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14 Brazilian Designers to Watch

The Olympic Games have ended and the media attention has shifted, leaving behind the eternal essence of Brazil: vibrant people, beautiful beaches and, maybe less well known, a great sense of design. Below are fourteen of the most exciting Brazilian product designers to keep your eye on: 

1. Fun and a little retro, Ana Neute’s Guarda-chuva lamp brings to mind a cartoon character, while still luxurious with elegant gold accents. The light can be both direct and a soft ambient light from above.

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2. Similarly playful, a series of red wire benches, Conjunto Parquinho, updates the classic love seat in three iterations. Rodrigo Ohtake fashioned the seating angle and recline of each bench to reflect degrees of love: friends sitting diagonally from each other, lovers sitting side by side, or two people feeling more meditative, willing to give their back to the person sitting next to them.

3. Referencing the Portuguese tradition of decorative tiles and its modern interpretation by Brazilian artist Athos Bulcão, Lurca launched a new line, Blue & Black. The ceramics can be assembled in multiple ways, creating expressive compositions out of seemingly simple geometric shapes.

4. Named after an ant hill, O Formigueiro collective has created an eye-catching furniture collection made from resin, brass and aluminum. Each piece begins with a wildly abstract shape which is made by pouring liquid recycled aluminum into the spidery network of tunnels lurking under an actual ant hill.

5. Inspired by the slow pace of tea rituals, Rahyja Afrange reimagined the tea trolley with Brazilian wood (freijó) and brass or inox. There are hidden spaces to keep cups, as well as energy outlets for electric kettles or recharging modern devices.

6. The duo behind Paelea Brasilis use woven straw to create their products. The lamp and fruit holder, designed by Brunno Jahara, will add a touch of Brazil to homes around the globe.

7. Taking the tropical fruit one step further, Carol Gay’s CaramBola lamp makes direct reference to a star fruit (“carambola” in Portuguese). Each piece is air-blown, so every lamp is unique.

8. Celebrating a material discovered in the Amazon, Andrea Bandoni’s side table, Rubber Soul, features rubber as the central design element, rather than an obscured additive. The bowed strips of natural latex give organic movement to the otherwise stable object.

9. The idea behind the Urbaneza vase was to mimic the incredibly dense built landscape of Brazilian cities and the “skyline” of the rainforest. Nicole Tomazi works with a team of artisans to create the maze of waves from polyester cord (aka tennis shoe laces).

10. A humorous reference to anyone who has hailed a taxi in hot cities, Bianca Barbato’s Taxi creates a cool and comfortable chair from the beaded covers that drivers use to keep from sticking to their seat.

11. Sundays at grandmother’s house are a Brazilian tradition, with large families packed in small places. Inspired by this ritual, Selvvva collective creates pieces such as the Garça planter. The structure makes room for two plants to pile up politely in the same area.

12. One of the most prominent young designers in Brazil right now, Jader Almeida has created the simple and timeless Clad armchair. Its lightness and delicacy is pronounced through the fluidity of the lines and the curvature and smooth surface of the solid walnut. Almeida has a shop-in-shop featuring his iconic pieces at Artefacto, a Miami based-furniture showroom opened in December 2015.

13. While not a creation from a Brazilian designer, the Louie pendant lamp nonetheless made a splash at the Olympic Games as a feature of the Italian Pavillion. The latest creation by American designer David Nosanchuk, the lamp’s shape is derived from a 3D scan of the façade of Louis Sullivan’s Bayard Condict Building skyscraper in New York. Nosanchuk picked out an ornate cornice element above the building’s entry and evolved it into a hanging lamp. The micro LED that provides light is hidden from view.

14. A literal family dynamic is behind Estúdio Prole, a father, son and daughter team. Their multifunctional Caixote side table has a magazine holder underneath. They are a warm mix of suede, copper and wood, a subtle reminder of the endless Summer of Brazil.

