A Bird in a Clock

Clocks have almost disappeared from our houses – if you exclude all those annoying digital dials inserted in televisions, ovens and so on. There used to be a time when every room displayed on a dressers, fireplace or table an elaborate and decorative clock. The more ornate the lovelier it would have been. 

In Caserta, in the private rooms of Marie Caroline hang two clocks which were given to her sister, none other than Marie Antoinette. At first sight they look like delicate birdcages. There are even realistic looking birds inside them. Underneath however they have a clock’s face. And since the birdcages hang rather high up, near the windows, Marie Caroline was always able to see the time passing bye, while sitting at her desk or while lying on her chaise longue. 

Show me a shower

I have been looking for taps and shower for our new bathroom. As always, the more choice one has the harder it is to find something you really like. Most taps are pretty similar to each other since chrome is a wise choice and rubber coated holes against calk are a must.

The only shower that really stood out looked like an industrial installation: it was love at first sight. No fancy mechanisms, no absurd shapes, no futuristic look. This is a shower that is going to deliver, I can tell. I was not surprised to find out it was designed by Front. I sure will be singing under the rain!

Shower by Hans Grohe.

New Materials at Selected

I have always enjoyed looking at exhibitions at my own pace and working things out on my own. Lately though I have been part of several private guided tours and I cannot work out if it is a new trend catering to a demand in the market or if I am just getting old!

This week Alexa Holzer showed me around Selected, the exhibition she curated for Designmonat Graz. It is a truly panoramic array of young(ish) and talented designers. So many new names, hard to remeber all the projects and even harder to choose a favourite. I think the most interesting aspect has to be the new uses of materials. Cork and leather are on the rise while moss and birch bark are being experimented with. The most spectacular use of material though has to be the work of Austrian designer Martin Lesjak. He has managed to cut a stone sheet so thinly that it can be rolled like paper. And with it he has made a lamp with simple forms but an exceptional texture! 

My Home is My Nest

Monday mornings can be hard; most of us would rather stay hidden in their nests. Gufram, the italian brand known for their pop and very ironic – if not always practical – designs has re-edited La Cova by artist Gianni Ruffi. Imagine having at home this sofa: I bet you would not want to leave no matter which day of the week! 

A Design Walk in Milan

Design Retail MilanYesterday I had a great day taking around Milan a group of Austrians. We did a Design Retail Tour and because it was a success I thought of sharing it with you today. So next time you are in town or you have a friend visiting you don’t need to plan anything.

The tour starts in Brera (M2 Moscova) with a visit to Dimore Gallery in via Solferino 11, where Emiliano Salci and Britt Moran (aka Dimore Studio) showcase their work.

Only a few minutes down the road is Dilmos, a gallery founded in 1980 showcasing the most striking and conceptual of contemporary design.

As you walk along via Fatebenefratelli all the way towards Piazza Cavour you will pass by a couple of interestibg design related shops invluding Rubelli, the famous Venetian textiles manufacturer.

Your next stop will be in via della Spiga 32, at Nilufar, the gallery founded by Nina Yashar, beacon of style and reference point for historical design.

As you walk along via della Spiga you will distracted by the very best of fashion on all sides and if you make it to the end, you will be in Corso Venezia. There at number 14, only for a very short time you will still find the DePadova shop, which after 60 years will be relocating.

Crossing piazza San Babila and walking along via Durini you will have plenty of historical design companies to choose from: Cassina, Bulthaup, B&B Italia, Barovier & Toso, Poltrona Frau all have their showrooms alongthis  road.

If you have made it to here you know deserve a rest so why not stop at L’Arabesque for lunch or coffee and a little more design!

Contrasting Natures

Writing about friends’ work is never easy, especially if you have known them since childhood, before we even knew what design meant. The expectations are high on both sides and compromise on the horizon. So when Gunilla Zamboni invited me to go and see her first furniture pieces I wondered if I would like them as much as her refined and suggestive trompe l’oeil.

Her set, inspired by 19th century Italian villas’ frescos, was a new wallpaper showing a dreamy landscape in misty greens and blues. In the middle of the stage two objects (sideboards, or as Gunilla said vide-poche) stood resolute but almost floating. Made of untreated wood, these geometric shapes look like stalagtites or geological formation.

The combination was spectacular and her furniture truly striking. The girl understands dramatic effect and I cannot wait to see what she pulls out of her hat next!

The Honest Design

Between the refined minimalism and  sophisticated manierism there must be a happy medium where objects are honest and direct with little pretentions and a good face.

Scrim Shelf by Max Lipsey is definitely one of such objects. Happilly colourful, it is modular, flexible and practical as you would expect a shelf to be. Except  a cabinet can hide or display, and with perforated panels as doors the boundaries between see not see are blurred. Are you being honest?