It’s pretty hard to surprise someone with a lampshade these days, but London-based architect and designer Umut Yamac managed to pull it off with this intricate origami bird light.
The installation you’ll see below is called the Perch Light Family. It’s a continuation of designer’s project from 2014 when he made 20 of these birds. Now he has put them in this chandelier-like installation for Moori that launched at Salone del Mobile in Milan.
Besides spelling C-L-A-S-S-Y in capital letters, these birds also do a neat trick – they swing in the wind. And thanks to some clever engineering it’s achieved with no disruptions to the light.
A holistic approach to nature and wellness drives Matteo Thun’s built projects. The award-winning Italian architect and Interior DesignHall of Fame member co-founded the iconic Italian design and architecture collective the Memphis Group with Ettore Sottsass in 1981, before striking out on his own, forming Matteo Thun & Partners in 2001. Thun’s happiest designing something new, he admits, and his firm’s creative eye, honed out of a headquarters in Milan and an office in Shanghai, is behind a long list of high-profile hospitality and healthcare projects spanning the globe.
Most recently, summer saw the reassembly of Thun’s temporary beach structure, Cala Beach Club on the breathtaking Emerald Coast of the Italian island of Sardinia. Situated at Hotel Cala di Volpe in Costa Smeralda, a playground for the rich and, at times, famous—many of them yachting enthusiasts—Cala Beach Club is an environmentally sensitive structure only accessible by foot or boat. In summer it hums with private parties, with clientele seduced by the stunning natural landscape. Interior Design sat down with Thun to hear more about the Cala Beach Club, what toy kicked off his imagination at a young age, and which project reachable solely by cable car he considers a career turning point.
Interior Design: What was your overall design goal for Cala Beach Club?
Matteo Thun: Cala di Volpe is a beautiful beach in Sardinia. We wanted to create a shady oasis just between the woods and the sea. Restaurant, bar, and treatment rooms have been designed to melt within the landscape, to respect the charm of this special place.
ID: What was particularly challenging about this project?
MT: This property is reachable only by boat or on a path through nature. Since it serves only for the season, we designed a removable structure that is easily to assemble and dismantle.
ID: What materials did you use and why?
MT: The structure unites with the beach vegetation, terraces value the inclination of the land, and views are open to the sea. We only used natural materials that integrate with the surroundings, such as chestnut wood and bamboo. All colors are natural and warm.
ID: What else have you completed recently?
MT: We like to bring nature inside and believe in concepts that emphasize an overall healthy lifestyle as a main approach. Healthy architecture and interior design guarantees physical and mental well being, allowing a relationship between humans and the environment. In Obbürgen, Switzerland, the Waldhotel at Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort, which opened at the end of last year, is a space for wellness and medical services. It’s made from local stone and wood, and nature will take over in a few years so that the building will melt with the mountain. As with most of our projects, we also designed the entire interior.
Another recent project is the new headquarters for Davines, an Italian beauty company dedicated to sustainability and based in Parma, Italy. Here, we grouped traditional rural shapes and innovative volumes around a greenhouse that serves as a restaurant for the employees. Maximum architectural transparency with a minimum amount of masonry elements provides every working station with a view of the green areas.
ID: What’s upcoming for you?
MT: The Evangelisches Waldkrankenhaus Spandau in Berlin at the largest university orthopedic center in Europe. Waldkrankenhaus means ‘hospital in the forest’ in German, and the new hospital building and rehab building connected to it will transform the hospital campus into a health center with a hotel character. This project represents our idea of a healing environment, an architectural and organizational structure that helps the patient and his relatives endure stressful situations caused by illness, operations, treatments, and sometimes pain.
Another hospitality project, a health bathing spa with medical treatments and maximum comfort, is underway in Bavaria, at Tegernsee, a resort town on the banks of Germany’s Tegernsee Lake. Nature is also the point of departure here and was key to the project. The landscape design integrates the existing flora and references the natural presence of water, allowing a direct communication with nature without interfering with the privacy of the patients.
ID: Is there a project in your history that you feel was particularly significant to your career?
MT: I designed the Vigilius Mountain Resort in South Tirol more than 15 years ago. It was one of the first design hotels, made from local larch wood and reachable only by cable car. The owner and I shared the same vision: to create a hotel that fuses with its surroundings, a place where you can breathe and relax instantly. Now, after all these years, the wood has a beautiful patina and the hotel a constant influx of international clientele.
