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.
“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.
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The liminal areas between creative fields are a constant source of inspiration for Monica Khemsurov and Jill Singer, founders of Sight Unseen. So for Sight Unseen OFFSITE’s flagship exhibition during NYCxDESIGN 2018, called “Field Studies,” the duo paired 13 furniture and interior designers with creatives from such fields as food, fashion, film, art, and music. The prompt? Design a functional object together.
“The idea was to connect creatives across disciplinary boundaries so they could work outside their comfort zones, search for commonalities in their practices, and discover what interesting, unexpected ideas might result,” said the founders in a statement. Each design duo masterminded objects ranging from sconce lighting and lounge chairs to wall-mounted mirrors. Showcased at Sight Unseen’s 201 Mulberry Street hub in New York from May 17-20, each object is available for purchase on 1stdibs with net proceeds going to a charity of each pair’s choosing.
New York–based lighting designer Bec Brittain has always admired how glass artist John Hogan’s work interacts with and transforms natural light. “We gravitate towards each other out of an aesthetic appreciation and because we each do something so different from the other,” says Brittain, known for intricate lighting fixtures that explore dark and celestial themes. Despite their different approaches, the two find common ground by referencing the stars, which inspired a new limited-edition run of Brittain’s much-anticipated Aries system.
Hogan added various glass pieces—spheres, spears, and bent cylinders—to Aries, which was inspired by Olafur Eliasson’s set design for the ballet Tree of Codes. But for the system to support each different piece, Brittain was faced with transforming the constellation-like fixture into an architectural system that incorporates trusses and scaffolding. “The weight of John’s glass forced me to readdress my formal language and how I put Aries together,” Brittain says. “I engineer systems from machined metal and light, and John manages to craft precise pieces out of a material that has to be harnessed and coaxed more than told what to do. In that way, it’s a great complementary pairing.”
Each piece will be offered in an edition of 10 and can be seen during NYCxDESIGN at Bec Brittain’s Manhattan showroom (27 West 20th Street, #110) until May 25.
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“I love the scale of children’s furniture. I’m all about a mini chair.” And in the world of children’s design, there exists no greater authority than Lora Appleton. After earning her BFA from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts in acting and directing, the South Florida native launched a boutique hospitality design and branding agency, where she worked for several years. But once her son Willem came along in 2009, Appleton pivoted toward what she viewed as an untapped niche in the industry: designing smart furniture for children. She founded gallery and studio kinder MODERN in 2013, and has since amassed an unparalleled selection of contemporary children’s furniture mixed with vintage pieces—such blue-chip names as Chen Chen & Kai Williams, Pierre Paulin, and Cody Hoyt offer a taste of the talent that grace the shelves of kinder MODERN’s gallery in Manhattan’s Flatiron neighborhood.
But kinder MODERN is far from Appleton’s sole occupation. Aside from travelling the world to source must-have children’s furnishings for her gallery, she also oversees KINDER, a bimonthly journal that examines child design of the past, present, and future. (Appleton is publisher and editor in chief). She also tirelessly champions women, having founded the Female Design Council—an action-oriented membership organization that offers professional support and mentorship to women in design—as a direct result of the uncertainties brought upon by the 2016 election.
And during this year’s NYCxDESIGN, Appleton is spearheading projects all around the city. Egg Collective enlisted her to co-curate “Designing Women II: Masters, Mavericks, and Mavens,” which showcases contemporary and vintage pieces by global female designers. And at kinder MODERN’s own gallery space, Appleton is exhibiting a series of kinetic brass objects designed and hand-crafted by American sculptor Rodger Stevens alongside a retrospective of furniture, ceramics, and objects by Lucas Maassen & Sons. And at ICFF, she will present a polychromatic all-ages furniture collection designed in collaboration with Mexa Design.
Below, Appleton divulges what triggered her interest in children’s design, her favorite pieces of mini-furniture, and what’s on the horizon for her business.
Interior Design: Where did you grow up, and how has it influenced your work?
Lora Appleton: I grew up in South Florida. It was not such a considered environment, but it had the beach, nature, and horticulture. Its tackiness made me aware of all the beautiful things beyond.
ID: Can you describe your first memory of design as a child?
LA: My grandmother’s home had a ton of mid-century pieces. Her bedroom was a 1970’s fantasy: Smoke mirror on all wall surfaces and a giant clear swirled resin headboard in the middle of the room with a sexy fur bedspread. It was so fabulous.
ID: What galvanized your interest in designing for children?
LA: Becoming a mom and wanting a beautiful home was the beginning. Since opening the gallery, I started noticing all the holes in design for children, and I wanted to fill those gaps with cool furniture for the entire family. I love the scale of children’s furniture. I’m all about a mini chair.
ID: What are your favorite historic and contemporary pieces of children’s furniture?
