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An Architect’s Elevated Family Home Channels Mies van der Rohe on a German Lakefront

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-20 22:50

With a heavy dose of inspiration from Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House, architect Carlos Zwick designs an art-filled home on stilts for his family of eight in Potsdam, Germany.

In the late 19th-century, the Parkrestaurant Nedlitz was a popular excursion destination in Potsdam, Germany, that boasted a boat dock, terraced garden cafe, and ballroom. While the spot remained a frequented weekend retreat through the Cold War, it had fallen into complete neglect by the time architect Carlos Zwick, founder of the eponymous Berlin-based firm, purchased the lot in 2014.  

Photo by José Campos

In addition to overgrown brambles and crumbling buildings, the site came with strict guidelines for renovation. The original terraced steps near the waterfront had to be preserved; the existing forest of large maple, oak, and chestnut trees couldn’t be removed; and the view of Lake Jungfernsee from the main road had to remain clear. Despite its challenges, the architect thought the property was a perfect place to build a home for himself, his partner, Claudia Kensy, and the couple’s six children, thanks to its wide plot, pristine view, and lake access, as well as the easy drive to Berlin.

Photo by José Campos

Carlos approached the Potsdam Design Council with building proposal after building proposal until he finally received approval for a drawing that hoisted two large, box-like pavilions into the trees, allowing for minimal impact on the landscape and preserving sight lines to the waterfront from the road. The home floats 10 feet aboveground on inverted tripod bases with reddish-brown steel posts that branch upward, mimicking the trees around them.

Photo by José Campos

"Haus am See is a modern interpretation of a tree house," says the architect. "Like a wooden nest, it nestles between the crowns of the old oaks and chestnuts."  Carlos saw the "ancient and dense" tree population as both a challenge and a creative boon. Indeed, the home’s two pavilions are so intertwined with the trees that one of the site’s enormous maples is bracketed within the windowed walls of the living room. The team also covered the roof in greenery and installed a solar thermal system to further integrate the home with its environment.

Photo: Jose Campos

Photo: Jose Campos

Photo by José Campos

The building itself has a Miesian look that Carlos describes as "a rational and calm language of forms," featuring clean, horizontal lines and a cantilevered porch that stretches across the 72-foot waterfront facade. The understated simplicity of the structure belies its grand size: at roughly 7,664 square feet, the home offers plenty of room for the family of eight and their three dogs. 

The main pavilion, which runs parallel to the lake shore, includes the kitchen, dining, living areas, and the principal suite, while the twin pavilion, set at a right angle reaching back toward the road, contains the children’s rooms. A small, common entrance with stairs and an elevator links the two wings, for now: Carlos points out that the distinction between the structures would allow for flexible, multi-unit usage in the future. 

Photo by José Campos

Photo: Jose Campos

The steel supports leave plenty of protected space under the pavilions for an "open-air basement," as Carlos calls it. "There is room for everything," says the architect—including cars, bikes, and table tennis, as well as a hot tub, sauna, and firewood storage. 

Photo: Jose Campos

Photo by José Campos

Down the steps from the open basement, the waterfront holds what Carlos calls "a magical attraction." The family keeps canoes, stand-up paddle boards, and an old sailboat ready to go. The original 19th-century stone terraces that lead down to the water were carefully maintained.

Photo by José Campos

Photo: Jose Campos

While the stilts lift the home up and away from the lake, the view from inside feels very immersive, with the water seeming to lap at the edge of the balcony. The architect framed the lake-facing, floor-to-ceiling windows with pale wood beams and used glazing on the balcony to keep the view as open as possible.

Photo by José Campos

Photo by José Campos

Meanwhile, the interior is spare but warm, and feels appropriate for a family with six children and three pets. Accent walls of yellow or green and bright, oversize art provide hints of color, while prominent dog beds, dangling wire lamps, and an unconcealed refrigerator contribute to the casual, welcoming vibe.

Photo by José Campos

Photo by José Campos

Photo by José Campos

Photo by José Campos

The home offers plenty of places for the family to relax together, from the spacious living room to the music nook. Carlos says they especially love to congregate in front of the large fireplace with the dogs, or around the 25-foot-long olive wood table in the open-plan kitchen and dining area.

Photo by José Campos

Photo by José Campos

Photo by José Campos

Photo by José Campos

The exuberant paintings throughout the home have been collected over the years, with some even painted by Claudia. "Art is a great passion in our family," Carlos says, noting how much Claudia enjoys working in her studio with a view of the trees.

Photo by José Campos

Photo by José Campos

Photo by José Campos

The original Parkrestaurant Nedlitz currently sits on the other half of the property, and Carlos is converting the old buildings into a new restaurant. The historic buildings can be seen from the kitchen’s side window, providing a nice stylistic contrast to Haus am See.

Courtesy of Carlos Zwick Architekten BDA

Courtesy of Carlos Zwick Architekten BDA

Courtesy of Carlos Zwick Architekten BDA

Submit Your Project to the 2021 Dwell Design Awards

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-20 22:31

Send us your best work in the Dwelling, Renovation, Prefab, Small Space, Garden, Kitchen, Bathroom, and Object categories by Tuesday, October 5.

On a rustic strip of coastline near Puerto Escondido, Mexico, S-AR designed a beach getaway with an open concrete grid that frames its natural surroundings.

Along with the most outstanding projects featured in Dwell Magazine and Dwell.com in 2021, this year’s Dwell Design Awards will honor the best new work submitted by our community across 10 categories: Dwelling, Renovation, Prefab, Small Space (less than 800 square feet), Garden, Kitchen, Bathroom, Furniture, Lighting, and Accessories.

There is minimal decoration in the house, keeping the focus on the plantings that surround it.

Casa Cosmos by S-AR in Puerto Escondido, Mexico, won Best Dwelling in 2020.

Photo: Benjamin Rasmussen

On October 13, the Dwell Design Awards will open to voting on Dwell.com. An esteemed panel of judges will help determine a winner and a runner up, and Dwell readers will select a community pick—all to be announced on Dwell.com and Dwell Magazine in January 2022.

Meet the Judges

Jared Blake and Ed Be

Jared Blake and Ed Be are the founders of Lichen, a Brooklyn- and Queens-based interior design shop and incubator. The two partnered in 2017, combining years of experience collecting, selling, and trading designer furniture throughout New York City. Together, they aim to create a community of "lich-minded" individuals enthused by music, creativity, and design.

Barbara Bestor

Barbara Bestor is the founding principal of Bestor Architecture, which has actively redefined Los Angeles architecture through design, art, and urbanism since 1995. Her varied and progressive body of work—which experiments in spatial arrangements, graphics, and color—connects with people on many levels, often outside the boundaries traditionally delineated for architecture. She believes that good design creates an engaged urban life and embraces the "strange beauty" that enhances the everyday experience. 

Bestor’s work spans "stealth density" Blackbirds housing, retail and restaurant flagships, dynamic workspaces, award-winning residences, and pioneering arts projects that are deeply rooted in their communities. She received her undergraduate degree at Harvard University, studied at the Architecture Association in London, and received a MARCH at SCI-Arc. She is the author of Bohemian Modern: Living in Silver Lake

Chris Cornelius

Chris Cornelius is a citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin and chair of the Department of Architecture at the University of New Mexico. He is the founding principal of Studio:Indigenous, a design practice serving Indigenous clients. 

Cornelius—a collaborating designer with Antoine Predock on the Indian Community School of Milwaukee—is the recipient of numerous awards and honors, including the inaugural Miller Prize from Exhibit Columbus, a 2018 Architect’s Newspaper Best of Design Award, and an artist residency from the National Museum of the American Indian. Cornelius has been exhibited widely, including the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale. Cornelius was the Louis I. Kahn Visiting Assistant Professor at Yale University in spring 2021. Studio:Indigenous received a 2021 Architect’s Newspaper Best Of Practice Award for Best Small Practice, Midwest.

Tosin Oshinowo

Tosin Oshinowo is a Lagos, Nigeria–based architect and designer best known as the founder and principal of cmDesign Atelier, established in 2012. Grounded in a deep respect for Yoruba culture and history, Oshinowo’s designs embody a contemporary perspective on the next generation of African design and afro-minimalism—one that prioritizes sustainability, resilience, and poise. She’s currently working on a project with the United Nations to plan and rebuild a village in northern Nigeria destroyed by Boko Haram.

In 2017, she created Ilé-Ilà—House of Lines in her native Yoruba language—offering chairs designed and handmade in Lagos. Oshinowo is a registered architect in the Federal Republic of Nigeria and a member of the Royal Institute of the British Architects with degrees from Kingston College in London, the Bartlett School of Architecture, and the Architecture Association London. In addition to undertaking brand partnerships, writing prolifically, and giving talks, she has won numerous awards, including City People’s Real Estate Award for Architect of the Year in 2017 and the Lord’s Achievers Award for Creativity in 2019.   

Kulapat Yantrasast

Originally from Thailand and now based in Los Angeles and New York, Kulapat Yantrasast is a thought leader and practitioner in the fields of architecture, art, and sustainable design. He is the founding partner and creative director of Why, a multidisciplinary design practice and AD100 Firm since 2019. In 2007, Yantrasast led the design for the Grand Rapids Art Museum, the first art museum in the world to receive the LEED Gold certification. The firm recently engaged in major museum renovation projects, including the Rockefeller Wing of The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Yantrasast has also designed a number of cultural facilities and private residences from Malibu to Chiang Mai.

Formerly a trustee of the Pulitzer Arts Foundation and the Noguchi Museum in New York, Yantrasast has been on the Artists’ Committee of the Americans for the Arts since 2005. In 2009, Yantrasast received the Silpathorn Award for Design from Thailand’s Ministry of Culture for outstanding achievement and notable contributions to Thai contemporary arts and culture. He was the first architect to receive the prestigious award.

How to Submit

  • Upload your project through Add a Home between now and Tuesday, October 5. You may submit multiple projects per category; all projects will be considered for future publication.
  • For the Furniture, Lighting, and Accessories categories, send a brief description and images of your piece to edit@dwell.com with the subject line 2021 Dwell Design Awards Submission.

10 Modern Cat Beds That Won’t Clash With Your Decor

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-20 21:44

Cats love to lounge, so we might as well make nap time cute.

If your cats are like mine, every cardboard box that enters my house is suddenly the new favorite sleeping spot. It’s kind of sweet, but unfortunately for my furry friends, the recycling must eventually be taken out lest my home become a clutter of bedraggled boxes.

If you’re searching for a cozy place for your fur baby to snooze, these much-cuter options—like a miniature sofa or a wall-mountable wooden house— will accommodate your feline friends while preserving the feng shui.

Cat Person Canopy Bed

Best for small to medium sized cats, this 3-in-1 bed can be adjusted to your cat’s preferences, and its modern design looks great in any home.

Tuft + Paw Puff Cat Bed

Structure and softness come together in the Puff, entirely shaped of contoured foam. The inner bowl is as firm and supportive as it is cozy and warm, with its rim serving as a headrest. The Puff works equally well as your cat’s primary bed or as a moveable napping spot for the floor or sofa.

Nooee Toby Small Pet Cave

Provide your pet with a peaceful spot to snuggle, snooze or just hang out—even pets can use a bit of privacy now and then. The pale grey felt pet cave looks sophisticated and understated in the modern home, its cozy finish pairing well with the striped interior cushion. This small cone-shaped retreat zips together for easy set up, then unzips for convenient cleaning in the washing machine or transportation in the included carrying bag.

MyZoo Spaceship Alpha Warm and Cozy Covered Cat Bed - Walnut

This cosmically cozy cat bed features an acrylic dome design that lets your cat look out while curled up happily inside. The large entry hole provides easy access to the bed, while four smaller air holes encourage healthy air circulation and reduce noise echoing. Your kitty cosmonaut will be over the moon when she sees this cool bed!

Fukumaru Wall Jungle Cat Bed

Built with durable rubber wood, this minimalist cat shelf matches with every type of interior design. It also works as a space-saving alternative to the tradition cat bed, saving ample floor space. Can be combined with our Wall Jungle series to build your cat's dream playground on your walls.

Necoichi Cozy Scratcher Cat Bed

This circular shaped bed is made from 100% recycled paper and designed with a replaceable scratching pad that’s also reversible. Not only will your cat companion love to curl up in this ultra-modern piece, but she’ll also love scratching away to help keep her claws strong and healthy. And you’ll be happy to know that it’s made with chemical-free corn starch glue.

Paws & Purrs Modern Pet Sofa

This minaturized sofa is the perfect lounger for your dog or cat.

Juccini Wool Cat Cave Bed

A spacious and cozy hideout for cats, large and small or large. Each cat cave is handcrafted in Nepal from 100% all-natural Merino wool. Soft yet durable, the wool creates a resting place that keeps your cat warm in the winter and cool in the summer.

Trixie Vienna Indoor Wooden Cat House

The purr-fect cat home. Its cat shaped front opening makes for an adorable touch to any room! This cat home includes two special spots for curling up and napping—your kitty will love lazing the day away on both the plush mat and the built-in top hammock. It features two separate openings for an easy way out, and the plush mat is removable and can be hand washed. Feline friends of all ages and activity levels will love this paw-some home!

Tuft + Paw Stellar Cat Bed

Humans appreciate the Stellar for its striking design. For cats, it’s simply an otherworldly escape from the everyday activity of the home. A semi-rigid, breathable sphere envelops a custom-fit faux fur blanket for total comfort and security. The large entrance allows for broad views, while the curved interior makes for close, cradled rest.

We love the products we feature and hope you do, too. If you buy something through a link on the site, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Related Reading:

Cat Architecture: 6 Homes Designed With Felines in Mind

5 Modern Cat Furniture Designs Both Pets and Owners Adore

A Passive House on the Outskirts of Moscow Blends Into Its Forested Surroundings

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-20 21:43

This green-roofed home by Snegiri Architects bows in deference to the enveloping woodlands.

