experience swarovski at palazzo serbelloni‘s hidden courtyard. inside a custom-built greenhouse, enjoy pop-up daniel’s café and a retail shop where visitors can purchase its atelier collections and jewelry in addition to showing off its new home collections by the likes of nendo, john pawson, and patricia urquiola.
The Design Miami/ Basel fair is packed with early twentieth century rarities, mid-century masterpieces, rediscovered gems of the 1980s and 90s, and the finest in collectible contemporary works. In 2015 the fair celebrates its 10th anniversary.
The fair’s museum-quality gallery program is supported by additional programming that includes the first edition of Design Curio in Basel, following great success in Miami last December and an exploration of modular architecture in Design at Large, curated by André Balazs.
[ collaborations/ ]
This year at Design Miami/ Basel, Audi presents an architectural installation inspired by the new Audi Q7, entitled The great quattro: an impressive new design, much lighter and more efficient, boasting significantly greater agility and dynamism without sacrificing comfort, paired with the legendary four-wheel drive quattro.
For Design Miami/ Basel 2015, Audi presents an immersive installation based on this idea of “The great quattro”: A constructed landscape, with varied levels, paths and surfaces. A mixture between object design and architecture, forming the perfect backdrop for the vehicle, with geometric shapes, derived from natural mineral patterns that are both evocative of the power of nature and machine and reminiscent of a monolithic cityscape. The viewpoint changes dramatically depending on the viewpoint of the visitor, inviting visitors to become part of the installation and experience the space in multiple and unique ways.
above> sketch of outpost basel/ tom kundig, 2015/ courtesy of olson kundig olson kundig/ outpost basel
Seattle-based architecture practice Olson Kundig was responsible for one of the highlights of Design Miami/ 2014 with their 38 Beams, a monumental wood-framed space constructed from salvaged glulams for the fair’s Collectors Lounge. For Design Miami/ Basel, Tom Kundig explores his own Swiss heritage, as well as the aesthetic links that bind his hometown of Seattle with Japan. Continuing Olson Kundig’s exploration of sustainable building materials and methodologies, the structure, accented with Seattle-sourced iron, is formed of wood from Austrian firm Schweighofer, and finished using Shou Sugi Ban, a Japanese technique for scorching wood that creates a layer of black char on the outside that acts as a preservative.
Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig states “I love how these different elements fuse together to make something new. I hope that with Outpost Basel people recognize these contrasts, but also feel how the space hangs together in harmony, as a whole.”
The Collectors Lounge is furnished by Artek, and plays host to champagne service from regular Design Miami/ partners Perrier-Jouët. Outpost Basel is also home to the Design Talks series, which is part of the Design Miami/ Basel 2015 VIP Program, supported by American Express.
Founded in 1935 Maison Pierre Frey now has an archive of some 7,000 wallpaper and fabric designs that demonstrate the house’s commitment to fine craft and rich, hand-drawn pattern work. Design Miami/ collaborates with the luxury textile house for its 10th Anniversary to create Chromatropic, a camouflage-inspired print collaged from tropical textiles from the Pierre Frey archive and collection.
Chromatropic also appears in a capsule collection created by Hentsch Man, a fashion label known for its use of prints. The Hentsch Man anorak, hat and sneakers are available in limited numbers, alongside a specially produced J. Crew Chromatropic pocket square, at the JUNE-Basel pop-up store within Hall 1 Süd.
above> left to right: tomás alonso, alexander groves and azusa murakami of studio swine and elaine ng yan ling/ pictured at swarovski’s headquarters in wattens, austria/ credit: james harris
Swarovski and Design Miami/ share a passion for design, along with a history of supporting emerging talents and honoring well-established designers through innovative commissions.
This is the first time Swarovski and the fair collaborate on the Swarovski Designers of the Future Award, which acknowledges emerging studios and designers who are actively expanding design culture through experimentation with cutting-edge technologies.
The winners of the inaugural Swarovski Designers of the Future award are: Tomás Alonso and Studio Swine, both based in London, and Elaine Yan Ling Ng from Hong Kong. New works by the winners, commissioned by Swarovski, debut at the 10th Anniversary edition of Design Miami/ Basel.
