Category Design Secrets: Furniture 50 Real-Life Projects Uncovered

English Furniture


LTHOUGH the furniture of our Elizabethan and Jacobean periods is very picturesque and sympathetic, it lacks the learnedness of design and expertness of craftsmanship which had already been attained in Italy and France. After the Restoration of 1660 England saw a rapid development of these qualities, and what in the domains of architecture and decoration was being effected by Wren and Gibbons, was also reached, in their sphere, by our furniture makers. If they did not quite emulate the palatial manner, the ambitious gorgeousness, of some of their leading Continental compeers, certainly, by the beginning of the eighteenth century, they had, as producers of fine domestic gear, reached a very high standard of excellence...


Miscella? iea for the Eating-Room


HE elaborations of civilisation and settled society grew rapidly during the cabriole period, and in no place more than in the dining-room. There had been splendid feasting, with every sort of device for dressing food. But the furniture of the hall or parlour where food was served and the objects for that service had been few until after the Restoration of 1660. Then, if improved methods were still lacking, it was a fault to be noted, and when Pepys sat at the “ Merchant Strangers’ table ” for the Guildhall feast on Lord Mayor’s Day, 1662, he complains that : “ It was very unpleasing that we had no napkins nor change of trenchers, and drink out of earthen pitchers and wooden dishes...


Very interesting piece,” according to Jeffrey Bernett. “In the furni­ture world, it’s probably the piece that’s closest to sculpture.”

Подпись: @ The Landscape 05 is a kind of line extension of an earlier chaise. After considering all the possible real- world uses of a chaise, Bernett added an arm to make a few more human poses possible. Credit: B&B Italia “And doing a chaise is very daunting because you get compared to the very best right off the bat. Eames, le Corbousier, Mies van der Roe, Kierholm—all of them designed iconic chaises.”

Bernett has designed two closely related chaise lounges for B&B Italia. “A number of years ago,” he explains, “we did a chaise for B&B that was both highly publicized and commercially viable. The owner of B&B said that it had captured all the spirit and integrity of the company in one product, and it turned out to be the most successful marketing piece they’d done in twenty years.” When B&B more recently came back to Bernett with the simple request that he “design another big hit,” he presented six or seven differ­ent ideas, one of which was a chaise that was reminiscent of the one they’d already done...


Other summer, we’d visit family in Poland,” recalls Jacek Ostoya. “I remember at my aunt’s house in the town of Lublin, on the eastern side of Poland, there was a daybed in their living room.”

Подпись: The Lublin Daybed is named after the town in Poland where, during summertime family reunions in his childhood, Jacek Ostoya took naps on the daybed in his aunt’s living room while the adults chatted in the living room. Credit: Bruce Khan “If I wanted to take a nap, I’d be laid down there, while they sat at the table talking. Rooms did double duty because people didn’t have much space. This daybed was multifunctional, working as a couch or converting to a bed. It stuck with me. I liked the idea of furniture doing double duty,” he says.

An architect, Ostoya began to design a line of furniture after his brother-in-law, Peter Brayshaw, opened up a millwork shop. “He worked at the Guggenheim Museum, doing installations and working in their wood shop to make platforms or funky installa­tions for artists that would facilitate exhibiting the art,” explains Ostoya. “He learned woodworking and millworking, and then I come from an architecture background, but I’m all thumbs when it comes to shopwork...


“But I’d been snowboarding a lot, and I’d done skate­board ramps as a kid

Подпись: ® The Davos Bed’s defining feature is its curved head- board, inspired by skateboarding ramps Theo Williams built as a kid—the angle is perfect for boarding as well as sitting up and reading in bed. Credit: Puntozero We used to split up orange boxes and bang them back together. So, I just remembered what I did as a kid. It was just a natural curve. Nothing else really.”

This focus on the simplicity of a solution is not idle modesty, but a central part of Williams’ design philosophy. “I hate having all this excess stuff,” he says. “In the end, it’s all rubbish. Really, it’s just mind-boggling how much stuff you see and most of it’s not worth it. I like something to last; I like things that are not too fancy. You need something that kicks off a little bit of an emotion, but is not over decorated, not calling attention to itself. There are lots of things that grab your eye, but twenty-four hours later. . ...


With materials on hand in the studio,” says Stephanie Forsythe, director and designer at molo design, ltd. “As designers, we like to focus on one material and see all that it can do, rather than impose ourselves on the material.”

