Taking some inspiration from ancient Chinese wisdom and comparing to past experiences we take a look at what the Year of the Pig has to offer. How do we make sense of the Year of the Pig at The Empty Apartment? Here are 5 trends we are predicting for the new year and how to prepare for them if you are collecting art and design for your own home.
Our Bilingual posts by Ceci Henrique can be read in Spanish and below in English.
Desde que empezamos a trabajar juntas siempre me impresionó lo rápido que Lina hizo el click en su cerebro sobre el trabajo en equipo. Luego de ser durante mucho tiempo la mujer orquesta en The Empty Apartment, Lina con su perfil más artístico y yo con mi pragmatismo hemos desembocado en un balance inesperado.
Así es que cuando emprendimos el viaje a Nueva York yo estaba muy emocionada por ver las nuevas tendencias de la Feria Internacional de Muebles Contemporáneos (IFCC) y luego iríamos a Sight Unseen (Sitio Sin Haberlo Visto), una exposición de diseño.
Sight Unseen fue un vendaval. ¨¿Cómo? ¿Se puede vivir en el arte? Yo había oído muchas veces eso de que la obra está completa con el espectador. Pero esto, en que uno es parte de la obra, era algo de lo que Lina me venía hablando hace mucho tiempo, yo he ido a páneles donde ella expone sobre el tema, pero experimentarlo le dio una nueva perspectiva para mi.
El diseño artístico o arte funcional era algo que justamente por mi necesidad de encontrarle el uso práctico a las cosas me resultaba intrigante. La mayoría de los mortales consideramos que el arte o lo artístico es algo subjetivo y visceral y en el otro opuesto se encuentra el diseño aplicado a la funcionalidad.
Pues que revelación tan maravillosa descubrir que uno está equivocado. Todos necesitamos arte en nuestra vida. Es algo absolutamente intrínseco al ser humano. Seas consciente o no. ¿Acaso no escuchas música? ¿No tomas fotos? ¿No tienes aunque sea un cuadro en tu casa? Ya luego podemos discutir si es bueno o malo, feo, lindo, caro, barato, pero es indiscutible que son expresiones de las emociones humanas.
Me vi enfrente a una silla, que no parecía silla, era un arco de lino y de madera laqueada, con una especie de cojín flotante de gamuza y una columna de roble descentrada en la parte posterior, parecía una escultura y pues era una escultura, pero si, también era una silla.
Que balance más extraordinario, yo siempre supe que el arte tiene un propósito, pero siempre lo relacioné con algo abstracto, social, político, de protesta, de manifiesto. Poder acceder a arte en el cual uno pueda vivir y no simplemente ser un mero espectador me hizo sentir especial.
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Since we started working together, I've been impressed in how quickly Lina made the switch to teamwork. After being a one-woman shop for quite some time, Lina with her artistic profile, together with my pragmatism has created an unlikely balance. When we took off to New York, I was very excited to see new tendencies at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), later we would visit Sight Unseen, a design exposition.
Sight Unseen was a whirlwind. What? You can live in art? I had heard many times that the artwork is completed by the spectator. But to be part of the work was something that I had heard Lina talk about a long time ago. I've gone to panel convos where she's spoken about this but to experience it was a new perspective for me.
The artistic design or functional art piece was exactly what I found intriguing due to my nature to find the pragmatic use of objects. The majority of us mortals consider art or the artistic to be something subjective and visceral, and on the other hand, there is applied design which is functional.
Well, the wonderful revelation to discover that you are wrong. We all need art in our lives. It is something absolutely intrinsic to human nature. Whether you are conscious or not. Don't you listen to music? Take photographs? Haven't you at least 1 artwork in your home? We can discuss later if it is good, bad, pretty, ugly, expensive, cheap, what is unarguable is that these are expressions of human emotion.
I found myself in front of a chair, that didn't look like a chair but an arch of linen and lacquer wood, with a floating suede cushion and an uncentered oak column. It looked like a sculpture and well it was, a sculpture, but also a chair.
What an extraordinary balance. I always knew that art served a purpose but I always associated it with an abstract idea, social, political, a manifestation. To be able to access art in which you can live in and not solely as a spectator made me feel special.
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I arrived by the end of Stockholm Design Week to catch the last day of "A Quiet Reflection" a curated exhibition hosted by My Residence bookazine which also coincided with the launch of My Residence bookazine Issue 2.
The exhibition, located in the former Mexican Embassy in Östermalm featured an interior design by Annaleena Leino, a Swedish interior stylist and designer, in collaboration with Japanese furniture manufacturer Ariake. Other carefully selected design items on display included furniture by Norm Architects, Westberg Lighting, Staffan Holm Studio furniture, accessories by Frama/ Dry Studios and design objects by Jenny Nordberg.
I caught the exhibition at night which made the space cozy and seductive with its dim lighting. A quiet reflection it was as I walked through the unfinished architectural space. The walls were untreated and floorboards unfinished. The design pieces worked well in the rustic space, the majority were made of natural materials dark or lightly stained woods, ceramics in neutral colors, cement pedestals and black steel.