[ satellites/ ]
<img src="http://designapplause.com/wp-content/xG58hlz9/2015/06/dm15-basel-rolex1-590×650.jpg" alt="dm15-basel-rolex1″ width=”590″ height=”650″ class=”alignnone size-large wp-image-45601″ />
above> rolex vintage explorer ii 1975, steve mcqueen/ freccione, being inspected by antoine rauis/
Based in Brussels and Luxembourg, the specialist watch dealer Le Collection’Heure presents exhibitions of the work of Gérald Genta and the history of the Rolex Daytona, as well as pieces with exceptional – and often unusual – provenance from the dealer’s collection. The display brings together timepieces of unparalleled complexity completed under Genta’s own marque, as well as his notable creations for other watch houses, including a Patek Philippe Nautilus (1976) and Golden Ellipse (1968), the first Audemars Piguet Royal Oak (1970, shown together with original sketches) and the Cartier Pasha de Cartier (1997). The Rolex Daytona celebrated its fiftieth anniversary last year: the retrospective at Design Miami/ Basel presents all the models – including some of great rarity – from the first series to the current production.
above> davide parmegiani
For over a quarter of a century, Lugano-based watch specialist Davide Parmegiani has bought and sold the most rare and beautiful wrist and pocket watches, ranging in creation from 1850 to 1980. Travelling extensively to track down exceptional pieces, he has assisted his clients in the creation of some of the most important horology collections in the world, and presents an exceptional selection of timepieces telling a story of great watch-making traditions at the Basel fair.
above> waiting to be shipped to basel/ courtesy of casper sejersen
The cult Berlin book and magazine store do you read me?! returns for a 6th year as purveyor of beautifully designed publications – and beautiful publications on design – including small-press periodicals, the latest books on architecture, art and fashion, and collectible rarities. This year, a selection of special works in print are presented in association with the independent Baden-based art imprint Kadoji press.
JUNE-Basel is a pop-up concept store that showcases Swiss fashion design, fine goods and selected souvenirs while embracing the ‘Sister City’ relationship between Basel and Miami. The hand-picked selection of items includes the first Design Miami/ capsule collection, a variety of Swiss fashion apparel and accessories as well as unconventional souvenirs. The unique product line makes JUNE-Basel the ultimate spot for the urban adventurer, collector and fashionista.
[ design talks/ ]
For the first time, the much-anticipated Design Talks series takes place in the Collectors Lounge, utilizing Olson-Kundig’s dynamic design and creating a more intimate setting for the talks.
The talks are available with VIP access, and include a conversation with Patrick and Pierre Frey about contemporary use of historical textiles; André Balazs and Ivan Harbour discussing modular architecture; Tom Kundig on super-charged architecture; Tony Chambers, editor of Wallpaper* magazine, in conversation with the winners of the Swarovski Designers of the Future Award; Jehan Chu, William Lim and Yu Wang exploring the future of architecture and design in China’s Pearl River Delta; and Amelie Klein, Curator of Vitra Design Museum on the new exhibition Making Africa – A Continent of Contemporary Design.
[ Design Miami/ ] is the global forum for design. Each fair brings together the most influential collectors, gallerists, designers, curators and critics from around the world in celebration of design culture and commerce. Occurring alongside the Art Basel fairs in Miami, USA each December and Basel, Switzerland each June, Design Miami/ has become the premier venue for collecting, exhibiting, discussing and creating collectible design. For more information, please visit[ schedule of events ] Design Miami/ Basel 16 > 21 June 2015
Public Show Days
16 > 17 June/ 10a > 8p
18 > 19 June/ 10a > 7p
20 > 21 June/ 11a > 7p
Location/ Hall 1 Süd, Messe Basel, Switzerland
[ information/ ]
above> chromatropic/ design miami/ x pierre frey
Design Miami/ Basel celebrates its 10th year. the first showcased 15 galleries, this year features 45 of the world’s leading design galleries including 12 of its founding members and a number of newcomers to the fair – iconic designers from the 20th century alongside contemporary designers exhibited at the fair for the first time.
galerie kreo presents designers muller van severen and julie richoz; ornamentum offers a look into the work of american silversmith jaydan moore; gallery all from beijing displays the works of naihan li, zhouhjie zhang and trent jansen in their first outing as a design miami/ gallery; and a host of lebanese designers, most of which have never exhibited at the fair, will be represented by art factum gallery, including david nicolas , marc baroud, marc dibeh, mary-lynn massoud, rasha nawam, carlo massoud and karim chaya. art factum gallery is joined by fellow lebanese gallery carwan, showing a solo exhibition of the works of karen chekerdjian, also a design miami/ first-timer.