LA: This is tough—there’s so much to choose from! The Schaukelwagon by Hans Brockhage & Erwin Andra (1950) or maybe the Crosby Chair by Gaetano Pesce (1998) in colorful resin. As for contemporary, the Rogier Martens Trotter for Magis (2015). The Clay Child Chair by Maarten Baas (2006) is also pretty great.
ID: You also design children’s spaces within larger projects. What needs do you consider for these commissions?
LA: We think about age groups as well as interactivity. We’re finding the sweet spot between child & adult and how to serve multiple needs in one designated space. We also consider how children of different ages use space so we can serve those needs with the construction of new forms.
ID: What are some mistakes you’ve seen in spaces designed for children? How can designers avoid these?
LA: Sometimes designers get over-excited with pattern. They also simplify in a way that can read “babyish” or cheap, or they shrink down an adult space into smaller pieces for kids. Smart choices like strong and stable yet fun floors, wallpaper, or paint can really transform a room.
ID: You founded the Female Design Council in 2016. Can you tell me about the organization and its genesis? How can one get involved?
LA: Founding the FDC was a direct response to the election and feeling like I was not a “protester.” I wanted to reverse the difficulties of being a woman during an anti-woman presidency and create a positive expression. To get involved, check out an open meeting. More information about membership and events is on our website.
ID: Tell me about your experience co-curating “Designing Women II: Masters, Mavericks, and Mavens” with Egg Collective.
LA: What fun! I love Egg Collective and everything they stand for, and have felt so included through the process. It has turned out to be everything I’d hoped for and more.
ID: What are some highlights from the show?
LA: On the contemporary side, we have two super strong lighting designers: the new collection from Kristin Victoria Barron and the gorgeous neon and glass chandelier from Sabine Marcelis courtesy of Etage Projects. Vintage-wise, Leza McVey’s vases and the Gretta Grossman Sofa (1949) are quite spectacular.
ID: How else is kinder MODERN involved in NYCxDESIGN?
LA: We’re launching two shows during NYCxDESIGN at our gallery on May 11th with Lucas Maassen & Sons and Rodger Stevens. We also have designed a mini collection of outdoor children’s furniture for Mexa Design which will be at ICFF. A busy month!
ID: What are some new/upcoming collections?
LA: We’re thrilled to release Joost Van Bleiswijk’s Protopunk collection in the U.S., as well as our in-house studiokinder Lunar table and Eclipse chair, the first in a larger series of modular furniture for the growing child.
ID: What’s the curation process for your gallery?
LA: I find themes that are needed in my collection as well as conversation in design for children that pop up and move the curation in different directions. In 2018, we started bringing on full collections for the entire home, so the changes are very exciting.
ID: Tell me about Kinder Journal.
LA: I really wanted to create a publication featuring the past, present, and future of designing for children through the pedagogy and materiality conversations that I wanted to explore. It’s truly a labor of dedication!
ID: How do you manage it all as a mother in the city?
LA: You don’t, there is no ‘all’. You juggle and try to do your best as a mother, creative, and person. My great team supports my creative craziness and my boy is very much woven into the fabric of my work.
ID: What’s next for kinder MODERN?
LA: I want to push the idea of interactive living within real estate amenities spaces: how to think about future living and creating spaces that facilitate a sense of community as well as entertain.
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Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum has announced the winners of the 2018 National Design Awards, which recognize design excellence and innovation across 10 categories. The White House Millennium Council launched the awards program—including its special events, panel discussions, and workshops—in 2000 as a way to promote design as a vital tool in shaping the world. Award recipients will be honored at a gala dinner and ceremony on Thursday, October 18, in the Arthur Ross Terrace and Garden at Cooper Hewitt.
“All 10 of this year’s winners present a powerful design perspective and body of work that is at once inclusive and deeply personal, accompanied by great achievement, humanity, and social impact,” says Caroline Baumann, director of Cooper Hewitt. An interdisciplinary jury of design leaders and educators selected the winners after reviewing award submissions from nominations submitted by design experts and enthusiasts. This year’s jury consisted of Diane Jones Allen (Design Jones); Jeffrey Bernett (CDS); Valerie Casey (Applied Theory); Rand Elliott (Elliott + Associates Architects); Adi Gil (threeASFOUR); Jenny Lam (Oracle); Doug Powell (IBM); and Ann Willoughby (Willoughby Design).
See the winners in each category below.
Lifetime Achievement: Gail Anderson
Gail Anderson is a New York–based designer, writer, and educator, who serves as creative director at Visual Arts Press, the School of Visual Arts’s in-house design studio. She is also a partner at Anderson Newton Design and previously served as creative director of design at SpotCo, an advertising agency that creates artwork for theater, and as a designer and senior art director of Rolling Stone. Anderson has co-authored 14 books on design and popular culture.
Design Mind: Anne Whiston Spirn
Anne Whiston Spirn is an award-winning author, landscape architect, photographer, and the Cecil and Ida Green Distinguished Professor of Landscape Architecture and Planning at MIT. For 30 years, Spirn has directed the West Philadelphia Landscape Project, which was recognized at a 1999 White House conference on Imagining America.
