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Six Industry Innovators Share Their Inspirations from the Lunar Landing

When the Apollo 11 came to rest in the lunar Sea of Tranquility on July 20th, 1969 and began transmitting back to Earth grainy black-and-white images of a spider-legged ship, pale figures within shiny helmets, and, a bit later, magisterial photographs of Earth itself against the black void of space, the human race’s conception of itself changed forever. The voyage inspired political realignments and countless scientific breakthroughs; it also inspired the look and feel of a number of cultural masterpieces, from Brian Eno’s 1983 ambient classic Apollo: Atmospheres and Soundtracks to Andrei Tarkovsky’s 1971 stark sci-fi epic Solaris.

Architecture and design took that giant leap for mankind along with Neil Armstrong. In celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the moon landing, we spoke to innovators in the industry about their own lunar inspirations.

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Perilune by Suzanne Tick for Luum Textiles. Photography courtesy of Luum Textiles.

Suzanne Tick, creative director, Luum Textiles

As a child, the textile designer Suzanne Tick watched the landing from her home in Bloomington, Illinois. “What was riveting to me was the sound of someone on the moon and his buoyancy,” Tick says. “I had this realization that a person can be on the moon while I’m sitting at home and he could also be floating!” Since then, the moon has been an important force in her life. “I’ve lived by the MoMA Moon Charts and they have played a large part in my consciousness. A poignant time in my life was 2009, 2010, and 2011 which coincided with the last three years of my father’s life, my marriage, and my son living with me. For this reason, I wove a triptych of each of these years and sewed them together as a reminder of that shift in my life.” This design became Perilune, a printed polyurethane which was introduced through Luum.

Long Dock Park in Beacon, New York by Gary R. Hilderbrand. Photography by James Ewing.

Gary R. Hilderbrand, FASLA FAAR; principal, Reed Hilderbrand; Peter Louis Hornbeck Professor in Practice, Harvard Graduate School of Design

“Because my Aunt and grandmother had a large color TV, anything momentous like this we watched in their living room,” says Gary Hilderbrand. “All gathered ‘round for the moon landing. It’s singed on my brain.” The landscape architect would go on to transform a brownfield in Beacon, New York, into a waterfront parkland with site-specific work by artist George Trakas and two buildings by ARO. “Apollo amplified my instincts about knowing our place in the world and a sense that we somehow had technological knowledge to improve it,” he says. “Seeing these missions orbiting around the other side of the moon, and then exploring its surface, gave me hope that we could right our own environmental mess and craft a smarter, saner landscape. That way of seeing the Earth descended directly from the Apollo 8 ‘earthrise’ photograph. Who would not be affected by that image?!”

SiriusXM’s New York Headquarters and Broadcast Center by Michael Kostow. Photography by Adrian Wilson.

Michael Kostow, founding principal, Kostow Greenwood Architects

Satellite radio wouldn’t exist without the technological breakthroughs of the Apollo mission, so it made perfect sense to have a space fan design the headquarters for one of its largest players, SiriusXM. “I watched the moon landing as a youngster and even had early aspirations of becoming an astronaut,” says Michael Kostow. “I later wanted to design space vehicles for NASA, would build and fly multi-stage model rockets, and even as an architecture graduate student had an early morning ‘party’ to drink Tang and watch the first launch of the space station with my classmates.” The compact efficiency of the capsules influenced his plan for the satellite broadcasting company: “We wanted to invoke simplicity and timelessness,” he says, “and allow the empty space to be an active player in setting the mood.” Mission accomplished.

Aerial and Half-Moon by Kelly Harris Smith for Skyline Design. Photography courtesy of Skyline Design.

Kelly Harris Smith, designer and creative director, Kelly Harris Smith

“I’ve never been on a rocket ship,” says designer Kelly Harris Smith, “but I have flown on an airplane and to this day I always request a window seat so I can peek out over the landscape.” The designer was born after the moon landing but carries the legacy of an aerial point of view into a collection for Chicago’s Skyline Design of glass panels with systems of micro-patterns within shapes and gradations of color over larger repeats. “It’s rooted in looking at the familiar in a new way,” she says, “which I have to imagine is what all astronauts experience looking back at Earth.”

Draper, Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photography by Mark Flannery.

Elizabeth Lowrey, principal, Elkus Manfredi Architects

“Watching the moon landing, even at such a young age, I was awed by the realization that anything is possible,” says Elizabeth Lowrey—even growing up to design a new home for Draper, a not-for-profit engineering firm that created software for Apollo 11. “I remember, as we stepped into Draper’s lobby, the first thing we saw was a space shuttle model.  Even more thrilling was the opportunity to meet Margaret Hamilton, the pioneering software engineer who had made the moon landing possible!” A glass and steel structure forms the roof of the Draper atrium, which is rung with seven floors of offices and laboratories connected by blue glass vertical and horizontal stairways, green walls, and “the Cloud,” a polished steel polyhedron that is truly out of this world.

