On visiting the V&A in London recently I happened upon an extraordinary exhibition titled ‘Heatherwick Studio – Designing the Extraordinary’. Funny that. At first glance it seems you’re looking at a room full of stuff. Too much stuff. Then a journey begins with the first cabinet. And what a journey! And it ends too soon!
Well who are these people at Heatherwick Studio? To quote their site “Heatherwick studio has earned an international reputation for creating stunning and ingenious works that span a breathtaking array of disciplines: from architecture, furniture, product design and fashion, to engineering, sculpture, transport and urban planning.” Difficult to better that description, as I was blown away with their work. I had spotted some of their designs previously but not had the chance of getting the full scope of their work. And it is pretty much crammed into this small space. But each model and prototype [the show is made up of them as opposed to the finished items] reveals the shear brilliance of their thinking and approach to design. Unfortunately taking photos was not allowed, which was a pity because the models and prototypes demonstrate this process so well.
To begin with they are a multi-disciplinary group, hell-bent on breaking every design typology in existence. And the secret is in their exploratory process, interrogation of materials and passion for craftsmanship. “At the heart of his Studio’s practice is a profound commitment to elegant, integrated design solutions and the absolute dedication to materials, research, prototyping, industrial collaboration, tactility, texture – and above all, extraordinary form-making.”I had a spin in one and loved it… nearly fell out though.
A bridge that works both as intended as a crossing which can be removed to allow boats to pass through, as well as a cool sculptural piece.
And who would dare to redesign one of London’s greatest icons of design… the London Bus? Not only have they answered the brief but they have surpassed previous designs without throwing out the proverbial baby. Even the stunningly mod seat fabric was designed by them.
The UK Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo. This ‘Seed Cathedral’ was designed in response to the theme of “better city, better life”. “We started to explore the relationships between cities and nature and the significance of plants to human health, economic success and social change.” It was decided to use texture, like the waving grass in a field, to create the form. There would be no sense of where the structure begins or ends. “The Seed Cathedral is a box, 15 metres high and 10 metres tall. From every surface protrude silvery hairs, consisting of 60,000 identical rods of clear acrylic, 7.5 metres long, which extend through the walls of the box and lift it into the air. There are 250,000 seeds cast into the glassy tips of all the hairs.”
East Beach Cafe, Littlehampton. Nothing like the traditional English seaside cafes, often has queues outside waiting to get in. Withe Heatherwick’s approach to design, we’re not surprised!
For these and many more amazing design wonders visist the Heatherwick Studio Website.
Rekindle is the name of a new brand, or more like a new movement, waiting to take off. Something that already resonates with many, these early prototypes of chairs made from upcycled weatherboards show what can be created from waste material. I spoke with founder Juliet Arnott who is an occupational therapist and artist, and was impressed with her vision to secure sustainable sources of recycled timber, not only from the demolition of hundreds of buildings in Christchurch, but also in other centres around New Zealand, and create a range of well designed practical furniture. And in doing so create job opportunities and put the profits back into the Christchurch community. I like the name ‘Rekindle’ as it implies a nurturing way of starting over again, with hope. ‘Upcycle’ is a new word we use which is also apt in this case, as it is about using old materials but in a completely new way. Where real value is added through creative design rather than merely reusing the materials.
So if you know of or have a stash of demolition timber, do get in touch with Juliet and get it to work in this good cause. And we look forward to seeing the final product, and hopefully selling it on our site. Contact Juliet through the website www.rekindle.org.nz or email her at email@example.com
Nearly every child in New Zealand grows up listening to the stories of Maori legends. It might be said that the stories of Maui Tikitiki-a-Taranga are some of the most popular. In some of the stories Maui is cheeky, curious, and his inquisitive nature means that he goes on really awesome and dangerous adventures. When he’s old enough Maui starts to question his origins and begins to figure out his own identity. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the legends of Maui continue to influence our lives; like Maui, we are discovering what we find unique about ourselves, what we can create that expresses our own individual New Zealand identity.
David Hakaraia amalgamates his Maori heritage with contemporary designs and practises. The result is a fascinating synthesis: Hakaraia creates works that have a “design approach that is distinctly his own”, they are a combination of Maori storytelling and modern techniques through the use of a variety of media. David is of Ngapuhi and Ngati Paoa descent and grew up in Tokoroa and Kororareka. He graduated with a Masters of Design with Distinction at Victoria University School of Architecture and Design in 2011. David’s aim is ”to develop new ways to express my history by marrying contemporary design technologies with the tradition of Maori story-telling. My hope is that this historically and culturally grounded approach will offer new ways with which contemporary Maori may connect with their history”.
David’s works are obviously reminiscent of his Maori heritage, as seen in his Waka Whakaka, which also combines pacific and western cultures. Intricate koru designs are magnificently laser-etched on a wooden elliptical shape. When switched on, light streams through the cuts, making the patterns on the Waka Whakaka glow.
