Alessi Opens New Flagship Store in Milan

Friday, 29 July 2011

This month, Italian design brand Alessi opened a new flagship store in Milan on 14-16 Via Manzoni, designed by Spanish designer Marti Guixé. The location is in addition to the existing showroom, which has been the key address for the company for over a quarter of a century. The store is Guixé's third project in collaboration with the Italian brand, having previously designed the Alessi Shop and Museum in Paris in 2008, and the 2011 exhibition Italian Dream Factories (subscribers, click here for our report on it) at the Triennale Design Museum in Milan.

LDF 2011: The Auction Room

Thursday, 28 July 2011

A unique exhibition held at The Gopher Hole as part of the London Design Festival will showcase an auction room that is actually up for auction. The Auction Room by Mariana Pestana & Designersblock is an exhibition in which the architecture dictates the curatorial direction, meaning once the type of room they'd like to create is decided, the subject matter follows. In this case, fifteen designers were asked to create the components of a working auction hall - chairs, a hammer, tiles, light switches, tables, lamps, a rug, and cups & saucers. Some of the designers participating in the exhibition include Alex Hellum, Studio 801, Katrin Baumgarten, Harry Trimble, and Yehrin Tong.

The exhibition is open to the public from September 19th through 25th, during which time visitors can pick their favorite pieces and place a bid. Unlike traditional auctions, monetary offers are not accepted forcing interested buyers to get creative with their offerings. Read all of our LDF 2011 previews so far here.

Minimalist Posters of Children's Stories by Christian Jackson

Christian Jackson has created a series of fifteen posters depicting timeless children's stories using minimalist imagery. Contrary to the bright colors and playful aesthetic typically associated with children's fairytales, Jackson's posters bring out the underlying darkness present in these stories. 

HBL Retail: Kitchen Theatre

Russell Hobbs press preview, autumn/winter 2011/12
Cooking demonstrations have been widely seen by WGSN-homebuildlife's retail team at the press events this year; reflecting the growing trend for kitchen theatrics within the home. 

MyBlockNYC: New York City's First Interactive Map

Wednesday, 27 July 2011 is New York City’s first interactive video map. Users can upload footage taken from their cell phones and cameras that correspond to particular blocks throughout the city. The website currently boasts 1,040 videos that represent 775 blocks.

HBL Exhibitions: Talk To Me at Museum of Modern Art, New York

Augmented (hyper) Reality: Augmented City 3D by Keiichi Matsuda at Talk To Me

'Talk to Me: Design and the communication between people and objects' opened this week at the Museum of Modern Art, New York, featuring a wide range of objects from around the world by designers, students and scientists, highlighting how different innovations in design have transformed the way we live.

HBL Book of the Week: Making Britain Modern by Kenneth Grange

Published to coincide with the Design Museum's exhibition of the same name (see our previous post), Kenneth Grange: Making Britain Modern (Black Dog Publishing, 2011) provides a thorough retrospective of Grange's 60-year (so far) career in design: from his beginnings as an architectural assistant to his work for brands including Anglepoise, Kodak, Morphy Richards and Parker among many others. Through 160 photographs and a number of in-depth texts, we are shown just how much he changed the way we use objects, to this day.

HBL loves: the book's calibre. Contributors include the director of the Design Museum Deyan Sudjic, its curator Gemma Curtin, design historian Penny Sparke, architecture journalist Jonathan Glancey, and the London Evening Standard's Barbara Chandler in conversation with Grange - who is a wonderfully honest and straight-forward interviewee.

The Big Swim by Tine Bech

The Big Swim (2011) by Tine Bech at Camberwell Leisure Centre; photo by Nicolai Amter
Last weekend, London celebrated one year until the 2012 Olympic Games with special events and exhibitions featuring art, dance, film, and sports events. One such event was the Big Swim, an interactive light installation held at two local swimming pools. At this open to the public event, 220 guests swam in clouds of colour as filtered lights covered the water.

Interiors by Joanna Lamb

Interiors, Joanna Lamb
Australian painter Joanna Lamb has launched a series of stylised paintings – of scenes taken from pages of real estate brochures – rendered in blocks of colour along with her distinctive flattening aesthetic.

Sven Völker and Nils Völker for MADE

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


Graphic designer Sven Völker and machine artist Nils Völker teamed up to create this mesmerising installation for Berlin-based design bureau MADE, entitled 'Captured: a homage to light & air'.

WGSN-homebuildlife loves the powerful combination of movement, material and colour. For more, watch an interview with the designers here.

Hemp Chair by Werner Aisslinger

In collaboration with chemical company BASF, German designer Werner Aisslinger has created the Hemp Chair. Inspired by a technique used by the automotive industry, the manufacturing of the chair uses water-based compression moulding to form an eco-friendly, lightweight, yet strong material.

HBL Blog of the Week: Oh Joy!