ID: What are you reading?
MT: I very much like to read books in parallel: such as German philosopher Martin Heidegger with a novel or short story by Italian journalist and writer Italo Calvino.
ID: How do you think your childhood influenced your design thinking?
MT: My parents took me regularly to the Venice Biennale, so I became familiar with art and architecture at quite a young age. I grew up in nature, in the mountains near Bolzano, Italy, where my mother worked with pottery. She gave me clay to play with—so I had to use my imagination to have fun with it. I was always very close to material and materiality.
ID: How do think the Italian design culture influences your overall approach?
MT: In Italy, architecture is approached holistically. Let me quote Italian architect and writer Ernesto Rogers: ‘From spoon to city.’ This means working on a chair, on a lighting product, and on a house at the same time. We’ve worked like this in my office since the beginning, and the different teams of architects, interior designers, and product designers perform across disciplines.
Another big strength is Italian craftsmanship. At Salone del Mobile 2019, we launched a wood chair collection produced by F.lli Levaggi, a small manufacturer in Liguria, Italy, and work regularly with the glassblowers from Murano, such as Venini, Barovier & Toso, and Seguso. We very much believe in ‘Made in Italy.’
ID: Is there a person in the industry that you particularly admire?
MT: Ettore Sottsass, chief designer of Olivetti. I first worked for him as an assistant, then we formed Sottsass Associati and in 1981 we co-founded Italian design and architecture collective Memphis Group. Memphis had an important formative influence on my career, and provided a platform to experiment with the challenges of constant innovation. Ettore designed the first Italian computer—in the late 1950s.
Keep scrolling for more images of projects by Matteo Thun >
Leveling the single-story smattering of 1950s garages and factories was one option. Renovating, repurposing, and enlarging them was another. The former would provide a blank slate, the latter more of a challenge—but more character. Rapt Studio CEO and chief creative officer David Galullo, prolific designer of workplaces for such companies as Google, Twitter, and PayPal, opted to retain all but one of the six brick and concrete-block structures for the Marina Del Rey, California, campus now called MDR Truss. Today, it’s home to Zefr digital advertising, the Bouqs Co., an online farm-to-table flower delivery service, and real estate developer the Bradmore Group, the client that hired Rapt for the 130,000-square-foot project. So enamored with the result, president and CEO David Bohn decided to move the company into one of the buildings.
“David was looking to take advantage of what was here before,” begins Galullo, just off the plane from Milan, where Rapt showcased its debut Salone del Mobile installation Tell Me More. “He and his team understood that these little industrial buildings could actually add up to something pretty.” Rapt was tasked with creating the master plan for MDR Truss: Initial meetings with the client illustrated how the 3-acre site would be used, where cars could park, and how Rapt would work with the landscape architect to plant low-water and native species and create pedestrian pathways, among other essential changes. Bradmore was so impressed with the concept that the initial budget was increased. Ultimately, Rapt added a second floor to one building, decks to two of them, cleaned and re-painted all exterior masonry, and relocated entryways and exits and inserted roll-up glass garage doors for more light and better flow in nearly all the buildings. Additional outdoor spaces such as fire pits and a lawn for employee pets even “feel a bit resort,” Galullo notes.
Rapt was then hired again by Bradmore for its interiors and by Zefr for its offices, which occupy 40,000 square feet across four buildings. “We were morphing the exterior design based on what the interiors needed,” Galullo explains. Because all six buildings were leased prior to the completion of construction, the firm was able to deeply customize the design.
Creating an upgraded space for Zefr meant pushing a company with a start-up mentality—it was founded in 2008 and focuses on YouTube content targeting—into a more sophisticated space. “The idea was like Hey, we still want to be scrappy, but let’s have moments where we remind people that we’re heading in the right direction,” Galullo says. “For us, a brand is about the organization’s attitude, personality, and culture.” The result is a mixture of refined custom sectionals and walnut tables with furnishings from the hipper end of mass retailers and unpretentious, locally focused artwork. “It doesn’t feel like a dorm room, more like your second apartment,” Galullo adds, glancing down from the deck off one of the building’s newly added second floor at the rack of staffers’ sandy surfboards and the Zefr-branded skateboard ramp.
