Kate Baxter from Fabric of My Life, guest posts for Pippa Jameson Interiors, and talks to us about her visit to Via Milano New Dutch Design…
This year’s Woonbeurs Amsterdam offered up a glittering array of contemporary Dutch design, showcasing the best of the best from high end internationally-renowned companies right through to smaller, independent high street stores. There were also life sized homes styled by the editorial teams from some of the Netherland’s most influential interior design magazines, including vtwonen, Eigen Huis & Interieur and Ariadne at Home.
One of the (many) highlights of the show was the stylish selection of new Dutch design showcased in the Via Milano exhibition, expertly curated by Nicole Uniquole. Bringing together the most promising designers of the new generation, the exhibition focused on renowned design items by some of the most high profile Dutch designers, who presented their designs at Salone del Internationale in Milan earlier this year. Studio Schneemann
With a strong emphasis on a distinctly green ethos this year, Studio Schneemann led the way with their Waste Lamp, which has been crafted from the discarded flip-flops that have washed up on East African beaches. By turning these waste materials into sustainable design objects the studio aims to show how old materials can be reused and transformed into special and environmentally responsible products.
Continuing along an environmentally friendly theme, Eveline Visser’s Vogelstad presented a comfortable nesting area for Amsterdam’s vast bird population, made up of 33 nesting boxes which each cater to the housing needs of 33 different species of birds. The structure is designed to be hung along the side of a building or on an unused walls; spaces that are common in cities but which Visser believes can be put to more productive use. The design of each birdhouse is specific to the needs of a particular species of bird, with the right size opening, and with groupings of the same size boxes for bird species that live in flocks, and single houses for those that are solitary.
The interior furniture pieces of the edit really stood out for me. Ineke Hans’ modular shelving system for Magis is made up of only a few components, but can be assembled as desired to make bookshelves, a chest of drawers, a small writing desk, or other kinds of storage. This clever, simple and playful design is suitable for both children and adults, within domestic or office environments. Edward van Vliet’s series of individual hand blown glass lamps have been created in collaboration with Venini, and shows the beauty of traditional crafts combined with strong modern colour ways, while Lambie & Van Hengel’s TOR shows that a side table does not usually have a fixed location, and should be easy to move around. The raised rim of the surface stops objects from falling off, while the bent legs protrude through the seat to create the handle, making it easy to lift as well emphasising the playful character of the design – which won Lambie & Hengel the Elle Wonen Design Talent Award.
Ka-Lai Chan for Galerie Judy Straten and Maaike Seegers
Maaike Seegers believes the process of making tableware is as interesting as the final product, and in Meltware, the process and product are one. The stoneware carafe, bowl and spoon are moulds for making tableware from carnaubawax: a hard, natural, waterproof and reusable material extracted from the carnauba palm, allowing you to make your own crockery which can then be melted back down to create endless new forms. Presented alongside Meltware was Ka-Lai Chan’s SheLLf; the title of which is a linguistic and conceptual marriage of ‘shell’ and ‘shelf.’ The various grouped compartments make it seem like the cupboard is growing out of the wall, while the cupboard’s exterior is smooth black lacquer, juxtaposed with an interior of raw, tactile wood, creating a surprising contrast.
Lotte de Raadt’s hand-blown carafes caught my eye for their exquisite beauty, and have been designed to stimulate the use of tap water, in a country where tap water is of the highest quality and around 2,000 times cheaper than bottled water. Their shapes refer to the different sources of tap water: groundwater, dune water or surface water, and the beautifully formed stopper is moulded in the shape of a tap. Also exquisite in form and style was the Ahrend_XXXX sofa by Yuya Ushida, which can manually be folded down into a chair. To make this harmonica-like construction Ushida used eight basic forms cast from recyclable PET, with the final design being both geometrically bold, and elegantly subtle Shay Alkalay for Arco
The piece I most wanted to stash away in my hand luggage though, was Shay Alkalay’s stylishly quirky Pivot Vanity. When the Pivot initially launched in 2008, the design was highly praised for its innovative hinged drawers, which can all be opened at the same time. The new dressing table presents a lowered version of the original design, with an integrated table top and features a tabletop recess to house a vanity mirror, and the elegant, elongated unit would definitely be perfect in my boudoir. To adorn the tabletop I would add my favourite accessory piece from the Via Milano edit; Doreen Westphal’s Mok van Beton. These concrete mugs keep hands cool and coffee hot through their unique lacquered coating, which uses the same material the Chinese have been using for 6000 years to coat their wooden plates and mugs. 100% natural, this lacquer is as strong as polyester and production of these mugs uses fifty times less energy than the same design in ceramic. Although meant for holding liquid, I think they would look wonderful holding make up brushes atop my new vanity tableDoreen Westphal