console | gio ponti | nilufar gallery |1929
designed by gio ponti, made for a private commission. these furnishings were conceived by gio ponti as prototypes for “casa di moda” and for “casa all’italiana”, where taste and high quality craftsmanship find their best expression. among these models many in briar root, polished walnut, with bronze decorations, will be part of the limited series “domus nova” set up by gio ponti for the rinascente stores.
catherine esca | porky hefer | southern guild | 2015
catherine esca brings to life cape town designer porky hefer’s fascination with human-scale, animal-inspired environments – a bold statement in leather and sheepskin inspired by the deep-sea anglerfish.
synthesis | tom price | victor hunt designart dealer | 2015
sculpture table | luiza miller de andrada | magen h gallery | c 1970
transform confessional screen | karen chekerdjian | carwan gallery | 2015
beirut’s carwan gallery presents ‘trans|form’, a three-part collection of limited-edition objects by lebanese designer karen chekerdjian, explores the idea of function-based metamorphism. instilled with an innate sense of liminality — a transitional stage in a process — each piece is in a state of constant, perpetual change and mutation. a vase becomes a hunk of solid metal, a dining table is also a rock formation, a platform morphs into a lamp. the plurality of materials and functions engage in an uninterrupted dialogue with their environments, which help ground the forms within a contextual framework.
in addition to the robust offerings from new designers in the gallery program, the swarovski designers of the future award highlights three new designers/design studios in this first edition carrying the crystal house’s moniker.
[ design galleries ]
Art Factum Gallery
Caroline Van Hoek
Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Cristina Grajales Gallery
Dansk Mobelkunst Gallery
Erastudio & Apartment Gallery
Galerie Eric Philippe
Galerie Jacques Lacoste
Galerie Maria Wettergren
Galerie Matthieu Richard
Galerie Pascal Cuisinier
Galerie Patrick Seguin
Galleria Rossella Colombari
LAFFANOUR – Galerie
Louisa Guinness Gallery
Magen H Gallery
Patrick Parrish Gallery
Pierre Marie Giraud
R & Company
Sarah Myerscough Gallery
Thomas Fritsch – ARTRIUM
Victor Hunt Designart Dealer
Schedule of Events
Design Miami/ Basel 16-21 June 2015
Public Show Days
June 16-17/ 10am-8pm
June 18-19/ 10am-7pm
June 20-21/ 11am-7pm
Preview Day: Monday, 15 June (by invitation only)
Press Conference and Preview: 2:30p
Collectors Preview: 12noon – 5p
Location: Hall 1 Süd, Messeplatz, Basel, Switzerland
[ Design Miami/ ] is the global forum for design. Each fair brings together the most influential collectors, gallerists, designers, curators and critics from around the world in celebration of design culture and commerce. Occurring alongside the Art Basel fairs in Miami, USA each December and Basel, Switzerland each June, Design Miami/ has become the premier venue for collecting, exhibiting, discussing and creating collectible design. For more information, please visit www.designmiami.com
exclusive automotive sponsor
In 2014 [ Audi ] the Audi Group delivered approximately 1,741,100 cars of the Audi brand to its customers. Audi operates globally in more than 100 markets and currently employs approximately 80,000 people worldwide. Audi is committed to its corporate responsibility and has anchored the principle of sustainability for its products and processes in its strategy. The long-term goal is CO2-neutral mobility.
[ Swarovski ] fFounded in 1895 in Austria, Swarovski designs, manufactures and markets high-quality crystals, genuine gemstones and created stones as well as finished products such as jewelry, accessories and lighting. Now celebrating its 120th anniversary and run by the fifth generation of family members, Swarovski Crystal Business has a global reach with approximately 2,560 stores in around 170 countries, more than 25,000 employees. In 2014, the Group generated revenue of about 3.05 billion euros and employed more than 30,000 people. The Swarovski Foundation was set up in 2012 to honor the philanthropic spirit of founder Daniel Swarovski. Its mission is to support creativity and culture, promote well-being and conserve natural resources.