Oh Joy!

Oh Joy! is one of the most established design blogs out there, founded by graphic designer Joy Deangdeelert Cho back in 2005 and now read by upwards of 18,000 people each day. WGSN-homebuildlife highlighted it as one of our top ten North American blogs last year, and it continues to inspire us on a regular basis.

HBL loves: Oh Joy! is great for tabletop inspiration, and for following the continuing connection between fashion and design. We also love Joy's obsession with food, which results in regular mouthwatering posts on the best snacks she's made, eaten, or seen lately.

Fleet of the Future in San Francisco
by BMW

Monday, 25 July 2011

San Francisco's Bay Area Rapid Transit, or BART as it's known to locals, has selected DesignworksUSA, the design consultancy and subsidiary of BMW Group, to re-design the city's traincars and metro-rail experience. The project is said to complete by 2017.

Mobility concepts at the Bezalel Academy graduation show

CUB- Compact Urban Bump Car (2011) Ayelet Fishnam, courtesy of Bezalel Academy of Arts in Jerusalem
The Bezalel Academy of Arts in Jerusalem recently held their annual end-of-the-year exhibition for the graduating students of the Department of Industrial Design. Each of these projects represents thousands of hours of research, development and design, and is the culmination of four years of hard work. Looking into matters of functionality, aesthetics, and sustainability, the projects shown at this year’s exhibition covered many facets of industrial design - most notably, perhaps, in the area of transportation.

Lucian Freud: 1922-2011

Working At Night (2005) © David Dawson, courtesy of Hazlitt Holland-Hibbert

The art world last week paid tribute to Lucian Freud, who died on Wednesday 20th July aged 88. The figurative painter was world-famous for his portraits, which during his long career included sitters from Queen Elizabeth II to Kate Moss.

Freud's studio, meanwhile, was a place which chronicled the artist's career visually - due to his habit of wiping excess paint from his brushes directly onto the walls.

HBL Retail: Konzepp, Hong Kong

New concept store Konzepp is designed to create a community among Hong Kong's design aficionados. Its founders, renowned Hong Kong film producer and artist manager Willie Chan and designer Geoff Tsui, hope that the space will act as a platform for creatives to meet and showcase their products and ideas.

HBL Tradeshows: Live from Furnitex 2011

Friday, 22 July 2011

Lavida shelves and boxes at Furnitex 2011, Melbourne
WGSN-homebuildlife reports live from Furnitex in Melbourne, Australia, highlighting the three emerging trends from the show:

Industrial lighting: Tough, metallic fixtures inspired by old factories and warehouses

Animal skins: Animal hides are featured on everything from rugs to furniture

French Provincial: Tableware and grained wood furnishings inspired by shabby chic farmhouses

Subscribers can view our full live report here.

HBL Retail: Liberty's sewing school

London department store Liberty are to host a sewing school this September to celebrate the launch of the Liberty Book of Home Sewing. In one of two classes, Nicole Wilson of needlecraft brand Coats will be teaching students to create a frilly apron, using a pattern from the new book.

HBL Retail: Nousaku at Gyre, Tokyo

Nousaku at Gyre, Tokyo; image courtesy of Shin Suzuki
Tokyo's Gyre shopping centre has collaborated with traditional Japanese artisan studio Nousaku to create an installation-cum-exhibition display. On show are examples of moulds used by the studio, a selection of photographs and many examples of its pieces - including the centrepiece of the exhibition, a large-scale wind bell installation in the store's 30 metre-high atrium space.

HBL Retail: ByAlex

Thursday, 21 July 2011

Here's a sneak preview of the A Range, the first collection by London-based design brand ByAlex, which will launch this September. The range comprises a stool, coat stand and side table, each of which can be assembled by the user in a simple three-step process.

Kenneth Grange: Making Britain Modern

The InterCity 125, designed by Kenneth Grange in 1976

The Design Museum's latest exhibition, which opened to the public yesterday, celebrates the career of Kenneth Grange - an industrial designer whose name may not be well-known but whose work certainly is. British families grew up with his cameras, food mixers, razors, bus shelters and even a train (the InterCity 125, pictured above). Tourists will instantly recognise the iconic London taxi cab, also Grange's work. WGSN-homebuildlife visited the retrospective this week to take a look.

HBL Book of the Week: Drive

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

"Man drifting northwest at approximately 68 mph on U.S. Route 101 somewhere near Camarillo, California, one evening in 1989"; from Drive by Andrew Bush

This week's Book of the Week is via one of our favourite design blogs, SwissMiss, and is a collection of photographs of people in the most intimate, and yet public, of situations: driving their car.

Drive by Andrew Bush (Yale University Press, 2008) is the publication of a project called Vector Portraits taken by the artist on Los Angeles' freeways, driving alongside his unsuspecting subjects with a camera attached to the side of his car. Each photo is captioned with the artist's notes of when and where that person was seen.

