Thursday, 28 September 2017

Versace SS 2018

How amusing to see some of the original 'supers' reunited in middle age, still showing the young 'uns how it's done, working the catwalk at Versace's Spring Summer 2018 show last week for Milan Fashion Week. They evoked the glamour and hedonism of the 90s when a true supermodel "wouldn't get out of bed for less than $10,000 dollars a day!". The show was a tribute to Gianni, and raided the archives to revisit some of the original prints that adorned his designs from that era. I well remember the butterfly prints from the Versace 1995 collection, and below are the original Gianni butterfly print designs updated with new clothing patterns by Donatella Versace.

Original vibrant 1990s Versace butterfly prints are featured below, as well as the designer himself with a clutch of his beloved supermodels.

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Sori Yanagi: Butterflies Through Other Eyes #36

I have been featuring a range of chairs inspired by butterflies in my Butterflies Through Other Eyes series (here, and here). As the London Design Festival has just come to an end in the capital I thought it was time to give attention to another classic butterfly inspired piece of product design in the form of this iconic Butterfly Stool, by Japanese product designer Sori Yanagi (1915-2011). 

Yanagi was a modernist who twinned simple, functional design with traditional elements of Japanese craftsmanship.

Key influences in his design aesthetic was the work of both architect/designers Le Corbusier and Charlotte Perriand. The Butterfly Stool is perhaps Yanagi's most famous piece of design. It was designed in 1954 and is composed of two shells of either maple or palisander wood - the silhouettes of which are curved to resemble butterfly wings. 

The plywood shells were shaped and moulded using a technique developed by Ray and Charles Eames. Holding the two moulded wooden shells together is a simple, elegant metal bar and screws. The shape of the Butterfly Stool has also been likened to the gates of a Shinto shrine and antique samurai helmets. The Butterfly Stool was first exhibited in the west at the 11th Milan Triennale in 1957, and has been in production ever since. A true modern classic.

Sunday, 24 September 2017

London Design Festival: Villa Walala

It's the last day of The London Design Festival and I was so looking forward to seeing this British Land-backed project by Camille Walala for the London Design Festival, as her designs are usually so exhuberant.

Villa Walala is an inflatable castle-style structure, decorated in the designers signature bright colours, and graphic, hard-edged shapes inspired by the designs of The Memphis Group of the 1980s. Again like many of the nearby sculptures in the Sculpture In The City trail, which I wrote about earlier this month (here), the soft vinyl shapes and pastel hues inject a sense of playfulness and a shot of vibrant colour into the harsh, grey, glass and steel environment of the City. 

  Daniel Buren - 4 Colours At 3 Metres High Situated Work

The black and white stripes and flat colours employed by Walala are very similar to Daniel Buren's little pavilion-style structure above, situated a short walk away (here). I love the way in which Walala and her team have been allowed to transform the landscape of this patch of Broadgate with pattern and colour. It would be great if something similar could be done with pattern like this on the paved areas on a permanent basis.

A short distance away on Great Eastern Street you can find another of Walala's designs on the Dream Come True Building. It usually looks like the picture above, taken earlier this year, but currently has a huge M&S hoarding obscuring most of the dynamic design (below).

British Land: Villa Walala by Camille Walala
until 24th September
Exchange Square
100 Liverpool Street

Friday, 22 September 2017

London Design Fair, Designjunction and Design Frontiers 2017

I visited the London Design Fair at the Old Truman Building on Hanbury Street/Brick Lane as part of the London Design Festival yesterday. I had been invited to attend by the Portugese Pavilion, and having gratefully accepted, really enjoyed their display and exciting product designs. (Thank you Mr David G!) Their CRU/RAW display of the best of contemporary Portugese design was very well recieved. Nuno Rodrigues' wooden Le Petit Chandelier below, was absolutely amazing, and like a piece of classic mid-century Swedish design. I also loved João Bruno Videira's colourful, tactile, stripey Wool Stones which are handmade sculptures that also function as footstools below.

The beautiful designs, (of what look like), lacey, lasercut metallic panels in the Italian Pavilion (below), were also noteworthy and caught my eye.

After this it was round the corner to the St Jude's In The City pop-up at the Townhouse - Spitalfields. I got so caught up in chatting to Simon (one half of the dynamic St Jude's duo), that I forgot to take pictures of their residency. Their display was as per usual immaculate, with covetable prints from Simon's other half - Angie Lewin, as well as Chris Brown, and new/old wallpaper designs and prints by the venerable Edward Bawden, and a new fabric design by Mark Hearld. 

 Seaweed - Edward Bawden

Bantam Bough - Mark Hearld

I then made a trip up to Kings Cross to see Gateways - the main event of DesignJunction, which was the installation of four, 4 metre high tiled gates commissioned by Turkishceramics and designed by Adam Nathaniel Furman. The first gate is based on traditional Iznik ceramics and tells the story of Paradise, whilst the other gates reference the 1970s, Edwardian architecture and wood and stone building materials.

The Gateways were striking ceramic designs full of colour and pattern, and very popular with the public. Photography was difficult as people wouldn't get out of the bloody way!

I also liked the large canal-side lettering installation by Campari and their customised narrowboat, where you were invited to take a break from the design frenzy and relax with a glass or two of the refreshing Italian apéritif.

After this, it was down to the classical setting of Somerset House for Design Frontiers. I wasn't sure whether I would like this feature of the Festival, but it was one of the best events of the whole Design Festival. The way the various designers involved embraced and showcased design and technology was absolutely stunning, and perhaps what was missing at other design hubs making them seem somewhat lacklustre. 

This interactive display by Jaguar was absolutlely stunning, projecting film onto a prototype design of a futuristic car, and then animating the background to take us for a spin around the Somerset House courtyard. Absolutely amazing! This installation finally supplied the wow factor in design that I was in search of throughout the Design Festival.

Another visually arresting installation was Materialise, above, by Kate Greenyer of Pentland Brands, whose work utilises innovative pattern cutting and fabric technology to aid athletes to perform at their peak. The quality of the graphic design of her publicity material and hand-outs were also outstanding.

The room devoted to the installation by designer Dominic Lippa - Dominic Lippa: Facts and Figures, was really thought provoking. It presents data and statistics in the form of these handsomely designed books which provoke guilt, anger, intrigue and astonishment at the human condition and behaviours. The public are invited to take the books of random facts and data away with them. It was great to finally have something to be challenged by from the Design Festival, that we could also take away and digest at leisure.

Luminous Reflections - Toord Boontje's collaborations with Swarovski crystal also had the sophisticated design wow-factor. I would quite happily find a place for these exquisite lighting pieces in my home. Just beautiful, and very inspiring!

After the technical sophistication of Jaguar and Tord Boontje, I enjoyed the playfulness of - My Canvas - an invitation by textile design firm Kvadrat to both established and emerging designers to respond to the theme of Canvas. Some of the resulting outcomes below, were by turns mad, sophisticated and inspired. Again just wonderful!

Design Frontiers was a fantastic experience, and easily featured some of the best work of the London Design Festival 2017. I hope it returns again next year for a 2018 edition.