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Airport redesigns are adding nature to reduce stress—and to make you want to shop

For a long time now, the paradigm for airport terminals has been a sealed, secure, airtight box. A succession of terrorism incidents led architects to eliminate features like tourist-friendly balconies and viewing galleries in air control towers. Considered welcoming places of leisure in decades past, most airports today are oppressive gateways to avoid at all costs.

But this is quickly changing, says Robert Chicas, director of the aviation and transportation practice at HOK, one of the world’s largest architecture and engineering firms.”The [air travel] industry right now is at a very interesting point in its evolution,” he explains. “It’s all about creating an environment that’s more than about sitting and waiting for your flight.”

Airport greenery

Tasked with overhauling New York’s LaGuardia Airport—named the US’s most stressful airportlast week—HOK is steeped in researching ways to create better environments for weary travelers. Chicas notes that airport administrators are clamoring for hospitality-driven environments that emphasize the wellness of passengers and airport workers. Architects are introducing greenery and natural elements at airport terminals, and citing tenets of biophilic design, a principle that draws inspiration from nature (paywall) to improve human health and well-being in built environments. Instead of erecting hermetically sealed structures, more airport designers are drawing inspiration from parks and natural landscapes.

One solution is creating more open-air spaces throughout terminals. For example in modernizing the Long Beach airport’s terminal (built in the 1940s), HOK designed “airside gardens” that allow passengers to pop out of the air conditioned terminal and experience the idyllic California weather while waiting for their flight. Fire pits and palm trees in the outdoor plaza “make guests feel like they are in a resort instead of an airport,” Chicas explains. This philosophy echoes the design of Honolulu’s Daniel K. Inouye International Airport. Built in the 1970s, Hawaii’s largest hub has a circuit of Chinese, Hawaiian, and Japanese gardens to soothe passengers.

Resort or airport?

Another idea is creating indoor terrariums and gardens, as in Singapore’s Changi, often cited as the “world’s best airport.” Its Terminal 1 features over 340 species of plants and an “Avenue of Trees,” as Quartz reported. “It’s a recognition that natural light and access to a beautiful serene space… benefits you from a wellness perspective,” explains Matt Needham, who oversees the West Coast division of HOK’s aviation practice.

EPA/Wallace Woon
The departure level of Terminal 4 in Singapore’s Changi Airport.

Chicas points to Amsterdam’s Schiphol as another high expression of biophilic design at airports. Aside from being the first major aviation hub to install green roofsthroughout its facilities, Schiphol’s newest terminal celebrates the landscape and vegetation of the Netherlands, he says. “They’e been inspired by the likes of the High Line Park in New York. It’s celebrating people’s passage through the terminal with areas of vegetation and green.”

“The congested ‘hold room’ landscapes of the past had tightly spaced seating, limited power and data ports, subpar service offerings and ‘cattle call’ boarding procedures,” notes Chicas. “This is no longer acceptable.”

Pleasant and profitable

Needham explains that investing in wellness-oriented spaces not only benefits travelers but is also a boon to the bottom line. Entering an airport, “your stress levels are very high until security, and it goes down dramatically after that,” he says. “How far down they go directly corresponds to how much travelers spend post-security.”

Julian Lukaszewicz, head of business design at design firm Fjord, echoes Needham’s observation. “Passenger propensity to spend is affected by stress levels,” he explained to the Telegraph. That’s why many airports want to provide information to passengers and create a stress-free environment, he added, “so that passengers feel more relaxed and spend more money.”

Continue reading Airport redesigns are adding nature to reduce stress—and to make you want to shop

Americans Need Home Design That Welcomes Everyone

The needs of the modern home—and the abilities of its residents—are increasingly varied, a fact that the contemporary housing market has yet to reflect

The Universal Design Living Laboratory  is a national demonstration house and garden in Columbus Ohio that is the...
The Universal Design Living Laboratory (UDLL) is a national demonstration house and garden in Columbus, Ohio that is the top-rated universal design home in North America.Photo by Scott Cunningham/Courtesy of the Universal Design Living Laboratory

Twenty years ago, Rosemarie Rossetti ran a small publishing business with her husband, Mark Leder, in the basement of their two-story home in Columbus, Ohio, and spent weekends hiking and playing sports. But her life changed on an afternoon bicycle ride in 1998, when a three-and-a-half-ton tree collapsed and crashed down on her, a devastating accident that injured her spinal cord and left her paralyzed from the waist down.

