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

Creative CoOp

Promoting yourself isn't easy when you're a young designer with big ideas but strapped for cash. The Fizz meets Creative CoOp who are helping up-and-coming design and crafts talents make their mark...

BY DEE IVA

You can be an amazing designer with beautiful products that astound the eye or promise to enrich our lives, but in the 21st century you also need your work to be seen in the best possible light. In the age of social media the image is king and a great shot is a powerful marketing tool. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter et al are full of selfies and phone snaps, but there’s nothing like a professional picture to separate the wheat from the chaff. However, if you’re a start-up or in your first year of business a professional shoot can be beyond your means as the cost of a photographer, stylist, set builder and set is very expensive.

Step forward the London-based Creative CoOp, a philanthropic collective dedicated to providing young UK creative businesses with professionally shot, art directed and styled photographs for a nominal fee. The team consists of photographer Anders Gramer, stylist Melinda Ashton Turner and her husband, art director Grant Turner. Having worked for a raft of international magazines and retail brands, including The World Of Interiors, Homes and Gardens and ELLE Decoration, they decided to pool their respective talents and volunteer their services to help up-and-coming design talents get a foot on the ladder.

ABOVE RIGHT: A handcrafted leather bag by Ted Jefferis of TedWood gets the Creative CoOp treatment
BELOW: Textile designer Maxine Sutton's graphic lampshade and cushions; Minimal styling and Expressionist lighting bring drama to Young & Norgate's 'Animate' writing desk 

‘The idea came about during a conversation about the UK design industry and how there are so many talented up-and-coming designer-makers, crafts people and brands who struggle to be seen or heard above the noise of big established brands,’ says Ashton Turner. ‘We are talking about designers who in addition to their core training have to learn to market and publicise their products. Big brands have the financial means to employ or hire a team of people to take on these responsibilities. It was at this point we asked ourselves what we as a photographer, stylist and art director could do to level the playing field and help young, small brands be seen.’

Having worked together on numerous shoots over the years, she and Gramer decided to set up the Creative CoOp with her husband Grant to do exactly that. The CoOp was formed in 2013 and began to invite young brands to apply for their services.

ABOVE FROM LEFT: The Creative CoOp founders: Melinda Ashton Turner, Grant Turner, Anders Gramer

‘We had to be very clear about the criteria that applicants had to meet in order for us to work with them,’ says Ashton Turner. ‘In essence, the CoOp is aimed at brands and designer-makers who don’t have the financial means or support to create styled imagery or branding. We often have to ask in-depth questions about how a brand is structured to ensure we are offering our services to those who need us most.'

ABOVE: Simple and elegant bone china vessels by ceramicist Hannah MorrowDesinature's 'Lily' lampshade

For a flat fee of £200 those lucky enough to be selected receive a package that includes not only the photography, styling, design and art direction of the Creative CoOp but also studio hire, transport of products and props, set building, and materials like paint and wallpaper. The CoOp has a network of like-minded companies, such as Shoot Services and London Art Makers, which donate their services or materials for free in return for a credit and publicity on Creative CoOp’s social media channels. In addition, the final images are then given to Elizabeth Machin PR which compiles press releases ready to be sent out to members of the media.

The CoOp's first client was Margate-based textile designer Maxine Sutton who approached them after seeing a post on the Cockpit Arts blog. 'This is wonderful professional nurturing,' she says. 'Such a high level of expertise, providing this type of support at the start of your career or when relaunching, could make a real difference. The shoot was also a very enjoyable day – lovely people who are really good at what they do'. Sutton’s graphic textiles are now stocked by big retail brands including Liberty, Heal’s and Anthropologie and she has her own standalone store in UK coastal town Margate, itself a rising design hotspot.

BELOW: This overhead shot for British paper goods and homewares brand HAM brings the hand of the maker into focus

It’s an inspiring concept that makes a huge difference to emerging talents. Design graduates in particular can find it hard to make ends meet in their first few years in business, and marketing and publicity is something that many struggle with. What Creative CoOp offers would otherwise be out of reach for most young creatives as a day’s shoot can often amount to well over £1,000 before the first image has even been taken. Even more incredible is that none of the CoOp’s members make any money themselves from the business.

‘Individually we are lucky enough to make a living working in our respective fields for international publications and brands,’ says Ashton Turner. ‘We wanted to give back to the community we loved, so the simple answer was to volunteer our services.'

We think it's an admirable idea deserving of an award for services to the design industry. Ma'am, are you listening?
creativecoop.co.uk

From East to West with Stellar Works

Stellar Works' desire to pull together global talents from four continents has resulted in a hybrid aesthetic of modern East/West design

BY DEE IVA

We never really got into fusion food, that fad for mixing eastern and western cuisines to produce something that didn’t do either any justice. It's an even harder trick to pull off with furniture so we’re very impressed with Shanghai-based Stellar Works and its approach to multicultural design.