Подпись: The paper softwall uses honeycomb tissue like that found in party decorations to create a room divider that expands from a mere couple of inches into a flexible wall. Credit: molo design In the case of the paper softwall, the initial inspiration was picked up at a dollar store. Working with expandable paper party deco­rations, Forsythe and her partner, Todd MacAllen, began looking into the expandable properties of tissue paper honeycomb, and the kinds of interesting 3D structures they could create. At the same time, “. . . we were also working on housing in Japan, at ways of making private space more flexible,” says Stephanie. “In urban living, space is at a premium. We wanted to take these re­alities and find solutions that contribute to the quality of life and the free flow of air and light.” With these concerns in mind, they began to imagine what would happen if they took one of those paper lanterns and made it much, much bigger.

The next step was to find a wi...


Bookshelves are mostly the domain of Stark ninety-degree angles given over to pure function

Подпись: Three—A Shelving Project is constructed from colored methacrylate, which is a very hard, flat, plastic that resists scratches and does not break. Credit: Enrico Sua Ummorino There could be no shelving unit that moves further from this par­adigm than Three—A Shelving Project that Dominique jakob and Brendan MacFarlane designed for Sawaya & Moroni. “The piece came from an urge to build a completely freestanding shelving unit in space,” says MacFarlane. “The concept for the Three was to make a completely freestanding object that is both functional and spatial.” In order to fulfill this tall order, Jakob+MacFarlane did no less than reconsider space itself. “We imagined the human body as creating the space, in a sense molding the object,” Mac­Farlane explains. He sees the shelves as the expression of “a frozen moment in time.”

MacFarlane explains that the process of design began by imagin­ing a transparent matrix, a three-dimensional grid, if yo...


Client, the end user, to rethink the traditional layout of the ҐООт, and to introduce а СІфЬоЗҐСІ that makes the interior not so rigid and geometrical, but more free and unconventional,”

Подпись: The Layout by Michele De Lucchi for Alias utilizes extruded pieces of corrugated aluminum to create a curvaceous, stand-alone shelving unit that opens on both sides and allows a customer to redefine the living space. Credit: Luca Tamburlini says Michele De Lucchi. “This is part of a layout process where you design the room in a totally unexpected way.”

Unlike traditional shelving units that are invariably shoved up against a wall, Layout shelves are to be pulled out, into the room, where they become sculptural pieces that help define space. “The first idea was not to do a cupboard using a corner or wall of the room space, but to do a cupboard independent of the walls,” says De Lucchi. “And I thought, instead of adding a wall, it would be better to add a curtain on the wall. A curtain is not a flat sur­face, but it is softer, and its surface is plastic. The project came out of combining the idea of a curtain with the technological pos­sibilities of extruding aluminum...


“There’s these two pulls in the way I design,” says Chris Lehrecke. “One is more the influence of my background in design and studying fUITlitUrC, and the other is the daily routine of building things everyday that I’ve been doing for twenty years.”

Подпись: The Exploded Shelving Unit by Chris Lehrecke—shown here at the Pucci Gallery in New York City—is made from a single log sliced like sandwich bread. Credit: Dan Howell In each of these approaches, there are both formal and informal influences. While Lehrecke didn’t attend architecture school, he does have a professional background in both architecture and de­sign and grew up in the house of an architect. And he has been a long-time collector of furniture. Most important, he doesn’t mind getting his hands dirty. “I started making things and looking at how machines work and how machines affect the way things are made and the way materials affect the way things are made,” he says. Referring to his Exploding Log Shelving unit, he concludes, “This piece is a perfect example of me leaning towards the mate – rials-and-the-machine” design sensibility.”

The Exploding Log Shelf, like Lehrecke himself, is a product of its environment...


“Magis asked me to design a shelving system,” says Stefano Giovannoni. “I immediately recognized that a square unit was the best option for modularity. However, I also realized it would be quite difficult to avoid creating something banal.”

Подпись: The Boogie Woogie Shelving unit by Giovannoni Design is a modular system of identical plastic cubes that can be added to one another vertically and horizontally to create a bookshelf or room divider of any size. Credit: Carlo Lavatori “I decided to give the face of the book unit fluidity, a sense of three dimensions, using the same three dimensional form that I created with the Fruitscape design for Alessi,” he says. “I shifted the Fruitscape form from horizontal to vertical, and projected a square grid onto this curved landscape, creating the book unit modules,” he continues. “It’s funny that this product came from another product. This was the starting point, and it’s something that is very special. I never succeeded to do such kind of trans­position before, but I think it fits very well to this product.”

The fruitscape is a “bowl,” which is actually a flat piece of pol­ished stainless steel with mounds dispersed over its surface for nesting individual pieces of fruit...