Back from Salone!

3 May

Back in Beirut and it smells great! Spring here is perfect. But I can’t wait to share all my thoughts about Salone with you. So here we go:

This year, you couldn’t move without being reminded of the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s. I don’t know if it’s the Mad Men effect or what, but everywhere was decorated in vibrant 50’s and 70’s colours, with a lot of lighter pastels mixed in for good measure. There was a lot of lacquer around too, proving that furniture trends can last more than a single year.

Vanlian got it pretty right too. Our Beyond collection was displayed in a room inspired by a 1970’s diva stuck in space, carrying her memories with her to the modern age and beyond! No doubt she felt right at home among all the 70’s colours and patterns at this year’s Salone.

But things didn’t stop with the tendency for recreated 50’s furniture. Collections travelled even further back in time, the older the better. A lot of designers showed off a very rough, vintage look, using a lot of exposed wood and unfinished surfaces to create a jagged, but very cool, retro feel.

Again, we fitted right in. Globe trekker was inspired by and created as a tribute to luxury travellers of the early 20th century. The result was a much more calming, peaceful collection but we made good use of the beautifully textured wood that was so present elsewhere at Salone.

My favourite show rooms belonged to Bacarat, Boffi Kitchens and Bathroms, Tom Dixon,and Rosana Orlandi.

For more pictures from Salone and to know what I thought about this year’s show and design in generally, be sure to check out my Twitter and Facebook pages.

A taste of Salone

1 May

If you follow me on my twitter @VickVanlian (and if not, shame on you!) you already know a little bit about Vanlian’s new launches at Salone in Milan. This year, our show was called V-World and was builta round four brand new collections: Private Session, Beyond, Globe trekker and Re-fuse. All of them were inspired by a different aspect of contemporary society that fascinates me and all were unified by a single, coherent vision.

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Private Session was inspired by my love for fashion and pop culture, reflected in vibrant, bold colours and striking designs.

Beyond explores geometric patterns and shapes to create a very classic, contemporary look. The ceiling of our Beyond studio was enhanced with a lighting star made of LED lights, illuminating the contours of the collection.

Globe trekker reimagines the act (or should I say art?) of travel with a collection made out of refashioned and reapplied travel luggage. These vintage and contemporary suitcases can be used as storage or as a piece of decoration in their own right.

Re-fuse co-opts old industrial designs and applies them to the art of the interior. Old pipes and exposed metal, coming straight from traditional ironmongers, create a range of very sustainable pieces with a truly contemporary look.

Enjoy these pictures. There’s lots lots more to come. (If you’re feeling greedy, you can always get the whole package on my Facebook page)

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Art In The City

22 Apr

Sometimes it’s the little things that set a place apart. And in the case of Art In The City it’s the very little things. These beautiful miniatures not only say a lot about their owners but they energise even the plainest space and, though you might not expect it, they can fit in almost anywhere. Art in the City describes its work as “colours having sex”. Right.

Imagine this elephant spicing up a kitchen.

Fiery!

Or this fish splashing around the bathroom.

splish splosh

Best of all though are these amazing, hilarious and very individual cows. Each one has something special about it, whether it’s an Elvis cow, a bath time cow or a film noir cow.

Here's looking at you, kid

To decide on your favourite you’ll just have to pop into a Vanlian store where the entire range is on sale.

Don’t fear storage

8 Apr

Storage can be a nightmare. If we’re not careful, our space can end up overflowing with old books, movies and magazines (thank god the CD is pretty much a thing of the past). Cowards may find it easier to just run away from the problem, letting everything pile up until they have to pick their way through towers of discarded junk. Even worse are those who just hire themselves huge amounts of storage space in a locker by a highway somewhere and forget about the problem. What they don’t realise is that with every design challenge, there is an opportunity to make something fresh, new and exciting. Storage systems don’t have to be drab and functional, they can really transform and energise your home.

The key is to make your storage into a feature, something that fits with the tone and tenor of your house. These apple crates create the perfect down-home, rural feel for your mountain escape. Fill them full of beautiful books or old LPs and you’ve got that urbane farmer year-in-Provence thing all sewn up.

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Used wisely, storage systems can vastly improve the flow of a space, anchoring it and drawing our focus – in a good way. At its best, clever storage defines some of the best modern interiors.

If you’re feeling bold, go for the No. 216 Sideboard, designed by Jesper Ståhl.

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Each of the doors corresponds to a different size of paper in the global standard A series (remember those from school?), combining form and function to create a funky but unobtrusive storage solution for all purposes.

Whatever path you take, don’t fear the storage problem. Check out Vanlian’s range of cabinets, crates and cupboards to find ways to turn your clutter into a beautiful mess.