On the Water/Palisade Bay, New York City. Photography courtesy of ARO.

Adam Yarinsky, FAIA LEED AP, principal, Architecture Research Office

“I was seven, I remember watching the feed of the moonwalk,” says ARO co-founder Adam Yarinksy. “And if you were a kid that was into building models, you had the plastic model kit that was black and white with USA in red on the side. I built a model of the Saturn V and the lunar and command and service modules. The purposefulness of the vehicle had a kind of directness when you compare it to technology today. The control panels were just rows and rows of switches that all looked the same. There was a kind of Dieter Rams quality to it.” But it was politics, not aesthetics, that really inspired Yarinsky’s work with ARO, including this vision of the upper harbor of New York and New Jersey which proposes archipelago and wetlands to mitigate rising sea levels and storm surges. “The finite nature of the planet we’re on reinforces the notion that architecture is part of this web of relationships,” he says. “The best architecture tries to modify and transform, but it’s not an autonomous thing. It’s linked. That sense of connection is the legacy.”

Continue reading Six Industry Innovators Share Their Inspirations from the Lunar Landing

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10 Questions With… Jasper Morrison

The Soft Modular sofa by Jasper Morrison for Vitra. Photography by Marc Eggimann.

“From a very young age, I understood that I had a kind of over-sensitivity to atmospheres,” admits Jasper Morrison. In his desire to influence them, the British designer has become one of the most successful industrial designers of the modern day. Emeco, Flos, Vitra, and Mattiazzi are among his high-profile clients, while the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museumand the Museum of Modern Art in New York are just two of the prominent museums around the world highlighting his work.

In Morrison’s latest collection, a limited-edition cork furniture series launching during NYCxDESIGN this week, faulty wine bottle corks rejected during the production process find new life. To present the collection, Morrison turned to gallery Kasmin in New York—a union which also celebrates a lifelong friendship. In 1970s England, the Chelsea gallery’s owner, Paul Kasmin, was a schoolmate. On view May 9 through June 29, “Corks” unveils Morrison’s first complete series in the material, with a chaise longue, chairs, stools, bookshelves, and a fireplace. Interior Design sat down with Morrison to hear more about the new cork collection, recent Milan launches, and what London restaurant personifies his design mentality with celeriac and a boiled egg.

Interior Design: Why cork?

Jasper Morrison: I have done a few things in cork before and came to understand what a great material it is, both to the touch and in terms of what it does for the atmosphere of a room. It is difficult to do anything big industrially with it, because the material cost is quite high, the machining cost higher, and it needs to be hand-finished—so it really only works for limited production.

ID: What’s the design concept behind the cork pieces?

JM: The process is rather sculptural as the pieces have to be machined out of large blocks of cork. It’s very different from designing things for mass production, which tends to be more about structure than volume. The concept is really just about finding good shapes to make each piece of furniture work well. The material suggests its own formal language, but you need to make sure there’s the right balance of softness and tension in the forms. The repurposed corks come from a producer in Portugal. The primary product produced by cork is still the wine bottle stopper, and they grind these up and form them into blocks under pressure with a glue. I’ve known about this material for many years and have used it for a few smaller pieces, which were economic enough to be made in quantities.

Read more: 10 Questions With… Bethan Gray

“Corks,” a series of limited-edition furniture by Jasper Morrison, on view at gallery Kasmin in New York. Photography courtesy of Jasper Morrison Studio.

ID: What else have you completed recently?

JM: Some new chairs as usual—at any one time I’m always working on at least four or five chairs. At Salone del Mobile this year, I presented a slightly sculptural solid wood chair called Fugu for the Japanese brand Maruni.

For Emeco, a company I have been working with very closely for the last five years or so, I did a cleaning-up job of a few of their heritage pieces—a chair, armchair, and swivel chairs from 1948 known as the Navy Officers collection. When I first saw them, I nicknamed them the ugly sisters. We really had to rework and fine-tune them to make them more appealing for today’s market. From the proportions and thicknesses of structure to upholstery detailing, they really came from another era, when things were done in a very different way. I guess they were made to last, but they were a bit over-the-top in terms of structure.

We also just completed a big collection of tableware called Raami for the Finnish brand Iittala.

ID: What’s upcoming for you?