Founded by Yuichiro Hori and launched internationally in 2011, Stellar Works' modus operandi is to harness the simplicity of Japanese and Scandinavian design and layer European luxury and playfulness with Chinese ornamentation to create a new global design aesthetic which references the past but is also entirely modern. To bring this vision to life, a clutch of international designers are on board to produce distinctive collections of furniture, lighting and accessories.

ABOVE: 'QT Chair' by Nic Graham, from £960. Powder-coated steel frame with wooden armrests. Available in diverse furnishing fabrics
ABOVE RIGHT: Founder Yuichiro Hori
BELOW: 'Cabinet of Curiosity' by Neri&Hu, £3,300. Solid walnut, brass-plated stainless steel, mesh panels and tempered glass. Set on a wheeled metal trolley, it's one of Stellar Works' most intriguing pieces, inspired by ceramic factory carts

Award-winning Shanghai design duo Neri&Hu mixes brass, leather and rich woods in their contemporary oriental collections for Stellar Works. The quietly industrial 'Utility' range, 'Chambre' bed and 'Cabinet of Curiosity' exude 21st-century Shanghai glamour. Creative directors for Stellar Works, they also present the company's visual aesthetic around the world.

ABOVE: The 'Chambre Bed', £1,485; 'Utility Sofa Three Sides', £2,830 and 'Utility Armchair U', from £575; 'Dowry Cabinet 1', £2,195. All by Neri&Hu
BELOW LEFT: 'James Bar Cart', £2550, by Yabu Pushelberg


Other Fizz faves include Space Copenhagen's slender 'Rén' tables and chairs that fuse Danish Modernism with the craft techniques of China and Japan to create an understated, timeless feel. We also like the 'QT'/'Chillax' collections by Australian designer Nic Graham, whose witty take on mid-century modern style references Scandinavian pragmatism with a dose of laid-back Aussie spirit (Nic's studio g+a has created quirky interiors for Australia's QT Hotels). New York design firm Yabu Pushelberg's airy 'James Bar Cart' is on our lust list too. Part of the 'James' range of sculptural furniture inspired by the world of performance cars, its solid steel frame is offset by oversized wheels, sleek walnut veneers and a tactile wood handle.

BELOW: 'Rén Coffee Table', £370; 'Rén Lounge Chair Two Seater', from £1,150, by Space Copenhagen

ABOVE: The slender lines of the 'Rén Lounge Chair Two Seater', from £1,150; 'Rén Lounge Chair', from £610; 'Rén Dining Table', from £1,220. Plush leather seating and dark woods feature in this timeless collection by Space Copenhagen
BELOW: Nic Graham's playful 'QT Chair with Cupholder', from £1,000; 'Chillax Sofa', from £2,700, and 'Chillax Highback Chair', from £1,150

Incorporated in Hong Kong with factories in Shanghai and showrooms dotted around the globe, Stellar Works' mix-and-match method is proving to be a winner. Hiro's inclusive design policy also sends out the message that different cultures really can work together to usher in a bright new world. A United Nations of design? Now there's a thought...
stellarworks.com

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

New Faces for 2015

In an uncertain world one thing is for sure, UK design talent continues to deliver fresh ideas and energy to a diverse and rapidly expanding market. We take a look at some of the brightest new designers in town...

BY DEE IVA

Every year a new army of design talent is unleashed on the world. The colleges and universities exhibit their graduates and then turn to the next batch of hopefuls. Now 2015's shows have been and gone and the dust has settled, we profile those designers whose work made us stop, look and listen.

Part 1 features eye-catching wallpaper, lighting and accessories and thought-provoking furniture. The future is already here...


HEBA ALHAWSAUI Birmingham City University

Two worlds collide in the work of Saudi Arabian wallpaper and textile designer Heba Alhawsaui. For her final year project 'Planning Geometrics', Alhawsaui harnessed the beauty of Islamic geometrics and infused them with a massive dose of modern European flair. 

Her abstract compositions are held together by a strict colour palette of black, white and yellow. Some designs are simple monochromatic fields displaying sketchy shapes and almost rubbed-out lines while others are very sharply drawn with kaleidoscopic precision. We love the way she adds 3D elements to some of her wallpapers; one multi-layered design, with barely glimpsed faces and a hazy mix of textures and patterns, drops enigmatic hints of tales yet to be told. 

'I enjoy creating designs that tell a story. I chose black because it emphasises the mystery of the Islamic geometric system and added accents of yellow for contrast and to give the collection a very contemporary feel.' 

Alhawsaui is hoping to work in Saudi Arabia for a couple of years before returning to the UK to do her Masters degree. With work like this, we don't think she'll need to...
Course: BA (Hons) Textile Design
heba.alhawsaui@gmail.com


GERALDINE BIARD Central Saint Martins

'Jardin d'Hiver', which means Winter Garden, is a range of furniture by French designer Geraldine Biard that tackles a serious and growing problem in society today. Her collection consists of a bedside cabinet, sideboard and console table that aim to alleviate the symptoms of dementia and Alzheimer's disease through the use of light and aromatherapy.