2011 Green Good Design Awards

Water Park by aldayjover arquitectura y paisaje

Founded in Chicago in 1950, the Good Design program sought to promote modern design to a then traditional public. In 2009, The Chicago Athenaeum: Museum of Architecture and Design and The European Center for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies instituted a separate edition of the annual awards that specifically recognizes global green talent in the fields of product design and architecture.

Cygnet by Aston Martin & colette

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

French fashion brand colette has collaborated with Aston Martin Works Tailored to create a bespoke version of the Cygnet city car, with the first editions reaching dealerships this month. The new design is available in a limited-edition of only 14, and features Lightning Silver paint with blue styling details by colette.

HBL Blog of the Week: Obsessionistas

Obsessionistas documents the obsessions of collectors all over the world - from saucy British seaside postcards to meteorites, and the more esoteric the better. Each post examines one collection in detail, showing prized items alongside an explanation of the story behind them.

HBL loves: the weird and wonderful collections on display. For example, what drives a person to collect 750 insects preserved in amber?

Latitude Contemporary Art prize 2011: winner announced

An Orrery For Other Worlds (2011) by Andy Harper

Andy Harper has been announced as the winner of 2011's Latitude Contemporary Art prize, in a ceremony at the British arts festival last weekend. Harper receives a £10,000 cash prize and a major commission for next year's festival; read our post on the shortlist for the award here.

HBL Profile: Yemi Awosile Studio

Cork fabric by Yemi Awosile
Textile designerYemi Awosile believes that cork is a material that has been overlooked in the past. She has spent the last couple of years exploring the processes, along with traditional craft and artisan production techniques, that can transform this natural and humble material into something altogether different and very contemporary. WGSN-homebuildlife spoke to her about her material innovations so far.

Etsuko Ichikawa: drawing with glass

Monday, 18 July 2011

Artist Etsuko Ichikawa uses molten glass, kiln-heated to 2100°F, to create abstract patterns and drawings. Ichikawa explains: "It is a way of capturing a fleeting moment and eternalizing it, and it gives the viewer the opportunity to see a gesture".

Aesop Grand Central opens for business

Friday, 15 July 2011

Australian skincare brand Aēsop have opened a branch in Grand Central, New York, which continues their innovative approach to VM: products are displayed on stacked back-issues of the New York Times.

Helen Dumkow at New Designers

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Huddersfield University graduate Helen Dumkow's final project explores the material potential of the everyday elastic band. On display at New Designers Part 1 in London earlier this month, Dumkow's explorations involved twisting, stretching, adding pattern to, hanging and shredding the abundantly discarded material.

ECAL graduates 2011: Art Direction

White Knights by Federico Berardi

WGSN-homebuildlife visited Switzerland last week to attend the ECAL graduation show. Our full report on the themes to emerge from the show will be available to subscribers later this week - in the meantime, here are some of our favourite pieces from the renowned design school's Art Direction graduates.

HBL Analysis: Multifunctional furniture in the versatile home

House by Modern Cabana
In a major new report, WGSN-homebuildlife considers the impact of global urbanization - on the American market and beyond.

For the first time in almost 15 years, the size of new homes being built in the United States is shrinking and suburban McMansions are making way for smaller homes in urban settings. More and more people are gravitating towards city centres and smart growth efforts in urban planning are in full swing all across America.

The Nolitan by Grzywinski+Pons

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Manhattan-based Grzywinski+Pons have designed the Nolitan, a new hotel located on Kenmare Street. This new 55-room boutique hotel is true to its name, occupying the Nolita neighborhood in New York City. For most non-New Yorkers who don't know (and more than a few New Yorkers for that matter), Nolita stands for "north of Little Italy," a downtown neighborhood known for its eccentric style and nightlife.

HBL Book of the Week: Room With A View

In 2009, renowned Dutch design school Design Academy Eindhoven started looking for an apartment in which to hold inspiring discussions and host international guests; they were hunting for 'a room with a view'. This resulting publication of the same name charts the process of finding such an apartment, furnishing it, and staying true to the values of Dutch design throughout.

HBL loves: that this small publication, complete with floor plans and full listings for the pieces used, provides so much insight into how we use spaces, both to work and to live. For more information, click here.

HBL Exhibitions: Jerwood Makers Open

Flicker (2011) by Farah Bandookwala, photograph by Tomas Rydin

At London gallery Jerwood Space's first Jerwood Makers Open, works by four contemporary makers are on show - with exhibits ranging from interactive motion-based pieces to a dogged exploration of glaze. WGSN-homebuildlife attended the launch yesterday to take a look.

