Homely Pew

Resurrecting the idea of converting the church pew-to-bed for the needy is the latest brainchild of Spanish architect, artist and industrial designer Curros Claret.

Claret explores the multi functional possibilities of the wooden prayer bench and redesigns it with a backrest that reclines to transform into a bed.

Inspired by the historic association of churches to provide refuge for pilgrims, war causalities and the homeless, Claret hopes to extend this benefaction “to marginalised individuals (homeless, drug addicts, abandoned ) but others with few resources like recently arrived immigrants, young visitors to a fair or a musical festival, and mugged tourists.” His socially conscious designs aim to build upon different ways of human interactions with their surroundings and with animals, identify and address the gaps in between in a practical and meaningful manner.

Claret’s new design has recently been presented at the Galeria H2O in Barcelona.

Photography Credit: Xavi Padrós

Images: perspectiva1 alta.jpg
perspectiva3 alta.jpg


Pure White

Dutch product and interior design studio Bo Reudler Studio launched 3 new products as a part of a furniture series bizarrely dubbed Slow White.

First of the three pieces, Slow White mirror is an adjustable, freestanding mirror which stands at 2 m. The frames are made of gathered temperate-forest wood (beech, birch, cherry or oak), recycled timber and finished with a coat of white linseed-oil paint. While Slow White lamp is a crooked free-standing lamp with translucent shade also made of gathered wood.

A hybrid between a sculptural object and perhaps a furniture piece, Golden Television is the last of the three products by Reudler. Appearing to have no apparent function, however Golden Television is “a mobile and wireless television, equipped with a window for watching ‘live’ events, which “change the views as you like or place an object inside to observe it…[with] unlimited channels.”

Reudler claims inspiration from the temperate woods of the Netherlands and approaches designs and the use of natural materials with a Bachelardian sensitivity. Slow white series has derived its principles from the idea that nature’s intricacy, arbitrariness and rawness has been tamed and designers need to renew the human connection to nature.
Website http://www.boreudler.com

Photography credits: Bo Reudler Studio

Out and About

Elevating to New Heights - Elevation Design by Arik Levy


German outdoor furniture design brand Flora brings a new collection of garden furniture and landscape products to Designlink Hong Kong. Comprising several new signature sheet metal outdoor products including Air, Comb-ination, Elevation, Sun Deck, Glow and Wing, aiming for a complete furnishing of the garden.

Three designers Michael Koenig, Arik Levy and Eva Schildt direct their creative efforts to present new garden installations for Flora, featured at the biannual design show Maison & Objet in Paris in late 2009.

Paris based industrial designer Arik Levy’s Elevation (featured), is a metal planter in three sizes, aluminium, available in light grey, black or orange, and also features Levy’s earlier  Comb-ination concept for a trellis system as optional pop-up elements. 

Sun Deck by Michael Koenig

German designer Michael Koenig has designed Sun Deck (featured), which is a combination of garden lounger and stool, steel frame zinc-plated, edges coated in light grey or orange and backed by pine wood lathes. With a lantern like quality and to provide privacy within the garden, Koenig’s design Wing is a modular wall system for structuring landscapes and outdoor rooms, aluminium sheet, galvanised steel base, three sizes with an optional colour – white or yellow filter.

Drawing Out

Doodles to blue plans, mind maps to cartographs and everything in between. 


Drawing is a way to think, communicate and map our transdisciplinary world

….and that’s what’ll be on minds of  illustrious heads who are coming together for the Drawing Out Conference from April 7 to 8 in Melbourne.

Drawing Out is an transdisciplinary conference jointly organised by RMIT University and University of the Arts London. 

From a curious child who holds a crayon to the professional, drawing seems to have a tremendous impact on how we think and influence other people to carry out professional and personal lives. 

Stretching across to trace and Drawing as a modus operandi in a myriad of disciplines – such as physical and virtual drawing; Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultural practices; digital schemas; fashion templates; architectural and engineering designs; creative writing; media and communications concepts; cartography and scientific schematics; architectural and mathematical modelling; business and financial mapping; legal, educational and political visualisations.
Key themes around which papers will be addressed in the program are: 

1 – Drawing in / Drawing is a way of thinking
Drawing as second nature: how do we think openly through drawing?
Drawing as a speculative activity.

2 – Drawing out / Drawing is a way of mapping
After drawing: how is drawing an impetus to other practices?
What opportunities exist for new technologies as a way of mapping our world?

3 – Drawing across / Drawing is a way of communicating
Drawing as a part of general literacy and its relationship to numeracy, writing and measurement.
Drawing as a means of transferring information.

Click here to visit Drawing Out website. 

Dexigner News

No Child’s Play

Unique, charitable and playful are three words to describe the installation design of Italian architect Federico Delrosso dubbed Contaminazioni, featured at the Nhow Hotel in Milan late last year.

