Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec
The Alcove Sofa is subtle and refined. It is uncommonly tall which creates a dramatic sense of enclosure and privacy. The padded side and back panels have a pronounced sound dampening effect. The acoustic reduction adds to the sense of privacy and protection.
Designed specifically for office settings, the Alcove Highback Sofa creates an even more secluded refuge for work and reflection. When two Alcove Highbacks are placed facing one another they form a small meeting area. The Alcove Highback is approximately fifteen and a half inches higher than a standard Alcove Sofa.
Vitra is one of the major chair manufacturers. It sits as a spider in its web partly in The North West part of Switzerland and partly in the South West part of Germany (Weil am Rhein). Its spider web has many lines into the design community, being it starchitects or graduates from universities or design academies.
One of such lines is with D & AD, a London Based Charity:
D&AD was founded (as British Design and Art Direction) in 1962 by a group of London-based designers & art directors including David Bailey, Terence Donovan, Alan Fletcher and Colin Forbes (who designed the original D&AD logo). The group was dedicated to celebrating creative communication, rewarding its practitioners, and raising standards across the industry.
D&AD annually issues awards for student design. Furniture was one of the 2008 subjects. This year it was sponsored by Vitra Edition.
Vitra Edition is a laboratory that provides architects and designers with the freedom to create experimental furniture objects and interior installations. Their choices of materials, technologies, applications and formal concepts are not limited to the existing Vitra vocabulary, while they have full access to VitraÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s technical know-how. Working without the constraints of market and production logic has a liberating effect and results in surprising solutions and new ways of seeing design.
The Vitra brief reads as follows:
Design a sofa inspired by the new Vitra Edition collection that is unencumbered by commercial
constraints and pushes the boundaries of innovative furniture design. Key drivers
Innovative in form or/and function
Use of new or unusual materials
Breaking the mould, defying convention
Your design is aimed at collectors of art. Each Vitra Edition is strictly limited (usually to 12) and individually numbered and registered. As each piece in the range demands a high value in the market of anywhere between Ã‚Â£8,000 and Ã‚Â£130,000, your design should reflect this positioning.
The 2008 award winner is Charlotte Kingsnorth of Buckinghamshire New University.
She was inspired by the artwork of Jenny Saville and the media coverage of obesity. It is a simple beech wood frame being Ã¢â‚¬Å“devouredÃ¢â‚¬Â by its obese occupant, in this case an upholstered cushion.
Wow, I wonder whether she also has the honor of her chair being produced in a limited numbered edition by Vitra Edition…..then her name will be vested at once. Congratulations Charlotte!
The son of an abstract painter, Maarten Van Severen chose to study architecture at Ghent art school; he completed three years before going to work in various agencies on interior design and furniture projects, then in 1986 started to make furniture. The first piece, a long and slender steel table, has since been recreated as an aluminum model, which has been further refined over the years. In 1989 he produced his first wooden table; long, slim and pure in form. In 1990 he turned his attention to chairs. His work, hand crafted in his workshop in Ghent Belgium, reflects his quest for perfection in form, detail and fabrication. He also created imposing exhibition stands of steel shelving for use at exhibitions and fairs. Since 1997 he is involved in industrial productions for Target Lighting (U-Line lamp), Obumex (kitchen), Vitra (chair no .03), Edra (Blue Bench) and BULO (Schraag).
In recent years a small group of fans has emerged, all prepared to accept the long waiting times necessary if you want to acquire furniture manufactured in Van Severen’s own workshop. None of this furniture is designed for industrial production.
.03 is the first result of co-operation between Belgian minimalist Maarten Van Severen and Vitra – and it will be also mass produced.
About the .03
Officially called the .03, is the industrial interpretation of his traditional seat in aluminum of 1992. The .03 chair was first conceived as a chair for both domestic living areas as well as public spaces where visual restraint is of prime importance, such as museums. Discussion with architects, dealers and other users, however, revealed many other additional uses. The .03 can be stacked inconspicuously and quite naturally in an office, ready for an improvised meeting, and many architects now see the .03 as a comfortable alternative to the classics for use in cafes, halls or waiting areas.
Maarten Van Severen has always produced creations of exemplary purity and clarity, and in partnership with a manufacturer for the first time, he was able to combine this style with a multitude of factors, including ergonomics, safety, and the heavy demands of the public. The moment you sit down in a .03, you realise the technical refinement. The rigidly designed shell ‘gives’ comfortably in the seat and back areas, and moulds the contours of the body. When you lean backwards, the top part of the back section yields to match your body, and the built-in spring mechanism provides counter-pressure, allowing the backrest to return to the original position. With its apparently simple design and styling, this chair is the epitome of the “less is more” concept. The .03 is available either with armrests or as a stacking chair. The stacking chair takes up little space, as the shells fit closely on top of one another and there is no need for dividing buffers.
