Yet another reason to journey across the river to the design-centric borough: WantedDesign Brooklyn 2019 has landed at creative hub Industry City and runs through Monday, May 20th. Downstairs you can preview the works of next-generation designers, with student contributions from as near as Pratt (industrial design students paired with The American Hardwood Information Center for their Red Oak Reimagined exhibition) and as far as Universidad Don Bosco, El Salvador and beyond.
Upstairs, Rodolfo Agrella’s playful lighting installation features his unexpectedly fire-resistant and water-repellant Ara paper fixtures produced in collaboration with French brand Procédés Chénel.
Designer Elyse Graham traded her preferred resin material for glass during a week-long residency at CIAV in Meisanthal, France as part of a transatlantic creative exchange. The resulting forms exult in changing colors of glass and applied pattern.
With 165 years of glassmaking experience, the Corning Museum of Glass GlassLab provided fodder for Nice-born designer Philippe Nigroto produce colorful objects in just five days, including sculptural totems and playful containers in the age-old material.
IC Locals: Timber!, a collection of works by Industry City-based designers and makers curated by Hannah Martin, shows the endless uses for the building-block material, including an organic form crafted via steam-bending by Matthias Pliessnig. While onsite, indulge in the many food venues and relax in generous outdoor spaces.
Visionary sculptor and furniture designer Wendell Castle, known as the father of the art furniture movement, passed away on January 20. He was 85.
Castle was born in Emporia, Kansas, in 1932. Dyslexic, Castle countered academic challenges by drawing. After graduating with industrial design and sculpture degrees from the University of Kansas, Castle moved to New York City to practice sculpture and painting. It wasn’t until he started teaching furniture design at Rochester Institute of Technology did he discover his raison d’être. He never left the area, opening up a workshop and joining the faculty at the College at Brockport soon after. He remained an artist-in-residence at RIT until his death.
Credited for blurring the lines between aesthetic and function, Castle created whimsically sinuous forms from wood, plastic, and metal. Stool Sculpture (1959), a wooden artwork, was his earliest experiment in this regard. Despite receiving criticisms from his college instructors, Castle maintained his focus and continued crafting objects that existed both as furniture and art. He pioneered a process called stacked lamination, which granted him the freedom to create biomorphic pieces from solid materials. “Castle will forever be remembered as the man who changed the way we view contemporary furniture in America,” says Evan Snyderman, co-founder of R & Companygallery, which has been working with Castle since 2002.
“Most of what I design is for myself, not thinking of a client,” Castle told Interior Design in a 2012 interview, where he listed Constantin Brâncusi, Rudolf Steiner, and Antoni Gaudí as influences. Castle abided by Twelve Adopted Rules of Thumb, a list of aphorisms he wrote that guided his practice. One entry reads, “If you hit the bullseye every time, the target is too near.”
Castle shared insight into his creative process, including how he utilizes digital fabrication methods, in a 2015 interview with Interior Design:
I save all my drawings and put them aside for a while before comparing and judging. Of course, drawings don’t provide as much information on a piece’s 3-D qualities. So eventually I move to a scale model. Using urethane foam, which can be carved like wood, I make more changes. I work with foam, instead of digitally, to keep all the imperfections that the computer auto-corrects. Next, I laser-scan the scale model into the computer, which creates the tool path from the CNC machine to follow. Then I finish every piece by hand.
Renowned designer Jasper Morrison discusses how an ingenious chopping bowl he discovered in an ethnology museum typifies good design.
My new book, The Hard Life (Lars Müller Publishers, 2017), was a long-term project, the result of my discovering a collection of everyday objects from the early 20th century and late 19th century in Lisbon, in the National Museum of Ethnology. The collection is so spectacular and shows what beauty can come from hardship and necessity—better design than what we professionals are doing.
The proximity of the two Minho villages that this bowl came from suggests that the idea of combining a bowl and a chopping board was a local one. The surprise is that such a clever idea didn’t spread further. Every time I chop vegetables now I think how much better it would be to have one of these rather than trying to keep everything on a board. Was its conception the pure idea of a single person or a chance opportunity to cut something on a similarly shaped piece of wood? We will never know, but to my mind this bowl represents what design should be: practical thinking which results in something exceptionally useful, playing a vital part in making everyday life richer and more beautiful.
London-based designer Jasper Morrison’s latest designs include the 1 Inch Collection for Emeco and Ni-jo sandals for Camper. The Hard Life is the latest in a series of books that Morrison has produced celebrating design in everyday life.