For Design Miami/ press inquiries, please contact:
Valentina Giani +44(0) 20 7420 1700
Design Miami/ Basel 2015
Jun 16-21, 2015
Hall 1 Süd, Messe Basel
3D printing is waiting for fashion to push its buttons. More recently Mykita has been making both sports and optical glasses. But it’s been a year with little to shout about. Pity. A year ago, the first articulated 3D-printed gown, by jewelry designer Michael Schmidt with architect Francis Bitonti for burlesque icon Dita Von Teese was shown at the Ace Hotel in NYC. A floor-length nylon gown made using selective laser sintering (SLS), where material is built-up in layers from plastic powder fused together with a laser. Draped over a nude silk corset, the black-lacquered dress is cinched at the waist and exaggerated at the shoulders and embellished with 12,000 Swarovski crystals. The dress was printed by Shapeways. Michael Schmidt on the dress…
above> aluminum front of a london underground train at the entrance to the in the making exhibition
The Design Museum in London, presents “In the Making” an exhibition curated by Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby. An interesting theme is the capturing in various and unfinished states of the production process of 24 objects. The curators comment ‘We have always been fascinated by the making process as it is an integral part of our work. We have curated an exhibition that will provide a platform to capture and reveal a frozen moment in the manufacturing process and unveils an everyday object in its unfinished state. Often the object is as beautiful, if not more so, than the finished product!’
derwent pencils in the making |unfinished swarovski crystal / photography györgy kőrössy
coke can | charles sofa designed by antonio citerio for b&b italia / photography györgy kőrössy
Most of the pieces are everyday objects – we see forks, pencils, tennis balls and a Coke can. There are indeed B&O objects. The 2012 Olympic torch. My favorite is indeed a B&O creation for Italian furniture producer Vitra, the Tip Ton Chair. The chair is made of made of polypropylene and is manufactured from a single mould without the use of mechanical components. This makes it extremely durable and up to 100% recyclable and defines a whole new chair typology: the solid plastic chair with forward-tilt action. The chair still may need to prove that its ‘half-rock’ feature is both good for the back and blood circulation. Tip Ton is also a candidate for iconic object with its innovative and proprietary profile.
the 2012 olympic torch manufacturing process
An important underlying idea in the installation is a glance at the ongoing dialogue between designers and manufacturing through the making process. ‘This perspective is distinctive to their practice: throughout their careers, Edward and Jay have had a curiosity about the way things are made.’ Though there are several videos of the manufacturing process the ‘in the making’ theme presented an opportunity to go a little deeper into the ‘dialogue’ idea, a unique difference maker with some of the more function-driven, innovation-driven and design-driven objects in this show and like-kind successful objects in general. After all, how do certain products fulfill a need the best or become become iconic in their form and sensitivity. If you indeed get into what’s going on here, prepare to be educated, entertained and maybe even inspired. And discover in London that many of the most advanced techniques for the production of furniture were born right in the Bel Paese.
nova | zaha hadid | 2013 | image > united nude
Architecture for the woman’s foot: Right on the ‘heels’ of the last months ‘Prima‘ installation for Swarovski at Vitra Fire Station, Zaha Hadid launches the NOVA shoe. The design extends the conversation of Hadid’s remarkable journey as an articulator of complexity and daring. No doubt these shoes will appear on the scene though not designed to match the 10-year popularity of iconic Möbius*. Price: $2,000 / $200* usd.
The limited edition haute couture shoe NOVA is a collaboration of Hadid and Rem D Koolhaas of United Nude. A design statement that combines innovative material, ergonomics and Hadid’s architectural language to convey an inherent sense of movement.
mobius hi > united nude | 2003
[ united nude ] is a design company specializing in high heels. Since the launch of its first shoe named Möbius, the company has opened studios in London and Guangzhou.
[ official release ]
Zaha hadid and Rem d Koolhaas of United nude are delighted to announce the new limited edition haute couture shoe designed by Zaha hadid will be launched at the iconic store L’eclaireur, 40 rue de Sévigné, Paris, on July 2nd 2013.
Zaha hadid and United nude’s Creative director Rem d Koolhaas have been talking about shoes since they first met years ago. Hadid, an architect with a passion for shoes, and Rem D, the original shoe architect, agreed to collaborate on the design of a shoe with no pre-conceptions and ignore all the rules to create an entirely new form of shoe.
The result is quintessentially hadid. the revolutionary design of the nOVa shoe combines innovative materialization and ergonomic considerations with the dynamism of hadid’s unmistakable architectural language to convey an inherent sense of movement; revealing the experimentation and invention of Hadid’s process through every stage of design and construction.
“United Nude’s collections are provocative yet sensual. Rem D Koolhaas’ unrelenting experimentation at the cutting edge of fashion never fails to capture our imagination.” explains Hadid. “I have always appreciated those who dare to experiment with materials and proportions. Our collaboration with United Nude reinterprets the classic shoe typology; pushing the boundaries of what is possible without compromising integrity.”