.03 is an ideal chair for all areas calling for comfortable seating even over prolonged periods – for example, lecture theatres and seminar rooms. The stackable chair can be linked. Because each shell lies direct on the one below it, the stacks are very compact. When you lean back, the shape of the upper section of the backrest changes thanks to the built-in springs.
Polyurethane and steel are the materials and work together as a whole by means of an ingenious construction.
W 38 â€” D 52â€” SH 45.5 cm.
Both extensive quotes are from Design Matcher a real inspiration if you like chairs like I do.
Claes Oldenburg (Klahss Old-en-burg) bio:
Claes Oldenburg was born January 28, 1929, in Stockholm, Sweden, but spent most of his childhood in the United States. After studies at Yale University and the Art Institute of Chicago, he moved to New York City in 1956, where he established himself in the early 1960s with a series of installations and performances influenced by his surroundings on the Lower East Side.
Oldenburg’s initial interest in constructing environments such as The Street (1960), The Store (1961), and Bedroom Ensemble (1963) soon evolved into a concentration on single sculptures. Using ordinary, everyday objects as his form of expression, he went on to develop “soft” sculpture and fantastic proposals for civic monuments. In 1969, Oldenburg took up fabrication on a large scale with Lipstick (Ascending) on Caterpillar Tracks, which became a controversial focus for student protest when it was installed on the Yale campus, followed in 1976 by Clothespin for downtown Philadelphia. Since 1976 he has worked in partnership with Coosje van Bruggen. Together they have executed over forty Large-Scale Projects, which have been inserted into various urban surroundings in Europe, Asia, and the United States. Their most recent work is the 144-foot-long, 64-foot-high Cupid’s Span for Rincon Park on the Embarcadero in San Francisco.
Coosje van Bruggen (Koh-shuh vahn Bruh-guhn) bio:
Born in Groningen, the Netherlands, on June 6, 1942, Coosje van Bruggen received a master’s degree in art history from the University of Groningen. From 1967 to 1971 she worked in the curatorial department of the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam and was co-editor of the catalogue of Sonsbeek 71, an exhibition of contemporary sculpture held in Park Sonsbeek, Arnhem, and other sites throughout the Netherlands. Van Bruggen was a member of the selection committee for Documenta 7 in Kassel, Germany (1982); a contributor to Artforum (1983-88); and Senior Critic in the Department of Sculpture at Yale University School of Art (1996-97). She has also authored books on Claes Oldenburg’s early work and on John Baldessari, Hanne Darboven, Bruce Nauman, and the architect Frank O. Gehry, among others. Van Bruggen’s first collaboration with Claes Oldenburg was in 1976, when Trowel I, originally shown at Sonsbeek 71, was rebuilt and relocated in the sculpture garden of the KrÃƒÂ¶ller-MÃƒÂ¼ller Museum in Otterlo, the Netherlands. In 1978 van Bruggen moved to New York, where she continued to work with Oldenburg to establish direct contact with a wider audience by creating large-scale, site-specific works in urban settings. Their collaboration has extended to smaller-scale park and garden sculptures as well as to indoor installations.
Balancing Tools was commissioned by German chair manufacturer Vitra International AG. On the photo you see the sculpture against a background of the Vitra Design museum by Canadian Architect Frank Gehry. Vitra itself explains it as follows:
Following a major fire which destroyed a large part of the factory in the 80ies, British architect Nicholas Grimshaw was commissioned to build a new factory hall. His high-tech architecture was considered to be in keeping with the vision of Vitra as an enterprise synonymous with technical excellence. After completing the building, Grimshaw was commissioned to develop a masterplan for the entire site.
This idea of a “Corporate Identity Architecture” was, however, called into question by the “Balancing Tools” sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen.
“Balancing Tools” triggered off an entirely new architectural concept: Vitra decided to have the buildings on its site on a range of contrasting styles. It commissioned new buildings from different architects, each responsible for a specific need. Vitra’s architectural philosophy is aimed at countering the desolate dreariness associated with traditional trading estates.
I hope the answer is clear:
Two artists / designers (one of whom is a Dutch Lady) make a venerable Chair Manufacturer rethink his policy regarding who to commission as architects for the design of the buildings on its site.
This story makes it clear how much influence design can have.
Finally i would like to add that Het Stedelijk Museum of Amsterdam (Amsterdam Municipal Museum) has a large collection of designer chairs. It even published a book about its collection. So Coosje will know of that collection although her area of interest seems more focused on sculpture.