together, and create a buzz around the brand.

BELOW FROM LEFT: Patternity's stunning black and white installation at Somerset House during London Design Festival 2015; Lee Broom's pop-up The Department Store was the talk of the town at Milan this year

ABOVE: We could rabbit on for ages about the minimal 'Wireflow' pendants by Arik Levy for Vibia – a design highlight at Waterloo's PYD Building during August's Sydney Indesign fair, as seen at Koda Lighting's showroom

It helps that global design fairs are becoming more fun and interactive, taking over alternative spaces around town and opening their doors to the public. At 2015's Milan Furniture Fair in April there were outsize swing sets by Philippe Malouin for Caesarstone in a grand palazzo, Lee Broom invited us in to his pop-up department store and Tom Dixon did an after-party gig with his band Rough. Recently, at September's London Design Festival, Somerset House became an immersive installation where visitors were encouraged to interact with the designs on show.

Not everyone is happy with the design tourist label though. London online retailer Thorsten Van Elten is distinctly uncomfortable with it. 'Design tourist feels a bit like a dirty word to me, like someone in desperate need to be hanging out in the latest bar, café, restaurant or hotel. It's like the gentrification of tourism. To me it's one of those non-phrases like 'concept store' or 'boutique hotel''.

American writer Henry Miller once said, 'One's destination is never a place, but rather a new way of looking at things.' Here at DesignFizz, we're very happy to be design tourists. The shock of the new will continue to excite us and we'll keep on sharing our #FizzPicks with you on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram (currently the medium for reporting on global design). That is, unless we can share a glass of fizz with you in person at the next fair in Cologne, Stockholm or Paris. See you there!

All photos by Dee Iva and Sophie Davies for DesignFizz; for more, check out our feed on Instagram

The Return of Cork

'Tembo' stools by Note Design Studio for La Chance, price on application lachance.fr

Once a byword for suburban Seventies style, cork has returned to the design arena with a vengeance. Never mind the placemats...

BY AMY BRADFORD

Sustainable materials may be de rigueur, but unlike some of the more high-tech substances out there, cork has an age-old appeal to match its eco credentials. The use of it helps the planet – a cork tree that has had its bark harvested absorbs up to five times more CO2 than one left idle – and it’s endlessly versatile: softer and more forgiving than wood, impermeable yet breathable, lightweight, buoyant and insulating.

A series of cork architecture projects have put it in the spotlight. First there was Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s cork Serpentine Pavilion in 2012. The following year, French designers Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec unveiled their ‘Quiet Motion’ cork seating installation at the Milan Furniture Fair, designed for BMW’s electric car division BMWi. And at the London Design Festival last September, Amorim, the world’s largest producer of cork, reinvented the humble cork tile. Its flooring display at the Victoria and Albert Museum featured a trompe l’oeil geometric pattern.

'Nomu' teapots by Lee West for ENOstudio, £62.80   madeindesign.co.uk

'Nomu' teapots by Lee West for ENOstudio, £62.80 madeindesign.co.uk

Product designers have contrasted cork’s utilitarian beauty with glossy finishes such as glass, metal and ceramic. Many have also used it to create barware inspired by the most common use of the material, as a sealant for wine bottles. Aurélien Barbry’s ‘Wine & Bar’ series for Normann Copenhagen consists of corkscrews and bottle stoppers; Carlo Trevisani’s ‘Appo’ design for Seletti is a cork stopper with a platter on top that transforms an empty wine bottle into a table centrepiece. The dense but light structure of cork means it can be cut in endless different ways, so you can use it to make anything from a lampshade to a chair. Why not try it out for yourself?

Detail of the installation by Amorim at the Victoria and Albert Museum during 2013's London Design Festival    amorim.com

Detail of the installation by Amorim at the Victoria and Albert Museum during 2013's London Design Festival  amorim.com

The 2012 Serpentine Pavilion   by Ai Wei Wei   outside the Serpentine Gallery, London

The 2012 Serpentine Pavilion by Ai Wei Wei outside the Serpentine Gallery, London

Bottle opener and corkscrew by Aurélien Barbry for Normann Copenhagen, €20 each   normann-copenhagen.com

Bottle opener and corkscrew by Aurélien Barbry for Normann Copenhagen, €20 each normann-copenhagen.com

'Boco' vases by Pierre Dubois and Aimé Cécil for Roche Bobois, from £237   roche-bobois.com

'Boco' vases by Pierre Dubois and Aimé Cécil for Roche Bobois, from £237 roche-bobois.com

'Model B' stool from the Cork Family by Jasper Morrison for Vitra, £300   thelollipopshoppe.co.uk

'Model B' stool from the Cork Family by Jasper Morrison for Vitra, £300 thelollipopshoppe.co.uk

Mid-Century Marvellous

Inside out: The dining room opens out to a courtyard used for alfresco meals. Vintage Eames dining chairs and a George Nelson 'Bubble' lamp complement a table Brunson made from secondhand legs and a new plank of wood

Inside out: The dining room opens out to a courtyard used for alfresco meals. Vintage Eames dining chairs and a George Nelson 'Bubble' lamp complement a table Brunson made from secondhand legs and a new plank of wood

Sean Brunson's cool Orlando home skilfully mixes mid-century furniture with 21st-century know-how. DesignFizz snoops around to get the skinny...