See more images (daytime images) for the event on the Residence Magazine website here
A feature from Dezeen.com can be found here
If I was a magazine I'd have to be a double issue right now. The months of May & June were just one giant international design fest on my calendar. From NYCxDesign which caught me visiting the city a few times to catch some of the spread out events of TEFAF, ICFF & Sight Unseen Offsite to 3 Days of Design in Copenhagen and I tied in that trip with picking up some inventory in Helsinki.
Working and traveling is my specialty so let's also tie in the couple amazing interior decorating/ editing projects I'm currently working on. The search for the perfect collection of items is really what I live for so it makes sense to always be on the lookout for ideal pieces for my clients.
So where do I start? I could possibly write a whole volume if I focused on every amazing new designer, furniture launch or exhibition I saw. If you really want to see all the vintage finds and new discoveries I make follow along on Instagram @the_empty_apartment or on Facebook to get more design news and information on young designers and projects happening. Here, I'll mention a few design launches that personally moved me for reasons being that the end goal of design should be to improve or inspire us to be happier, live better and cherish more our personal space. So here we go:
I'm going to mention again the collection by Studio Snng only because I found the design quite impactful and the designer, Shengning Zhang, was so eloquent in explaining the inspirations behind his creation. Getting designers to talk about the thought process behind creating a piece and the inspirations seem hard to come by these days. Most designers are creating with cost effectiveness and manufacturing processes in mind before actual functionality or purpose. The Boro wall display is a modular system that can easily grow by adding on additional pieces. The same unit piece can be a hanging rack or flipped over to be a shelf. The Wedge Shelf is also modular and can be added on horizontally or vertically. It does not require screws or additional hardware, the piece is held together by wooden pieces that lock into place like a puzzle. The Miro table has a center compartment hidden under a simple wooden slab that serves for storage. Check out www.studiosnng.com for more collection pieces and projects.
TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair) is a game changer for the landscape of design fairs in NYC. The quality of the exhibitors and condition of vintage pieces is unparallel. The fair which establishes itself as a bi-annual show in the city of New York is originally from Maastricht, Netherlands and has been running since 1988. The Spring edition of the fair in NYC focuses on artifacts from the 1920s to the present and featured many galleries that would have otherwise participated at Collective Design, another collectible design fair exhibiting later the same month. TEFAF also turned out to be somewhat of a competition for Frieze Art Fair. Even though contemporary art and design are complementary markets it seems the terrible rains in NYC in May made for fewer people to visit Frieze on Randall Island and the Park Armory became attractive entertainment for a rainy day, not to mention Frieze closing a whole day due to the rains- but that's event gossip. Even if you are not on the acquisitions committee for a museum, TEFAF is worth the visit for sheer admiration. These dealers are leaders in their field and visiting them is an opportunity to gain some historical design knowledge. Learn more about TEFAF here
The 1.41 Flax Chair comes as a collaboration between designer Christien Meindertsma & Enkev for Label/Breed. Meindertsma graduated from Design Academy in Eindhoven in 2003, she has been studying the production life of flax as a material from which linseed oil, linen, and rope have their origins. Enkev is the leading processor of natural fibers since 1982 in The Netherlands. Together they have created a heat-pressed chair that combines the natural fibers of wool and flax with strong bio-plastic fibers. The material is quite unique, aesthetically it's simple, and beautiful in its honesty. This chair won the Dutch Design Award in 2016 and has been purchased by the Vitra Design Museum. It is not yet available on the market but we can only hope these will be the next mass produced chair for its little environmental impact. Per-ordering is available here
Lindsey Adelman's studio space was exciting to see on the list of exhibitions to visit during NYCxDesign. The exhibition was not only light fixtures by Adelman but also fixtures by Adelman's studio design director Karl Zhan and Australian designer Mary Wallis. On the floor a landscape of cushions by the textile company Print All Over Me. Lindsey Adelman was one of the many female designers whose work were featured during NYCxDesign. Group exhibitions of all women designers were rightfully recognized by the press. I'm highlighting Lindsey Adelman here because I believe she has come the farthest in terms of market recognition and yet her work is still not mass produced or enjoyed in a larger public scale. Perhaps this is not what Adelman wants for her work, I am unaware of her intentions but I think it would be interesting to see more design that was designed by women in public and commercial spaces as part of our every day in the U.S.. The example that comes to mind is when you arrive at the Copenhagen train station and the chairs used at McDonald's are the Trinidad chair by Nanna Ditzel designed in 1993. I believe this is when you know equality runs deep. Of course, it needs to make sense design wise, but one can only hope this is where we are headed. On that note...