The limited edition Contamina Seat is a unit of the installation, whose form is derived from a basic truncated pyramid and found replicated in various finishes, hues and materials such as steel, felt and wood. Functional in both indoor and outdoor environments, also available are matching tables and bookcases. Contamina’s design process has been quite special because Delrosso actually takes design as a serious yet an discovery exercise, similar to what a child does while playing with toys.

Contaminazioni features a total of five chairs representing the cultural heterogeneity of the five continents. The resultant design is an aggregation of void and solid volumes of the chairs, allowing for the creation of three dimensional mazes, particularly fun for children. Delrosso thus explores the playful aspect of Contaminazioni.

Delrosso’s installation elevates itself to become a charity action because several Contaminazioni pieces will be sold and proceedings donated to international charity organisation Save the Children.

Website http://www.federicodelrosso.com

Revolutionary Power

Philippe Starck has collaborated with Pramac to design the new line of a Micro Wind Turbines, trademarked as ‘Revolutionair.’ These small wind devices were featured at La Triennale in Milan late last year.

With a playful approach to design, Starck’s designs for these wind contraptions have a sculptural quality and is an expression of his democratic ecology principles. “Today I make it my responsibility to interest myself in the productions of energy,” adds the designer of deluxe objects and dream like architecture.

Touted as suitable for domestic applications and urban area installations as they can operate independent of wind direction, they can harness even turbulent air flows and they are extremely silent in every wind speed condition.

The question is whether European centric design are applicable to dense urban condition of Hong Kong. Perhaps the ornithologists will be happy because these look to be very bird-friendly devices.

Revolutionair wind turbines can be purchased online at the new web-site: http://www.revolutionair-pramac.com

Chulha Goes Commercial

Philips has taken on this global design challenge with the humble chulha to make a better and healthier world for people to live in.

The Chulha found itself winning the Home category for the Danish-initiated Index Awards 2009.   The bi-annual award supports the INDEX mission to generate more design that improves quality of life all over the world.

Traditionally the chulha (Hindi) is a stove used for cooking using bio fuels such as wood or charcoal.

The conventional chulha has fueled concerns over ill-healths and subsequent deaths of millions, especially women and children. WHO estimates a 1.6 million deaths annually from Indoor Air Pollution (IAP) in which toxic fumes emitted from indoor cooking with “bio-mass” fuels.

Philips’ Philanthropy by Design unit has collaborated with ARTI (Appropriate Rural Technology Institute), to come up with a design to limit dangerous health conditions caused by traditions of indoor cooking in many rural areas of the developing world.

Dubbed as being innovative, sustainable, and a promotion of healthy cooking, the stove is being made available by Philips Design to the universe of social entrepreneurs so that they can, free of charge, produce the stove, themselves, and generate local business.

The award nominees were Unmesh Kulkarni, Praveeen Mareguddi Philips Design Team, India and Bas Griffioen, Simona Rocchi Philips Design Team, the Netherlands. According to Index,  the newer avatar of the Chulha promises to create a safer milieu for indoor cooking in several ways:

  • It traps smoke and heat inside a locally cast housing in such a way as to heat two pot-holes with a high rate of efficiency to require less fuel;
  • It then directs the smoke through a chimney chamber that includes a stack of slotted clay tablets – they capture particulates as the smoke moves through, cleaning the exhaust before it ever leaves the assembly; and
  • The Chulha’s chimney then includes an indoor access for cleaning, eliminating the need seen in previous devices for a family member,  usually the mother, to climb on the roof and attempt cleaning. This has been blamed for many accidents, along with the toxicity of the smoke.

Currently two models of the Chulha have emerged to accommodate different income levels: one version priced at 9 to 11 Euros (approximately AU$15 -$18 ) has a double oven and hotbox; a more expensive model, at 13 to 15 Euros (AU$22-$25 ), includes a steamer. Both stoves feature a  decorative pattern with a Desi-touch, which could be described in marketing terms as a lifestyle upgrade. After all, notes Rocchi, “Design solutions for poor people don’t have to be ugly.” 

When asked how he plans to spend 100.000 Euro on more design to improve life, Stefano Marzano, CEO and Chief Creative Director for Philips Design (who developed the Chulha) says that Philips Design will spend the award on further supporting the availability of the Chulha in India.

Wonder if the new avatar will reproduce ma ke haath ka khana (cliched reference to Hindi cinema) *wink??

Dance Without Frontiers

Bringing Bharatnatyam to Pakistan is something octogenarian Indu Mitha has been involved for the last fifty years.

Mitha was born Indu Chatterjee to a Bengali family in 1929. Her father, Gyanesh Chandra Chatterjee, was a professor of philosophy and president of the Government College in Lahore. She was trained in the Uday Shankar style of modern dance by Zohra and Kameshwan Sehgal at the Zoresh Institute, Lahore, before partition. After partition, her family moved to Delhi from Lahore. While in Delhi, she learned Bharatanatyam from Shrimati Lalita Sastri, who was one of the earliest students of Kalakshetra.