In Zefr’s main building, Rapt took advantage of the 16-foot ceiling with site-specific installations. One is at the entry: a cascade of white ribbons designed by art fabrication company Settlers LA that’s akin to an enormous ocean whitecap but that Galullo describes as “kind of flowy.” Neptune Glassworks, another area artisan, pitched its canopy of handblownglass orbs to Rapt and it ended up above the café, where occasional blue walls further nod to sea and sky.
Galullo calls Rapt “transdisciplinary, which is like equal measure on every discipline coming together to form something new.” In the case of Zefr, that meant curating an art and furniture offering “that’s an interesting and eclectic blend,” he says. “The last thing we want is for the office to feel like it was decorated to be perfect. People spend a lot of time here, so we focused on the spaces where people are going to hang.” So, for Zefr’s myriad lounge, meeting, and break-out areas, there’s always a duo of lounge chairs, plus a sofa, coffee table, and rug—a homey configuration that differentiates them from the rows of workstations.
The approach also meant eschewing corner offices (although there are private phone rooms in the core of each building as well as traditional conference rooms). One corner did surprise Galullo, however. It’s that outdoor deck space he created off a building’s new second floor. “I was worried it might feel like a cage because we wrapped it into the structure,” he recalls. “But it turned out to be an unexpected nugget.”
“When we set out on this project, we had to tell the story of both Zefr and the site’s history,” Galullo concludes. “It couldn’t just be about maximizing the number of parking spaces, although we did wrestle with that for quite some time.” In a locale where car culture still rules, that’s saying something.
Keep scrolling to view more images of the project >
Project Team: Sam Farhang (Creative Director); Kristen Woods; Derrick Prodigalidad; Krisada Surichamorn; Glenn Yoo; John Stempniak; Gigi Allen; Andrew Ashey; Scott Johnson; Michael Maciocia; Sasha Agapov; Alex Adamson; Semone Kessler; Rosela Barraza; Daniela Covarrubias; Justin Chen: Rapt Studio. EPT Design: Landscape Architect. Structural Focus: Structural Engineer. KPFF: Civil Engineer. E Engineers: Electrical Engineer. Tarantino Construction: General Contractor.
“The beautiful story of our animal species in its evolution is my only source of inspiration,” says Philippe Starck, who first caught the public’s eye with an experimental inflatable structure exploring materiality in 1969. In 1983, the French designer—who was just 34 years old—was commissioned by the country’s president, François Mitterrand, for the high-profile interior renovation of his private apartments at the Élysée Palace. With his belief that “evolution is in everything—but only we can control our evolution,” Starck is now one of the most prolific designers in history, with some 10,000 creations in just about every genre, from watches and all types of furnishings to hotels, restaurants, super sail boats, and architectural landmarks.
Most recently, at furniture fair Salone del Mobile in Milan, Starck earned one of the design community’s most prestigious honors, the 2019 Lifetime Achievement Award. The news came as he launched new furnishings for manufacturers including Kartell, Flos, and Glas Italia.
Starck sat down with Interior Design to share more about the A.I. chair (the world’s first chair designed using artificial intelligence), how he wraps his mind around the colossal endeavor of designing the interior of a space ship, and what colorful custom chair stands out in his home office.
Interior Design: Could you describe a few highlights from your premieres at Salone del Mobile last month?
Philippe Starck: We had a very strong invention for Kartell, the A.I. chair, which I think will be a star. It is the first chair designed outside our brain, out of our habits and how we are used to thinking. Also for Kartell, we launched the Smart Wood seating collection. Like our previous seating collection Woody—which was sort of a revolution because it was the first time that Kartell produced in wood—it uses a very thin wood molded into a curve similar to plastic design. It is produced with real wood but is still very affordable.
ID: What else have you launched recently?
PS: In February we launched a new collection of flexible sunglasses under the brand Starck Biotech Paris, which is distributed by Luxottica. Last year we completed the largest sail boat in history. At 480 feet long with three masts, it is an incredible addition to high technology and a revolution in marine history. I had designed a large boat before—for Steve Jobs—but that was definitely not a sail boat.
ID: What is upcoming for you?