The NOVA design incorporates intricate striations juxtaposed with dramatic realignments, establishing a direct formal relationship with the shoe’s primary structure and expressing the dynamic forces applied by every step of the wearer.[ zaha hadid architects ] [ united nude ]
<a href="about ron kovach
Zaha Hadid has created ‘Prima‘ an installation for Swarovski at Vitra Fire Station on the Vitra Campus, Weil am Rhein, Germany. Hadid, is one of the world’s most celebrated architects and the first woman to win the Pritzker Prize, the most prestigious award in architecture. For years, her radical designs remained on the drawing board, but the turning point came in 1993 with the opening of the Vitra Fire Station commissioned by Vitra’s founder Rolf Fehlbaum.
Prima will be installed in front of the Fire Station, reflecting and honoring the design process of the building. The project recalls the dynamism of Hadid’s original drawings created for the Vitra Fire Station, exploding in three dimensions from the lines and planes of the paintings and sketches. Its reflective surfaces contain seating for visitors and are illuminated with LED technology.
Hadid comments, “I’m equally proud of all my projects as they each represent different times of my career and periods of research, but I have a particular affection for Vitra Fire Station as it was my first building. Rolf Fehlbaum shares my passion for architecture and was inspired by my early visualizations. He dared to engage me without seeing a prior track record and without the certainty of public success. Returning to Vitra to work with Swarovski on this installation has been a very rewarding experience.”
Painting formed a critical part of Hadid’s early career as the design tool that allowed powerful experimentation in both form and movement – leading to the development of a new language for architecture. Hadid’s interest in the concepts of fragmentation and abstraction is evident throughout her repertoire and continues to this day. Originally engaging with the work of Kazimir Malevich, Hadid translated the warped and anti-gravitational space of Russian avant-garde painting and sculpture into her own unique architectural practice.
Using the advanced design and manufacturing technologies available today, the facets of Prima are a direct translation of the dynamic two-dimensional lines and planes on the canvas, reflecting Hadid’s detailed experimentation to perfect the Fire Station design. The installation continues this research, documenting Hadid’s remarkable journey as an articulator of complexity: a 2D sketch evolves into a workable space, and then into a realized building.
Nadja Swarovski, Member of the Swarovski Executive Board, commented: “Zaha is an astonishing force of nature who imparts her designs with power and grace in equal measure. It has been an honour to work with her once again on this exciting celebratory commission. Prima is a dramatic sculptural installation – half art, half furniture, and stunningly beautiful.”
Rolf Fehlbaum, Chairman of Vitra, said: “I am happy to have worked with Zaha Hadid at such an early stage of her dazzling career. Her Fire Station is a spectacular building and it looks as impressive now as it did when it was first built. Few other architects would have been able to transform a modest commission like ours into a masterpiece of contemporary architecture. Zaha has been able to do so, thanks to an incredible sense of space and a radically new vision of what architecture can represent.”
[ prima ] is a structure composed of five highly polished components with angled planes, the installation is made from composite materials, and the surfaces are covered in a gun-smoke metal coating. Each component weighs 300 to 500 kg and the overall dimension of the installation is 11 x 8 metres.
zaha hadid and nadja swarovski
[ zaha hadid ] Hadid was born in Baghdad and studied mathematics at the American University of Beirut before moving to London to attend the Architectural Association (AA) School. She founded Zaha Hadid Architects in 1979 and completed her first building, the Vitra Fire Station, Germany in 1993. Her dynamic and innovative projects include the MAXXI: National Museum of 21st Century Arts in Rome, the London Aquatics Centre for the 2012 Olympic Games and the Guangzhou Opera House in China. Hadid is currently working on a multitude of projects worldwide including High-Speed train stations in Naples and Durango; the Fiera di Milano masterplan and tower as well as major master-planning projects in Beijing, Bilbao, Istanbul and Singapore. Time magazine included Hadid in their list of the ‘100 Most Influential People in the World’ and in 2012, Zaha Hadid was made a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II.
[ swarovski ] is a global leader in crystal with a diverse product portfolio that is loved by designers and millions of customers around the world. It brings innovation in jewelry, fashion, beauty, home accessories and collaborates in art, design, fashion, film, stage and screen that challenges emerging and established creative talents to evolve groundbreaking new uses for crystal.
