Tag Archives: Dutch Design Week



Precious mineral and metal resources have hit all time highs in terms of raw material prices. We may be in a banking crisis but the need for raw material isn’t showing any signs of a slow down. Big investors see safety in moving money into precious metals. The price and demand for copper in the UK has seen the organised theft of millions of pounds of cabling and even the Tube has been stopped by audacious thefts. It doesn’t end with copper; oil and coal have huge values. They also have unlikely aesthetic appeal too.Numerous designers have used copper of the past couple of years and it will continue to be a  popular material if only for is beautiful unique colour and shiney properties. But there is also a beauty in raw natural states.Faye_TooGood_Trapped_Sphere_Oil

At the London Design Festival Faye Toogoode showed a range of pieces  at Phillips de Pury that examine iridescence using oil as a medium.

Trapped Sphere is a piece that suspends oil in a solid resin block allowing the viewer to examine its beautiful iridescence. Its a work that objectifies this precious material and imprisons it. Its a dangerous material in so many ways; a pollutant and the cause of so many wars. We all know it as a valuable commodity but we rarely see it in its natural state. Captured in the sphere its a reminder of how the world is still so reliant on it.

Faye_Toogood_Element Table SteelElement Table made of sheets of  steel with the iridescent patina of oil metal

Lex-Pott_True_Colours_allLex Pott allows the metal to take on its natural colours. His experiments are shown in the first image on this post “When an element like copper is found in nature it has
a green colour. Iron has an orange / brown  colour when being found inside the earth. Oxidized metal surfaces create colours that provide information about a material. The pallete is a reaction with the base material.
Therefore the coloured surfaces have an organic growth
of colour and not every colour is possible on every surface. Colouring metals requires accurate recipes. This project shows the results of a research on metals and their true colours; a direct relationship between colour, material and information.”

Lex created a series of panels showing this organic growth across different metals in his work True Colours

Lex has gone on to apply the same process in True Colours ShelfLex_Pott_True_Colours_Shelf2Lex_Pot_True_Colours-Shelf_Detail

ballpoint_pen_minimalux_ Minimalux Ballpoint  is made of an almost indestructible solid brass. the unplated shell allows the metal to develop its own patina. “The basic ballpoint pen, or ‘Biro’ as it has become known, has been a useful accessory to our daily lives for many years. Its familiar, cheap plastic casing is synonymous with the product but also its disposability”.

SortofCoal_kuro_cube_largeSort of Coal is  a product that acts as a water and air purifyer  but is actually White Charcoal so not coal! White Charcoal has a higher carbon content than Black Charcoal and has no dust or residue.  Made using the same techniques and processes that have been used for centuries. In this ancient Japanese method pieces of wood are baked in hand-built clay kilns, slowly at first and then at extremely high temperatures with restricted oxygen. This allows carbon to be captured in the wood, a process called pyrolysis.Sort-of-Coal-kishu_binchotan_

Oddly enough for years I’ve had a large lump of Lancashire coal sitting on a shelf near to me. I found it in the cellar at home; we never had a coal fire so it must have been there for decades. It moved around with me as a reminder of home and because its surprisingly beautiful, with iridescent seams. I just thought it was pretty, now I’d like to think its been purifying the air around me too! (probably not)


Here are designs that appreciate iron and steel in its raw state. They’ve been allowed and encouraged to rust and corrode, the natural state of decay seen as something beautiful as opposed to being a sign of a fault, fatigue or mistreatment. To prevent further decay the works have been preserved with a transparent matt layer of varnish otherwise you’d have little flakes of rust dust gradually depositing its self. Although Corton steel, the type of steel used in theses pieces, is often used by artists and architects for corroded outdoor structures; these pieces remind me of the work of artist Anthony Gormley .  Art so often provides inspiration to designers in every field from graphic to product and onwards, and across all these rusted pieces I can’t help feeling that there’s some debt to Gormley for the inspiring use of material.