BY DOMINIC LUTYENS

An extraordinary formative experience fired Sean Brunson’s fervent love of mid-century modern architecture and design. When he was a child, family friends owned a house designed by Paul Rudolph, the best-known figure of the Sarasota School of Architecture, a Florida-based offshoot of the mid-century architecture movement. Also called Sarasota Modern (think buildings with broad overhangs to shield them from strong sunlight and floating staircases with cantilevered treads), it coincided with the wave of mainly Californian Case Study Houses, constructed from 1945 to 1966.

‘I had the privilege of holidaying in Rudolph’s house which had a major influence on my life,’ recalls Brunson, an advertising agency director in Orlando, Florida. What’s more, in his teens in the 1980s, long before today’s vogue for mid-century design, Brunson began collecting it. ‘It was far cheaper then — you could pick up an Eames chair for $20 from a thrift store!’

Brunson’s mid-century-steeped childhood even inspired him to commission another Sarasota Modern architect, Gene Leedy, to design the concept for his four-bed, single-storey new-build home in Orlando. ‘I wanted it to be true to the mid-century spirit with the biggest space being the living room — incorporating the kitchen and dining room — and smaller bedrooms,’ he says. ‘I wanted that feeling of inside/outside living, too.’ Indeed, light permeates the house through a glass wall running along the back of it, while the bedrooms have glass doors opening on to the garden.

Fifty shades of grey: The bare brick feature walls throughout the house bring the mid-century look bang up to date

Fifty shades of grey: The bare brick feature walls throughout the house bring the mid-century look bang up to date

American diner: The kitchen at the end of the living room features sleek walnut cabinets and a multicoloured George Nelson 'Sunburst' clock

American diner: The kitchen at the end of the living room features sleek walnut cabinets and a multicoloured George Nelson 'Sunburst' clock

Modern mash-up: A 1960s sofa and chairs by Florence Knoll sit comfortably with custom-built cabinets that echo the mid-century style

Modern mash-up: A 1960s sofa and chairs by Florence Knoll sit comfortably with custom-built cabinets that echo the mid-century style

E is for Eames... A plywood splint designed by Charles and Ray Eames for the US Navy hangs above a red Eames 'DCW' chair

E is for Eames... A plywood splint designed by Charles and Ray Eames for the US Navy hangs above a red Eames 'DCW' chair

Just as the Sarasota style, echoed by Brunson’s house, beckoned the outdoors in so nature hugely influenced the mid-century aesthetic which, arguably, was pioneered by Finnish architect and designer Alvar Aalto in the 1920s. His curvilinear furniture radically departed from the hard-edged designs of the Bauhaus, ushering in a softer take on modernism. Peaking in the 1950s and 60s, mid-century also embraced colour and pattern, and exploited the latest technologies to create its graceful, ergonomic, playful forms, all of which consumers craved after years of drab, wartime austerity. And, in tune with an increasingly informal postwar climate, mid-century furniture was practical — often lightweight, easy to move about and multifunctional. 

Mellow Yellow: The brutalist brick wall in the guest bedroom is softened with the addition of yellow Eames armchairs and a vibrant abstract painting. A vintage lamp towers above a dinky Eames 'LTR' table and a 'Credenza' cabinet by Florence Knoll

Mellow Yellow: The brutalist brick wall in the guest bedroom is softened with the addition of yellow Eames armchairs and a vibrant abstract painting. A vintage lamp towers above a dinky Eames 'LTR' table and a 'Credenza' cabinet by Florence Knoll

This very informality is one reason why it’s so popular and feels so contemporary today. In Brunson’s home, such mid-century gems as vermilion and apple green chairs by husband-and-wife team Charles and Ray Eames, a Florence Knoll sideboard, George Nelson’s 'Bubble' lamps and Harry Bertoia’s wire-mesh chairs all happily coexist alongside such personal touches as his family photos. ‘The work of Knoll and Nelson in particular touches my heart,’ says Brunson. ‘The Eameses, too, were an amazing team. Their talents blow me away.’ Spoken by such a long-standing aficionado of the style, these sentiments can’t fail to ring true.
Living with Mid-Century Collectibles by Dominic Lutyens (Ryland Peters & Small, £25) rylandpeters.com  dominiclutyens.co.uk
 

Pictures by Andrew Wood