[ vitra design museum ] is dedicated to the research and presentation of design, past and present, and examines the relationship of design to architecture, art and everyday culture. The Museum was founded in 1989 by the company Vitra and its owner Rolf Fehlbaum and is today led by directors Mateo Kries and Marc Zehntner. Mounting two major exhibitions and several more shows, events and workshops per year, it has its headquarters in a building by the Californian architect Frank Gehry, situated within the Vitra Campus in Weil am Rhein, Germany. Its extensive collection encompasses key objects of design history, and the estates of several important figures in design (including Charles and Ray Eames, George Nelson, Verner Panton and Alexander Girard).
installation: 12 june > 11 august 2013 | weil am rhein, germany
click > enlarge
Few designers manage to navigate with such conviction between design, art and craft, between social conscience and mass market, between sustainability and aesthetic value. Stephen Burks has a unique voice.
above> Dala | Dedon | 2012 | Inspired by improvised seating in the developing world, Dala is Stephen’s first collaboration with woven outdoor furniture manufacturer Dedon. Dala means “to make” in Senegalese and “to take” in Tagalog, the language of the Philippines, where Stephen spent over a week collaborating with artisans there to perfect the collection. In addition to the innovative use of an expanded aluminum structure, each Dala is woven with a 75 percent recycled polyethylene and Tetra-Pak extruded Dedon fiber.
Play | Kvadrat Hallingdal 65 Commission | 2012 | 7 Renowned Curators, 32 Talented Designers, 1 Iconic Textile. Selected by US curator Jeffrey Bernett and exhibited at the Jil Sander showroom during the 2012 Salone del Mobile as part of Kvadrat’s Hallingdal 65 anniversary exhibition, Stephen’s project was quite simply a textile display system called Play. Play is free-standing. Play is human scale. Play is portable. Play is effortless. Play hides things. Play absorbs sound. Play defines space. Play is colorful.
above> Panier Collection | Chevalier Edition | 2012 | Inspired by the spiral pattern of hand woven baskets, the Panier carpets for Parisian brand Chevalier Edition, are organic islands of hand-knotted color for the home.
above> Roping | Dedar | After perusing the beautifully delicate and graphically arresting collection of Dedar Milano, in collaboration with Dedar creative director, Raffaele Fabrizio, Stephen came to the conclusion that what all textiles have in common is “A Thread!” or many threads in composition with each other. Using the thread as a fundamental element or starting point for the exploration of Dedar Roping, Stephen quickly began looking for a more structurally analogous material from which to construct something 3-dimensional. For Dedar Roping, Stephen would explore ropes ability to become supportive in section, exposing all of its many loose threads in relation to the sophisticated variety of trimmings offered by Dedar Milano.
above/below> inside out | swarovski crystal lighting collection | 2011 | Chandeliers and sconces using crystals in a functional rather than a decorative manner. The basic primary shapes are lit from the inside with LEDs creating a prismatic effect of refracted light.ready made projects ]
todd bracher sitting on humanscale’s “trea” [click on photo to enlarge]
It’s Tuesday, 14 June, Flag Day. We’re talking to Todd Bracher in the Chicago showroom of Humanscale.
[DesignApplause] Todd, give us a little idea of what your work environment is like.
[Todd Bracher] I’d say my work environment is quite neutral. I’m based in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, which is sort of a barren part of New York City, which is quite a contrast in its own right. It’s almost like working on a sailboat. You have views onto the harbor and to the East River. It’s wonderful. But what I love about it is the large, open, industrial-like space, really neutral, no outside influences around me. In other words, I look out the window and I see the water and the sky and for me it’s just a white slate. It’s a wonderful place to think and not be influenced by anything.
[DA] Tell us a little bit about your process.
[TB] I don’t know if our process is unusual or not. We research and study nature, for example natural selection, and we talk a lot about Darwin and how nature finds the ultimate solution. It’s similar to baking bread. We know we need certain ingredients. We put all of the ingredients together and start to bake this bread. And we know that if we throw any of the ingredients away it won’t be just right. At the end of the day we pursue the most efficient solution based on market and client needs.
[DA] What kinds of things are you working on, what do you create?
[TB] This may sound cliche but we’re out to make real-world solutions and we’re not interested in just making beautiful objects. It will be beautiful but it has to sell, it has to be smart and useful for people. We work on a variety of things. From “Trea” for Humanscale which is intended to be a higher volume light task chair all the way to lounge seating and lighting. It’s a broad spectrum from creative direction to branding to final product production.