Inspiration

1 Apr

Here are some images that inspire Vanlian and Envy designs.

See if you can guess which pieces they influenced.

Spring is in the air

24 Mar

Now that we seem to be coming out the other side of this year’s freezing winter and enjoying the first unbroken run of sunshine, thoughts naturally begin to turn to our outdoor spaces. In London and Brooklyn, the young and hip are getting started on their rooftop vegetable patches and urban gardens.

The trend for urban gardening, turning every spare piece of available space into a plot for growing vegetables or keeping chickens, is a relatively recent phenomenon; a response to tighter budgets at home and growing concerns about environmental sustainability.

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Its slightly-less-than-legal wing is known as Guerrilla Gardening. Every summer, hordes of trowel-wielding hipsters steal out into the New York night to turn unoccupied or uninspiring spots into verdant, blooming vegetable patches, overflowing with carrots, tomatoes and potatoes. Perhaps with the odd strawberry bush for good measure.

This may just sound like a lot of hipsters having some harmless fun in the sun, but now some serious players are getting involved. In Sweden, an architectural practice called Plantagon is planning to take urban gardening to the next level with plans for a 12-storey greenhouse in the city of Linkoping.

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The hope is that by 2013 (not so far away…) the greenhouse will make Linkoping completely self-sufficient and plans are already underway for helix-shaped terrace additions to office buildings in cities across the world. No more wandering off in search of a fresh lunch, just lean out of the window and pluck the fruit straight from the trees.

Beirut may have no guerrilla gardeners of its own, nor any giant greenhouses, but that’s probably because we’ve never needed them. In summer, every terrace is a riot of greens, blues, reds and oranges and every balcony has potted plants and window boxes jostling for space with lazy cats and lazier gardeners. It may still be early to think about outdoor furniture but nothing is nicer on an early spring evening than bringing the comforts of the indoors outside with you.

Relax in your Beirut urban garden with the range of Vanlian outdoor furniture. Take your morning coffee with the sun on your face and wake up with the newspaper in the Safari chair and side table combo.

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Or spend the whole day in bed, catnapping in the open air with the incredible Savanah daybed.

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Whatever you go with, don’t be stuck indoors this spring.

What makes a chair special?

20 Mar

This brand new street furniture from Studio Segers is a very Scandinavian solution to an age-old problem: how to make the street a safe, comfortable and exciting place to be. The Get Out! M2 bench is reclaiming public space by encouraging conversation between people in the street.

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Catch up with friends, relax with a book, or even fall in love, this chair is designed to make it all happen. The bench’s gently sloping contours and simple clean shape makes it impossible to sit without looking at your neighbours and striking up a chat. Get Out! encourages passersby to make eye contact, start talking and share experiences instead of staring straight ahead and sealing themselves off in a private bubble.

By starting from a very clearly-defined idea of what a chair should do, Segers Studio have created a very effective piece of work. A city bench should anchor the space it is placed in and provide a comfortable and welcoming focus for social interaction. Every aspect of the M2 Bench is geared towards creating a safe, friendly environment. Let’s hope we’ll soon be seeing its striking design in cities all over the globe.

But sitting and chatting is far from the only way to use a chair. This Grandma Chair, designed by the artist Bora Çakilkaya, was created with a very different purpose in mind: work.

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Not so much a solution to a problem as a creative way to make life a little bit easier and a lot more fun, the Grandma Chair was inspired by the designer’s youth growing up with old ladies who relished the time they could take to just sit and sew. Çakilkaya wanted to create a product designed specifically for her Grandma, a chair that she would love to work at. So the Grandma Chair takes care of everything, with its colourful drawers built into the back to make it easy to get at everything you need to sew something beautiful, it’s your own portable workstation.

These two chairs have very different purposes but they have one thing in common: a clarity of vision that makes them so striking and so special. Transparent vision is essential to creating beautiful and memorable works of design. At Vanlian, every product is given individual care and attention and every aspect of the design process is meticulously considered. A product’s intended purpose informs crucial artistic decisions and helps us to create some very special products.Like these very cool Zagon corner chairs, that were made to perfectly fill that little bit of space that you just couldn’t decide how to use.

ImageOr these lightweight, art-nouveau Mix chairs, designed to be placed anywhere you like – even out on the balcony.

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But perhaps the best example is Twist, a set of funky Lego-block-style sofas in a range of colours to fit any mood and fulfil any purpose.Image

Leave it in front of the TV when you’re watching a movie or pull it over to the table for an impromptu bench at a dinner party. You could even turn it around and push it up against the wall to brighten up that difficult corner. Designed with flexibility in mind, Twist can be put to any use you can imagine, and it fulfils that purpose perfectly.