Sigge by Fanny Aronsen Studio
and Sigurd Falk

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Sigge by Fanny Aronsen and Sigurd Falk

Earlier this month renowned Swedish fabric designer Fanny Aronsen launched Sigge, a vibrant fabric co-designed with young Swedish designer Sigurd Falk. The design is a contemporary, reversible upholstery textile with a flowing hand-drawn motif based on a pen on paper drawing which is described by Fanny Aronsen Studio as "sophisticated street art".

HBL Retail: British consumers use loans to invest in property

Sainsbury's loans book shows that one in five personal loans (21%) are being used to pay for home improvements and investing in their homes despite the difficult economic climate.

Home improvements accounted for 20.2 per cent of the total value of personal loans taken out in the UK, showing a slight increase from the 20.1 per cent of the total value last year. However, the average value of a personal loan taken out for home improvements has declined, from £8,827 in 2010 to £8,318.

HBL Blog of the Week: Luxury Now

Luxury Now, the news section of high-end blog Luxury Culture, presents an ever-changing snapshot of the events you should know about in the worlds of design, fashion and architecture. Great for finding inspiration.

HBL loves: its focus on the luxury market - an important sector to keep track of.

HBL Analysis: Mischioff

Swiss rug brand Mischioff have launched a collection of round flower rugs - after the original designs, shown at Maison & Objet earlier this year, proved a hit with customers.

HBL Retail: Tok&Stok sustainable shopping bags

Ave Eva Ave by Joana Lira

Iconic Brazilian interiors retailer Tok&Stok has launched a collection of shopping bags made from 100% recyclable raffia, available in 8 different designs.

Tiny Houses by Tumbleweed

Monday, 11 July 2011

WGSN's US editors love the tiny houses designed by Jay Shafer, founder of the California-based company Tumbleweed. The houses range in size from 874 square feet all the way down to a truly tiny 65 square feet, the smallest of which use puzzle-like configurations to fit appliances, and functional spaces such as sleep lofts and kitchens.

Playground Closes at Dusk: the first outdoor collection by Nacho Carbonell

Spazio Rosanna Orlandi presented Playground Closes at Dusk, Nacho Carbonell's first collection of furniture designed specifically for outdoor use, at Art Basel Design Miami last month. Comprising five pieces, the limited-edition collection makes strong use of Carbonell's signature primal forms and tactile surfaces.

Milk Series by Ellen Thomas

Milk Series by Ellen Thomas
The single gold leg sported by these stools from designer-maker Ellen Thomas is intended to draw attention to the craftsmanship involved in wood-turning - and corresponds to a gold-painted cow pattern which decorates the underside of each stool.

Kingston University at New Designers

This year's product and furniture design graduates from Kingston University took a bold approach to their stand at New Designers Part 2 last week: an entire wall was bedecked in dozens of bright orange flowers, each held in a different small stem vase.

LDF 2011: Tent preview

Friday, 8 July 2011

Glass Concrete Bench by Ivanka 

Held at the Old Truman Brewery in East London during the London Design Festival, Tent is a reliable place to find exciting design talent and innovative new ideas. This year's show will see more than 200 companies exhibiting their latest projects; here's a preview of what to look out for this September.

HBL Retail: D&M's Winter 2011 collection

Belgian tableware brand D&M have sent us images of their winter 2011 collection, including new ranges of table linens, serveware and dining accessories.

Design Within Reach Opens Stamford, Connecticut, Showroom

Thursday, 7 July 2011

After moving its headquarters from San Francisco to Connecticut in the past year, Design Within Reach has opened its Stamford Studio, located at 711 Canal Street, in the Harbor Point area of Stamford’s historic South End. The studio is the storefront of the building where DWR has its corporate offices.

From Here For Here by Ariane Prin

Pencils made from waste collected at RCA by Ariane Prin
Royal College of Art graduate Ariane Prin caught our attention at Show RCA last week by exhibiting pencils made from residue collected from inside the school.

American Folk Art Museum

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Harriet Rutter Eagleson

This week is New Yorkers' last chance to visit the American Folk Art Museum in its current form at West 53rd Street, a building designed by Tod Williams and Billie Tsien. The building's new owners, MoMA have yet to announce its plans for the building.

Hampton Court Flower Show

WGSN-homebuildlife has just returned from the RHS Hampton Court Flower Show, the largest flower show in the world, running from July 5-10 just outside of London. Show gardens and conceptual gardens animate the landscape while plant, flower and garden product developers offer a huge array of living ideas for avid gardeners and amateurs alike. Here are the first few glimpses of some key elements at this year's Hampton Court.

HBL Book of the Week: Chroma

Line judge, Wimbledon, London; from Chroma: Celebrating colour in photography
Chroma: Celebrating colour in photography by Michel Pastoureau (Thames & Hudson, 2010) does exactly as its title states: through 336 photos, Pastoureau demonstrates again and again the power of colour. The book is divided into six sections - by colour of course: red, blue, green, yellow, white and black.