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.
The Forward-Thinking Designer Returns to the Israeli Museum He Built
Digitally deconstructed renderings of imploding Fiat 500s form the base of this short film, showing alongside lustrous steel chair frames, high-tech 3D printing and raw copper molds at Ron Arad’s latest show, In Reverse, hosted by the Design Museum Holon, Israel. Arad designed the museum in 2010 with the aim of turning the city into a design hub for the Middle East and triggering worldwide interest in the creative output of the area. One of the trailblazers of modern design, Arad has been working with metal for over three decades to create a comprehensive series of works that transcend art, architecture, design and installation. He first rose to fame in the 1980s and has since headed the Design Products Department at London’s prestigious Royal College of Art, as well as working with such big-name brands as Alessi, Vitra, Kenzo and Yohji Yamamoto. In Reverse takes Arad’s work a step further into the realm of digital, as he explores how the shape and form of the Italian automobile reacts under different strains. “I was in the middle of squashing a huge sculpture, and had this Fiat 500 gathering rust outside my studio.” explains the designer. “One day I said to myself ‘Let me squash that, too!’” I practiced with model cars, then graduated to real-size ones. It’s not a complex idea, but I talked about the car with the museums who got very excited by it, so there we are!”
How does it feel to be coming home, as it were?
Ron Arad: It took me until now to agree to do a show at the museum, mainly because I think of it as my piece, so I don’t want to use it for my own work as well! This show was so successful though—I’ve been at the Pompidou, MoMA, the Barbican, and so I was excited to end the journey here. I know the museum so well, so it made it easier to plan. And now it’s pretty thrilling to see people enjoying the show and the building
What interests you about working with metal?
RA: When I first started work, metal was a forgiving material: I could work with it without being a craftsman. I can cut it, weld it, sharpen it, polish it and make it an extension of sketching. There’s no blueprint.
Is this your first venture into digital simulation?
RA: When I first bashed metal, I had people around me who were obviously much better then me—they were better at polishing or sculpting. But with digital technology, anything is possible and I can be as good at creating something as I like. I still draw everything in some way, but the digital in this case enhances it.
And the squashing of cars?
RA: It’s funny, because out of the six cars, not one is the favorite: everyone chooses a different one so it’s a hung parliament, as it were. It’s interesting to see something so full of shape and recognizable instantly take on a new form.
The Danish Architect Provokes BIG Questions During the Venice Biennale Architectura 2012
Young starchitect Bjarke Ingels talks manifestation, midwifery and shamanism while riding down the Venice canals in this short by Kelly Loudenberg. Known for his impressive architectural endeavors like a state-of-the-art waste-to-energy power plant in Copenhagen that will be outfitted with an outdoor ski slope for use during Nordic winters, and the 8 House apartment complex just outside the Danish capital that allows residents to bike all the way up to their top floor apartments, Ingels is a vocal advocate for “hedonistic sustainability” and was recently profiled in The New Yorker. “Find a job you love and you won’t have to work another day in your life again,” advises the young creative. “If you let your desire guide you, if you take decisions with your heart and with a smile on your face, they are probably wiser decisions in the long run.” In Venice as a contributor to the Danish pavilion exploring future visions of Greenland, Ingels together with his firm BIG (Bjarke Ingels Group) proposed Air + Port, a mixed-use air and sea hub on the island of Angisunnguaq. Now based in New York, Ingels is currently working on his first American project, a residential building in Hell’s Kitchen called W57 that will occupy an entire block and add a distinct, sloped pyramid-shaped silhouette to the Manhattan skyline. Here the dynamic Dane considers alternate career paths, architectural envy, and kittens.
Your firm is called BIG—list a few things that always are better big?
Ideas, checks, balloons, brown eyes.
And a few that should always be small?
Carbon footprint, energy bills––well, any bill––kittens. Sometimes the most interesting is when you can combine both. Just ask Biggie Smalls.
Biking up a building to reach your apartment; skiing down a trash processing plant...what sporting activity is next to be included in one of your designs?
We started construction on a 588-meter-tall tower in Tianjin, China, that would be pretty amazing for base-jumping in a squirrel suit.
If you hadn’t become an architect, what would you have been?
Biggest source of architectural envy (i.e. monument you wish you’d built)?
The Sydney Opera House by Danish architect Jørn Utzon.
We hear you've got a thing for fast cars. If you designed your own car, what would it feature?
A Tesla with four seats and a convertible roof would be a pretty sweet deal—and automated driving when the traffic is too dense and static for human enjoyment.
Favorite music to work to?
The Knife, Giana Factory, The William Blakes.
Best place for a late-night bite after leaving the office?
[Arty TriBeCa barroom] Smith and Mills, NYC.
You’re adding a building to the New York skyline at the age of 38. What's one thing you want to do before you're 40?
Well, we just broke ground, and with a little luck I’ll actually finish it!
Three things the city of tomorrow should prioritize?
Biodiversity, cultural diversity and architectural diversity.