Not a single tree in the surrounding birch and pine forest was cut down to accommodate the construction of the Hill House, a passive home on the outskirts of Moscow that’s designed to use 90 percent less energy than a regular residence.

Photo by Nikita Kapiturov

The home was designed for "a man fond of innovations," says architect Nikita Kapiturov of St. Petersburg–based firm Snegiri Architects. A long driveway leads to the side of the home, which includes the client’s Tesla charging station and parking spot. The slanting green roof is carpeted with a cascade of greenery that includes stonecrop and dwarf crops such as wild chamomile.

Photo by Nikita Kapiturov

Photo by Nikita Kapiturov

The exterior is made of darkened larch wood saturated with natural flax oil to help with the home’s passive insulation. The home’s foundation incorporates Swedish plate technology that helps to winterize it, keeping the structure essentially cold-proof and resistant to frost.

Photo by Nikita Kapiturov

Most of the structure’s energy-saving windows and doors are positioned on the sunny side of the house to aid in keeping the residence warm in the northern clime. The glazed doors open to a spacious terrace, flooding the interior spaces with light.

Photo by Nikita Kapiturov

Inside, an oak staircase connects the home’s two floors. Luxurious materials like brushed satin-brass fixtures and walls of mineral Greek plaster mingle in a bathroom to rich effect, nodding to theme of lightness and darkness at play throughout the home.

Photo by Nikita Kapiturov

Courtesy of Snegiri Architects

Related Reading:

25 Green Roofs That Bring Spectacular Homes to New Levels

This May Be the Most Ecologically Ambitious Home Renovation on the Planet

Project Credits:

Architect of Record: Nikita Kapiturov, Snegiri Architects / @snegiri_architects

Builder/General Contractor: Snegiri Architects / @snegiri_architects

Interior Design: Snegiri Architects / @snegiri_architects

Hunter Douglas Remains the Ace of Shades With 2 New Designer Collections

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-20 15:54

Eye-catching patterns, colors, and handcraft in the brand’s latest soft goods will dress up your windows.

Exclusive textile designs by New York–based visual artist Marcie Bronkar and San Francisco–based textile designer Seema Krish are the latest additions to Hunter Douglas’ Design Studio line of side panels, drapery, roller shades, and roman shades. Inventive patterns and textural details—rendered in styles ranging from intricate embroideries to semi-opaque fabrics—bring new infusions of global dimension and historical depth to the brand’s sophisticated line of window treatments.

Seema Krish’s Reflections pattern (shown adorning a Hunter Douglas roller shade) is a highlight.

Seema Krish’s Reflections pattern (shown adorning a Hunter Douglas roller shade) is a highlight of the collection. 

Courtesy of Hunter Douglas

Reflections (shown in detail) began as a watercolor and retains a delicate, hand-painted sensibility.

Reflections (shown in detail) began as a watercolor and retains a delicate, hand-painted sensibility. 

Courtesy of Hunter Douglas

Influenced by her upbringing in Mumbai, Seema Krish’s work focuses on handcraft and holds a contemporary lens to the vibrant motifs and techniques of traditional Indian textiles. The designer looked to nature and drew on the aesthetics of block printing and embroidery, in particular, to create her new patterns for Hunter Douglas.

San Francisco designer Seem Krish (pictured) has become known for the artisanal methods and global influences that inform her textiles.

San Francisco designer Seema Krish (pictured) has become known for the artisanal methods and global influences that inform her textiles.

Courtesy of Hunter Douglas

"They can be used by themselves or effortlessly layered together," Krish says of the seven designs in the collection. Her Floret fabric, for instance, is inspired by traditional shibori dye techniques and blooms with bold, flowerlike geometry. Intersection is influenced by the interplay of yarns in weaving, and its hazy, painterly lines echo the foggy weather of the designer’s hometown. Waves, which mimics the ebb and flow of ocean tides, flows with a repeating V-shaped pattern. "The hope is to spark a memory of travel or a distant culture while bringing quiet beauty to our living environments," says Krish.

Krish’s Floret pattern makes a bold, geometric statement.

Krish’s Floret pattern makes a subtle, geometric statement.  

Courtesy of Hunter Douglas

The texture and soft lines of Krish’s Straits pattern (shown in detail) is reminiscent of traditional ikat dyeing techniques.

The texture and soft lines of Krish’s Straits pattern (shown in detail) is reminiscent of traditional ikat dyeing techniques. 

Courtesy of Hunter Douglas

A self-described "modern traditionalist," Marcie Bronkar takes inspiration from historical art and design to create her lively patterns. For her Hunter Douglas collection, Bronkar says she relied on the premise that "natural light can and will enhance the texture and dimension of these textiles when brought into the home."

Bronkar (shown) says her textile collections rely on colors that stem from her painting practice.

Bronkar (shown) says her textile collections draw on colors that stem from her painting practice. 

Courtesy of Hunter Douglas

Giving new voice to historical designs, Marcie Bronkar envisioned fabrics with stylized patterns and nuanced colors, including Amaryllis (shown as a roman shade).

Giving new voice to historical designs, Marcie Bronkar envisioned fabrics with stylized patterns and nuanced colors, including Amaryllis (shown as a roman shade).

Courtesy Hunter Douglas

A detail of Bronkar’s Amaryllis pattern reveals its intricacy and subtle gradients, which are inspired by a vintage batik from the artist’s own textile collection.

A detail of Bronkar’s Amaryllis pattern reveals its intricacy and subtle gradients, which are inspired by a vintage batik from the artist’s own textile collection. 

Courtesy of Hunter Douglas

Bronkar’s standout designs include Lily, a pretty floral pattern derived from an original work on paper; Grand Fleur, which features embroidered patterns inspired by Bronkar’s personal collection of 17th-century Venetian vestments and shawls; Laurel, derived from a favorite ceramic piece the artist found in Mexico City; and Oleander, which is a wonderful ode to paisley. "I love creating patterns that find their way throughout a home as the owner sees fit," says Bronkar.

Side panels shown in Brokar's Oleander pattern add subtle pattern and color to this pretty scheme.

Side panels shown in Brokar's Oleander pattern add subtle pattern and color to this soothing scheme.

Courtesy of Hunter Douglas

Bronkar's Oleander pattern (detail) offers a contemporary take on classic <span style="font-family: Theinhardt, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, &quot;Segoe UI&quot;, Roboto, Oxygen-Sans, Ubuntu, Cantarell, &quot;Helvetica Neue&quot;, sans-serif;">paisley.</span><span style="font-family: Theinhardt, -apple-system, BlinkMacSystemFont, &quot;Segoe UI&quot;, Roboto, Oxygen-Sans, Ubuntu, Cantarell, &quot;Helvetica Neue&quot;, sans-serif;"> </span>

Bronkar's Oleander pattern (detail) offers a contemporary take on classic paisley. 

Courtesy of Hunter Douglas

Bronkar’s Menagerie pattern (shown as side panels) riffs on a classic English Jacobean motif and is rendered in a toile de Jouy style.

Bronkar’s Menagerie pattern (shown as side panels) riffs on a classic English Jacobean motif and is rendered in a toile de Jouy style.  

Courtesy of Hunter Douglas

Both collections coordinate with Hunter Douglas’ existing lines while creating new design possibilities. Ron Rubinoff, President of Hunter Douglas Window Designs Group, notes, "It’s an incredibly exciting moment for Hunter Douglas. We are certain that these artists’ aesthetics and our wider Design Studio line will resonate with consumers as they seek out inspired designs to complete the look of their windows."

Bronkar’s collection (shown) is one of two new offerings from the Hunter Douglas Design Studio line.

Bronkar’s collection (shown) is one of two new offerings from the Hunter Douglas Design Studio line.  

Courtesy of Hunter Douglas

Learn more about Hunter Douglas and its window treatment solutions for the home at hunterdouglas.com.

Studio:Indigenous Founder Chris Cornelius Is Decolonizing Architecture

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-18 00:01

We speak to the architect and educator about how Indigenous culture influences his work, and how empathy can dismantle colonialist approaches to design.

Studio:Indigenous founder Chris Cornelius

A citizen of the Oneida Nation of Wisconsin, architect and educator Chris Cornelius has worked relentlessly to expand Indigenous sovereignty in the field. He’s the founding principal of Studio:Indigenous, a design and consulting practice serving Indigenous clients, and teaches a course called "De-Colonizing Indigenous Housing" at the Yale School of Architecture. Cornelius’s teaching and design career straddles both Canada and the United States, defying traditional notions of borders as boundaries. 

Studio:Indigenous founder Chris Cornelius

Studio:Indigenous founder Chris Cornelius

Courtesy of studio:indigenous

Among his many accolades, Cornelius was among a group of Indigenous architects who represented Canada in the 2018 Venice Architecture Biennale, and he was a design collaborator on the Indian Community School of Milwaukee (ICS), which won the 2009 AIA Design Excellence award from the Committee on Architecture for Education. His 2019 lecture at the University of Arkansas, "Make Architecture Indigenous Again," elevated Indigenous values in contemporary architecture and drew upon his 2003 Artist in Residence Fellowship from the National Museum of the American Indian at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Trickster (itisnotatipi) by Chris T. Cornelius

Trickster (itsnotatipi) by Chris Cornelius, an installation in Wisconsin, is made of wood harvested on-site and patinated copper mesh. In Indigenous storytelling, the trickster is often in animal form, challenging us to de-center the human narrative.

Tom Harris Photography

Cornelius is known for such works as trickster (itsnotatipi), a temporary installation in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, and Wiikiaami in Columbus, Indiana, a piece inspired by the dwellings of the Miyaamia people indigenous to Indiana. For Cornelius, every structure starts with a story. His passion for drafting comes to life when using Indigenous narratives to inspire physical spaces that pay homage to heritage, while respecting the natural landscape. As an architect and educator, Cornelius pushes the boundaries of what we consider architecture and increases representation for native people in the field. 

How did you know that architecture was your calling? 

Cornelius: I think I always knew I wanted to be in architecture, even before I knew exactly what it was. I was fascinated with building. My father was a brick mason, and I became intrigued by the fact there was someone who designed the things he was building. In particular, I was interested in the drawings. By the time I started high school, I knew I wanted to be an architect, and everything I did was moving toward that goal. I took every drafting class I could. I even competed at the local and state level in vocational competitions for drafting by the time I was a senior. 

Wiikiaami Initial Sketch  by Chris T. Cornelius

An initial sketch of Wiikiaami by Chris Cornelius

Courtesy of studio:indigenous

Wiikiaami Structure

Made of rebar and copper scales, Wiikiaami is a contemporary riff on the "wigwam"—"wiikiaami" in the language of the Myaamia people indigenous to Indiana. It was built in front of Eliel Saarinen’s First Christian Church in Columbus, Indiana.

Courtesy of studio:indigenous

Is drawing the root of your design process? 

Each project is unique, but most projects start by drawing ideas. I think it is important to start drawing even before you know what it is going to be. I like to start with stories and find ways to draw—not illustrate—through the story. There is so much content in Indigenous stories, science, history, technology, architecture, ecology, etc. I believe architecture should have as much content and serve as a tool of conveyance for sharing those things with all living things, as our relatives. 

You’ve been an academic-practitioner for many years. How do you incorporate ecology and Indigenous history into teaching architecture? 

Indigenous knowledge has always contained ecology and history. I try to teach my non-Indigenous students in the same manner. For my studio at Yale, I gave students a series of readings that were about Indigenous history, policy, ecology, storytelling, and research paradigms. What I realized in that process is the more I taught them about Indigeneity, the more they realized what they didn't know—and it wasn't their fault. Their K-12, undergraduate, and partial graduate studies had taught them nothing about Indigenous history in the U.S. and Canada. This wasn’t a shortcoming on their part, but a failing in the system of colonized knowledge.

Because I tried to expose them to more Indigenous thinking, I believe our conversations about architecture became enriched by why it was important to think of our other living relatives or why exercising Indigenous sovereignty, whenever possible, is imperative. 

The model of architectural education which has been in existence for about 150 years is very good at teaching students about the what and the how of architecture. It has failed students by not teaching more about the who and the why. I am trying to change that as an educator.

What has it meant to you to mentor young architects and designers, and to serve Indigenous clients through your studio?

Max_Wirsing_Yale studio_ Living Room with Deer

Living Room With Deer, a work by Max Wirsing, a student at Cornelius’s Yale Studio.

Courtesy of Chris T. Cornelius

Being a professor of architecture is a gift. The best students are ones that seek mentoring, and it was an important part of my own maturation as a designer and educator. I can enjoy watching the development of students at my Yale Studio, like Max Wirsing and Ruike Liu.

I have also been fortunate to connect with Indigenous students of architecture (most are in Canada) and try to advise them as much as I can. I hope the workload for Studio:Indigenous will continue to expand. This is the only way for me to take on some of these individuals as employees. 

When I started Studio:Indigenous in 2003, I did not see many Indigenous designers serving Indigenous clients. It's not that there weren't any, I just wasn't aware of them. I decided to start my practice to serve Indigenous people because, in my experience, design had not served them well, and I wanted to change that. This meant not specializing in any type of project, but to find the best way to translate the culture into an architectural experience. 

Ruike Liu_Yale Studio_Indigenous mapping_Opaskwak Cree Nation

Map of the Opaskwayak Cree Nation by Riuke Liu

Courtesy of Chris T. Cornelius

What needs to happen now in design and architecture to address the realities of this current moment? 

We need to start including different voices in the conversation. This must happen from the top down—and bottom up. We need leaders from groups we haven't seen before. We need people in the design disciplines from groups we haven't typically heard from. We can't just stay in a world of reading lists and resource guides. We need to lift people into leadership roles, faculty positions, firm principals, governing positions, policy makers, client representatives, etc. I think our students (and not just students of color) are demanding it. The people controlling the funding mechanisms need to examine the ways they have always supported and/or fostered white-only mechanisms. I think most have done it unknowingly and unintentionally. 

How does the built environment interact with Indigenous history? 

Moon Scope Drawing by Chris T. Cornelius

Moon Scope Drawing by Chris Cornelius

Courtesy of Chris Cornelius

The built environment is Indigenous history. This relationship is sordid and complex. 

