We Continue this Week with Part 2 of Our Survey of 2014 Visual Design Trends in Office Furnishings and Interiors
Here’s a quick recap of Part One: International Design is back with a vengeance. It’s everywhere. Its spare design language is characterized by flat rectangular panels laid out in balanced, asymmetrical patterns. The panels themselves are typically finished in solid colors or with natural wood grain. The strong vertical and horizontal division lines are typically made with extruded aluminum trim, steel frames or natural wood with a contrasting finish.
We also looked at how designers, like Studio Jobs, winner of Best Wallcovering Award at ICFF 2014, are using graphically intensive wallpaper patterns to draw a strong contrast to the solid panels of the International Style. (Think classic Morris and Co. arts and crafts wallpaper on acid!) Another design house that we didn’t mention last week is Flavor Paper. Their new line of Andy Warhol screen print wallpaper is very pop; it uses bold colors with metallic papers to create large supergraphics in intense colors.
Graphical Wallpapers are Not the Only Game in Town. Tile is Also Making a Strong Comeback this Year, with a 3-D Twist.
Three vendors at this year’s international design shows had standout products which could change your mind about the importance of using tile.
First up is Vancouver-based Keiou Design Lab. At ICFF they introduced visually arresting wall panel and room divider systems. The designs are highly organic and sensual, yet they can coexist with other design elements in the International Style.
The second vendor with a three-dimensional tile offering is Oso Industries, with their Aperiodix Wall Tile System. If you’re a mathematician, you probably already guessed that product name Aperiodix is a play on the term ‘aperiodic’, a term-of-art for non-repeating patterns. The overall effect reminds one of Islamic architecture, and in fact that was the intent of one of the designers, Eric Weil. Amazingly, there are only six different tile forms, but with just these six you can create an infinite variety of patterns. That’s the inherent beauty of this system. Made of cast concrete, it’s also an ideal choice for wet environments.
The third tile vendor which caught our attention this year is Atlas Concorde. Compared to Keiou Design Lab’s wildly organic three dimensional tiles, the new ‘Mark’ line from Atlas Concorde is rather subtle. Its slightly raised tile elements provide a nice highlight reveal and shadow effect. It’s a very fresh look that stands in contrast to the subway tile and small glass mosaic walls that now seem to be everywhere.
Lattice Design Motifs and Perforated Metal Makes a Comeback
A couple weeks ago, when we considered the top five design constraints that influence furniture and interior design, we talked about how furniture and interior furnishings manufacturers are under a lot of pressure to come up with designs that can disassemble into flat pack boxes for lower cost shipping and warehousing. We don’t know if it’s the chicken or the egg, but latticework has become a dominant design motif. Is this because many latticework designs can be broken down into small individual components, which can in turn ship in flat pack containers? Quite possibly.
A great deal of the lighting fixtures we’ve seen at this year’s series of international design shows fit with this new lattice design trend. On trend materials include bent metal wire and rod, elaborately perforated metal details, and even small wooden blocks tied together to create large sculptural forms. Above left is an example from Global Lighting, with their Mesh Cubic GM pendant lamp. On the right is the Titus Drum Light from Metropolis Factory; its dramatic shade is perforated metal.
Yes, Design Can be Exotic and Still Fit Into a Flat Pack!
While these two examples have a very symmetrical, machine-made look, there’s another 2014 Visual Design Trend: lattice design patterns taken from natural organic shapes. Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, the two famous design brothers based in Paris, have long been a proponent of this natural lattice trend, dating back to their Algue (algae in French) room divider designs (introduced in 2004).
The Bouroullec Brothers’ design collection was front and center at Vitra’s Neocon 2014 exhibit, including their ground-breaking Vegetal design for stackable plastic seating (introduced in 2008). If you enjoy animation, it’s worth your time to look at this beautiful video which, without speaking a word, tells the story of the design inspiration for the Vegetal chair.
Trends in Contemporary Chair Design: Curves, Curves, Curves
As we turn our attention toward the major trends in chair design for 2014, we have to congratulate North Carolina-based Bernhardt Design on their 125th anniversary. As part of their celebration, the company commissioned several world-class designers to build their new chair collection. We’ll take a look at two of the designs here.
First up is Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance, with his breathtaking modern interpretation of the classic Windsor rocking chair. This design, called Harper, neatly incorporates the lattice design motifs we touched upon earlier as well as the dominant theme for high-end chair design in 2014: compound organic curves constructed from hardwoods.
The second designer commissioned by Bernhardt Design is Ross Lovegrove, known to some as Captain Organic — for his steadfast minimalistic designs inspired by nature. (You might enjoy viewing a Ted Talk by Ross Lovegrove where he talks about organic design inspiration.) His newest chair design, Anne, is an instant classic and made quite a splash at ICFF. Crafting these organic shapes into well-made working furniture is not an easy task. Attendees at ICFF took note of the craftsmanship and design on exhibit by Studio Dunn.
We think you might enjoy this short video presentation from this Providence, Rhode Island-based company, which gives you an idea about the painstaking attention to detail that goes into creating these highly-prized pieces of heirloom furniture.
2014 Has Been a Breakout Year for Art Center Graduate Austin Yang
Austin Yang, a recent graduate of Art Center in Pasadena, won the ICFF 2014 Award for Seating for his Grace Chair. According to Yang, these strong yet sensual curves were inspired by fashion — both from men’s tuxedos and women’s backless dresses.
Reissue of Classic Mid-Century Modern Chair Designs
With all this attention focused on organic chair designs with a Mid-Century Modern vibe, it’s no wonder many major chair manufacturers, like Vitra, have opened up their back catalogs and reissued many classic chair designs. For example, Fritz Hanzen has re-issued The Drop chair, a classic 1958 design by Arne Jacobsen. Interestingly, when they decided to go back into production, neither the original tooling nor the original source engineering drawings were available — so the product team had to ‘reengineer’ the design using modern CAD tools. We think you’ll enjoy viewing a short film about how they re-made the design.
Are You Inspired Yet?
We hope so. In fact, we’re also hoping you’ll be inspired to call us at 800.251.1505 and tell us about your next interior design remodel, new facility construction or factory expansion. Formaspace has the manufacturing and design capability to build your next set of office computer workstations, desks, laboratory workbenches or custom conference tables — all built with top-notch quality materials in our American factory here in Austin. That’s why we can offer a 12 Year Guarantee on our products. Why not give us a call today?