PS: I am working with the company Axiom Space on the interior design of the habitation module for the Axiom Space Station. This will be part of the new International Space Station, which opens in 2020. I am also working on a new collection of perfume—adding to the three we already have—as well as a high-tech activewear collection with fabric that is really avant-garde.
ID: How do you think your childhood influences your design thinking?
PS: My father was a quite well-known inventor and aeronautical engineer. He had his own airplane company. It is definitely from him that I was born into the idea that creativity is the most beautiful job you can dream, the most beautiful work you can give to humanity. I continue the thinking of my father—and that’s why I am very comfortable working on something like a space ship. It’s in my DNA.
PS: The process doesn’t start because it doesn’t stop. First you need to understand what is important for you. For me the main thing that is important is the story of humanity, of the animal species, how we started some millions of years ago when we were amoeba, when we became fish, when we became frogs, and then when we became monkeys. And what we shall be in four million years when the sun will implode and we shall explode? It is such a beautiful story, and it takes all my time. That means all my inspiration, all my work comes from this simple idea: there are useful projects which help our evolution and then there are useless projects that don’t help our evolution. The beauty of us is the stamina of our evolution. We are the only animal species that has taken control of the speed and quality of our evolution.
ID: Which of your designs are around you right now?
PS: I am in my home office and I have on some old Puma shoes I designed some years ago. I am also wearing a Starck watch and my perfume, Starck Paris. On my nose are my Starck Biotech Paris glasses. Near me there is a floor lamp I designed for Flos, a chair made by Kartell, and headphones from Parrot. I also see one chair, which is very special. It’s my Louis Ghost chair for Kartell covered in work by Joana Vasconcelos, who is a quite famous Portuguese artist.
ID: Is there a person in the industry who you particularly admire?
PS: It is not possible to admire people who produce materiality. I am one and I am ashamed of it. Scientists, biologists, astronauts, mathematicians—these are my gods. They are really useful. Design is meaningless. We have to be clear with that. When you have a useless job, you cannot be proud of yourself. You can only dedicate all your admiration to those people who create strong innovation or who directly save lives. At its best, design can help the quality of life—but it will never save lives. It is not that powerful.
ID: What are you currently reading?
PS: I read a lot of scientific magazines—astronomy, biology, anything that would help me understand from where we come and where we go. From the United States, it would be the scientific journal Nature. I am also reading “Leurs Enfants Après Eux” by Nicolas Mathieu, winner of the Prix Goncourt, a quite prestigious honor for books in France. This book deserves it—it’s about the life of a teen in a rural town in France—and is very well done.
ID: How do you approach a hospitality project verses a residential project or product design?
PS: It is very simple. In a restaurant you stay two hours; in a hotel you stay three days; in a residence you stay, well, I hope all your life; and, with product design, it is absolutely not the same thing every time. Everything has a different program or different needs. I don’t try to make something nice or trendy, which is absolutely not my style. I try only to help my friends to have a better time, to be more sexy, to be more funny and sparkling, to be more in love or more creative. That is all. I am always thinking on how I can help, how I can use my gift—which is creativity—to help my community.
ID: How do you take a break?
PS: When your work is creativity, it’s more a drug than work. The problem is when I travel and have no time to create, I am more tired if I’m unable to create. I wish everyone could be in the same situation: to have a job they love, which they are passionate about and do with passion. This is why I don’t need a break. You don’t need to play golf when you create.
Keep scrolling to see more work by Philippe Starck > >
Humanscale’s Todd Bracher talks about “Bodies in Motion,” his interactive installation in partnership with Studio TheGreenEyl at Salone del Mobile 2019, which allows users to materialize their movements onto a light-generated figure on a screen. See it in action here. Video by Steven Wilsey and James Eades.
“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.
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.
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!
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.
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 >
Interior Design met up at Salone del Mobile 2019 with Simone Forresin of Formafantasmato talk about ExCinere, a line of architectural tiles made in collaboration with Dzek and created with colors obtained from the ashes of volcanic eruptions from Sicily’s Mount Etna. Video by Steven Wilsey and James Eades.
Designer Tom Fereday offers details about the subtle surprises in the Crawford Collection, his latest range of furniture for Stellar Works in collaboration with Lane Crawford, developed for the Asian market and shown at Salone del Mobile. Video by James Eades and Steven Wilsey.