We start with an understanding that if we are intervening in this landscape, we are intervening on Indigenous land. 

Most U.S. cities are founded on Indigenous settlements. This land was not a "wild frontier" when European colonizers arrived. It was a complex network of civilizations that saw themselves as stewards of the land. This land was managed, maintained, and cared for like a relative that needs assistance. The built environment should not be seen as different from the non-built environment. It is all one robust family that we, as designers, facilitate interaction between key elements. 

I believe that all design schools should require Indigenous history and policy courses. I think every design student should know the 1887 Dawes Act as well as they do the U.S. Constitution. Site analysis and history shouldn’t start with when a place became a city or state, but with the people indigenous to that landscape. 

Decolonization starts and ends with addressing the dispossession of lands from Indigenous people in the U.S. and Canada. Colonized thought would want us to build and continue the differences between each of us to keep us apart. I believe true decolonization starts with the realization that colonization is fueled by a lack of empathy. 

We can begin to dismantle the apparatus of colonization by incorporating empathy into the methods and strategies we use in design.

Related Reading: 

We May Already Have the Technology to Survive a Climate Crisis—We’ve Just Been Ignoring It

To Combat Raging Wildfires, California Turns to Native American Knowledge

13 Sophisticated Lunch Boxes for Adults Who Are All Grown Up

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-17 21:58

Get that back-to-school feeling, without all the homework.

Get that back-to-school feeling—without all the homework—with these stylish lunch boxes.

Whether you’re heading back into the office this fall, or stocking up on storage for upcoming picnics, tote your lunch in style with these stylish alternatives to the classic brown paper bag.

Picnic Time Two-Tiered Insulated Lunch Tote

America’s next top lunchbox. Lunchbox, but then make it fashion. And voilà: You get this gorgeous little number that looks good no matter where you’re toting it around. Naturally, it’s got a smart design, with an insulated cooler on bottom and a dry compartment on top. But can we talk about those leatherette handles and side snaps? That heathered gray fabric? Oh yes, we can.

Calpak Insulated Lunch Bag

Everything you need—and so much more. Our Insulated Lunch Bag keeps all your essentials fresh for quick lunch breaks from work or picnics with friends. This reusable waterproof lunch bag features a wipeable interior for easy cleanliness multiple pockets inside and out for maximum organization. Pack it full, pull the drawstring shut, and you’re out the door.

Ekobo Bento Lunch Box & Cutlery Set

Bento brilliant. One of the cleverest (and best-looking) ways to ditch those plastic bags and keep lunch ready for take-off (to desk or the bus stop), this bamboo fiber bento box and cutlery friends are raring to go for sandwiches, snacks, and—perhaps a brownie or two. Two containers inside keep your bites tidy (this little wonder does hot and food alike) and a silicone band ensures everything stays snug till lunch hour.

Stojo 24 Oz. Box

The perfect size to grab and go, our 24 oz. box keeps you fueled anywhere. Bring leftovers to work, snacks to the park, or pack the perfect sandwich to go. Unlike plastic baggies, the Stojo Box keeps your sandwiches from smooshing and single-use bags out of landfills.

Takenaka x Topdrawer Bento Box - Double Layer

An exclusive color collaboration between Topdrawer and Takenaka, the Bento Box Double Layer is made in Japan, BPA- and lead-free, microwave and dishwasher safe, leakproof with an elastic closure. Comes with a fork and a removable partition, and can shrink into one layer when you’re ready to go home at the end of the day. Did we mention you’ll be the envy of your coworkers and classmates?

Mepal Modern Large Bento Box

Stack and snack. It’s time to upgrade your lunch-to-go: These Dutch-designed beautiful bentos are big enough to hold a full meal’s worth of leftovers, or a pic-worthy not sad desk lunch that doesn’t leave your belly growling for more. Each of the components is microwave-safe, so you can pop your potatoes in for a hot minute while you enjoy your fruit salad. And when you’re done? Yep, it’s dishwasher-safe, too.

Modern Picnic The Luncher

A modern reinvention of the traditional lunchbox made of a premium vegan leather exterior with an insulated interior in a chic and classic silhouette.

Mepal Duo Lunch Box

Smarter desk lunches ahead. The conundrum with packing a Not Sad Desk Lunch is how to pack one without it taking up your entire backpack between the container, utensils, and any number of small jars for toppings, dressings, and the like. This clever lunchbox solves the problem of too many jars, thanks to the built-in storage space hidden in the lid of the container. Pack your sandwich or salad in the main container, then pop open the lid to store a handful of cherry tomatoes, a roll or a couple of rice cakes, and a fork and knife (because there’s no easier way to make a desk lunch feel instantly civilized than real cutlery). The lunchbox also comes with a mini container for dressings or toppings that also fits inside the lid compartment. The base is microwave-safe, and the whole thing is freezer- and dishwasher-safe, and a strap fits snugly over the lid to keep everything sealed in, so you’re not crying over spilt salad in your bag.

Peg and Awl Canvas Lunch Bag With Note Pocket

Let’s do lunch. Brown paper bags are getting a handsome upgrade with these dynamos that kiddos and adults alike can use again and again. Each one is made from durable waxed canvas that’s a breeze to clean (just wipe it down!), and that pocket in the front is a subtle reminder to leave a little note for someone special (because who couldn’t use some Monday motivation?). And with those color options, you’ll always be able to keep track of whose snacks are whose.

ECOlunchbox Three-in-One Classic

Our Three-in-One is a three-piece nesting bento lunch box set. This nifty bento container makes it easy to pack a variety of foods and keep them all separate - and safe from squishing! Our Three-in-One is perfect packing a healthy entree and two side dishes.

Hydroflask Large Insulated Lunch Box

Lunch is an important part of every day. From quick bites on-the-go to lunch breaks in the park, it’s the meal that powers us through the rest of the day. That’s why we created the ultimate lunch box, featuring maximum insulation to keep contents cold for hours. The sleek, modern design is ready for the office and a durable build is fit for weekend outings. A fully lined interior makes for super easy cleanup, and a flexible handle makes for a comfortable carry—wherever your lunch break takes you.

Red House Waxed Canvas Lunch Tote

Pack it up. When you spend time packing an excellent lunch, you should carry it in something worthy of your time and effort. This waxed canvas bag from Red House in Vermont is the stuff of our childhood lunchtime dreams.

Lékué Lunchbox & Cutlery Set

Double-decker lunch-packer. You’ll be counting down to 12 pm (or 11 am, no judgement) with this genius stackable, portable lunchtime solution. With two tiers, you can pack the salad and the sandwich. Or the salad and the salad. Or even saucy leftover curry—this baby is totally leak-proof. If you want to heat up that curry, no prob—the BPA-free silicone is microwave-safe, not to mention easy to wash out at the end of the day (or just toss in the dishwasher). There’s even a slim compartment to store a set of cutlery, and a silicone strap that keeps the stacks snug while you go from home to work or school and back again. It’s like bunk beds, but for lunch.

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This Timber Prefab by Manta North Is What Dreams Are Made Of

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-17 20:03

The Scandinavian-inspired prefab—a minimalist design that starts at $179K—is one family’s happy place by the sea.

Juris Grišins and Laura Komisare needed a break. Life in the big city of Riga, Latvia’s capital, was exhilarating, but the couple wanted somewhere they and their two children could spread out and connect with nature. "I come from a small town, and the first few summers I spent in the city were painful," remembers Laura.

Manta North Slope By The Sea exterior

The Manta North home is built from cross-laminated timber (CLT). The cladding is thermally modified wood, which, when left untreated, ages gracefully into a warm grey, helping it blend into its rustic seaside surrounds.

Courtesy of Manta North

Seeking some solitude and a view of the Baltic Sea, Laura and Juris, who works in finance, found an idyllic lot close to the small village of Roja, steps from the Gulf of Riga. But then the question became, what to build on the lot?

They approached an architect friend who had helped them remodel their apartment in Riga, and she drew up a plan for a summer home. "We told her what we wanted and the proposed home was twice as large as our apartment in the city!" says Laura. "Plus, digging the foundations for such a structure was going to be so expensive and so permanent."

No one knows what’s around the corner in life, says Laura, and they didn’t want to be tied down. So, they turned to prefab.

Laura and Juris chose Manta North's Slope model, which differs from its Ray model just in the roof shape. The metal roof can be built to incorporate solar panels.

Laura and Juris chose Manta North’s Slope model, which features a gable roof. Their Ray model comes with a flat roof, but either can be built to incorporate solar panels.

Courtesy of Manta North

Another friend, Raimonds Gusarevs, had recently founded a prefab home building company specializing in designs no larger than 600 square feet. Based in Latvia, Manta North is an effort to bridge the gap between the homeowner and the factory, to make the home building process simpler and more efficient, says Gusarevs. "We have fixed prices, four floor plans, and two types of roofs to select from," he explains.

Sliding glass doors help this tiny home expand into an indoor/outdoor living space, augmented by the addition of a deck.

Sliding glass doors open up the compact home, creating an indoor/outdoor living scheme. A deck further expands the living space.

Courtesy of Manta North

Manta’s two models—the Slope with the gabled roof and the Ray with a flat roof—can be configured and purchased entirely online, delivered direct to the site, and installed in less than two hours. "Manta means ‘good thing’ in Latvia, and our homes are good things from the North," says Gusarevs.

Gusarev also points out that every structure leaving their factory is carbon negative, removing three tons of carbon from the atmosphere thanks to the materials used and engineering processes employed.

"We don’t have all the extra expenses of a big house, we can clean it ourselves, and it is totally sufficient for what we need and how we use it." 

–Laura Komisare, resident

Laura furnished the home with pieces from Hay, String, and Muuto, and had this sofa made by a local company in Roja, Lett. The artwork is by a Zane Tuča, a Latvian artist.

Laura furnished the home with pieces from Hay, String, and Muuto, and had this sofa made by Lett, a local company based in Roja. The artwork is by a Zane Tuča, a Latvian artist.

Courtesy of Manta North

Each is highly energy-efficient, featuring cross-laminated timber construction and cladding in thermally modified wood—timber that’s been heated at high temperatures for durability and strength. All materials used are sustainable and environmentally friendly, resulting in an eco-conscious design that promotes simpler living.

For Laura and Juris, it was the perfect solution for their summer retreat. "We don’t have all the extra expenses of a big house, we can clean it ourselves, and it is totally sufficient for what we need and how we use it," says Laura. "It also gives us a lot of flexibility for the future. We can just bring it with us if we move."

Manta North Slope By The Sea child's bedroom

Storage is the biggest challenge of living in close quarters, and Laura maximized the space with customizable built-in cupboards from String Furniture. The family also keeps very little here, bringing with them only what they need.

Courtesy of Manta North

The two-bedroom, one-bathroom home arrived fully equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, and all lighting, heating, and water fittings and fixtures in place. All the couple needed to add was furniture.

While it can get a bit tight at times, "especially when it’s raining!" says Laura, the home’s minimalist aesthetic and 516-square-foot floor plan promotes being closer to nature. "We spend a lot of time outside, walking in the woods, going to the beach," she says.

Her daughter, who’s six, and her son, three, enjoy running around outside. An adjacent open shed, also made by Manta North, provides shelter to enjoy dinner al fresco during the warmer summer months. It’s also an excellent spot for building snowmen in the winter.

The home has a single bathroom with a tiled shower and small sink. There are some customization options when ordering a Manta North home, including the choice of black or grey light fixtures.

The home has a single bathroom with a tiled shower and small sink. There are some customization options when ordering a Manta North home, including the choice of black or gray light fixtures.

Courtesy of Manta North

Originally intended as a summer house, the family has found they use it almost every weekend. During the pandemic, the space proved perfect for isolating before a family gathering over Christmas. "We stayed here for ten days, and it was wonderful," recalls Juris. "It felt like another reality."

With no TV and few modern distractions, they spend their time reading, walking, or just sitting and listening to the sound of the sea. "It’s a great place for doing nothing," says Laura.

A String Furniture dresser, simple bed, and Hey indoor/outdoor chair complete Laura and Juris' bedroom, whose focal point is the picture window and breathtaking view of the Bay of  Riga.

A String Furniture dresser, simple bed, and Hay indoor/outdoor chair complete Laura and Juris’s bedroom, where the focal point is the picture window and breathtaking view of the Bay of Riga.

Courtesy of Manta North

Manta North was founded in 2018 and Laura and Juris’s home was the third to roll off the factory floor. Subsequently, the company has produced close to 30 more prefabricated homes, delivering them to Iceland, Germany, Denmark, Sweden, and Switzerland.

Its two models start at $179,000 for 516 square feet, preinstalled with smart lighting, radiant floor heating, and mini-split air conditioning units that can be controlled with a voice assistant and a smartphone app. In the future, Manta plans to create units that can connect, allowing for home configurations spanning up to 1,500 square feet.

The company expects to have U.S. manufacturing facilities in place next year, with homes being delivered in both New York and California in early 2022.

Courtesy of Manta North

Floor Plan for House by the Sea

Floor Plan for House by the Sea

Illustration by Tim Lohnes

A Cramped Attic Apartment in Madrid Is Revived With Mirrored Walls and a Blue Floor

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-17 12:57

Gon Architects transform a 323-square-foot urban dwelling owned by a music-loving journalist into a beach-inspired retreat with theatrical details.

After living in the same small and dark attic apartment in Madrid’s Lavapiés neighborhood since 1993, Spanish journalist Manuel made the decision to transform the 323-square-foot unit into a bright space that feels more like a holiday home. "We called the apartment Beach House, which refers to the client’s desire to live in a space that has all the attributes of a vacation house—bright, carefree and comfortable," says architect Gonzalo Pardo, founder of local firm Gon Architects. "The difference is that this house is located in the center of a city without a sea."