David’s other light, Mahuika, is directly influenced by Maori legend: it is based on one of the stories of Maui, when he goes to the underworld to get fire from the old kuia, Mahuika. The light is made of porcelain and native timber. Mahuika looks like a multi-coloured flame, and is both bright and delicate at the same time. And pretty soon David is going to become a cleverbastard (which we are very excited about). We are looking forward to having a new and extremely innovative designer join our team. Story by Jane Yonge
After meeting David several years ago he mentioned his ideal work space would be designed and built to fit his unique requirements and values. A space that would not only foster great innovation in design, but would incorporate the factory as well as a showroom to showcase his new work and projects. Other important values like sustainability, good working environment for his staff and accessibility to his customers and the ‘real world’ out there would be important. Well it’s all become reality. It’s located near the old industrial site where he used to be based, but is now alongside a very Kiwi neighbourhood. Connecting with and being a part of the community is all part of running his business in the Hawke’s Bay area and also one of the reasons he and his partner, Linda, live there.
I love the way the building, while mostly industrial, welcomes you in. The entrance is informal and friendly, full of light, and provides a lovely space to show David’s range of lights, furniture, special projects and prototypes, as well as his art prints and photography on the walls. David showed me around the design area as well as the work-friendly workshop. Underfloor heating, excellent light, clean air and a number of sustainable innovations make this a space worth working in. We look forward to seeing new work pouring out from this nest of kiwi creativity. Next time you’re down there pop in yourself… it will be well worth it.
Sustainability is a cornerstone value for the CleverBastards brand… so I’d better back that up with some relevant posts. And while we at CBs champion art and design in NZ, we definitely follow what’s happening around the world. Inhabitat is a blog I follow and I’m impressed with so much of what they say and promote… eg this comp which invites viewers to vote on entries to find the winners in their Spring Greening Contest. We’re so into upcycling that we have a category dedicated to it. For those not familiar with the term Wikipedia says… “Upcycling is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.” Or simply, creates from rubbish! Well check these finalists…
Cola Bottle Lamp by Sarah Turner was the winner. She turns plastic Coca Cola bottles into these intricately amazing lamps. She collects the throwaways, and after a good cleaning, sandblasts them to make them opaque. Then she cleverly cuts them them into decorative forms.
Pop Pendant Light made from recycled aluminium pull tabs by Mauricio Affonso. This is one of my favourites. I mean how could you get more basic than pull tabs! Feels a bit like the old 70’s disco balls.
But my fave is Carlos Alberto Montana Hoyos’s “A La Lata” Candy Bowl It is handcrafted with re-purposed aluminum can tabs woven together with cable-ties. Says Inhabitat: “The bowl appears to “float” on the translucent cable-ties. Its structure allows it to collapse inwards, with the ties packed tightly together. In this inverted position, the bowl can be used as a pencil holder.” Now that’s clever!
To tie that back to NZ [no pun intended] see what one of our very own CleverBastards, Andi Regan, is doing with cable-ties. Not bad eh?
My Welly trip was so fruitful I’ve a few more blogs on clever people I met down there. Jennifer McIver of Wishbone Bikes and I met at their HQ in Newtown. Sadly, partner and designer Richard was away on business. A planned one hour meet ran into two as we found so much to talk about. Most of it on shared values that encapsulate their brand and ours, CleverBastards. Their story of taking their prototype product to market, via success at the German Kids Toys Awards and further success in Milan, is a wish come true. But it didn’t come easily… they’ve sweated the hard yards on getting their product right and produced right and at a price that is already meeting the market. World-wide. And all in an incredibly short time.
“The joy of transformation” sums up the genius of the Wishbone Bike. It grows as your kid grows… from year one it has three wheels, then the two wheels become one, and then at 4 or 5 years the wishbone frame is flipped giving it added height. Clever Hey? But that’s not all. It comes with true sustainable creds… kiln-dried, preservative-free plantation birch or ash, organic cotton and recycled packaging. They didn’t want to just produce more. “That’s why we challenged ourselves to create designs that transform your experience, reduce overall consumption, deliver a positive environmental outcome, and bring people closer together.” So you think that’s cool? Check these out….
Designs commissioned by Kiwi artists Neil Whittington with his endangered Giant Koru Snail and our very own Clever Bastard, Shane Hansen celebrate the importance of biodiversity. His Koru design “tells a story of flowing rivers and high mountains. It symbolises new life and relationships, calling on families globally to celebrate diversity, build community and work together for a bright future.” Now that’s a Kiwi wish worth wishing for.
Matterhorn Cafe, Cuba Street, Wellington. I met Nigel Groom and Emma Fox of Well-Groomed Fox on their return from their uber-successful trip to Cologne and Milan. What struck me straight up was their calm professionalism. It was as though they’ve done this time and again. But the reality is these hot young designers are still studying, post-grad. Their work shows a maturity beyond their experience, so I’m pretty excited about them already.
XY+Z Suit Rack has got out of the wardrobe to a roaring start achieving a finalist place at the Imm Cologne D3 ‘Design Talents’ Contest. I love the thinking behind the concept – the complete outfit on one rack, but doing it so graphically that it works in the bedroom like an objet d’art. Or any room for that matter. Breaking this paradigm must surely be the result of a flatting student… my daughters at uni are always struggling with lack of wardrobes. Now let’s see it in production please!
The C/Lamp deserves to be in the same room as XY+Z Suit Rack as it conforms to a similar aesthetic. But it leaps ahead of other lamps in its use of new LED lighting technology. It’s cunningly simple clamp system also adjusts height. Getting so much from such a deceptively simple design shows thorough investigation in the design process. Bloody clever!
Along the same design aesthetic lines, the stackable chair SC-001 together with C/Lamp, received high acclaim from design mag, Yatser in their “BEST of Salone Satellite 2010″. And that counts for young designers like these… clever bastards.