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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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Just in Case

Piet Hein Eek Thinks Outside the Box for Ruinart Blanc de Blancs

Dutch artist Piet Hein Eek applies his playful side to Ruinart Blanc de Blancs’ distinctive golden bottle in this short film by Benoît Millot. Ruinart was the first Champagne house to make the change from shipping bottles in baskets to wooden crates in 1769, in a bid to protect their precious cargo. Since commissioning Alfonse Mucha to create a poster for the brand in 1895, and having become the official champagne partner for Art Basel and Art Basel Miami in 2010, Ruinart has developed strong links with the worlds of contemporary art, recently collaborating with individuals such as Maarten Baas and Gideon Rubin. Piet Hein Eek, who runs a studio with fellow designer Nob Ruijgrok in Eindhoven, has established a signature style creating one-off objects through old pieces of wood and has exhibited worldwide at venues including the Museum of Modern Art in New York and the Salone del Mobile in Milan. The unique trapezoid boxes were crafted with pale wood found and collected by Piet Hein Eek, and perfectly house the bottles while inspiring an abundance of ways the shape can be used to create other objects. One of these is a monumental, six-meter-wide arch that Piet Hein Eek revealed at this year’s Art Basel, made to house over 240 discretely illuminated bottles.

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Norwegian Wood

Showcasing a New Wave of Design From the Land of the Fjords

“There’s something really emotive and tactile in the pieces he’s producing,” says Henrietta Thompson, curator of forthcoming showcase 100% Norway, of young Bergen-based designer Philipp von Hase. “This chair is ridiculously lovely to sit in, and because the wood is so smooth, you can't help but stroke it.” In today’s film we follow Von Hase as he builds his signature piece, the Trialog, a handcrafted wooden chair created to improve conversation by encouraging a more engaging form of body language. Von Hase apprenticed in his native Germany, and traveled through Portugal, Finland and Sweden for three years, honing his skills before settling in Norway. The designer is one of 10 to feature in the showcase at the London Design Festival this September. The exhibition will look to highlight the sense of creative freedom felt by Norway's designers, that makes it unlike other countries on the Scandinavian Peninsula which developed pronounced schools and movements during the 1950s and 60s: it was only in the 1990s that Norway truly embraced its indigenous design culture. “This young generation doesn’t have anything to prove,” says Thompson. “They don’t have to measure up against Alvar Aalto, or Arne Jacobsen or the like, so they can have a bit more fun and be a little more innovative.”

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