Photo by Imagen Subliminal

The original apartment was split into three rooms—a living space with a kitchen and dining area, plus a bedroom and bathroom—with a semihidden terrace that the resident rarely used. In addition, the sloping roof featured exposed wooden beams that gave the space what Pardo describes as a "somewhat gloomy" feeling. "When we arrived, we were very clear about the actions needed to transform the space," says the architect. "They can be summed up in three words: demolish, perforate, and furnish."

Photo by Imagen Subliminal

Photo by Imagen Subliminal

As a result, the existing wall between the bedroom and living space was demolished, and new perforations were added to the roof to create skylights that flood the interior with natural light. The perimeter of the apartment was also furnished with a bespoke, floor-to-ceiling storage system that is covered in mirrors and includes a kitchenette.

Photo by Imagen Subliminal

Photo by Imagen Subliminal

Manuel’s passions include listening to rock music and opera, as well as using social networks, such as Instagram. In response to these interests, the architect incorporated scenographic elements into the space, such as a large, gray curtain that the resident can close to divide the primary living area from the bathroom, storage wall, and front entrance. Strategically placed mirrors make the compact apartment feel more expansive and also allow Manuel to take selfies with his home in the background.

Photo by Imagen Subliminal

Photo by Imagen Subliminal

Photo by Imagen Subliminal

"The final outcome is a luminous apartment that can be modified by opening and closing the curtain depending on the mood," says Pardo. "The passage from one room to the next is fluid, and each [area] is characterized by the few pieces of furniture in the apartment—a table, three chairs, a lamp, an armchair, and the bed."

Photo by Imagen Subliminal

Because the intention was to create a relaxed and comfortable space for Manuel, the architect used a simple material palette marked by ceramic tiles, mirrors, and simple painted finishes. Still, one of the defining features of the renovated apartment is the bright, Yves Klein blue–painted floor, which works to reduce the overt brightness that was introduced through the addition of the skylights and establish a unifying element that runs through the interior. "[The International Klein Blue floor] creates a dialogue with the sky and helps to blur the boundaries between the interior/exterior, public/private, and open/closed spaces," Pardo says.

Photo by Imagen Subliminal

Photo by Imagen Subliminal

The terrace—which is connected to the unit via glazed doors and a tiled wall that continues from the interior to the exterior—is one of Pardo’s favorite elements of the project. "The tiled bench on the terrace invites you to lie down and take a nap on summer afternoons, eat with friends, or just sit and read," says the architect. What more could you want from an urban apartment designed to evoke the relaxed lifestyle offered by a beach house? 

Before and after floor plans of Beach House by Gon Architects

Before and after floor plans of the Beach House by Gon Architects

Gon Architects

Floor plan of Beach House by Gon Architects

Floor plan of the Beach House by Gon Architects

Gon Architects

Section of Beach House by Gon Architects

Section of the Beach House by Gon Architects

Gon Architects

Section of Beach House by Gon Architects

Section of the Beach House by Gon Architects

Gon Architects

A Dreamy, Minimalist Retreat in Spain Opens to Its Lush Surroundings

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 22:35

Positioned along the Mediterranean, the family home features modernist lines and a living area that connects to a gorgeous backyard.

Situated below La Concha mountain in the Spanish city of Marbella is a simple white home tucked into a lush site. With a detached guest house, the residence, a renovation and expansion of an old villa by Febrero Studio, was imagined for a young couple with a baby who love entertaining family and friends. Clean lines and pure forms evoke modernist aesthetics, while its character and materiality speak to local vernacular.

Photo by Germán Saíz

"The brief was very clear from the first moment," says Febrero Studio, a Madrid-based architecture and design firm founded by Mercedes Gonzales Ballesteros and Jesús Díaz Osuna. "They wanted a house with open spaces that create a big impact and a calm, peaceful atmosphere."

Photo by Germán Saíz

Photo by Germán Saíz

Photo by Germán Saíz

The volumes of the main home are shaped by the structure of the villa that stood on the site. It had been completely abandoned, but the structural brickwork and concrete was in perfect condition. So, the architects decided to preserve these elements and extend the existing structure out to create the new home.

Photo by Germán Saíz

Photo by Germán Saíz

Photo by Germán Saíz

Photo by Germán Saíz

The roughly 3,230-square-foot home is divided into a private "night area" and expansive, open-plan space for living, cooking, and dining. The living space is on a lower level that opens to the pool, and a semipublic entrance corridor separates the two spaces. There’s also a separate guest house, which is fully independent.

Photo by Germán Saíz

Photo by Germán Saíz

The floor of the "day area" extends from the interior to the exterior and leads out to the pool, which is surrounded by a lush garden. This, in addition to large windows that frame the surrounding landscape, and the pergola that shades the outdoor dining space near the pool, dissolve the lines between inside and out. Conversely, the "night area" of the home has smaller window and door openings, giving the space a more private feeling.

Photo by Germán Saíz

Photo by Germán Saíz

Photo by Germán Saíz

Photo by Germán Saíz

Photo by Germán Saíz

Throughout, a palette of natural materials complement the beautiful setting. The floor is constructed from large sheets of natural stone by Pangaea, the walls are artisanal clay, and all the timber is American ash with a natural water-based protection.

Photo by Germán Saíz

Photo by Germán Saíz

Photo by Germán Saíz

"All interior materials are natural and in the same range of color—mainly beige and sand," say the designers. "It took a lot of time to find the various materials and to get them to work together as a whole."

Photo by Germán Saíz

Photo by Germán Saíz

The natural materiality of the home is complemented by carefully crafted timber furniture and statement lighting, such as the simple timber beam that hangs above the kitchen island, or the trio of striking geometric pendants above the dining table.

Photo by Germán Saíz

Photo by Germán Saíz

Photo by Germán Saíz

"All the spaces in the home have been designed for slow life and relaxation without any shrillness and are based on the purity of materials," say the designers. "Our favorite part of the project is the way the kitchen and living area open out to the pergola and pool in one continuous space."

Photo by Germán Saíz

Plan of Casa JMA by Febrero Studio

Floor Plan of Casa JMA by Febrero Studio

Febrero Studio

This Norwegian Tiny House on Wheels Will Take You Anywhere You Want to Go

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 22:08

Norske Mikrohus’s latest project is a 174-square-foot-home that promises to get you closer to nature.

Norske Mikrohus’s latest project, Rast, is a 174-square-foot-home that promises to get you closer to nature.

David and Jeanette Reiss-Andersen, the cofounders of Oslo-based Norske Mikrohus, just unveiled their most compact design to date: a wood-wrapped tiny house named Rast. "We created Rast for anyone who wants to experience the outdoors close up, and in a sustainable way," David says.

The 174-square-foot tiny getaway home on wheels that Jeanette Reiss-Andersen of Norske Mikrohus recently designed is clad in dark-stained Norwegian spruce that blends with nature.

Designed by Jeanette Reiss-Andersen of Norske Mikrohus, Rast is a 174-square-foot tiny home clad in dark-stained Norwegian spruce.

Aksel Jermstad

Clad in local timber, Rast measures 174 square feet. "Norwegian spruce is light and weather resistant," David says. "We wanted it to be as lightweight as possible, so that it would be able to access dense and remote areas. The fact that it has wheels means that it doesn’t leave any footprint."

The designer clad the interior walls and ceiling with a pale birch veneer and vinyl flooring. The living area of the tiny home displays a built-in convertible table and daybed.

The interior walls and ceiling are covered with a pale birch veneer, and the flooring is vinyl. The living area of the tiny home has a built-in convertible table and daybed.

Aksel Jermstad

The living room daybed converts to a bed when it's time to sleep. A built-in table at the foot of the bed folds in and can be used as a nightstand or shelf.

The living room daybed converts to a bed when it’s time to sleep. A built-in table at the foot of the bed folds in and can be used as a nightstand or shelf.

Aksel Jermstad

Jeanette, who designed the tiny home, selected a dark stain to make the Norwegian spruce exterior blend with the landscape. She outfitted the interior walls and ceiling with a pale birch veneer that expresses the wood grain. "The birch veneer has a beautiful glow when oiled," David says. "Much of our inspiration came from the Norwegian hills, fjords, mountains, and lakes...our tiny home concept is based on being able to live in nature without interfering with it."

The bath and a secondary sleeping area, equipped with bunk beds, are arranged at one end of the open-plan kitchen area.

The bath and a secondary sleeping area, equipped with bunk beds, are arranged at one end of the open-plan kitchen.

Aksel Jermstad

The tiny house on wheels is marked by large windows and glass double doors that swing open and tie the interior to the outdoors. "We consider the outside environment to be just as important as the indoors, especially with this model," David explains. Large windows, even in the shower, provide plenty of sunlight and let the outside in.

A sculptural built-in ladder accesses the bunk beds, which are adjacent to the bathroom.

A sculptural, built-in ladder leads to the upper bunk, and the bathroom lies next door.

Aksel Jermstad

Rast is designed with Nordic weather conditions in mind—its roof can withstand heavy snowfall, and its walls incorporate thick insulation made of wool, glass, and aluminum. On sunny winter days, occupants can stay warm and comfortable inside while still feeling tied to the outdoors. "The large window in the shower really puts you in touch with the natural surroundings," David says.

The large bathroom features an open shower, a large window, and a combustion toilet.

The large bathroom features an open shower, a large window, and an incinerating toilet.

Aksel Jermstad

The couple outfitted the living area with a built-in daybed that converts to a double bed at night. "During the day, it works as a sofa and features a small built-in table that folds out and offers a place to enjoy a meal and the view," David says.

The secondary sleeping area, which is arranged with bunk beds, can accommodate up to four people. A small table pulls out from the foot of the lower bunk bed and offers a second compact dining area.

Sunlight pours in through the windows and highlights the wood grain that wraps the interior, lending warmth and texture.

Sunlight pours in through the windows, highlighting the wood grain that wraps the tiny home’s interior.

Aksel Jermstad

For storage, the couple tucked hidden drawers and shelving into built-in furniture pieces. Storage shelves can be found beneath the surface of the pull-out table, and the living room daybed lifts up to reveal two large storage drawers that pull out from beneath it. "Those drawers can hold anything from bedding to luggage and hiking equipment," David says.

Two sizable storage drawers pull out from beneath the built-in daybed in the living area.

Two sizable storage drawers pull out from beneath the built-in daybed in the living area.

Aksel Jermstad

The designer outfitted the kitchen with a compact dishwasher, which is hidden within the birch veneer cabinetry.

The designer outfitted the kitchen with a compact dishwasher, which is hidden within the birch veneer cabinetry.

Aksel Jermstad

According to David and Jeanette, tiny homes offer the ideal way to travel. "They’re affordable and require less maintenance," David says. "Rast supports a general minimalist trend, and appeals to environmentally conscious people, who want the freedom that comes with traveling and living simply and sustainably."

Rast provides the feeling of being outdoors wile remaining inside.

Rast provides the feeling of being outdoors while remaining inside.

Aksel Jermstad

A New Book Brings to Light the Profound Impact of Women Designers

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 21:29

It’s been right in front of us all along, but architect Jane Hall’s latest book makes it abundantly clear: Design as we know it would be nothing without a woman.

Hella Jongerius. Polder Sofa, 2005.

Since the early 20th century, women have been a steady force within the design world. However, their efforts by and large have gone overlooked, relegated to the shadows of those of their male counterparts. In Woman Made: Great Women Designers, British architect and author Jane Hall compiles outstanding works that have greatly impacted the trajectory of design, giving female creatives the attention they deserve.

The book features work by more than 200 designers from 50 countries, alongside an insightful introduction by author Jane Hall.

Woman Made features works by more than 200 designers from 50 countries.

Photo courtesy of Phaidon

"The patriarchal nature of architecture, among many reasons, is why a large number of women leave the profession in pursuit of other focuses, which often lead many into other design disciplines," argues Hall. "An incredibly high number of architects featured in Woman Made started out in architecture, so it felt like an apt way to make visible even more women who have done, and are continuing to, make important work that often goes unseen across all fields of design."

The work featured covers everything from textiles and household items to large furniture pieces, and each is accompanied by an extended caption that puts the project and the designer in context.

Inside are a range of designs, from textiles and household items to large furniture pieces. Each is accompanied by an extended caption that provides context for the project and the designer.

Photo courtesy of Phaidon

The book spans designers from the early 20th century to present day, highlighting the experiences of women responsible for profound innovations. Take the modular apartments designed by Charlotte Perriand in the late 1920s, for example, which were a response to changing attitudes to family life. On a more conceptual level, Hall offers Jane Dillon’s whimsical furniture, an attempt to reclaim the home from the patriarchal gaze.

Mid-Century designer Ray Eames is arguably one of the most famous names to be featured in the book. She is known for creating some of the world's most iconic pieces of furniture in collaboration with her husband, Charles, such as the Eames Lounge Chair for Herman Miller.

One of the most notable names in the book is midcentury designer Ray Eames, who, with her husband, Charles, created some of the world’s most iconic pieces of furniture. The Eames lounge chair, produced by Herman Miller, remains a fixture in many homes.

Photo courtesy of Phaidon

With the book, Hall aims to give credit where credit is due. "Women in design face the same types of obstacles that women in other professions experience," she explains. "The greatest threat is that a gender bias means we are less likely to see the work of women in comparison to their male counterparts"—which makes a work like Woman Made—a compendium of pioneers and newcomers in the fields of architecture and design—all the more important.

Woman Made: Great Women Designers is now available for preorder, and is set for release on October 13, 2021.

Aino Aalto: Pressed Glass 4644 for Iittala

Aino Aalto. Pressed Glass 4644, 1932.

Finland was one of the few countries to allow women to enter the architectural profession before the end of the nineteenth century, so when Alno Aalto graduated in 1920 from Helsinki University, women were already a fixture of the industry. She quickly found work, eventually moving to the office of Alvar Aalto, whom she had met at university and who would become her husband and lifelong collaborator. In 1932, Alno placed second in a competition held by manufacturing firm Karhula—which later merged with Iittala—for her Bölgeblick line of affordable utility glassware. Decorative and functional, the simple ribbed exterior of each piece—inspired by the effect of a stone hitting water—allows the Press Glass 4644 to be mass produced from molds in a mechanized pressing process. The piece is still in production today.