As her life story unfolds, tradition held no bounds for her. She married Abu Bakr Mitha, an Army officer against the wishes of her family. She along with her husband was a Memon from Bombay (now Mumbai), moved back to Pakistan after partition.  Her husband set up Pakistan’s Special Services Group and rose to become a major-general but, caught in the maelstrom of 1971, was bumped out of the Army just short of his 50th year. He died in 2000. BBC writes about Mitha’s “early years of teaching and performing in Pakistan were at private occasions such as military functions, Red Cross charity shows or in front of the All Pakistan Women’s Association.”

Her daughter Tehreema Mitha is also an accomplished Bharatnatyam dancer.

During Zia ul Haq’s reign in 1980s, dance was considered “haraam” – or an un-Islamic act. Many cultural pursuits were considered taboo and a “no objection certificate” needed for every performance. Mitha managed to keep the art alive in her job as the dance teacher at Lahore

Teaching a dance which originated from southern India – Bharatanatyam to Pakistanis is a great challenge indeed. Mitha takes it one step forward, when she actually composes Bharatnatyam dance songs in Urdu, not in Sanskrit, Tamil or Telugu, three languages she doesn’t speak and traditionally the three languages in which Bharatnatyam tunes are composed.

To customise Bharatnatyam to local cultural norms, she has changed the performance and style of the dance she teaches, developing her own style of the ancient dance form.

She is currently working at Mazmoon-e-Shouq in Islamabad where she conducts regular dance training and community outreach projects. Indu Mitha is also a visiting faculty member of the Department of Theatre at NCA, Rawalpindi.

Still unstoppable at 80!

Celebrating Chocolate

Throw in a glorious sunny weekend in Melbourne (given the notoriously unpredictable weather) and a speciality festival dedicated to chocolate with a group of chocoholics and possibly chocolate connoisseurs in the making; voila! You have the Chocolate Rush Festival. Running into its third year, the Chocolate Rush was celebrated over two days this year – Saturday, 8 and Sunday, 9 August at the Melbourne Showgrounds.

Feel that rush when you put that piece of chocolate in your mouth, lusciously melting your soul, exuding from you that divine feeling…perhaps the feeling of love? Many must have felt the same with all the free samplings of chocolates in all shapes, sizes and flavours that were available at the chocolate market held in and around the Showground’s Centenary Hall. The markets featured more than 40 local, regional and international chocolate, food and wine producers.

Ranging from chocolate classes to chocolate wrestling, the festival had something for all ages and tastes. The sweet toothed could indulge in some scrumptious cupcakes or yummy chocó-chip cookies. The “Indulge your Senses” hot chocolate was another popular stall that people flocked to and proved a good relief to the drafty-cold outside. People who didn’t like “too much” of chocolate could either settle in for gazing at the amazing chocolate sculpture and choose their favourite to be nominated for the People’s Choice Award, or head out to the sample the wines, cheeses, breads and deli. Kids dabbled with their chocolate-cooking skills at the Kids Kitchen, one of the newer events this year. They also got to play, draw and demonstrate their art, which became part of the market walls.

For people who wished to learn about creating a chocolate experience in their kitchen, could attend Chocolate classes. Presented by Savour Chocolate & Patisserie School, you could learn to make truffles, cut and hand dripped chocolates and chocolate garnishes. The “Masters at Works” series featured local and international guests who share their unique skills and talents in Masterclass demonstrations. The series dubbed as a once-off opportunity to see world class patisserie chefs Christian Camprini, of France and Koji Fujita, Japan, at their best.

The 2009 Australian Chocolate Championships saw entrants from South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria, with more than 141 sets of chocolates and 7 chocolate showpieces to be judged. Festival sponsor Callebaut, was offering a trip to Belgium for the winner of the chocolate showpiece category to work with their master chocolatiers in Belgium. Yes, finally save for last was Chocolate wrestling, an adults-only event, slapping, slipping and slopping around chocolate was indeed a sight to watch in the “cacao bean soaked atmosphere of Chocolate Rush.”


Bag a Bague

Out on a cold but beautiful sunny Sunday, I set out to see the oddly dubbed This is not a Design Market, featured as one of the State of Design Festival currently running in Melbourne.

Wondered why they called it that. Anyway quite to the contrary, I found wares that were absolutely beautiful…I am talking “curiosity-arousing” stuff. My favourite was the Bilingual jewellery presented by two people (whose bcs I forgot to take). You can see their designs at http://www.bilingual.com.au

My favourite was this one below, unusually comfortable, given that orthogonal jewellery are not known for their comfort, this one needs to be slid along the width and turned 90 degrees to fit onto your finger. Slid absolutely smooth as butter and didn’t hurt a bit .

Images from Bilingual