16 Dec Design Driven Column: My 2013 Design Review

Design Driven: 2013 Design Review

A version of this column ran in the Art’s Section, Salon in the Telegraph Journal on December 13th, 2013.

I’m ending this year with my picks for the memorable design moments of 2013. Let me warn you, these moments don’t necessarily fit comfortably into standard design genres. What qualified them for consideration was simply that they had the following elements in common: when I saw them, I immediately thought “I need to re-examine my own space.” These were all such sources of inspiration I either had to purchase one for myself or, if that wasn’t feasible, integrate them into either an ongoing or future design project. They all quite literally took my breath away.

Art: Thomas Demand

Animations (DHC/ART, Montreal) This summer, I travelled to Montreal to see one of my favourite artists, German-born Thomas Demand. His installation occupied the entire gallery space. What I especially loved about this particular installation was how thoroughly curated the space was, including the wallpaper. Everywhere you turned, you were confronting elements calculated to extend and underscore a set of compelling thematic interests. For someone who believes there are no casual elements in strong interior design, this exhibition was a revelation, demonstrating the power of fully-articulated space.

Architecture: Normann Copenhagen flagship store

Late last winter, I went to Copenhagen, Denmark, and the highlight of that generally taste-altering excursion was a visit to Normann Copenhagen’s flagship store. The wares on offer were impressive enough – a veritable cornucopia of beautifully-designed product – but what made the space memorable was the setting. The store is situated in an old movie theatre, and the store’s designers re-purposes the space while finding ways to preserve and exploit key aspects of its original identity, elements consonant with the new occupant’s interest in drama and spectacle.

Interiors: Eva Dayton and Gentry Dayton

eva-gentry-living-room-motorcycle-2

I stumbled upon a photo essay of the stunning interior of a home in Brooklyn belonging to husband and wife team, Eva Dayton and Gentry Dayton. They have a design aesthetic they describe as “tough minimalism,” which involves the careful use of non-typical furnishings, such as old motorcycles, helmets and skulls. I’ve bookmarked this interior profile on my computer and return to it often. It shows what’s possible when “tough” editing meets a highly selective set of interests. They have one hard fast rule they apply to their own home: don’t allow anything to cross your threshold that isn’t black or white. That leaves colour to the occasional fresh bouquets of a single kind of flower, or a hot pink trinket.

Product: Lindsey Adelman light

Lindsey Adelman is an industrial designer who designs and produces lighting in New York. Her lights are considered works of art and, as such, command fine art’s price point. That said, the most remarkable “gift” she’s given to the average consumer (and lover of her work) is the opportunity to make your own “Lindsey Adelman” light. For $140 plus shipping you can order your own You Make It Chandelier kit, which includes all the parts necessary to build your own work of art. Creative and generous.

Publishing: Monocle Issue 65

This glossy magazine out of London by Canadian media mogul Tyler Brûlé is published 10 times a year (with “bureaus” in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Zurich and New York). The magazine is chock full of unique, thoughtful and arresting content covering everything from politics to architecture to fashion to design. Issue 65 contained an insert: the annual Entrepreneur’s Guide, featuring the advice of dozens of small and big business entrepreneurs. What made a particular impression was a short article on a small Swiss startup, Panamy, which rethought the delivery and presentation of fresh cut flowers. Panamy started delivering flowers in beautiful hat boxes. “Good Design combined with Swiss Aptitude for logistics.”

Judith Mackin:  
Owner of punch inside, an interior design company, and Tuck Studio, located at 40 Autumn St., Saint John.

  • Great read! I especially enjoyed the design theories of the Dayton’s… I knew there was a reason behind the monotone palette..Thank you for sharing!.

    • Thanks Kelly! Looking forward to posting your new ‘flex space’ soon!

  • Michelle Hooton

    Thank you for a great year of design posts. I feel very hip reading your blog! xo

    • And, I feel very hungry, reading yours. xo

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