Each unit is made from walnut with copper handles and feet but the main attraction is the softly moulded Corian surface designed to resemble a wintery mountain range. This snowy landscape contains a glow-in-the-dark illustration of a peaceful rural scene. A small diffuser emits bursts of soothing scents from the sculpted peaks on the top.

Curiosity+-+Jardin+d'Hiver+Console+Crédence+-+Copyright+2015+Géraldine+Biard.jpg

Biard hopes that this combination of aromatherapy and light therapy inside simple and familiar pieces of furniture will help to ease anxiety and offer comfort to people suffering from dementia and Alzheimer's. 'I worked with people with dementia in a psycho-geriatric hospital in Switzerland,' says Biard, 'and I noticed that in addition to anxiety caused by the disease, the care environment itself can be another source of stress for the residents. It appeared to me that with no medical cure, the best way to address the problem was to provide a better way of life through design. With this collection I aim to establish new standards for design excellence in dementia care and to invite designers across the globe to reflect on this growing problem.' 

Stylistically 'Jardin d'Hiver' ticks a lot of boxes but what we love about it most is that it shows design has a heart. Geraldine, we hear you, and this ingenious collection definitely deserves to go into production.
Course: MA Ceramics, Furniture & Jewellery
geraldinebiard.com


BEN SMITH Nottingham Trent University

Ben Smith.jpg

Ben Smith's 'Apex' desk lamp is a simple, effective and witty study in folded Corian. Its low centre of gravity makes it seem slightly off balance, the pale folded sheets echo the art of origami while the retro red flex gives a nod to lighting fixtures from a bygone age.

At first glance it appears to be one piece of Corian folded three times but closer inspection reveals it to be two separate pieces jointed together allowing its height to be adjusted easily. A single line of embedded LEDs provides clean, even lighting.

Smith's streamlined, geometric style has surfaced before in designs for sofas, clothes rails (for Paul Smith) and staircases. He's a fan of A-list starchitect Zaha Hadid, whose use of abstract geometry often serves as a starting point for Smith's own creations.

Smith is hoping to put 'Apex' into production in time for Christmas. We're already looking forward to eagerly unwrapping one on Christmas morning, aren't you?
Course: BA (Hons) Furniture & Product Design
www.bensmithdesign.net


ELIZABETH HANDFORTH Sheffield Hallam University

South America and Sheffield might be poles apart but both cultures have played a major part in Elizabeth Handforth’s life. Originally from Whitstable, at the age of five she visited her mother’s family in Argentina and Paraguay where she encountered colour and strong geometric patterns. In her late teens, she moved to Sheffield where she came under the spell of the city's modernist architecture. Handforth's subsequent fascination with all things metallic has been informed by these early influences which can be seen in the way she presses and moulds precious metals to create unusual yet beautiful pieces that retain the marks of the manufacturing process.

'Metal has 'out of space' characteristics,' says Handforth. 'Objects that I cherish include a stainless steel kidney dish, which has such a sweeping, modern, utilitarian beauty, and my grandfather's red copper ashtray, which is rough and meteoric. Metal makes me ask questions about what man- made is, and leads to other questions such as 'Is that possible?', 'Is it natural?', 'Is it supernatural?''

Where other designers might take time to smooth out any trace of the production process, Handforth often embraces the imperfections and makes a virtue of them. She loves the way the metals flow into and over casts, playing with form and texture, allowing the tools to leave their imprint on the finished pieces. Her 'Britannia' dish (first image above) is the result of pressing the silver into two mis-aligned squares at an angle. Simple and effective, no further embellishment is needed.

Handforth will be setting up shop at Yorkshire Artspace in September, where she'll have her own studio to carry on shaping and mis-shaping metal to her heart's content. Between Friday 20 and Sunday 22 November, Artspace's Open Studios welcomes the public so stop in and say hello. You're bound to come out with a unique hand-finished design from Sheffield's newest star.
Course: BA (Hons) Jewellery & Metalwork
elizabethhandforth.wix.com


SHERIF MAKTABI Central Saint Martins

The proliferation of smartphones and tablets with their ever increasing appetites for energy has spawned a secondary industry in charging devices. Portable chargers have been with us for a while now but there’s a growing trend towards ‘invisible’ chargers that masquerade as furniture or accessories in the home. For his final year project on the BA Product Design course at Central Saint Martins, Sherif Maktabi tackled the problem of unsightly cables and sockets by designing a sleek tray that charges your smartphone or tablet while also providing storage for other small everyday items.

The tray was Maktabi’s response to a brief set by Japanese lifestyle retailer MUJI which asked students to design products for urban living where space is at a premium. The tray is designed to integrate with MUJI’s existing storage containers and to be discreet and unobtrusive. Made of ABS plastic, it cleverly conceals the USB charger and can double as a small side table when used with a chrome-plated stand. 

Maktabi is currently working as a designer and strategist for Kano.me which develops kits so you can make your own computer. We’ll be keeping our eyes peeled to see what this tech-savvy designer does next as he’s obviously sooo on trend right now.
Course: BA (Hons) Product Design
sherifmaktabi.com

See our previous post on IKEA's recent range of wireless charging furniture here.