Photo by Timo Junttila and courtesy of Iittala

Liisi Beckman: Karelia Easy Chair for Zanotta

Liisi Beckman. Karelia Easy Chair, 1966.

In 1957, Liisi Beckmann moved to Milan, establishing a successful career designing for numerous Italian design firms. Her designs, however, remain mostly invisible with the exception of the Karella Easy Chair designed for Zanotta in 1966. Its undulating form of expanded polyurethane foam covered in vinyl has become an iconic piece, inspired by the coves of Karella, the region of Finland where Beckmann grew up and the chair’s namesake.

Courtesy of Modest Furniture

Anna Castelli Ferrieri: Componibili Modular Storage System for Kartell

Anna Castelli Ferrieri. Componibili Modular Storage System, 1967.

Like many young Italian designers in the early postwar period, Anna Castelli Ferrieri was heavily influenced by European architecture circles. She was the first woman to graduate in architecture from the Politecnico di Milano and founded the plastic furniture fabrication company Kartell with her husband Giulio Castelli. Many of her pieces are still in production, including the popular Componibili Modular Storage System. First shown at the Salone del Mobile in Milan in 1967, it was one of the first products made using the progressive technology of injection-molded ABS plastic, and was designed with an interlocking shape that allowed multiple components to stack.

Courtesy of Kartell U.S.

Carol Catalano: Capelli Stool for Herman Miller

Carol Catalano. Capelli Stool 1999.

In 1999, having recently finished a large-scale, client-led project, designer Carol Catalano wanted to focus on something in-house with greater creative freedom, so she entered the International Furniture Design Competition held in Asahikawa, Japan. Requiring a full-scale prototype, she built her Capelli Stool in her garage, and it became a winning entry. Inspired by the intertwined fingers of clasping hands, the design gracefully interlocks two molded-plywood pieces in an elegant construction that requires no fastenings. A year after winning, Catalano licensed the stool to Herman Miller.

Photo: Courtesy of Herman Miller

Rossana Hu: Lan Sofa for Gan

Rossana Hu. LAN Sofa, 2018. LAN collection for GAN, designed by Neri&amp;Hu

Architect Rossana Hu and her husband and partner in practice Lyndon Neri explore what they refer to as a transitional style between old and new across continents, rejecting the idea that they represent simply a modern Chinese aesthetic. Hu embraces a synthesis between interior design and architecture, arguing for a greater integration of intellectual discourse in the former, and a more holistic approach to the latter, which she reflects in furniture like the Lan sofa. The piece blends Eastern and Western design sensibilities: The deep indigo hue references Chinese home decoration traditions while the extended fabric back component emphasizes Spanish manufacturer Gan’s history as a textile brand.

Courtesy of Gan

Hella Jongerius: Polder Sofa for Vitra

Hella Jongerius. Polder Sofa, 2005.

The Polder sofa manufactured for Vitra utilizes prolific Dutch designer Hella Jongerius’s expertise in weaving and textiles, having previously spent ten years as an art director for colors and materials at Vitra. In her book, I Don't Have a Favourite Colour, Jongerius describes the research-led design methodology she developed at the Swiss furniture company, where she combined complex, highly engineered construction techniques with low-tech traditional crafts to make products that were contemporary and long lasting. The Polder sofa, which comes in many colors, such as blues and greens, demonstrates this approach through its combination of different weaves in a low, asymmetrical form.

Photo by Marc Eggimmann and courtesy of Vitra

Mira Nakashima: Concordia Chair

Mira Nakashima. Concordia Chair, 2003.

Mira Nakashima dedicated her practice to a single material: wood. Her pieces celebrate the knots and idiosyncrasies found in timber, reflecting the dictum of her father, George Nakashima, that there is a perfect and singular piece of wood for each design. Nakashima inherited her father’s woodworking studio in 1990 after having worked with him since returning from studying architecture in Tokyo at Waseda University. The walnut Concordia chair was created for a group of local chamber musicians. Its flat seat and upright back allow the musicians to play exuberantly without any obstruction to bowing.

Courtesy of George Nakashima Woodworkers

Jay Sae Jung Oh: Savage Sofa

Jay Sae Jung Oh. Savage Sofa, 2016.

With sweeping black folds molded into a buoyant, amorphous shape, the Savage sofa creates an unusual seat form that seems at once inviting while also entirely improbable for its material strangeness. This tension encapsulates Jay Sae Jung Oh’s design philosophy of combining the aesthetic priority of art and images with the tactility of design. The first iteration of the Savage Sofa, which forms part of a series, was made while Oh was studying at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Michigan, where she noticed dumpsters often overflowing with discarded prototypes for items ranging from patio furniture to musical instruments. She collected these objects and combined them with other refuse into an assemblage of waste that she then wrapped with natural jute cord.

Courtesy of Design Gallery

Faye Toogood: Roly-Poly Chair for Driade

Faye Toogood. Roly-Poly Chair 2014.

British artist Faye Toogood runs an interdisciplinary practice working across sculpture, furniture, and fashion design. Her career path was unconventional: She first studied art history at Bristol University, after which she worked as a stylist for World of Interiors. With no formal design training, Toogood’s work does not play by industry rules—it is playful, yet deeply serious. Toogood describes her studio’s designs as "deeply human," which can be felt in the Roly-Poly chair, whose smooth, dish-shaped seat supported by chunky legs gives it a sense of refined childishness.

Photo by Angus Mill

Patricia Urquiola: Tropicalia Chair for Moroso

Patricia Urquiola. Tropicalia Chair 2008.

"Spanish-born, Milan-based Patricia Urquiola studied under the designer Achille Castiglioni at the Politecnico di Milano—she credits her interest in designing for the everyday to Castiglioni’s own concept of "tools for living," where objects should stand the test of time, used until they wear out. Her fusion of the artisanal and the industrial can be seen in her tubular steel-framed Tropicalia chair for Italian manufacturer Moroso, where woven threads of thermoplastic polymer, polyester, or artificial leather create both pattern and structure.

Photo by Alessandro Paderni

Ionna Vautrin: Lamp TGV for SNCF

Ionna Vautrin. Lamp TGV, 2017.

Ionna Vautrin makes everything from small utilitarian objects to furniture—all suffused with a sense of mischief and play. Vautrin was working in Paris with designers Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec when she won the Grand Prix de la Creation de la Ville de Paris for her design of the Binic table lamp, a 2010 creation. In 2011, Vautrin left the Bouroullecs to set up her own studio, and she was subsequently approached by the French national railway, SNCF, who had used the Binic to illustrate plans for the interiors of new train carriages. Invited to develop a bespoke lamp to be used throughout the rail system, Vautrin created the Art Deco–inspired Lamp TGV, named for the country’s high-speed rail service. With two shades and a rounded shape, the object perfectly synthesizes Vautrin’s belief in design as a meeting between industry and poetry.

Photo by Michel Geisbrecht

Woman Made: Great Women Designers

Woman Made is the most comprehensive book on women designers ever published—a celebration of more than 200 women product designers from the early twentieth century to the present day. This glorious visual celebration of the most incredible and impactful design ever produced by women designers flips the script on what is historically considered a man’s world. Featuring more than 200 designers from more than 50 countries, including icons and trailblazers past and present such as Ray Eames, Eileen Gray, Florence Knoll, Ilse Crawford, Faye Toogood, Nathalie du Pasquier, it records and illuminates the fascinating and overlooked history of women preeminent in the field. With each designer represented by a key product and short text, this fascinating A-to-Z survey shines a vital spotlight on the most extraordinary objects made by women designers but, more importantly, offers a compelling primer on the best in the field of design demonstrating that design is not—and never has been—a man’s world.

The Dwell 24: These Are the Designers You Need to Know in 2021

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 18:36

Every year, we present the most exciting designers making furniture, lighting, and other objects for your home. Here is this year’s list...

View the 2021 Dwell 24 right now

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Read a bit about our selection...

For three years, we’ve been asking everyone featured in the Dwell 24, our annual roundup of exceptional emerging designers, to reply to a Proust Questionnaire–style survey about their lives and work. And this year, for the first time, none of them chose the dictum "less is more" as a personal credo. San Francisco designer Viviana Matsuda went so far as to call out minimalism generally: "I think it’s very arrogant and has notes of classism." At Dwell, we don’t wholly agree. Taken as a style signifying the privilege to have a fashionably empty space, it is certainly, well, hollow. But we like to believe subtraction has merits that transcend trends.

K'era Morgan

K'era Morgan

Kwaku Alston

That said, we love the provocation in Matsuda’s statement. It has echoes in the work of many of the designers in this year’s group. Several told us about how they spent time during periods of lockdown and isolation by going deeper into their practice, honing ideas, and focusing on materials or craft rather than responding to external influences. That has resulted in work that feels personal—"That bench is me," says North Carolina designer Esi Hutchinson of one of her recent projects—and that short-circuits many of the cyclical design trends we usually see.

Joyce Lin

Joyce Lin

Photo: Christopher Lee

As always, we aim to spotlight designers from many different backgrounds working in a variety of media and in a multitude of locations and contexts, but as we put together the list, some common threads surfaced. Many are working with found or upcycled materials, or otherwise reckoning with waste in the furniture and textile industries. "We’re desire creators—and are probably very responsible for the amount of waste that society produces," says Brooklyn designer Sean Kim. Others have looked to textiles as a medium for experimentation. Take Singapore designer Tiffany Loy, whose pieces slink down walls and otherwise unravel the rectilinearity of the loom, or New Yorker Liam Lee’s surreal squiggles built up over unnaturally vivid piles, or Brazilian Alex Rocca, who, armed with a tufting gun and a repertoire of oblique film references, makes satisfyingly textured wall hangings.

Alex Rocca

Alex Rocca

Photo by Alex Rocca

Above all, as we put together the first Dwell 24 reflecting a transition from lockdowns toward cautiously venturing out, we saw a variety that defies pre-pandemic design trends in favor of individual obsessions. And if this period emboldens us to, like Matsuda, challenge orthodoxies about what our homes should look like—and to listen to designers who have spent this time refining their distinct voices—we can’t think of a better way for us all to emerge.

View the 2021 Dwell 24!

The Dwell 24: Blue Green Works

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 18:23

At Blue Green Works, creative director Peter B. Staples creates lighting fixtures inspired by film, architecture, and New York City.

Designer Peter B. Staples brings a cinematographer’s eye to his designs for Blue Green Works, the studio he founded last year with longtime collaborators James McAvey and Dan Persechini, who handle the business side of things. 

Photo by Mohamed Sadek

Staples studied film in college, when he considered the field the nexus of his curiosities about architecture, fashion, and narrative, but eventually found his way to design, where his multifaceted interests have informed his work. 

Take the studio’s inaugural Palm lighting collection, which was inspired by the "brutal beach modernism" and storied hedonism of Fire Island Pines, the gay vacation destination. "The luminaires were conceived around sex and voyeurism," Staples says. "They change as you move through them and play with different vantage points or transparencies."

Photo courtesy of Blue Green Works

The studio is based in New York, and the city is providing more inspiration for its next act. "Here, people live out their dreams on the streets and in the restaurants, inside stores and bars," Staples says. "I think it’s all kind of like a movie."

Learn more about Staples by reading the Q&A below.

Hometown: Moline, Illinois

Describe what you make in 140 characters. We make lighting fixtures using steel, brass, slumped glass, and fiberglass.

What's the last thing you designed? We just launched our first collection of lighting: it's a total of seven pieces between two series.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? Music and coffee.

How do you procrastinate? Listing to the same song on repeat until I find some clarity.

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? Ceiling fans and televisions. I just think we could do better. They should be great objects, not just appliances.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? Horace Gifford, Jim Jarmusch, Piet Hein Eek, Rihanna, Billy Cotton, Frank O'Hara, and Nina Simone.

What skill would you most like to learn? Carpentry.

What is your most treasured possession? I have a painting of Olivia Hussey from Franco Zeffirelli's Romeo and Juliet that my grandmother painted from a photo in Life Magazine. It hung in the entryway of their house when I was a kid and I always loved it. It's mesmerizing — Juliet has this amazingly intense gaze and the composition is a bit off. I have it in my apartment now and I'm more in love with it every day.

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? I grew up in a Gustav Stickley house surrounded by craftsman furniture. I remember it as being rich and moody like the inside of an instrument: a lot of wood, a lot of resonance. I also remember playing on a golden shag rug and dancing to the Velvet Underground.

What contemporary design trend do you despise? Despise is a strong word but I'm worried about how much marble we have left.

Finish this statement: All design should... Serve a purpose while making you feel something.

What's in your dream house? A Joe D'Urso coffee table, a Piet Hein Eek cabinet, some great Stickley chairs, some Donald Judd art, white slipcovered sofas, and my friends.

How do you want design to be different after we emerge from the pandemic? More realistic. More open. More approachable. More conscious.

You can learn more about Blue Green Works by visiting their website and on Instagram.

The Dwell 24: Studio Liam Lee

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 18:21

New York–based designer Liam Lee is quickly gaining notice for his vibrant, captivating textile panels.

Liam Lee’s textiles contain multitudes. The meandering lines and clustered forms that traverse his throws can alternatively be seen as representing microbes, star charts, or topographic maps. "I let the compositions unfold organically," the New York designer explains. "I think of them as large-format, slow sketches." 

Photo courtesy of Studio Liam Lee

For Lee, the labor-intensive process of dyeing and hand-felting merino fibers into a woven base began in 2019 as a side project from his day job as a set designer. When the Covid-19 pandemic halted productions, he was able to keep working on textiles from the confines of his apartment, and the solo design practice became a full-time pursuit. 

Photo courtesy of Studio Liam Lee

While Lee’s panels are available through the Noguchi Museum and Heath Ceramics, they live a second life on social media, where their tactile qualities translate vividly. "My goal is to provide a space that viewers can project themselves into," Lee says, "to allow for a moment of meditation." 

