'Happy Pills' vases by Fabio Novembre for Venini
Italian designer Fabio Novembre imbued his latest collection of vases with happiness by attributing each of the five brightly-coloured pieces to a different chemical compound. Developed in collaboration with Murano glass specialists Venini, the ‘Happy Pills’ vases have been produced using the centuries-old Incalmo hand-blowing technique, originally invented more than 500 years ago by dexterous Venetian glassblowers who developed it to create objects consisting of two or more distinct parts in different colours. (more…)
'Bolle' bottles by Tapio Wirkkala, the product of a collaboration with Murano-based glassworks Venini, 1966–67; image courtesy of Venini
With leading Finnish design brand Artek reissuing two of its fellow countryman Tapio Wirkkala’s striking designs from the late 1960s and early 70s, as well as first-time-round, ‘vintage’ pieces of his being shown at international design fairs such as Design Miami Basel, now is the time to look back at the work of this highly productive designer, whose contribution to postwar Scandinavian design was as major as it was diverse.
Land of the midnight sun Finland may, in terms of historical regional politics and power at least, have often been eclipsed by its Scandinavian neighbours Sweden and Denmark, but when it comes to having helped define the course of the postwar 20th-century design, the country has certainly never been in the shadows.
'X-Frame Table' by Tapio Wirkkala, originally for Asko Oy, 1958; recently reissued by Artek
‘Domus’, the iconic and authoritative Italian design journal founded in the 1920s by architect-designer Gio Ponti, did much to disseminate images of, and commentary on, Finnish design to an international audience from the 1950s onwards, but the work of one its countrymen more than any other was to appear in its pages with great regularity: Tapio Wirkkala. Indeed, Wirkkala, who trained as a decorative carver but went on to become a key figure in Scandinavian modernism, was included in the pantheon of prolific designers’ names that featured in the masthead of the magazine from the early 1960s until 1973.
Tapio with coffee pot from the 'Finlandia' service, produced by Rosenthal AG in the 1950s; image courtesy of the Tapio Wirkkala Rut Bryk Foundation
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'Arnolfini' light sculpture by Studio Job for Venini, in situ at the Museo Bagatti Valsecchi during this year's Milan Salone del Mobile
Stepping out of the craziness of the Milanese streets during this year’s Salone del Mobile into the serenity of the Museo Bagatti Valsecchi was, if you’ll allow us to be just a little dramatic, like being able to breathe once more. Dutch/Belgian design duo Studio Job’s ‘Arnolfini’ light sculpture for renowned glass manufacturer Venini was one of the true joys of the furniture fair, its virtuosity forming a perfect dialogue with its physical, architectural context.
'Arnolfini' light sculpture by Studio Job for Venini
Following in the footsteps of Gio Ponti, Alessandro Mendini and Ettore Sottsass, who all collaborated with the Venetian glass experts, Studio Job have created a ‘floating still life’ (their words) that consists of pots and pans, beaded onto a traditional, gold-plated chandelier framework. Just don’t ask them what it means. ‘I am afraid we cannot give you a straight answer,’ says Job Smeets. ‘It probably has to do with surreal memories that become monumental icons as time goes by. A vocabulary sculpted in material instead of words.’ We’ll settle for that.
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