DeLucchi_DeCastelliExistence by Michele De Lucchi for De Castelli

Nigro_LancelotLancelot by Philippe Nigro for De Castelli

Bleiswijk_CorrodedCorroded by Joost Van Bleiswijk Made from interlocked segments rather than being welded or screwed together they are left to the elements to work their magic on the steel. Pieces shown here are work in progress, shown at his open studio during Dutch Design Week.

Piet4DDW10Out House by Piet Hein Eek This house is at the entrance to Eek’s store in Eindhoven. Rather than Corton steel the metal used here is probably from the disused factory Piet Hein Eek has transformed into his workspace/ restaurant / gallery.


It may be the depths winter outside but inside; with a fairly regular temperature, good lighting and a little care, we can still have a garden inside. And for an ever increasing number of homes with little or no access to outside space these indoor gardens can offer a way to connect with nature and get that sense of satisfaction from actually making something grow. There is also an environmental side to these designs; they recognise the ways in which plants can enhance our homes by purifying the air, providing food or filtering water without the need for other man made and energy consuming devices. It represents a return to nature in an urban setting.

Studi'Eau_1Studi’Eau is a living statue for purifying a glass of water. You and the plant have a symbiotic relationship.  You give the plant a glass of rainwater which it then cleans, the evaporated water collects inside the bowl and drips along the gutter into the drinking glass. The plant provides you with your own glass of purified water.

Park_KasKastKasKast by Marije van der Parkis a cabinet for edible plants to grow. Made from scrap steel, glass from old greenhouses and a piece of used oak the cabinet displays the art of cultivation.

Patrick_Nadeau_RainforestRainforest by Patrick Nadeau has created an installation for Italian brand Boffi, consisting of hanging domes covered in a type of hanging Spanish moss called Tillandsias usneoïdes. The plants will survive from the moisture in the air, the steam generated in everyday cooking being a perfect source of water for them.

Radesca_Personal_Fresh_AirPersonal Fresh Air by Julio Radesca de Carvalho shown at Dutch Design Week, Eindhoven 2010. In researching how plants can enhance the office environment Julio discovered that it takes twelve plants to filter the air indoors. With this in mind he created Personal Fresh Air’ a desk that holds the twelve plants in a hydroponic water system; white hydro stones replacing soil for easier maintenance. Not only do the plants filter the air but they act as a partition wall for privacy and a little noise reduction.

Warmenhoven_Everyday Growing by Juliette Warmenhoven invites you to explore the wonder of growth through a series of incubators. Growth can be examined quickly when seeds are sprouted and their rapidly develop over just a few days. Or the slow growth of a bonsai tree can be observed over a period of decades. The incubators allow you to observe the roots as well as the branches

Kahn_Harvest_ChairHarvest by Asif Khan brings London’s flowering foliage into the home and uses them as raw material for furniture. Using the process of plastination to transform the fragile stems Gypsophila into a rigid and preserved usable material. Stems are woven onto the chair frame before being plastinated, all water is drawn out and replaced by a polymer. Plastination was pioneered by the eternally creepy Gunther von Hagens who created the process as a way of preserving bodies; displaying his work in the controversial Body Works exhibitions. Von Hagens holds the patent to the process and co-operated with this project. Khan’s use of plastination on plants creates a more poetic and functional end, although process is still in the conceptual stage – it is far too complex to be of commercial use as yet.

Postcarden_CityLondon designer Aimée Furnival of Another Studio for Design has created a series of greetings cards that fold out into miniature gardens, in which the recipient can grow cress.
Anyone can grow cress – it just takes a little care and in a short space of time you have your own crop.
Finally here are two designs that have updated the hanging basket and brought it indoors.

Llot_Llov_Hanging_Basket3Luci by Llot Llov is an aternative to the outdoor hanging basket of begonias. Four metal rings are knotted into a macramé net; a simple flowerpot is placed in the lower ring and the macramé loops provide a frame for the plant to grow through.

McDowell_AirPodHanging Air Pods by Michael McDowell The ceramic pods are designed specifically for Air plants which hate to have their roots in standing water.