Read the Q&A with Lee below to learn about his connection to Charles and Ray Eames, his enviable library, and more. 

Hometown: New York, New York

Describe what you make in 140 characters. I make objects for the home that seek a balance between functionality and aesthetic uncertainty.

What's the last thing you designed? A handful of textile and stoneware pieces for Heath Ceramics.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? Many cups of coffee.

How do you procrastinate? Book hoarding and looking through the books I’ve hoarded.

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? I would love to design a collection of cookware that can take a lot of use and gets better with age. I love to cook and feel that cooking with beautiful, well-made tools makes the experience all the more enjoyable.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? A few ofmine are Martin Puryear, Jens Quistgaard, Rei Kawakubo, Hayao Miyazaki, John Milton, Djuna Barnes, and Isamu Noguchi.

What skill would you most like to learn? Glassblowing!

What is your most treasured possession? My maternal grandfather, George Matsumoto, bequeathed his collection of architecture books to me. It includes volumes by Max Bill, Lewis Mumford, Sigfried Giedion, Le Corbusier, Frank Lloyd Wright, Buckminster Fuller, and György Kepes. 

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? At my grandparent's house when we were younger, my cousins, siblings and I would try to spin each other as fast as possible in a very old rosewood Eames lounge chair. My grandfather, who studied at Cranbrook in the 40s and became friends with Charles and Ray Eames there, was not at all phased by our game that inevitably and tragically resulted in disaster for the chair.

What contemporary design trend do you despise? Our collective infatuation with the surface of things, which I think has led to design solely for the image of the thing rather than for the thing itself.

Finish this statement: All design should... All design should—on a basic level—serve its intended physical function. But I tend to be drawn to design objects that also elicit some sort of emotional response or get me thinking.

What's in your dream house?An interior courtyard with one magnolia tree.

How do you want design to be different after we emerge from the pandemic? I would like design to be much more tactile.

How can the design world be more inclusive? The design industry can be more inclusive by offering more well-paying, substantial opportunities to designers of color as well as promoting their work and asking them what they need to advance their careers. Museums, design and art schools, firms, galleries, publications should actively recruit and promote people of color to positions of power and pay a living wage.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? People often don’t understand the amount of time and labor—both mental and physical—that goes into creating something new.

You can learn more about Lee's work by visiting his website or on Instagram.

The Dwell 24: Orior

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 18:17

The furniture designers at Orior are applying a contemporary perspective informed by traditional methods.

Though Brian and Rosemary McGuigan established Northern Irish furniture line Orior in 1979, over the past two years the company has been reinvented under the creative direction of their son Ciarán—with the help of their daughter Katie, an occasional adviser who runs her own clothing line. 

Photo courtesy of Orior

"Building on a brand my mom and dad started forty-two years ago, I didn’t want collections," Ciarán says. "I wanted to create objects with their own identity." 

Photo courtesy of Orior

He and his U.S.-based team are reimagining pieces from archival lines in new styles. Katie, in London, is drawing on her experience as a fashion designer to create work like the Orcal rug, which features a bold print inspired by the Irish countryside. 

Photo courtesy of Orior

The McGuigans are reinvigorating their brand through more than just furnishings. In Georgia, where Ciarán went to school, the company is creating a space where staff can meet with clients. Ciarán says, "It’s where we’ll bring our ideas together."

Read the full Q&A with Ciarán below.  

Hometown: Rostrevor, Ireland

Describe what you make in 140 characters. We design and make high-end heirloom furniture

What's the last thing you designed? A desk.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? Linking up with my team on WhatsApp for constant banter.

How do you procrastinate? Reading up on soccer. 

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? A vanity, I could do a banging job

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? My sister Katie Ann McGuigan is my muse

What skill would you most like to learn? I would love to learn how to weave rugs.

What is your most treasured possession? Early works by artists Andrew Humke and Lou Ros.

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? Being immersed in the Orior workshop as a child. 

What contemporary design trend do you despise? I’m not a huge fan of trends.

Finish this statement: All design should… Last.

What's in your dream house? High ceilings, open space, and a ton of art.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry?  The amount of time and thought that goes into every single detail.

You can learn more about Orior by visiting their website and on Instagram.

The Dwell 24: Atra Form Studio

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 18:14

At Atra Form Studio in Mexico City, Alexander Diaz Andersson makes globally inspired furniture that pulls from his Swedish-Mexican roots.

Though Atra Form Studio exudes a distinctly Mexico City cool—no surprise, given its flagship gallery is in chic Colonia Roma, across from famed restaurant Rosetta—its refined but robust furniture is shaped by influences from around the world. 

Photo courtesy of Atra Form Studio

Creative director Alexander Diaz Andersson pulls from his Swedish-Mexican roots, while his mother, Maria, business partner, James Williams, and their team of designers from across Europe and the Americas lend their skills to create work with an increasingly global appeal. 

But that doesn’t mean the company’s output is anything approaching generic. Williams describes the bold but streamlined forms of pieces like the Ala chair as having a "Scandinavian midcentury modern origin but mixed with the flavors and feelings of Central America." 

Photo courtesy of Atra Form Studio&nbsp;

You can learn more about Atra Form Studio by visiting their website or on Instagram.

The Dwell 24: Tiffany Loy

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 18:10

Tiffany Loy’s woven art draws from her deep knowledge of traditional techniques across Singapore, England, and Japan.

Singaporean designer Tiffany Loy describes the weaving loom as the earliest computer, its products a binary system of threads going under and over one another to create images. Her work—shaped by studies in Singapore, England, and Japan—unpacks thousands of years’ worth of knowledge and techniques. 

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Loy

With weaving, "there is so much that one can discover," Loy says. "For example, the same white threads used to weave two different fabrics will result in different shades of white, since the behavior of light and shadow depend so much on the texture." 

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Loy

Though she works with an eye to the past, her creations are inventive and often delicately complex. Her Pastiche textile layers two patterns: Zigzagging fine blue woven lines run over bold painted yellow lines. The composition distorts when stretched over the folds of a Zanotta Sacco bean bag chair, turning a familiar form into something new and beguiling.

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Loy

Photo courtesy of Tiffany Loy

Read the full Q&A with Loy below.

Hometown: Singapore

Describe what you make in 140 characters. I create bespoke textile designs as well as fibre-based art pieces.

What's the last thing you designed? A new type of wall-covering made from a range of environmentally-responsible materials.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? I start the workday with a wholesome breakfast to help me concentrate.

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? The face mask—if it was both effective and extremely comfortable it wouldn't feel like a hassle to use it.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? I admire Dóra Maurer's attitude and enthusiasm for working across a range of media, while expressing ideas along the same thread.

What skill would you most like to learn? Picking up different languages quickly—if that's a skill.

What is your most treasured possession? My first weaving loom.

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? Playing with LEGOs when I was about five years old.

What contemporary design trend do you despise? I'm generally not into trends to begin with.

Finish this statement: All design should... add value to life, or at the very least, not make it more difficult.

What's in your dream house? Space! And plenty of textile surfaces.

How do you want design to be different after we emerge from the pandemic? I'd like design to be less mass-produced, more bespoke, and more appreciated.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? Design takes time.

You can learn more about Loy by visiting her website and on Instagram.

The Dwell 24: Studio Beson

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 18:08

Studio Beson founder, Gregory Beson, harnesses his early experience as a woodworker to create thoughtful, one-of-a kind furniture.

Brooklyn’s Gregory Beson began his career as an apprentice woodworker, learning the trade on renovation and restoration projects in New England. But he started making furniture as a way to create more intimate relationships between objects and their eventual owners. "Every stick of walnut is different, so every table I make is different—the client gets a special table…their table," he says. 

Photo courtesy of Studio Beson

After graduating from Parsons School of Design, Beson introduced a line of wooden furniture alongside more experimental pieces made from materials like rock salt and bonemeal. In whatever medium he is working, Beson subtly composes lines and surfaces, as in the quietly complex Thirds table, made of solid walnut modules. 

Photo courtesy of Studio Beson

Now, as an instructor at Parsons with students and apprentices of his own, he has the resources to explore, guided by his belief in deliberate humanism. "Design should have a tenderness toward people," he says. "It should be thoughtful, caring, and decisive."

Photo courtesy of Studio Beson

You can learn more about Beson by visiting his website and on Instagram.

The Dwell 24: Mac Collins

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 18:06

Mac Collins is a young designer making a big name for himself through his functional furniture and objects that are rooted in the art of storytelling.

You could say that Mac Collins is a storyteller as much as he is a designer. Though he started at England’s Northumbria University with an idea about studying sculpture, he soon developed an interest in creating functional objects that could become part of the narratives of peoples’ lives. "Making chairs is almost the perfect embodiment of that for me," says Collins, now a designer in residence at his alma mater. 

Photo courtesy of Mac Collins

Photo courtesy of Mac Collins

Photo courtesy of Mac Collins

He infuses his work with complex histories, through both visual aesthetics and how his objects manipulate the body. His breakout project, the Iklwa chair, was an exploration into his Afro-Caribbean heritage. The piece is meant to evoke feelings of power and prestige in its user, serving to protest the oppression of his ancestors. "I want to weave these stories into things," Collins says, "and let the narrative lead the design process."

Photo courtesy of Mac Collins

Read the Q&A with Collins below to learn more about the emerging designer.

Hometown: Nottingham, United Kingdom

Describe what you make in 140 characters. I design and make narrative-driven furniture and objects.

What's the last thing you designed? A lounge chair and accompanying stool for the Discovered project, run by Wallpaper* magazine and The American Hardwoods Export Council (AHEC) for the Design Museum, London.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? Since my activities differ day-to-day, the only consistent ritual I have is to prepare my space for the task that I am about preform. My studio environment is not generally the tidiest, and so before instigating a task I will organize and clean that particular desk space to create a calm environment.

How do you procrastinate? I share a studio with another resident designer called Joe Franc, much of the less productive time in the day is spent chatting and joking with him. That being said, though we're not physically completing tasks, the topic of conversation is often rooted in the principles of design and is likely still time well spent.

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? An office/desk chair—firstly, because I need one, the desk chair I currently have was found out the back of a doctors practice. Though it is still fit for purpose, it is one of those recognizable cheap blue ones and it is ugly. So, from a self-indulgent perspective, it would be great to design one specifically for myself. Secondly, modern desk chairs are often so high-tech looking—I would be interested in designing one that still functioned well but was more sleek and striking.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? Maya Angelou for the ability she had to articulate complex ideas so clearly. In design, I would have to say Enzo Mari and Sergio Rodriguestwo figures whose work particularly appealed to me right at the beginning of my education in design. Hella Jongerius, for her unique perspective of the world and approach to creating work.

What skill would you most like to learn? Though I make furniture, I had always had a feeling that I would have been good at designing and making garments. If the opportunity ever arose, I would be keen to develop an understanding of fashion design and pattern cutting.

What is your most treasured possession? A vintage Omega Seamaster watch that was left to me by a close family friend. The object is treasured for numerous reasons. The sentimental stories and history that the object carries. The appreciation I have for the design—the composition of shapes and the interlocking links of silver and gold. The seamless functionality of the object, and the appreciation for the intricate interworks that I have never seen but know are there.

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? There used to be a Muji in Nottingham when I was younger. I was an avid drawer and when I was perhaps 8 years old I was given an aluminum propelling pencil from Muji. I treasured this pencil. I could appreciate that this was more effective and more enjoyable to use than any other pencil I had used before. I could appreciate how it felt in my hand, found the clicking action satisfying, and loved the hidden rubber at the end. I still use these pencils in the workshop some 15 years later.

What contemporary design trend do you despise? Corny transformation furniture.

Finish this statement: All design should... Exist for a reason that is beyond financial gain.

What's in your dream house? A Chieftain Chair by Finn Juhl, 005 Coffee Table by Soft Baroque for Vaarnii and an original painting by Chris Ofili. An iteration of the Soap Table by Sabine Marcelis as my office desk, and a side table by Simone Brewster.

How can the design world be more inclusive? Many groups are excluded from accessing and using certain types of design. Similarly, there are areas of the design sector that are not yet open to designers from all communities, which limits the pool of experiences influencing the design of objects around us. The greater diversity in experiences feeding into the industry, the more sensitive the industry will be to a wider range of individuals.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? The process of coming to the right conclusion in a project is longer than some people expect. Design is a game of decision making—the contemplation to make the right decisions takes time.

You can learn more about Collins by visiting his website or on Instagram

The Dwell 24: K’era Morgan

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 18:03

K-apostrophe is a collection of made-to-order accessories by Los Angeles–based artist K’era Morgan.

K’era Morgan started out as a visual artist, but saw home furnishings as a way to make her creations more accessible to those who might not be able to buy original artwork. "I started with a collection of eight throw blankets, simple as that, because I have a natural affinity for home," the Los Angeles designer says. "And everybody has some sort of connection or memory with a blanket." 

Photo by Kwaku Alston

Her line, k-apostrophe, now also features tapestries, pillows, and prints, all showing off painterly splashes of subdued and comforting colors bounded by organic shapes and lines. 

Photo courtesy of K'era Morgan

Although her patterns hold their own on a flat surface, they really come alive in three dimensions. "I want to see how a two-dimensional surface will change when I make it into an object that can also be folded or wrapped around," Morgan says. 

"When you lay your head down and a surface creases, what happens? There are some beautiful surprises that happen—and I like that."

Photo by Kwaku Alston

Read the Q&A with Morgan below.

Hometown: Los Angeles, California

Describe what you make in 140 characters. I'm an artist and design woven home decor products—pillows, blankets, and tapestries—that are based on my original artworks.

What's the last thing you designed? That is a hard one because I generally multiple design projects happening at the same time, but they all come to completion at different times. I just launched wallpapers in collaboration with the creative consulting firm Wall for Apricots. I recently completed a trio of custom, hand-painted lamp shades for a client and I will be launching new floor and lumbar pillows that are handwoven by an artisan collective in Oaxaca, Mexico.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? Meditation, then journaling/drawing. Mediation is a must for my overall wellbeing. Journaling at times takes the form of written words then other times it takes shape as line drawings in the same sketchbook. There are many days when the tasks of running a business takes me away from the creative aspect of what I do, so I try to dedicate a bit of time daily to doing something creative even if it's drawing for a few moments. It's essential to work that muscle regularly.

