Édouard-Sofa

The New Meaning of ‘New’ in Interior Living


True, groundbreaking originality seems to be becoming increasingly difficult to achieve and the world of design is no exception to this phenomenon. Every year, particularly during the Milan Furniture Fair in April, we are bombarded with new concepts, new uses for materials and new ways of interacting with furniture.

True, groundbreaking originality seems to be becoming increasingly difficult to achieve and the world of design is no exception to this phenomenon. Every year, particularly during the Milan Furniture Fair in April, we are bombarded with new concepts, new uses for materials and new ways of interacting with furniture.

So how do we manage to refresh every year? I have chosen a small selection of recent furniture designs to illustrate several ways that are now used to avoid feelings of déjà vu when new designs are released to an increasingly design literate (and easily jaded) international audience.

Sax-Table

The Burgaz Chair from long established German company, Walter Knoll is a perfect example of a successful ‘update’ – this goes beyond a mere face-lift. Originally designed in 1953 by Turkish modernist designer Sadi Ozis – this chair was heavily influenced by the fishing culture of the Eastern Mediterranean with a seat and back made of materials reminiscent of wide meshed fishing nets.

A recent collaboration between the original designer, his son Neptun Ozis and Walter Knoll has produced a chair that retains the rather pointed shapes often seen in Turkey in everything from architecture to slippers, but exchanges the loose, casual open weave of the seat and back with upholstery to create a more formal, substantial chair with both residential and commercial applications.

Keyn-ChairSometimes newness can come from an external inspiration, often from the past or from nature. The Do-Maru small armchair by Nipa Doshi and Jonathan Levien for B&B Italia, is named after and inspired by the ancient armour worn by Samurai warriors. The armour was made up of painted and decorated leather plates that covered the warrior like an armadillo shell. The table in the range complements this with a Japanese simplicity with a glossy lacquered shell covering outlining elemental shapes.

True originality now tends to stem from technological innovation, often with the development of a new material that could enable designers to eliminate bulk, enable better air circulation on a seat or design shapes that could not previously be supported. This approach is underpinned by research in ergonomics so that a chair, for example, can be created to optimise the posture, breathing and circulation of a person who is merely sitting.

Herman Miller, a company with a secure place in furniture history, has recently developed the Keyn Chair, designed by British design collective forpeople – their directive was to create a multipurpose meeting/side/dining/ hospitality chair that, most importantly, was flexible enough to meet the changing way that people now work. We now get up and down, move sideways, lean back to think up ideas and then sit up straight to work.

The solution was Keyn’s patented Cradleflex movement which responds as you shift your position. It effortlessly reclines up to ten degrees whilst simultaneously allowing the seat to move forward, thereby allowing the sitter to remain comfortable and focused throughout. Each variation of the chair retains visual consistency with the cradle, seat shell, choice of fabric or leather and a cut out pattern that is not only a design element but makes the chair lightweight as well as providing ventilation.

Do-Maru-Chairs-and-Table

The next design on the list is from an industrial designer with impeccable credentials – Christoph Böninger. His Sax height adjustable table from 1999 has been reintroduced and reconfigured for ClassiCon in 2017, providing a perfect multipurpose space saver for those who live in a compact environment. Using a patented mechanism, this table moves from low side table to high serving trolley with one small turn of the hand. Armour is now one of the table top options – current nanotechnology thereby expanding the resilience and uses of a proven classic of industrial design.
‘New’ can also be applied to furniture at the other end of the spectrum – away from industry and technological advancements into the world of comfort and meeting the needs and expectations of those who want to loll about on something supportive and traditionally upholstered. Who better to do this (design the sofa, not loll about) than Antonio Citterio quite probably the world’s greatest designer of sofas. The Édouard has a high back – at present, this is a ‘new’ concept as it has been so rare in recent years. A new shape and a new type of support have now been reintroduced to the highest level of furniture design and will no doubt be influential for some time.

Obviously this is a very small selection of what has been considered ‘new’ in design in the past months. The more familiar that you become with classic influential designs and the movements that they encompass, the better equipped you will be to recognise true innovation and originality.

Alan Bertenshaw
Matisse International Design
www.matisse.co.nz

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