I recently read the book Now I Sit Me Down, from Klismos to Plastic Chair: A Natural History by Witold Rybczynski. The book was a very entertaining history of the chair and highlighted the chair as the design piece that truly reflects not only aesthetic taste in a society but also socioeconomic status, and cultural beliefs. A number of anthropological studies can be made through a single chair. The exhibition The Danish Chair, an International Affair reminded me very much of this book in format. The exhibition focuses not solely on what Danish design is but how Danish designers applied their perspectives on designs of historical chairs such as the Windsor chairs, the folding chair and stool, the Shaker chair, and many others. The collection in the exhibition of interpretations by classic Danish designers is a beautiful account of the focus on materiality and quality in production. It's not about reinventing the wheel but making it better and even striving for perfection.
Of all the design talks I went to during 3 Days of Design in Copenhagen I found the Frama Studio Apartment talk with founder Niels Strøyer Christophersen to be the most organic and sincere. Not speaking about industrial production restraints or manufacturer/designer relationships like other Danish brands, Niels Strøyer Christophersen focused on the experience of finding a space and experimenting with materials and the history of the building during the remodeling process of the apartment. He retrofitted the building to his needs and created products that were not available on the market that satisfied with purpose and aesthetic. While he admits he is not a designer his aesthetic vision and focus has launched a brand that revolves around a concept and lifestyle. There is a deep respect for historic architecture and Danish design history in the Frama brand and I find this very refreshing. So many of the products on the market are void of ideas or essence and too manufactured lacking craftmanship. It's important for a younger generation to be looking back in history in order to find and exalt ideas in new products. For more on Frama click here
Another inspiring living space was the home of architect and designer Alvar Aalto in Helsinki, Finland. You can buy a single ticket to visit both his home and studio which are walking distance from each other. I highly recommend this if you travel to Helsinki. Homes to me are the most personal of all spaces so I'm just going to mention Aalto's home for now. The outside is very nondescript from the main street and upon entry, you are immediately forced to select an entry way into the living room, the kitchen hall, the staircase leading upstairs or the now reception area of the museum which previously was the entryway to the office spaces. Aalto initiated his design firm in his home and also entertained many guests, so these areas in his home are well segmented. Throughout Aalto's home and in his designs you can feel that he is vigorously looking forward to creating a Modern life. His designs from the 1930s and 40s are deeply rooted in a spirit of innovation. Aalto was interested and inspired by nature/ natural light, Modern Art and reinventing an already existing technology such as bentwood to produce more efficient and long lasting designs. The personally collected items also reflect much of his interests and inspirations. A passion for Japanese culture showcased in the Japanese paper weaving ottoman and tatami mats used as wall coverings. Collected art gifted by friends and books on Italy and the Mediterranean contribute to creating the portrait of this influential designer.
Finding the right vintage pieces can certainly be a process depending on how much of a collectible you'd like to find. The condition, rarity, and history are all contributing factors. Even if a particular piece is still in production, there can be slight production variations throughout the years that can make the same item unique and more valuable among others of the same kind. At whatever level you'd like to purchase vintage furniture what's important is starting with an appreciation for a piece that has a history and purchase designs that you find interesting and inspiring. While building your collection whether it be contemporary or vintage design pieces, your home should tell the story of who you are, your ideas and influences. Create the space you need and as unique as you are.
It’s that time of year again when temporary tents pop up, graffiti artists work their magic in Wynwood and the Art World flocks to Miami. You’ve read one article you’ve read them all: 15 Exhibitions Not To Miss, The Best Musical Performances During Art Week, 8 Artists To Watch This Basel Season, Top 5 Dinner Parties You Are Not Invited To, and the list goes on.
I love this time of year in Miami not only is the weather gorgeous and everyone is in town but during Art Basel Miami Beach and Miami Art Week there is a chance to see some amazing masterpieces and witness really high quality lectures and guest speakers. Just call me a dork now, it's ok.
This year I’m not working as a design docent for LVMH (which has been my post for the past couple years) and I have planned my week's schedule to design perfection. That is, I’m focusing more on design than on art this year which is being celebrated with some interesting events.
Last night was a great start with Table Talks: Disruptive Design at Soho Beach House. Guest speakers Marcus Fairs from Dezeen, Jessica Banks from Rock Paper Robot and from Partisan Architecture: Nicola Spunt and Alex Josephson held a great conversation on the nature and effects of disruptive design in relation with their individual practices and experiences.
Other events on my agenda this week include:
Building Reality conversation at We Work
Littlest Sister panel discussion on the Boundaries of Art + Design
Art Basel Artist Talk Jenny Holzer
Art Basel Miami Beach
Superfine! House of Art & Design
Design Dialogue with Jean Pigozzi and Simon de Pury
Art Basel Salon L.A. Then & Now
Art Basel Salon What Profit: Hybrid Art Spaces
Of course at any time if I find myself in the vicinity of the Rubell Family Collection, the de la Cruz Collection, the Wolfsonian or JugoFresh I will have to make a stop but that’s sort of ongoing this month. I’ll catch a party or too but that’s just an added bonus.
Part 1 of my visit to NYC for Design Week
Earlier this year, I decided a trip to Europe was well past due. With a bucket list of galleries and venues to check out, I scheduled to be in Paris during Pavilion of Art & Design (PAD) and in Milan for Salone Internazionale del Mobile. I created my own scheduled art/design tour around these events.