How do you procrastinate? The simple answer is, I clean. Since I have a home-based studio, procrastination usually takes the form of doing tasks related to maintaining a household. It's funny how I can rationalize doing housework during work hours instead of working on k-apostrophe. It's one of the reasons I'm forcing myself to consider finding a different studio space away from home although my garage studio is a great space and very convenient.

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? I recently explored how to apply my painting skills and aesthetic to lighting and I would like to continue that exploration. Although I'm not sure more lamps are needed, I'm drawn to the idea of colorful illumination. Lighting is essential and it's often treated as an afterthought. It affects our mood, how we live, how we work, etc. I would love to create something that is a beautiful reminder of how crucial light is in the form of a functional object d'art.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? I'm a fan of many of the designers that I've discovered through the Black Artists + Designers Guild. Learning about the broad community of designers with whom I share a culture that have forged successful careers despite an industry that can be rather exclusive has been very motivational. Doing what they've done is heroic in my eyes.

What skill would you most like to learn? The art of upholstery. I've been enchanted with it for a long time and the idea of giving something old a new life is very appealing to me for sustainability reasons. Just like a fresh coat of paint can change a room, fashioning a new "skin" onto a sofa, for example, can reinvigorate it and thus change the environment in which it is kept. I think it also has to do with growing up in a household and within a culture where we had to be creative with what we had.

What is your most treasured possession? An opal stone that is strung on a necklace that my father gifted my mother for one of her birthdays. She passed it onto me before she transitioned. She and I are both Libras and opals our birthstone. It's shaped into a sphere bead which is almost impossible to do because opal is a soft stone. It wasn't until several years ago when opals started becoming trendy did people actually notice it and comment how beautiful it was.

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? Probably my fascination with the design of KangaRoo sneakers that featured a side zipper pocket. As a latch-key kid, I had to learn to keep up with my house key from a young age and believed this shoe was designed for me and other kids like me. It was a simple invention that made a huge impact on me.

What contemporary design trend do you despise? In general, I don't like trends. This is a result of times that I've felt the pressure as a creative just starting out to design something  in the vein of whatever was popular at that moment in order to achieve the awareness or success that I desired. I learned quickly that is a dangerous place to be in.  So,as a philosophy, I try to stick with what I like and reflect on what it is about a particular design or that calls my attention.

Finish this statement: All design should... have a purpose even if is purely decorative.

What's in your dream house? A lot of natural sunlight, a boat-load of original artwork created by friends and a dining table to seat 10 comfortably. A master bath that includes a fireplace and a tub next to huge windows that look out onto an amazing view. A vintage, curved Milo Baughman sofa and a sitting room with leather flooring.

How do you want design to be different after we emerge from the pandemic? I hope that as designers we will be able to engage more in the process of making and producing what we design—or at least finding sustainable, shorter supply chains. Collaborating with manufacturing partners is and can be a wonderful thing. It's essential for many of us and can be the lifeblood for manufacturers or keeping a craft tradition alive. But there is something to be said when as designers we are also artisans and craftspeople that have the skill to make what we dream up.

How can the design world be more inclusive? By owning the fact that the community has exclusive tendencies and understand or at least examine why or how that is. Then, move beyond the respective bubble. Do the work to connect, extend, and follow through.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry?

You can learn more about Morgan by visiting her website or on Instagram.

The Dwell 24: Studio Biskt

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 18:00

Brussels-based Studio Biskt combines ceramics and industrial design to explore innovative clay creations.

Since establishing Studio Biskt in 2018, Charlotte Gigan and Martin Duchêne have combined their skill sets—Gigan is a ceramicist and Duchêne an industrial designer—to push the possibilities of their material of choice. "We want to take clay out of its usual form as cups and vases to show it’s not fragile," Gigan says. 

Photo courtesy of Studio Biskt

Case in point: their ongoing Balik project, a series of objects incorporating modular clay brick extrusions. In the Balik bench, the clay units span two parallel tubes of metal to create the seat, proving the material’s ability to create a strong, reliable support for every sitter. 

Photo courtesy of Studio Biskt

But their products are more than just engineering innovations; they’re also playful experiments that show how industrial systems can be used to create things surprising and beautiful. Where the duo’s explorations will take them is anyone’s guess. As Gigan puts it, "Our products are constantly in movement and never finished."

Photo courtesy of Studio Biskt

Read the Q&A with Gigan and Duchêne below to learn more about Studio Biskt. 


Arlon, Belgium —Duchêne

Paris, France —Gigan

Describe what you make in 140 characters. We work at the crossroads of art, design, and handcraft.

What's the last thing you designed? We are currently busy with flower pots.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? Hm not really, we discuss every day what we will be doing. It's not really organized.

How do you procrastinate? We talk with our workshop's neighbors.

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? We'd like to bring contemporary ceramic design deeper in our living environment by designing handles or heaters, for example.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? We don't especially have heroes or mentors, but let's say that we are motivated daily by our environnement and our friends who also work in the art and design sector.

What skill would you most like to learn? 

Glass blowing. —Gigan

Handwheel sewing. —Duchêne 

What is your most treasured possession? Our love, ha! 

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? IKEA

What contemporary design trend do you despise? This is not a design trend yet, but we really despise the new space travel companies. 

Finish this statement: All design should... be open source.

What's in your dream house? Simple things and a big garden.

How do you want design to be different after we emerge from the pandemic? We would love to see it become more local.

How can the design world be more inclusive? More simplicity.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? We wish non-designers had a better understanding of the difference between crafts and industry.

You can learn more about Studio Biskt by visiting their website and on Instagram.

The Dwell 24: Llane Alexis

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 17:57

Multidisciplinary artist Llane Alexis utilizes discarded textiles and other materials to create distinctive furniture and home objects.

Some people wake up and brew a cup of coffee to get their day started. Artist Llane Alexis does a headstand. The inversion reflects his distinctive approach to design, which takes waste and turns it into something useful. 

Photo courtesy of Llane Alexis

Alexis began his artistic career in 1997 as a painter in Havana and went on to make a name for himself designing handbags and other accessories. But in his latest chapter, he has begun making furnishings and other objects for the home that mesh painting, sculpture, and personal history—like braided baskets made from salvaged materials. 

Photo courtesy of Llane Alexis

Photo courtesy of Llane Alexis

"I like to use things that are discarded and work with natural fabrics like denim, cotton, and silk," he says. "I love color blocking and playing randomly with my fabrics." That approach and his signature braiding style draw from the handcraft traditions of his hometown, where people would get creative with whatever resources were available. Alexis is now taking that intelligence to the design world through collaborations with California brands like Dosa and Heath Ceramics.

Photo courtesy of Llane Alexis

Photo courtesy of Llane Alexis

Read the Q&A with Alexis below. 

Hometown: San Francisco, California

Describe what you make in 140 characters. I transform off-cut fabric scraps into bags, accessories, and larger-scale home goods such as baskets and furniture objects.

What's the last thing you designed? I created a collection of braided and hand-stitched, painted fabric baskets and doorstops for Nickey Kehoe in Los Angeles.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? A headstand first thing in the morning.

How do you procrastinate? I don’t have time to procrastinate.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? Nature. Everybody copies her.

What skill would you most like to learn? I’m curious about filmmaking and sound design.

What is your most treasured possession? My tools: my scissors, my thread, my needle, my thimble.

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? As a kid growing up in Havana, Cuba, playing baseball was practically mandatory. I hated the sport and still do. But the hand-stitched mitts and baseballs were so beautifully made and are of heirloom quality.

What contemporary design trend do you despise? I don’t despise the trends as much as the followers.

Finish this statement: All design should...inspire and be accessible.

What's in your dream house? A black-bottom pool and an edible garden.

How do you want design to be different after we emerge from the pandemic? There should be no excuse for unsustainable design.

How can the design world be more inclusive? Let’s dismantle, abolish, and restructure to start.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? The labor involved in handcraft.

You can learn more about Alexis by visiting his website and on Instagram.

The Dwell 24: Esi Hutchinson

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 17:55

In North Carolina, Esi Hutchinson creates furniture that is deeply personal and deceptively simple.

"That bench is me," says Fairview, North Carolina–based designer Esi Hutchinson about Occurring Between Me, her surprisingly complex cherrywood seat. From above, the piece could be any other simple wood bench, but a peek below reveals a hectic clutter of crisscrossed supports on one side and two straight legs on the other.

Photo courtesy of Esi Hutchinson

She describes the duality between the chaotic (but still functional) forest of legs and the comparatively staid side as semiautobiographical. In fact, the 2020 RISD grad says this thread of self-reflection runs through all of her work. 

Photo by Peyton Sickles

Photo by Peyton Sickles

"When I’m working on my designs and different projects," Hutchinson says, "I’m just trying to become a better person—or the person I would like to be."

Read the Q&A below to learn more about Hutchinson.

Hometown: Fairview, North Carolina

Describe what you make in 140 characters. I craft objects that reflect my ever-evolving inner dialogue.

What's last thing you designed? I designed a tank top cut low in the front inspired by slits and loops. 

Do you have a daily creative ritual? I am compelled to work with my hands and make things. I would say I am constantly making and scheming up my next project in the meantime— whether that’s in furniture, paint, cloth, or jewelry.

How do you procrastinate? Probably by thinking more about the concept I'm working on. Sometimes I get put off about starting a new project because I’m scared—I don’t want to mess up and disappoint myself.

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? The fact that every iPhone nowadays no longer has an earphone jack blows mind! Big companies want to build upon their success and rapidly release new versions of what is likely already a good design. I think that the earphone jack is a prime example of a good design that just needed to be left alone.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? Simon Porte Jacquemus, the 70-year-old man I play pickle-ball with, and my father.

What skill would you most like to learn? I would love to go to Italy and learn how to make shoes from leather.

What is your most treasured possession? My senses.

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? When I was about seven or eight my dad’s sculptor friend, Bruce Johnson, was volunteering on a building project in the rainforest park where we lived in Suriname. He asked me if I wanted to make something with him. Even though he made most of the project with a chainsaw, I still got to use a grinder to scrape designs on to the four-legged, brownheart stool. I barely could even carry it.

What contemporary design trend do you despise? Epoxy resin tables.

Finish this statement: All design should... At least consider sustainability within every project.

What's in your dream house? My dream house would be a midcentury modern house, full of my friends art, a small pool, and a yard that leads into a forest that's large enough for a hike. And of course a studio with welding and wood machinery, a sewing machine, and a great sound system.

How do you want design to be different after we emerge from the pandemic? I think it would be helpful for the world if design were more sustainable physically and economically.

How can the design world be more inclusive? I grew up in a house filled with vibrant street art, and artist and designers who didn’t have very much and made things with what they had. There are artists and designers literally everywhere. Not just the people who have a websites or an Instagram.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? I wish they understood how much mental and physical effort goes into it. Some people pour their heart and soul into creating things and sometimes that isn’t healthy. It’s hard work.

You can learn more about Hutchinson's work by visiting her website and on Instagram.

The Dwell 24: Döppel Studio

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 17:53

With recent work including NFT collectors’ cards and a collaboration with French furniture brand Sifas, Döppel Studio’s body of work defies categorization.

Parisian designers Jonathan Omar and Lionel Dinis Salazar of Döppel Studio have extracted humor from a rather hopeless time. "During this year of hibernation, we kept thinking about how people like us weren’t shaving," says Omar. "So," adds Dinis Salazar, jumping in, "we decided to apply this effect of the lockdown to modern design icons and see how it would change them. Would they still be recognizable? Would they have the same effect in a room?" 

Photo courtesy of Döppel Studio

The result—their Hairy Design Icons series—has turned such classics as Marcel Breuer’s Wassily chair and Big-Game’s Bold chair into shaggy explosions of electric blue. 

Photo courtesy of Döppel Studio&nbsp;

Photo courtesy of Döppel Studio

Though the pieces were originally only available as NFT collectors’ cards, they will soon be physical. "For us, digital techniques are a way to push the boundaries of the realms of possibility, and we work hard to make the physical match our digital ambition," Omar explains. 

Photo courtesy of Döppel Studio

Read the full Q&A with Döppel Studio below.

Hometown: Nevers, France

Describe what you make in 140 characters. We are a design duo working on micro- to macro-scaled projects.

What's the last thing you designed? A perfume bottle.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? Listening to documentaries and podcasts.

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? We'd like to redesign toilets and trash cans because they have been used everyday for decades but there has been no efficient evolution.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? Jean Prouvé.

What skill would you most like to learn? Handcrafting skills like glass blowing and pottery.

What is your most treasured possession? A pair of dice.

What contemporary design trend do you despise? Fake sustainability and fake craftsmanship.

Finish this statement: All design should... be contextualized.

What's in your dream house? A tree.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? It's not about cost and it's not about fame. It's about culture.

You can learn more Döppel Studio on Instagram.

The Dwell 24: Mash.T Design Studio

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 17:51

Thabisa Mjo is a Johannesburg lighting designer whose work draws from her South African roots.

Johannesburg designer Thabisa Mjo couldn’t have predicted where her work would end up. After graduating with a degree in film production design in 2013, she decided to take her knowledge of lighting, construction, and narrative into "the real world," as she puts it. The result was her first lighting collection, Tutu, which uses a colorful, pleated lampshade to recall the fabrics of a traditional xibelani skirt worn by South African Xitsonga women. 

Photo courtesy of Mash.T Design

In 2015, Mjo impulsively entered the fixtures into the Nando’s restaurant chain’s Hot Young Designer Talent Search and won the chance to create a lighting design that is now used in restaurants around the world. Mjo has since found fans in more rarefied circles as well. The Louvre’s Musée des Arts Décoratifs has made two of her works, a Tutu light and the Mjojo cabinet, part of its permanent collection

Photo courtesy of Mash.T Design

Photo courtesy of Mash.T Design

Read the full Q&A below to learn more about Mjo's approach to design.