As she healed and returned home, rehabilitation was a transformational experience that required new ways of eating and cooking, grooming, sitting up, and moving around. “Fifty percent of my home became inaccessible,” she recalls. “I couldn’t get through doorways that were too narrow for a wheelchair. I couldn’t get around furniture. I couldn’t get a glass of water because I couldn’t reach the glasses—I couldn’t even reach the sink.”

pThree quartz countertop heights on the center island provide seated or standing access while preparing meals or dining.p
Three quartz countertop heights on the center island provide seated or standing access while preparing meals or dining.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Courtesy of the Universal Design Living Laboratory

Tedious, everyday tasks became insurmountable obstacles, heightening Rossetti’s sensitivity to the design of previously overlooked details that now stood in her way. Smaller spaces such as the laundry room were too tight to for her maneuver her wheelchair; and the thick, heavy carpeting that once felt plush underfoot became a burden to roll over. Her basement office, with its various oversize printing equipment and files, became physically inaccessible, leading to the halt and eventual dissolution of her company. It was painfully clear that Rossetti’s home would no longer suit her lifestyle.

pA sidehinged oven provides easier access while the 9quot H x 6quot D toe kick allows space for a wheelchair users...
A side-hinged oven provides easier access, while the 9″ H x 6″ D toe kick allows space for a wheelchair user’s footrest.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Courtesy of the Universal Design Living Laboratory

“That was the turning point; I was lucky to be alive, and refocused everything about my life and business,” she says. When a search of local properties failed to turn up one-story ranch-style homes that could ease daily demands, or at least be easily renovated to accommodate them, she and her husband put grist to mill, channeling their frustrations into research. They set out to create their own custom home from scratch—a place they could comfortably inhabit for years to come. And, with an entrepreneurial spirit, they resolved to make it a national demonstration home that could also serve a wider public mission.

pA standard dishwasher is installed 16 inches above the floor to ease loading and unloading.p
A standard dishwasher is installed 16 inches above the floor to ease loading and unloading.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Courtesy of the Universal Design Living Laboratory

Enlisting local architect Patrick Manley to create their ideal plan, the couple delved into the resources at Mobile, Columbus’s independent-living center. “Just reading up on accessible homes, on how big a bathroom needed to be, how to install grab bars, I was like a sponge, ready to learn,” Rossetti recalls. Discovering resources and literature about Universal Design—an approach that calls for products and environments to be equitable and accessible to all, regardless of age, size, or ability—was both a godsend and a relief. “It gave us hope to say, ‘Oh, my gosh, people have thought this through.‘”

pWith a countertop height of 33 inches  the vanity offers plenty of undercounter knee space. Sidemounted lighting...
With a countertop height of 33 inches, the vanity offers plenty of under-counter knee space. Side-mounted lighting provides even illumination, and D-shaped cabinet hardware is easy to pull.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Courtesy of the Universal Design Living Laboratory

Working with more than 200 product sponsors, vendors, consultants, and thousands of volunteers over the course of several years, the couple completed and opened the doors to the state-of-the-art, LEED Silver-certified Universal Design Living Laboratory (UDLL) in 2014, and have since happily lived in a space that’s both suitable for Leder, who stands six feet, four inches tall, and Rossetti, seated at four feet, two inches.

pThe easytonavigate wardrobe contains a washer and dryer. The 33inchhigh center island makes it easier to foldstore...
The easy-to-navigate wardrobe contains a washer and dryer. The 33-inch-high center island makes it easier to fold/store laundry and pack/unpack luggage.

