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August 29, 2014

Patents: The Zipper

Unzip the Kink with Collage Artist Trey Wright

“My favorite zippered item is a pair of black leather boots—they’re a bit too 70s porno style for day wear, but I love the loud, screeching sound the industrial zippers make,” says Texan visual artist Trey Wright who created today’s pop serenade to the almighty zipper. Whether you’re looking to conceal, reveal, or quite simply, seal, the zipper has been an undeniably practical, and sometimes decorative, part of our everyday for over a century. Patented on August 29, 1893 by American inventor Whitcomb L. Judson, the “clasp locker” was the precursor to the modern zipper, which made its first appearance in 1913, when Swedish engineer Gideon Sundback, improved upon the original design. Then in 1934, Japan’s Tadao Yoshida launched YKK to become a billionaire fastening-magnate, all from the dependable zip. “I wanted to capture the ease of a zipper,” says Wright, who also discovered its musical charms while on set. “The sound of the zipper and the act of zipping something can be quite entertaining, sexy and funny.”

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Spotlight

In Residence: Jean Pigozzi

A Day at the Bon Vivant’s Ettore Sottsass-Designed Pop Paradise

Entrepreneur, art collector, snapshot photographer, and streetwear designer Jean Pigozzi lives large, as filmmaker Matthew Donaldson discovered at Villa Dorane, Pigozzi’s residence-slash-playground in the jetset Cap d’Antibes. The villa is a monumental testament to his long-term collaboration with late Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass, who played a significant role in the design of Pigozzi's seven homes. He inherited the house, built in 1953 by neo-classical architect Tomaso Buzzi, from his father Henri–who founded Simca cars–but it was postmodernist Sottsass who “pimped it out.” A member of the Memphis Group, Sottsass’ playful provocations are evident in the clash of off-kilter geometric furnishings and flamboyant colors, accessorized by Baluchi carpets, kitschy ceramics, and giddy light fixtures. “Ettore would say it was boring to have a normal house, you have to change things around all the time. He was not scared of funny colors and funny things,” says Pigozzi. The jubilant décor is enhanced by pieces from Pigozzi’s extensive African art collection, including photographs by Malick Sidibé and an entrance hall hand-painted in bold motifs by Esther Mahlangu with her trademark chicken-feather brush. Around the hall’s perimeter stand four life-size sculptures of notable R&B singers, including Aretha Franklin, by Ivory Coast artist Nicolas Damas—Pigozzi jokingly calls them his “cousins.” Sottsass makes his biggest impact here with the guest quarters, a blocky architectural feat in multiple shades of green paint and even greener balustrades, the interior kitted out with boxy sofas, chairs and beds in hues reminiscent of 80s-era Esprit fashion. Though the pair would collaborate on every aspect of the design, shapes and colors were strictly down to Sottsass. “He was a complete genius [at those],” says Pigozzi. Villa Dorane attracts a steady stream of “friends, venture capitalists and pretty girls” and Pigozzi’s annual Festival de Cannes party is the stuff of legend. “My main idol in life is Howard Hughes,” he says. “I like how he lived all alone with airplanes and girls, but on the other hand I’m a social animal.”

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Spotlight

In Residence: Marc Newson

A Fascination with Scale and Materiality Informs the Star Designer’s Home

With Salone de Mobile in Milan kicking off this week and bringing together design world VIPs, we visit the London home of one of its favorite sons, Marc Newson, in today’s second installment of our “In Residence” series, helmed by Matthew Donaldson. A space-age aesthetic dominates at casa Newson, an unlikely look for a period building but one entirely reflective of the superstar designer’s streamlined visual language. The futuristic interior gives way to mock-Victorian details such as a wood-paneled library, one of several flourishes authored by Newson’s wife, fashion stylist Charlotte Stockdale. In Australian-born Newson’s most celebrated work—cabins for Qantas Airways and the Ford O21C concept car, for example—his finely honed eye for materiality reigns supreme; here that is reflected in the marble that lines his bathroom, the massive wall of river rocks from Nova Scotia (a “big deal” to achieve, he confesses) and the composite linen that forms his giant dining table. His passion for metal is betrayed by a small display of unusual knives in the library: “I trained as a jeweler and a silversmith,” he explains. “I love the way metal is worked, and certain techniques and processes are best illustrated in objects like knives, which are, essentially, tools. They display an incredible level of ingenuity and skill.” After Taschen’s recent publication of his complete catalog of designs, Marc Newson. Works, Newson’s next projects will be a private jet interior for a member of the Qatar royal family and a fountain pen for Hermès. “What holds my attention is variety,” says the consummate aesthete. 

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