[DA] Your youthfulness belies remarkable accomplishments. You have a decade of experience working in Copenhagen, Milan, Paris and London; cited as America’s next great Designer and nominations for Designer of the Year in 2008 and 09. You headed Tom Dixon’s design studio, and the creative director at Georg Jensen. Does the head get in the way?
[TB] Are we talking about ego or too much stuff in the head?
[DA] Let’s talk about both.
[TB] If anyone thought I’m about ego then they don’t know me. At the end of the day I’m part of the tool. I am a collaborator. I bring my two cents in but the company has their part as well as the manufacturers and the guys in the workshop. The sales team has there part and everyone everywhere has their part and I’m just a cog in the wheel. And everyone is doing what they’re good at. I’m happy to be the face of the product but I’m not the only one involved.
[DA] What’s the genesis of you work? Does a client call you in and ask you to design a chair? How does it work?
[TB] It works in different ways. With Humanscale I had a conversation with Bob, the CEO and he basically said “make me something that’s cantilevered, make me something really smart, make me something beautiful. And it was sort of that casual. A very European way to approach it, while other clients bring a long brief, 10 pages long. But the first thing we do is we go out and do the homework. We find out what the market is looking for, what it needs, how it uses this or that in actual applications. It doesn’t start with drawing, it starts with research. We also pay attention to the psychological side, how people are attracted to the object. Finally we start drawing and building mockups which leads to final development. But it’s a long front-end of research.
above: freud | zanotta | 2002 [click on photo to enlarge]
[DA] Speaking of front-end, your work experience seems to begin in Europe, you spent 10 years there. You were quoted in Metropolis magazine to that end about where and how designers get their early experience. What inspired you to go to Europe and where to go?
[TB] I guess my earliest motivations was the a chance to be a bit selfish, to absorb myself in design. And I guess I learn more by doing rather than by reading. I had finished an undergrad degree in Pratt in 1996 and started designing consumer products for the U.S. market working for another designer. It was a remote caddy, spice racks, barbecue tools, these kinds of products. It made sense at the time but I wasn’t satisfied. I wanted poetry and artistry that went with it. I wanted concept and more meat to the bones. So I applied for a Fulbright grant and I ended up in Copenhagen, which gave me the wonderful chance to study Danish design. Young American designers, we tend to learn through studying books but in Copenhagen you can go directly to the factories, go visit the actual production that’s happening around the world. I spent two one-half years in Copenhagen and completed the master’s course. Then I went to Milan and started designing for Zanotta and a few other brands and ended up in Paris and then also London for Tom Dixon before coming back to New York. This first-hand experience gave me the tools I hope I need to design.
[DA] In Metropolis magazine you say the European manufacturer can be more spontaneous when giving you an assignment as compared to the U.S. manufacturer. Can you elaborate?
[TB] It’s more or less true though there are reasons for this difference. For the scale of the work that’s done in the U.S., for the difficulty of the task, it’s a much more complicated process. And to do it in a two-year timeframe versus a less complicated European one-year timeframe, I think the design teams here are faster actually. The difference for me may be European business is more emotion driven, it’s more about what you feel plus your direct connection with the owner where together you create something you both feel good about for that year and you see where that goes. It’s also not the long-term plan for most of the European companies and it’s more visceral, more from the hip. The U.S. is more of a marketed-to culture, less about the heart and more to where it’s going, what’s the business part, what’s it for. But it doesn’t mean it’s not beautiful, it doesn’t mean it doesn’t have meaning. At the end of the day it’s still a wonderful, beautiful product that’s well-considered.
[DA] What do you think about products that are designed to be polished and built to last versus products that are designed to be quickly disposable?
[TB] That’s a very broad question. I don’t really make anything that’s disposable. Even if it’s a plastic lamp it’s not made to be disposable. There are of course disposable products in the world, but I don’t intend to work in that world. Though I feel compared to Europe the U.S. is not disposable, most products are in fact built to last. Whereas a European mindset is what’s working and interesting at the moment and where it goes after that is a little less regarded. It doesn’t mean it’s not important but most European companies don’t depend on the product which sometimes works to their advantage and sometimes it does not.
[DA] Who or what inspires you?
[TB] What inspires me are things I could never do myself. For me to go to, let’s say the Museum of Natural History, and to study the life cycle and evolution of fish, for example, is absolutely brilliant and that inspires me. Not furniture, not something I could have made myself.