Hometown: Johannesburg, South Africa

Describe what you make in 140 characters. Lighting and furniture.

What's the last thing you designed? Two tables including the Flute Table, which is made out of terrazzo, and the Bright Bable, which is woven out of a grass called ilala palm.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? Deep breath in, deep breath out, and constantly reminding myself to just be observant as I go about my day

How do you procrastinate? When I get an idea for a product, I'll see it vividly in my head but it will take me weeks to actually put it down on paper. I suppose there's always the question of how to translate it to paper and ensure it's as great on paper as it is in my head

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? Sneakers for myself as I wear sneakers everyday. A well-made sneaker is one of those things that always makes me think "I wish I'd thought of that."

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? Oki Sato, Peter Mabeo, Bibi Seck, and Beauty Ngxongo.

What skill would you most like to learn? The balance between something beautiful but strikingly simple. And execution—how to make things well.

What is your most treasured possession? I don't know if I have one.

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? My earliest memory of design really came in the form of fashion. I remember being five- or six-years-old and showing up at school in a huge, satin pink baby ballerina dress and everyone looking at me like I was weird.

What contemporary design trend do you despise? I dislike the very idea of trends in and of itself. I feel they inhibit us from being authentic because we might, even on a subconscious level, be always be trying to make something in order to fit in with whatever is trending. This is limiting.

Finish this statement: All design should... be functional and invoke something in us

What's in your dream house? A James Turrell sculpture.

You can learn more about Mjo's work by visiting her website and on Instagram.

The Dwell 24: Richard Yasmine

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 17:49

Beirut-based designer Richard Yasmine creates furniture and objects inspired by his Lebanese heritage.

Beirut designer Richard Yasmine sees two forces pushing his work. The first is a desire to highlight contemporary social and philosophical issues, and the second is to do so in a distinctly personal way that honors his Lebanese heritage. 

Photo courtesy of Richard Yasmine

The result is a style that, in Yasmine’s words, "mixes craziness with sobriety and a dash of fantasy" and probes heavy topics like preparing for a possible afterlife while drawing from forms dating back to the Stone Age. The black-and-white-striped After Ago series, for example, is inspired by Memphis, Art Deco, and brutalist motifs as well as Yasmine’s feelings about his home city and its history. 

Photo courtesy of Richard Yasmine

Photo courtesy of Richard Yasmine

Or take the all-white "The Cure" (Heavenly Pie(a)ces) series, which "is intended to help people struggling with perceived complexities of beauty and time," Yasmine says. "The chair’s backrest is reminiscent of a tombstone, which invokes a message of destiny and regeneration. The pendulum clock is a reminder to seize the moment."

Photo courtesy of Richard Yasmine

Learn more about Yasmine's design ethos by reading the Q&A below.  

Hometown: Beirut, Lebanon

Describe what you make in 140 characters. I stimulate my imaginary world to try out emotional, creative ideas [that are] sometimes provocative but always minimal, bold, and straightforward.

What's the last thing you designed? A new chair minutes ago, which may sees the lights soon or will remain a memoir on my sketch book.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? I'm passionate about coffee. It feels so good for the brain and improves creativity.

How do you procrastinate? Procrastination is the thief of time, and for me time is so precious, we are not allowed to procrastinate.

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? We as designers are already constantly constantly everyday objects and the future generations will keep on redesigning. This is the cycle of life. 

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? Well, my fictional heroes are Tom and Jerry, but someone who gives without expecting something in return is a real life hero.

What skill would you most like to learn? If metaphorically, I can say "control my emotions."

What is your most treasured possession? Time.

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? My paternal family was in the couture industry, therefore I was so attracted by shapes, colors, fabrics, and materials. The interior of the family house was filled with multiple objects and furniture from the '20s, and some art deco and vintage ones. My single hobby was drawing dresses and houses on any paper around...These were my very first memories and a solid base in the structure of my personality.

What contemporary design trend do you despise? Trends have a cyclical pattern, therefore contemporary trends are a reinterpretation of previous movements or an inspiration from various cultural heritage. For that reason I don’t despise any, noting that design must be forever timeless...

Finish this statement: All design should... Evoke a kind of emotional connection.

What's in your dream house? A large kitchen since im a good gourmet chef.

How do you want design to be different after we emerge from the pandemic? Sooner or later we will go back to normal and the show must go on.

How can the design world be more inclusive? The world of "Design" is vast. In my opinion we will always find exclusive, inclusive and accessible design. It's a matter of choice.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? The appreciation of the whole process yet the respect of the journey behind each design object: starting from the concept, sketching, and prototyping until reaching the final outcome. Not to mention the many hours spent by highly anticipated craftsmanship on each object to see the light. A design object is an unwritten book. 

You can learn more about Yasmine by visiting his website and on Instagram.

The Dwell 24: Cassius Castings

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 17:45

At Cassius Castings, founder Thomas Musca makes furniture that pushes the boundaries of concrete.

Thomas Musca, the founder of Cassius Castings, has a fascination with concrete. In 2019, the Cornell architecture grad began experimenting with glass fiber–reinforced concrete furnishings inspired by John Lautner’s Sheats-Goldstein residence and 20th-century Soviet brutalism, both quintessential examples of "concrete forms highlighted by poetic vacancies," Musca says. 

Photo courtesy of Cassius Castings

His hobby snowballed into a Santa Monica, California, business of made-to-order furnishings and custom site-based projects that push concrete’s possibilities. "As long as you can envision a negative space that is structurally sound, you can create it," he says about the material’s plasticity. "Concrete isn’t oppressive. It creates spatial light qualities that help you appreciate the environment around you." 

Photo courtesy of Cassius Castings

Part of Musca’s concrete evangelizing involves "pour parties," where he invites friends and prospective clients to mix and pour the substance into a mold and then watch as furniture materializes before their eyes.

Photo courtesy of Cassius Castings

Read the full Q&A below to learn more about Musca.

Hometown: Santa Monica, California

Describe what you make in 140 characters. I design and make concrete furniture. The goal is to create pieces that turn an inherently clunky substance into something sleek.

What's the last thing you designed? Cassius Castings' latest project is a triple-cast, 21-foot-long, continuous cantilevering concrete bench with integrated tables and armrests. It's an 850-pound custom behemoth for a client's backyard.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? I put on music, sit at the kitchen banquette, and sketch on leftover pieces of wood from previous builds, while consuming multiple espressos. 

How do you procrastinate? If I want to procrastinate big-time, I walk the entire length of L.A.’s Wilshire Boulevard. It's 16 miles of divergent neighborhoods and architectural styles. I take a friend and make a day of it. A meal in K-Town is mandatory.

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? The glue gun. Much of my day is spent building molds and coaxing adhesives to cooperate. You have no idea how many times I've gotten burned. I would come up with a version that protects unsuspecting fingers.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? John Lautner, Jonas Salk, and Nina Simone.

What skill would you most like to learn? Back when Cannondale made their racing bicycle frames in the U.S., the fit and finish of the aluminum welds was spectacular. I’d love to be able to TIG-weld alloys that well.

What is your most treasured possession? My recently acquired pickup truck. Gone are the days of onlookers gawking in hardware store parking lots as I frantically cram plywood into the back of a VW Beetle.

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? My parents had a George Nelson Marshmallow Sofa in the kitchen when my brother and I were toddlers. Its midcentury modular circles were fun to sit on and the ample negative space meant that all the food we spilled fell right through to the floor for easy cleanup. The built world could be playful, useful, and cool. 

What contemporary design trend do you despise? Anonymity. With very few exceptions, major structures are now designed by risk averse teams catering to developers. Architects have ceded far too much ground. This results in nondescript buildings and spaces, utterly devoid of character. Another pet peeve: fake materiality. Ugh. 

Finish this statement: All design should... strive.

What's in your dream house? A 300SL in the garage and a Basquiat in the living room of a Case Study House.

How do you want design to be different after we emerge from the pandemic? By becoming more event based and interactive. People care about something when they witness or participate in its creation.

How can the design world be more inclusive? By paying interns.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? The onus isn’t on the public to understand the industry. It’s on designers to create work that serves human intuition and excites people. 

You can learn more about Cassius Castings on Musca's website and on Instagram.

The Dwell 24: Joyce Lin

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 17:43

Joyce Lin is a multidisciplinary designer whose deconstructed objects explore internal structures.

Like an enthusiastic anatomy professor redecorating her living room, Texas designer Joyce Lin exposes, explodes, and suspends the components of formerly familiar pieces of furniture. 

Photo courtey of Joyce Lin

For Skinned Table, she peeled away an otherwise ordinary specimen’s varnished surface and pinned it back on a few inches above the underlying wood, making skin levitate over bones. Similarly, the dismembered parts of her Exploded Chair are suspended—Damien Hirst–style—in acrylic, as though frozen the moment before they come together or fall apart. 

Photo by Christopher Lee

By working with objects others have discarded, the designer calls attention to how materials are sourced and resources are used and exploited, an interest that goes back to her student days, when she pursued dual degrees in geology-biology and furniture design at Brown University and RISD. 

Photo by Christopher Lee

After graduating in 2017, the Alabama native started her design practice in Houston, where she also manages a woodshop in a 300,000-square-foot makerspace. There, she is surrounded by tinkering engineers—fitting neighbors for someone dissecting the conventions of furniture design. 

Photo by Christopher Lee

Learn why Lin designed her own fanny pack and more by reading her responses to our Q&A below.

Hometown: Birmingham, Alabama

Describe what you make in 140 characters. I make objects that deconstruct furniture forms, materials, and archetypes to make sense of being a maker in a rapidly changing environment.

What's the last thing you designed? A policy document for a communal woodshop.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? Getting stuck in traffic on my daily commute is my greatest source of contemplation and creation.

How do you procrastinate? I don't really procrastinate, but when I am not being a workaholic I watch anime.

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? The fanny pack. I want to like it, but there are some major design flaws regarding size and position, which is why I made my own that I use every day.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? No one is perfect, but I'm constantly inspired by certain qualities in my parents, my old teachers and mentors, and my friends.

What skill would you most like to learn? Basic electrical engineering and financial investment.

What is your most treasured possession? A small blanket given to me by my grandmother when I was born, featuring an image of nine Santa Clauses riding a bus together.

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? I used to make miniature furniture and home goods using trash and scraps like toothpicks and glue caps.

What contemporary design trend do you despise? I have a whole Instagram bookmarks folder of orb lights sitting on phallic shapes. I don't hate it, but it's becoming its own species.

Finish this statement: All design should... have integrity.

What's in your dream house? A spacious woodshop with air conditioning, dust collection, and spray booth!

How do you want design to be different after we emerge from the pandemic? Maybe slow down, and put more thought and care into what we put out in the world.

How can the design world be more inclusive? Lowering tuition costs for design schools, and more financial support for emerging artists and designers who do not have family wealth as a safety net.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? I would like the public to have a greater understanding of how things are made and the time, skill, and money that go into making physical objects.

You can learn more about Lin by visiting her website and on Instagram.

The Dwell 24: Sabourin Costes

Permalink - Posted on 2021-09-16 17:40

The Paris-based duo behind Sabourin Costes create playful designs across creative disciplines including product and furniture design, interior architecture, and visual merchandising.

"Right now, we’re slightly obsessed with resin," says Zoé Costes, cofounder of Paris design practice Sabourin Costes. 

Photo courtesy of Sabourin Costes

The material is perfectly suited for the studio’s experiments with transparency and reflection, its mutability lending itself well to various colors and shapes. "It feels like a playground to us—we spend days making new color recipes and testing different finishes," Costes says. 

Photo courtesy of Sabourin Costes

Photo courtesy of Sabourin Costes

Since joining forces in 2019, Costes and codesigner Paola Sabourin—who met at Design Academy Eindhoven seven years prior—have applied this whimsical approach to a range of products, including hardware, vases, and seating, like the stool from their Boudin collection (below). 

Photo courtesy of Sabourin Costes

Another highlight of theirs is Tribune, an interpretation of a cabinet de curiosité, where the shelf’s high-gloss finish mirrors and appears to multiply the objects on it. "Even though the shelf can be relatively small, it is designed to have impact," Sabourin says. "We liked the idea of having something like a miniature piece of architecture hanging on the wall."

Photo courtesy of Sabourin Costes

Learn more about the duo by reading the Q&A below.

Hometown: Paris, France

Describe what you make in 140 characters. Objects, furniture, and interior spaces. We aim to create objects that bring a bit of joy and poetry into our interiors.

What's last thing you designed? A minimal and bold bench for an entry hall in Marseille, France.

Do you have a daily creative ritual? Not a daily one. Everyday is different, so no rituals per say, just one fluffy creative mess.

How do you procrastinate? We often end up drawing new objects just to avoid finishing what's ongoing and just a little less creative...

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? A light switch—those details can make all the difference and nothing much has been done in that particular field.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, in both)? Charlotte Perriand (a classic) and our mums (a classic, too.)

What skill would you most like to learn? Throwing clay, bronze casting, and scuba diving!

What is your most treasured possession?  

My secondhand travertine, Brutalist low-table. —Paola

Handmade Air France posters from the 70s. And Anakin, Paola's cat.           —Costes

What's your earliest memory of an encounter with design? We really can't remember. It seems like we both discovered design in design school...

What contemporary design trend do you despise? Animal-shaped objects and wallpaper.

Finish this statement: All design should... strike a cord.

What's in your dream house? Windows everywhere and a Pierre Paulin's Osaka couch.

How do you want design to be different after we emerge from the pandemic? We would love the pandemic to bring people in the design industry closer —whether they are designers, editors, gallerist, curators, clients... A bit more kindness and a little less competition, maybe?

How can the design world be more inclusive?  It's about a communal effort that, in our opinion, starts with facilitating access to design education.

What do you wish non-designers understood about the design industry? The amount of work hidden behind every handmade object.

You can learn more about Sabourin Costes by visiting their website or on Instagram.