Photo by Scott Cunningham/Courtesy of the Universal Design Living Laboratory

Visitors, welcome to tour the premises by appointment, come and leave “in absolute awe,” she says, impressed with the range of products, fixtures, and details they hadn’t even known were on the market. Doorways measure 36 inches wide, rather than the standard 28; cabinets and countertops are tiered to accommodate more than one height; and showers are spacious and curbless, with drains that run flush to the surface. Being a living resource for knowledge exchange is the UDLL’s core mission, as is demystifying any misconceptions. “Universal Design is for everyone, not just for those in wheelchairs, first of all,” says Rossetti, “and when people visit the home, they understand that Universal Design need not look institutional.”


Kylie Jenner Talks About Her New Home with Kris

Designing for all—or at least consciously for as many users as possible, rather than a single common denominator—has become a topic of growing awareness in recent years, gaining the focus of several significant exhibitions this past year alone. At the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum, “Access + Ability” presented more than 70 design innovations designed for a range of physical, cognitive, and sensory abilities, demonstrating how technological advancements have enriched product designs in unprecedented ways. The Victoria & Albert Museum in London, meanwhile, mounted “Without Walls: Disability and Innovation in Design,” charting how the practice of design has begun to shift more significantly toward principles that create a built environment welcome to all.


pThe new voting system shown here was featured in the Cooper Hewitt's AccessAbility exhibition. Working closely with Los...
The new voting system shown here was featured in the Cooper Hewitt’s “Access+Ability” exhibition. Working closely with Los Angeles County staff, IDEOdesigned a voting system for the 2020 election that addresses the complexities unique to that voter base, including its diverse population and a myriad of election laws and policies. It was imperative for designers to build a system that would be useful and accessible to voters of all ages and backgrounds: those who are vision- and hearing-impaired, in wheelchairs, have learning disabilities, are unfamiliar with technology, or speak languages other than English. Their goals: to create one device for equal access; to define a voting process that feels familiar to voters, balancing both emotional and functional needs; and to build a system that’s adaptable over time.

Photo courtesy of IDEO and the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum

On view through January 6 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., “Making Room: Housing for a Changing America,” co-organized by the nonprofit research organization Citizens Housing Planning Council, demonstrates just how much the American household has changed over the past six decades. Housing designs have fallen behind in meeting the contemporary demands of a population for which the suburban, four-person nuclear family has not been a leading demographic in decades, and Universal Design is yet another way to satisfy the needs of today’s increasingly diverse living arrangements.

pPillPack a 2013 design by IDEO and Tyler Wortman that presorts and organizes medications for users was spotlighted in...
PillPack, a 2013 design by IDEO and Tyler Wortman that pre-sorts and organizes medications for users, was spotlighted in the Cooper Hewitt’s “Access+Ability” exhibition.

Photo by Matt Flynn © Smithsonian Institution/Courtesy the Cooper Hewitt, National Design Museum

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2010 survey, single adults living alone now represent the most common living arrangement, comprising 28 percent of American households; next, at 25 percent, are couples with no children. “If you look at those first two groups alone, you realize that over 50 percent of all households are just one or two people,” says Chrysanthe B. Broikos, the curator of the National Building Museum’s exhibition. Next come adults living with roommates, and then nuclear families, each at 20 percent; followed by single-parent families. Add a mix of generations and abilities to any of the above scenarios, and the need for inclusivity only multiplies. “When we discuss the ‘typical American household,’ we tend to think of the nuclear family, because in 1950 they made up 43 percent of the population, and in 1970 the number was still 40 percent. They were the main demographic and they drove the market, and defined the postwar years, it was the reason we experienced the growth of suburbia,” Broikos continues. “In the meantime, we’ve changed and everything has been continuing as if that were still the case. We’re not building nearly enough for those one or two-bedroom households,” a scenario that causes shortages and drives up real estate prices for everyone.

pThe Open House a flexible 1000squarefoot home designed by architect Pierluigi Colombo for the National Building Museum...
The Open House, a flexible, 1,000-square-foot home designed by architect Pierluigi Colombo for the National Building Museum exhibition, features a hyperefficient layout, movable walls, and multifunctional furniture, allowing the space to meet the needs of a variety of today’s growing but underserved households.

