Formed in 2004, Torafu Architects are a Japanese studio founded by Koichi Suzuno and Shinya Kamuro. The duos work is fantastic, covering a broad and diverse range that includes everything from product design and architecture; to interiors, installations and film making. Recently they collaborated with the well-established Japanese furniture manufacturer Hida Sangyo to produce a furniture collection called Cobrina.
The name Cobrina comes from the Japanese expression “koburi-na”, which is used to describe things that are small or undersized. It’s a fitting name for a collection that is designed to be small and lightweight. For the duo, it was important that the furniture could easily be moved around – perfect for those who have compact living areas!
Consisting of nine pieces, the furniture is made in beautiful oak and each piece is characterized by its playful rounded shapes on both its surfaces and its legs.
I love the simplicity and the elegance of this furniture. The hat-stand that includes a small bowl for keys and wallet is a wonderful touch and the bright blue of the chairs adds a lot of great color to a perfectly restrained collection. More images from Torafu Architects can be seen on their website.
Since the early 90’s the German photographer Hans-Christian Schink has been bringing his unique perspective to the world. Represented internationally by many museums and galleries, his photographs often cover a broad range of subjects but a fascination with landscape always seems to be at the heart of his work.
Between 1995 and 2003 he produced a body of work called Walls. Easily his most abstract series to date, the work highlights Schink’s direct, near confrontational, manner of photography. Shot with a large format camera, the series consists of 11 images, each one demonstrating the photographers strict approach to his subject matter.
The photographs examine the architecture of commercial buildings. Each image resembles a large color field paintings, with Schink paring down his subject matter to a point of graphic abstraction. Only the smallest hint of subject matter can be detected from the tiny traces of pathways and skylines that Schink choose to include at the edges of his work.
Personally I love the restraint in this series. There’s a striking directness about each image and the colors of these buildings are just wonderful. You can see the complete series on Schink’s website and make sure to also check out more of his work while you’re there.
Creating surprising combinations in furniture design seems to be the biggest challenge these days. Hilla Shamia, an Israel based industrial designer, has created a fantastic series of pieces which incredibly combine wood and aluminum. Rather than simply joining the two materials with nuts and bolts the aluminum is poured directly into the wood, which is then cast into the body of the pieces.
The results are rather stunning. You’ll notice that the aluminum burns the wood where they meet which gives a beautiful gradient effect to the wood. The seeming haphazardness of the works only adds to the overall aesthetic, and I love how the metal fills in the negative spaces. Such a fantastic project, I’ve never seen anything quite like it before.
We oftentimes find the best inspiration in the oddest places. A song inspired by the name of a woman, a building that takes it shape from a sea creature. Martín Azúa found the inspiration for his Shoemaker Chair in footwear.
Objects are usually true to some schemes and they find their identity in some pre-established premises. This chair claims its personality as a shoe and requires the care of a shoe. Often objects, as people, have problems to be what they really are.
This chair is all about subtle beauty. The laces on the back of the chair that joins the leather with the wood is charming and effective. You can also tie down each arm to provide a more structured arm rest. I also love that the leather is paired with glossy copper legs that provide for a perfect accent color. I can imagine that this chair would age beautifully over time.
You can view more of Martín’s projects by clicking here.
The ladies at Sight Unseen have put together their American Design Hot List, a compilation of the best ‘Mericans in product design. The goal of their list is to profile “a totally unscientific, unapologetically subjective portfolio of the 25 emerging and semi-emerging furniture and product designers we think you should know now.’ And it’s a damn good list. Amongst the folks profiled is long time TFIB homie Eric Trine, Fort Standard, and Snarkitecture, amongst many awesome designers. If you’re unfamiliar with these folks, this is a perfect time to get acquainted.
To say that Chiaozza (pronounced “chow-za” like “wow-za”) is a design studio would be an understatement. The duo of Terry Chiao and Adam Frezza are more like a creative life force dedicated to handmaking playful shelves, mirrors, and wall objects in addition to their respective art. And, beyond that, their unique “cabin in a loft” home—which they also built themselves—is something of an architectural wonder and real-life landing pad for artistically-inclined travelers to Brooklyn, New York.
Ascent is a fantastic new table light designed by the award winning Norwegian designer Daniel Rybakken. Created for Luceplan, the beauty of this design is its simplicity. Ascent allows the user to control the intensity of the light simply by moving it up and down. When the shade is at the bottom the light is off but as it moves upwards its LEDs glow brighter, allowing the light to reach its strongest intensity at the top. It’s a simple idea and it’s executed brilliantly, with Rybakken using an action which feels both natural and intuitive.
Last week, hundreds of new and established design makers showcased their latest wares during NY Design Week. And while there were many standouts, Seattle-based Iacoli & McAllister continue to stand apart from the crowd with their deceptively simple furniture, lighting, and accessory pieces. Founded in 2007, by Jamie Iacoli and Brian McAllister, the duo cite exploration, craft, style, and quality as creative fuel for their work which has grown from spare yet colorful stools and pendant lights to tables, objects, and jewelry.
The International Contemporary Furniture Fair, aka ICFF, opens in New York City this weekend (May 18 – 21), and to celebrate, venerable modern furniture company Vitsoe is opening a reading room in their downtown Bond Street store. Launched to celebrate the Vitsoe 620 Chair Programme, a chair originally designed by Dieter Rams in 1962, the company is pairing with culture and photography booksellers (and Vitsoe neighbor) Dashwood Books, to offer the 620 Reading Room, a comfortable and well-heeled respite from your usual weekend stroll. Having visited the Vitsoe showroom myself—primarily to take in their covetable shelving sytems, which remain beautiful yet functional additions to any modern home—I can attest that this pop-up Reading Room will be worth checking out.
Not only does Dashwood carry an astonishing array of unusual and well-curated art tomes, Vitsoe will offer complimentary Intelligentsia pour-overs from Gasoline Alley Coffee. If you happen to be in New York this Friday, May 17 until next Monday, May 20, this will be a rare opportunity to curl up in a legendary piece of contemporary design while sipping free coffee and taking in the fantastic downtown, cobblestone street view. More information and opening hours can be found here.
We live in a time of abundant design stores and online interior retailers that churn out fast furniture in a similar way the fashion behemoths turn over fast fashion. While many of us are constantly on the look out for interesting, modern, well-crafted design pieces at a truly affordable cost, sometimes it’s hard not to resort to the typical catalog companies and Ikeas of the world. Personally, I’d prefer to buy directly from a carpenter, artisan, or maker—there’s something about this exchange that feels more personal—but I often don’t find products I truly love at a price I can pay. Thankfully, OneFortyThree is here to fill the void.