JM: For Vitra, I have been working on a long-term project that is a quite technologically advanced chair. We hope to launch it in Milan 2020. We are also working on adding to the tableware collection we just finished for Iittala and on another chair for Emeco.

Read more: 15 Young Design Talents to Watch from Salone del Mobile

The Fugu chair by Jasper Morrison for Maruni. Photography courtesy of Maruni.

 

ID: How did your childhood influence your design thinking?

JM: When I was growing up in London in the early 1960s, the standard interior was very claustrophobic and quite gloomy, with a lot of curtains, upholstery, and sofas—everything was heavy and upholstered.

Then, at maybe four or five years old, I discovered this room my grandfather had made for himself. It was in England—but, while working for a Danish company, he had discovered the Scandinavian way of making interiors. I think he had quite a good eye, and the room was well-lit with lots of daylight, wooden floors, and just a few rugs. There was less upholstery and more lightweight seating, a record player by Dieter Rams from the German company Braun, and an open fire. Suddenly I just felt way better in that space, and realizing that there were some places that made me feel good and others that didn’t had a huge effect on me. I’m pretty sure I became a designer to have some influence on my surroundings and to generally improve atmospheres for others as well.

ID: In what kind of home do you live?

JM: I live in a few different homes, but mostly on the south coast of England with my wife and three children. These places are all furnished either with my own designs (for testing purposes) or with other designs I admire. I have a lot of Danish furniture, especially Børge Mogensen and Mogens Koch, but also pieces by Enzo Mari and Achille Castiglioni. There’s a Charlotte Perriand armchair which I got recently which I love. Right now, my Alfi chairs for Emeco are around my dining table. It’s an important learning process to live with things and assess how successful they are or not!

The Lepic kitchen by Jasper Morrison for Schiffini. Photography by Miro Zagnoli.

ID: Is there a person in the industry that you particularly admire?

JM: When Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec hit the scene, I remember describing their design language as like a new color—something you haven’t seen before, something you didn’t expect. They made a big impression on me and today they are still probably the designers I respect the most. Their vision is very individual and they have great design.

ID: Could you name an Instagram account you follow?

JM: There’s a funny little account that actually hardly anyone follows. It’s called @terencepoe and is by architect Terence Poe of Poe + Poe. I share an eye with him somehow and he actually posts a lot of my stuff as well. But that’s not why I’m following him! He posts things that are quite obscure but interesting, which I really like, which I may know and also think are great.

The Zampa stool by Jasper Morrison for Mattiazzi. Photography by Fabian Frinzel.

ID: What are you reading?

JM: “Hokusai: A Life in Drawing,” which is an illustrated introduction by Henri-Alexis Baatsch to the work of Japanese artist Katsushika Hokusai, who is somebody I’ve been interested in for a long time. He did a lot of woodblock prints but he also did a lot of drawings, which I like as they’re very human. He just drew these kind of normal things, everyday stuff, and I admire that because that could not have been easy at that time. He was supposed to toe the line and do beautiful drawings of actors and actresses and set pieces, but he just did his own thing. They’re incredibly great drawings and there’s nothing old about them, they’re still very contemporary.

ID: Do you have a secret you can share?

JM: The St. John restaurant Smithfield Supper on St. John Street in Smithfield, London is hardly a secret, but I think they do with food exactly what I do with things. As an example, a French friend of mine went there for dinner and ordered a dish called Celeriac and Boiled Egg. When the plate arrived, it was just a plate of celeriac with a boiled egg on top—with its shell still on. My friend was outraged she had to do all the work, but for me that’s a fantastic example of what they do best. It’s really straightforward: What you order is what you get. That really matches my design philosophy.

Keep scrolling to see more of Jasper Morrison’s work >

The O Watt restaurant, with interior design by Jasper Morrison, in the historic EDP building in Lisbon, Portugal. Photography by Francisco Rivotti.
“Corks,” a series of limited-edition furniture by Jasper Morrison, on view at gallery Kasmin in New York. Photography courtesy of Jasper Morrison Studio.
The Zampa stool by Jasper Morrison for Mattiazzi. Photography by Fabian Frinzel.
The T&O table by Jasper Morrison for Maruni. Photography courtesy of Maruni.
The Superloon adjustable LED panel light by Jasper Morrison for Flos. Photography by Jasper Morrison Studio.
The Palma cast iron cookware set by Jasper Morrison for Oigen. Photography courtesy of Jasper Morrison Studio.
The 2 Inch aluminum table by Jasper Morrison for Emeco. Photography by Miro Zagnoli.
The Navy Officer chair series with an update by Jasper Morrison for Emeco. Photography courtesy of Emeco.

Read more: 10 Questions With… Philippe Starck

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