edited by Alexa Yablonski -- Interior Design, 8/1/2002 12:00:00 AM
The craze for all things French '40s reached a fever pitch several years ago. Outside the A&D community, however, Jean Prouvé still doesn't have the name recognition of a Charles or Ray Eames. This cult status isn't likely to last once Vitra launches a major collection of reeditions, giving designers easy access to reasonably priced versions of the structurally sophisticated, dynamic furniture that has inspired the likes of Le Corbusier and Norman Foster. (No more dashed hopes for flea-market finds or hefty checks written to auction houses.)
Available in September, Vitra's new collection comprises eight classics from 1931 to 1954, among them two chairs that won Prouvé early success. Runners of formed, painted sheet steel and a sling seat distinguish the sweeping Cité; Standard's sturdy combination of plywood and steel eventually became one of the designer's trademarks. Other iconic pieces include the tables Trapèze and Guéridon. The latter has three slanting legs held together by a striking steel brace and, typical of Prouvé's work, relies on the honest expression of materials and the beauty of industrial production as ornament. This steadfastly functional aesthetic is hardly surprising from someone who got his start as a blacksmith's apprentice—Prouvé always considered himself a constructeur, or builder. Never decorative or frivolous, his work clearly has style with staying power. 149 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010; 212-539-1900; vitrainc.com. circle 315
For upholstery fabric that not only performs but also provokes thought, Maharam approached Dutch designer Hella Jongerius, whose reputation for challenging convention was formed at the Droog Design collective and continues at her own firm, JongeriusLab. The expansiveness, both in scale and concept, of her two patterns for Maharam is hard to grasp without seeing them in person, unfurled. Repeat Classic stretches on and on, with an unusually long repeat of 3 1/2 yards—shifting from super-size houndstooth to stylized birds to simple stripes to a vine motif. Repeat Dot is similarly sprawling. Because of the repeats' inherent randomness, pieces upholstered in the textiles are virtually unique but still maintain a kinship. (For conventional types, Jongerius fabrics featuring a single motif are available.)
The Maharam collection inspired Murray Moss of New York design destination Moss to push the notion even further, collaborating with Jongerius to translate her textiles into a collection of porcelain. "The motifs leap out of the weave and repeat in a different medium," explains Moss. We wish we'd reserved the pierced porcelain hand-embroidered by the designer with actual thread taken from her textiles: These limited-edition objects of delicate beauty and subtle surprise are almost sold out. Maharam, 251 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10010; 800-645-3943; maharam.com. circle 316 Moss, 146 Greene Street, New York, NY 10012; 212-226-2190; mossonline.com. circle 317
The many years that Alon Langotskyhas spent traveling abroad, collecting the indigenous arts of Southeast Asia and Oceania, have made his New York gallery, Chista, a rich source for one-of-a-kind tribal pieces as well as contemporary wares. "The mix is minimal yet organic, bridging primitivism and modernism," Langotsky says. The SoHo premises where he used to present his premium finds and original designs, however, weren't exactly showroom quality. So Langotsky not only freshened up the space but also joined with longtime dealer Roberto Gamba, transforming a substantial portion of the 5,000 square feet into the Langotsky/Gamba Tribal Art Gallery.
The new venture provides the focus of the renovated showroom. Subtly set off by a screen faced with linen on one side and a tree-bark textile on the other, the gallery is dominated by a grand display wall punctuated with lit niches. Among the treasures recently featured were a striking Sepic mask from Papua New Guinea and a Neolithic jade bi, originally placed in Chinese noblemen's graves.
Artfully arranged tableaux of contemporary furnishings and art dot the rest of the interior. "Chista is a mature array of things," says Longotsky. "We're constantly experimenting with new and exotic materials." (These include coconut, black palm, and terrazzo mixed with mother-of-pearl.) The results of his experiments include the modular Square Shelf pieces (shown), made with teak. Designed in collaboration with Kaya Gaya, these introductions provide an affordable and whimsical counterpoint to Chista's signature line of heavy side tables. 537 Greenwich Street, New York, NY 10013; 212-924-0394; chista.net. circle 318
Carnegie: Nooks & Crannies, a wool-ramie stretch upholstery fabric, suits office seating perfectly. The material's stretch factor derives from weaving construction and finishing method rather than a chemical enhancer. Thanks to the Climatex Lifecycle system, Nooks & Crannies is also completely compostable. Furthermore, after the production process, Carnegie converts leftover selvages and trimmings into felt—which can find its way into upholstery lining or garden mulch. 110 North Centre Avenue, Rockville Centre, NY 11570; 516-678-6770; carnegiefabrics.com. circle 319
Interface Flooring Systems
Interface Flooring Systems: An award-winning addition to the company's extensive random-installation carpet-tile line, Transformation boasts subtle pattern and color reminiscent of marble or flashed veneers. With a minimum total recycled content of 49 percent by weight and a minimum post-consumer recycled content of 22 percent, the tiles are constructed from Solutia Ultron Renew fibers, utilizing the GlasBac RE recycled backing system. P.O. Box 1503, Orchard Hill Road, LaGrange, GA 30241; 706-882-1891; interfaceflooring.com. circle 320
Innovations in Wallcoverings
Innovations in Wallcoverings: Combine wood pulp, polyester fibers, and water-soluble inks, and you get Eco-Suede Damask, an environmentally friendly alternative to vinyl. 979 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022; 212-308-1179; innovationsusa.com. circle 321
Bonjour Switzerland: As soft as cashmere, as lustrous as silk, and twice as absorbent as cotton. These micro-fiber towels, which owe their hues to nontoxic colorfast dyes, are made from beech-wood cellulose farmed and harvested in Scandinavia under controlled forestry conditions. 23 West Main Street, Clinton, NJ 08809; 877-266-7948; bonswit.com. circle 322
Textus: Designed by Hazel Siegel, Ozone and H20 belong to the sustainable Atmosphere collection. Ozone is a multipurpose panel and upholstery fabric manufactured with Terratex 100-percent postindustrial recycled polyester. H20, a wool-ramie blend utilizing the Climatex Lifecycle system, is completely biodegradable. 580 Broadway, Suite 305, New York, NY 10012; 800-803-5495; memosamples.com. circle 323
Blumenthal: Featuring floating ellipses in a field of aqueous color, hip Aquarium is the company's newest pattern in Duraprene, a green alternative to vinyl. Made with 50 percent recycled fiber content and available in 18 colors. 99 Railroad Street, New Canaan, CT 06018; 860-824-8000; blumenthalwall.com. circle 324
Designtex: The William McDonough IV line features biodegradable fabrics made with the closed-loop Climatex Lifecycle manufacturing system. A pretty palette and clean, geometric patterns give the collection a particularly fresh look, suitable for residential applications. 200 Varick Street, New York, NY 10014; 800-221-1540; dtex.com. circle 325
Stratica: Indian Limestone (shown), White Arc, and Wenge Wood are additions to the company's eco-polymeric line of flooring, and their very convincing natural look is further enhanced by durability and environmental soundness. With a surface of DuPont Surlyn, an engineered polymer used to protect golf balls and ski boots, all three are chlorine-free and contain no plasticizers. Amtico International, 6480 Roswell Road, Atlanta, GA 30328; 800-404-0102; stratica.com. circle 326
We would love your feedback!