Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

Moooi Carbon Chair

Thursday, 6 September 2007

I went to Amsterdam last week for work, and managed to spend some time exploring the city.The Netherlands is home to a large number of world-class designers, running the entire gamut of fields—from furniture to architecture, textile making to ceramics, fashion to graphic design. Some Dutch design heavyweights that immediately come to mind are Hella Jongerius, Marcel Wanders, Viktor & Rolf and Rem Koolhaas.The Dutch design collective, Droog, alone has worked with over a hundred different designers. I dropped by their store, and saw this unbelievable table by Miriam van der Lubbe.Frog Table at Droog AmsterdamScenes from an Indonesian fairy tale about a Frog Prince were cut by laser into the walnut surface, then four Balinese craftsmen worked for two weeks, carving out half the tabletop into a spectacular relief of lily pads, tadpoles and frogs—in all stages of its life cycle.Frog Table at Droog AmsterdamThe table has to be seen to be believed. One half is precision-etched, with incisions barely a millimeter wide, and the other half is insanely hand-crafted. This juxtaposition was part of the artist’s intent; where countries would normally use cheap Indonesian labour to manufacture mass consumer goods, she used skilled artisans to produce a one-off masterpiece. (Ironically, perhaps, the labour cost was still probably fifty times cheaper than it would have cost to make in say, Italy.)I digress… more Amsterdam posts to come soon.One chair of Dutch design that I really love is Bertjan Pot’s Carbon Chair, designed in cooperation with Marcel Wanders, and produced by Moooi.Carbon ChairIt’s made from 100% carbon fibre, with no metal frame, and weighs an incredible, I don’t know, 3 micrograms, or some other ridiculously light weight. You can lift it with your little finger; it’s so light and feels really fragile, but yet, incredibly strong.The Carbon Chair was inspired by an experimental chair Pot created as an homage to Charles Eames’s DSR side chair with Eiffel base. Using carbon fiber and epoxy resin to “trace” the chair, the result was the “Carbon Copy”. (This chair was never produced, and remains only a prototype. Image from Bertjan Pot’s website.)Carbon CopyPot also designed the Random Light, which was his previous experiment with epoxy-soaked fibreglass strands. (He says on his website, “people who know me, know I like random.”) Originally hand-coiled around a large balloon, it took three years to perfect the mechanical process which allows it to retain its random, non-machine-made look. It’s now available in three sizes, the largest one slightly over a metre in diameter.Random LightCarbon ChairMaterial: Epoxy and carbon fibreColour: BlackDimensions: 75 x 46 x 50cm (H x W x D)Seating height: 45cmLIMITED AVAILABILITY DUE TO SHORTAGE OF CARBON FIBRE


George Nelson Bubble Lamps

Sunday, 12 August 2007

George Nelson (1908-1986) was, together with Charles and Ray Eames, one of the founders of American modernism. His best-known furniture designs have all become icons of mid-century modernism, and include the marshmallow sofa, coconut chair, and platform bench. He also created these boldly graphic wall clocks for Howard Miller:

George Nelson Ball Clock

George Nelson Sunflower Clock

Although he was trained as an architect at Yale, he became extremely well known as a graphic designer, an industrial designer, an interior designer and exhibition designer. He was the design director at Herman Miller from 1945–1972, where he also pioneered the practice of corporate image management, graphic programs and signage.

George Nelson Herman Miller Poster

In 1947, George also created the “Bubble Lamp” line. Inspired by a self webbing material used to mothball ships in New York, he was convinced it would be perfect for lighting. He made a metal frame, tracked down the source of the webbing material and by the next day he created a big glowing sphere and the Bubble Lamp was born.

Bubble Lamp Group
George Nelson Bubble Lamps made by Modernica. Available at Pomelo Home in Singapore.

Here’s a description from a 1968 Howard Miller sales brochure, that reads like it could’ve been written yesterday:

“Airy, lighthearted “Bubbles” designed by George Nelson, make lamps and lighting fixtures that are so effective and functional in today’s contemporary settings. Their pleasing shapes are fashioned in sturdy, light-weight steel and a special translucent white plastic. The “Bubbles” will always cast a soft, even light.”

Howard Miller manufactured the lamps from the early 1950s until the line was discontinued in 1979. But Modernica has faithfully re-issued the Bubble Lamps to the exact specifications using the original Howard Miller factory tooling.

The Nelson Bubble Lamps are now in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York (MoMA).

George Nelson Bubble Lamps

The George Nelson Bubble Lamp collection comes in Saucer, Ball, Cigar, Apple, Pear, Criss Cross, Lantern and Propeller shapes, and includes table lamps, pendant lamps, sconce lamps and floor lamps. Materials: Steel skeleton, self-webbing soft plastic polymer. Made in USA.

(George never actually named the different lamp designs and they were simply given numbers by Howard Miller. A large Saucer lamp was simply sold under “Bubble Lamp H-727,” a large Ball lamp was sold under “Bubble Lamp H-725”.)

Sources: Wikipedia,, DWR, AIGA. Photo links to Flickr users Sweet Juniper, Hot Funk, Nailmaker.