Corporate & Institutional Achievement: Design for America
Design for America (DFA) is a national network of innovators working together to improve local communities through design, which began as the brainchild of Northwestern University faculty member Liz Gerber and three of her students in 2009. The network has tackled hundreds of challenges—ranging from accessible healthcare to drinkable water—and has inspired more than 4,000 students, educators, and design professionals across the country.
Architecture Design: WEISS/MANFREDI
Founded by Marion Weiss and Michael A. Manfredi, Weiss/Manfredi expands the territory of architecture by connecting it with landscape, art, and infrastructure. Projects include the Seattle Art Museum’s Olympic Sculpture Park, Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Visitor Center, Penn’s Nanotechnology Center, Cornell Tech’s Tata Innovation Center, and the U.S. Embassy in New Delhi, which all seamlessly fuse architecture and nature.
Communication Design: Civilization
Civilization was founded by Michael Ellsworth, Corey Gutch, and Gabriel Stromberg in Seattle in 2007, and builds identity systems, digital experiences, printed materials, environmental graphics and exhibitions. Working with those committed to creating positive change, the studio’s clients include the National Head Start Association, The Nature Conservancy, Shout Your Abortion, The Museum of History & Industry and The Biennale of Sydney.
Fashion Design: Christina Kim
Christina Kim is the co-founder and designer of dosa, a Los Angeles-based clothing, accessories, and housewares company established in 1984 with a focus on rethinking conventional fashion-industry production and sustaining artisan cultures. In-house production enables an evolving system for efficient use of natural resources, recycling and creative reuse. Kim draws on traditional handwork techniques, particularly in India, Mexico and Colombia, engaging local artisans and communities in long-term collaborations.
Interaction Design: Neri Oxman
Neri Oxman is an architect, designer, inventor, and professor at MIT, where she is the founding director of The Mediated Matter Group. The group combines commissioned work with scientific research exploring ways in which digital design and production techniques can enhance the relationship between built and natural environments, operating at the intersection of computational design, robotic fabrication, materials engineering and synthetic biology. Oxman coined the term “Material Ecology” to describe the study, design, and digital fabrication of buildings, products, and systems that integrate environmentally aware, computational, form-generating processes and digital production.
Interior Design: Oppenheim Architecture + Design
Founded in 1999 by Chad Oppenheim, Oppenheim Architecture + Design is an architecture, planning, and interior design firm specializing in hospitality, commercial mixed-use, retail, and residential buildings worldwide. Based in Miami with offices in New York and Basel, Switzerland, the firm creates spaces that evoke the senses. Projects include the GLF Headquarters in Florida, the Enea Headquarters in Switzerland, and the Ayla Golf Academy and Clubhouse in Jordan.
Landscape Architecture: Mikyoung Kim Design
Mikyoung Kim, FASLA, is the founding principal of Mikyoung Kim Design, an international landscape architecture and urban design firm based in Boston. Over the past two decades, the firm has crafted an exceptional body of award-winning work that redefines the discipline of landscape architecture and inhabits the intersection of art and science. Its projects—from large to small—solve challenging urban resiliency issues while always considering the unique character of place making.
Product Design: Blu Dot
Blu Dot was founded in 1997 by college friends John Christakos, Maurice Blanks, and Charlie Lazor. Based in Minneapolis, Blu Dot’s mission is to design and manufacture furniture that is useful, affordable, and brings good design to as many people as possible. Recognized for its inventive use of materials, fabrication technology and assembly methods, Blu Dot produces furniture that is determined by an economy of means while maintaining a playful sensibility.
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The entire global design community has flocked to Milan to showcase innovative new products, immersive installations, and creative collaborations at Salone del Mobile 2018. Check out 20 highlights we spotted on Instagram below.
Each year, celebrated designers transform a luxury Manhattan residence into the Kips Bay Decorator Show House, an elaborate exhibition of fine furnishings, art, and technology. This year’s iteration, open May 1-31, is no different. Designers went all out: Juan Montoya Design evokes the cosmos via abstract silhouettes of the moon in both carpeting and wall covering, while Barbara Ostrom Associates transports guests to an avid art collector’s library, crowned by a ceiling inspired by Frank Stella paintings. This year’s pièce de résistance, however, is the grand staircase, Sasha Bikoff’s technicolor ode to past, present, and future. Memphis Milano designers Ettore Sottsass and Alessandro Mendini influenced Bikoff, who included colorful pieces by Chris Schanck and Misha Kahn. It’s a feast for the eyes—and Instagram.
The Kips Bay Decorator Show House is located at 110 East 76th Street in New York, and is sponsored by Kohler, AJ Madison, Hickory Chair, Hearst Design Group, Morgan Stanley, Farrow & Ball, Cambria, AKDO, The Rug Company, Schumacher, Architectural Digest, and 1stdibs.