Archive | March, 2012

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.

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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.