Courtesy of the National Building Museum

To demonstrate how the work of developers and architects might better serve this changing face of American life, the exhibition includes 28 case studies of recent residential designs from the past decade, as well as a model home that can be configured into different living arrangements. Designed and built to scale by architect Pierluigi Colombo as a showcase for what a flexible home could look like, the 1,000-square-foot installation includes movable walls, height-adjustable counters, and multifunctional furniture. Seeing is believing, and half the battle is simply spreading awareness and creating a larger demand in the market for homes and products espousing Universal Design, Broikos says. “If we can let people know that this sort of stuff is available and out there, it could potentially change the market.”

pOne flexible feature in The Open House's kitchen is a working island that can be lifted for food preparation and other...
One flexible feature in The Open House’s kitchen is a working island that can be lifted for food preparation and other work, and lowered for dining.

Photograph by Yassine El Mansouri/ El Man Studio LLC/ Courtesy of the National Building Museum

For Rossetti, the personal journey of finding, then building, the right home has come full circle. Along with hosting group tours of her residence and sharing further resources online, she has self-published digital and print versions of an extensive reference guide, The Universal Design Toolkit, and has devoted her career to advocating for a better baseline of design, consulting with developers and organizations including Habitat for Humanity.

“Let’s look at safety, let’s look at convenience; let’s look at access, and how to give and empower people with the most independence we can,” Rossetti says. “It’s not difficult; it’s just about designing it to work in the long-term—for all the members of the family—right from the beginning. Do it right from the beginning.”

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Continue reading Americans Need Home Design That Welcomes Everyone

Fernando Mastrangelo and Anna Karlin Blend Their Signature Styles in New Furniture Line

Fernando Mastrangelo and Anna Karlin collaborated to create Chunk, which sees Karlin’s Chess series of stools and side tables cast in Mastrangelo’s signature materials. Photography by Cary Whittier.

Last September, Fernando Mastrangelo curated “In Good Company,” a group exhibition that christened his brand-new studio-cum-gallery in East New York, Brooklyn. The show presented a snapshot of New York’s tight-knit emerging design community, where a family-like ethos pervades—most participants were, or have since become, close personal friends of Mastrangelo. But one designer in particular left a lasting impact.

“When Anna Karlin and I first met, I had an immediate response to her work,” he recalls. “She was the first designer to be in the show, and we’ve been friends since.” Fast forward over half a year, and the duo is debuting a limited-edition line of sculptural furniture, called Chunk, which seamlessly blends each designer’s signature style. Mastrangelo cast Karlin’s celebrated Chess series, which reinterprets the classic board game pieces into geometric stools and side tables, in the atypically common materials that define his oeuvre: cement, salt, glass, quartz, and silica.

Photography by Cary Whittier.

“It was an immediate mutual decision, and the plans effortlessly started to roll,” says Karlin, who notes that seeing Chess cast in Mastrangelo’s favored materials gave the collection a welcome refresh. Chess is normally made from cold rolled steel, then brass plated, and finished with a hand-rubbed patina. Other variations come in walnut or brass. “I have a strong affinity for raw materials, but never with my Chess series,” she says. “To see my work cast in such beautiful ways has been a huge pleasure.”

Chunk comprises five pieces, each available in an edition of eight. See it at Karlin’s brand-new street-facing gallery at 108 Eldridge Street in Manhattan from May 11-June 1.

Photography by Cary Whittier.
Photography by Cary Whittier.
Photography by Cary Whittier.
Photography by Cary Whittier.
Photography by Cary Whittier.

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