[DA] There isn’t a day that goes by that you’re not inspired. Right?
[TB] Ha! Well it’s one thing to be inspired and another on how to capture that which has an influence on what you’re doing. And that might happen once or twice a year if you’re lucky.
[DA] What are some of the characteristics of your work?
[TB] I guess you can say “efficiency” which may sound sort of boring but there’s a lot to it. There’s what I call “engineered aesthetics” where we’re making something that’s extremely beautiful but it’s also really purposeful. It’s not just about its beauty. The “Trea” chair for example is all about its reduction. Reducing materials, reducing everything to its bare essential but not letting it get cold and lose its sensual qualities. And at the same time you don’t see the springs and knobs and all those things that make an ergonomic chair comfortable. We’ve done away with all of that and made the mechanism internal. It’s all about boiling down the solution while maintaining the emotional qualities.
[DA] We recently purchased two Eames Sofa Compact benches for our living room. It amazes me that the solution in 1954 was you see all the bolts and springs and it’s so simply put together and yet something very charming. You are reminded of the limited technology.
[TB] For sure. And indirectly we have a similar solution on our “Trea” chair where you see how the back attaches to the seat, you see the seat, you see how the leg attaches, we’re not hiding that. But you don’t see the springs and the screws that make the chair work. It’s a balance between the two.
[DA] Has your style changed since you started? Has it always looked this way and you’re simply refining things?
[TB] It’s been pretty consistent. I’d like to think I keep using this reference that it’s like a tree, and our results are how a tree grows. You would never say that tree doesn’t look very nice, or that branch is in the wrong place. You can’t have an opinion like that in my eyes. It’s more about this thing looks this way because it has to look this way. When I look across my portfolio I don’t see things that could be different, instead the solutions are natural and self-evident.
[DA] How does your work represent your own philosophy on the state of design?
[TB] For me, I think about a fish skeleton. I think of its evolved structure over millions of years. I think of my world in a similar fashion, where I try to boil out the unnecessary and end with pure essentials that have evolved for a reason. You also find another level when you take something home and use it and really then begin to understand it. It may not be obvious until you use it, live with it. How that relates to the state of design today, is that for me, design is not subtle enough. Designers today are trying too hard to have their opinion. And what I do is not to have any opinion, I just let it evolve and let the fish skeleton do its task. And it’s beautiful for what it is, and it’s not about me, not about my opinion. The shapes of these chairs are not my opinion, they’re evolved to be what they are. That says a lot about me not being a designer, more of an editor of its evolution.
[DA] If you weren’t a designer, what would you be?
[TB] Oh, I’d love to be a physicist, but that would never happen, I love to use my hands too much.
[DA] This will be the last question. What’s next?
[TB] That’s probably the toughest question. For me, the next project or next opportunity is really about learning. Every project that I do I try and learn as much as I can. Not only about the technical aspects of design but also about the relations of the people I work with, and the market and where we are going with things. Projects that really get me excited are ones I know nothing about.
[DA] Just one more question. What part of what you do satisfies you the most?
[TB] When the project is finished and I can look back at all the knowledge added to my brain that wasn’t there before the project began. I also believe that mindset influenced me to move to and around Europe and face opportunities to learn the culture, the people who we design for. There’s a somewhat satisfying part using design as that tool to make it all happen.
[DA] Todd, do you have any questions?
[TB] Today is Flag Day. How long have we been celebrating Flag Day?
[DA] I’m not sure. I bet we’ll both research the answer. Thank you Todd, you bring new meaning to baking bread and a fish skeleton. It’s been a fun and inspirational conversation. We’re going to be interviewing Jeffrey Bernett in a few minutes. Do you know him?
[TB] Yes, we’re good friends and are always talking. Give him a hard time, he will enjoy that. [ bracher background ]
Native New Yorker Todd Bracher, founder of Todd Bracher Studio LLC, is a Designer and Educator currently based in New York City after a decade working in Copenhagen, Milan, Paris and London. Todd has collaborated with some of the world’s most prestigious brands around the world from Furniture and Object Design to Interiors and Architecture. Todd has been pinned as ‘America’s next great Designer’ by the NY Daily News as well as received several nominations for Designer of the year in 2008 and 2009. His experiences range from working independently, heading Tom Dixon’s Design studio, acting Professor of Design at l’ESAD in Reims France, to having been appointed Creative Director of the Scandinavian luxury brand Georg Jensen. [ todd bracher studio ]