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All photos in this post by <a href="http://www.facebook.com/radford.creative.group">Thor Radford</a> (Radford Creative).

Building the Maxon House: Week 13

In our latest Backstory series, Seattleite Lou Maxon recounts the thrills and trials of ditching the suburbs, buying property, and designing and building a modern house with Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects. Week 13: Kinetic architecture: A tour of Turner Exhibits   Stepping into a space designed by Tom Kundig almost always evokes a sense of wonder. As our design got underway, the firm arranged visits for our family to some of Tom Kundig’s built projects, including Delta Shelter and Chicken Point Cabin. Beyond being artfully designed objects in their respective settings, they both featured examples of Tom Kundig’s passion for kinetic architecture. The Delta Shelter has sliding steel shutters that open and close with the turn of a wheel. Chicken Point Cabin has a massive wall of steel windows that raise and lower, also with the turn of an oversized steel wheel powered by human energy and assisted with an intricate set of spinning Willy Wonka-like gears.   Wonder isn’t a solo venture. Kundig’s projects are the sum of his talent, the collective talent in the firm, and the network of artisans and craftspeople he’s come to know over the years. Early on in our project, Tom reached out to the founder of Turner Exhibits, Phil Turner, to engineer “wonder” for our project. The details of this venture will be disclosed in a later post but today I’d like to take you behind the scenes—to Turner Exhibits, founded in 1987 and today owned by Greg Cain and Steve Groves. The company designs and fabricates kinetic architecture systems and museum-quality exhibits and displays. My son Jack accompanied me on a shop visit to learn more about how they’d engineer kinetic architecture for Maxon House and to get a better understanding of what they do, how they do it, and how we’ll work with them on our project.
May 25, 2011
molo softwall thumb

Molo's Softwall Room Divider

Stephanie Forsythe and Todd MacAllen, founders of the Vancouver-based firm molo, have created the ideal room divider, a paper softwall.  
May 24, 2011
Bostwick and Rymill began making beer in the spring of 2009 with the help of a homebrew kit. Their first batch, however, exploded—glass bottles and all—in their living room. After six months of troubleshooting and experimenting as hobbyists, they hunkered

Beer Craft: A Guide to Homebrew

William Bostwick and Jessi Rymill's new book Beer Craft: A Simple Guide to Making Great Beer is like Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything—just for homebrew hobbyists. In the book, the writer-designer duo outlines the basic steps of brewing then give you all the information you need to improvise and make each batch your own. Unlike the homebrew books that have come before, Beer Craft is designed for folks like Bostwick and Rymill: urban DIYers living in small, city apartments. "Most books are written for making five gallons at a time, which is a lot" Bostwick says. "Our book focuses on small, one-gallon batches you can easily make on your stove."
May 19, 2011
Lissoni is interviewed on his Extrasoft modular sofa in white, defined by its geometric configuration and irregular contours.

10 Minutes With Piero Lissoni

Italian architect and designer Piero Lissoni spent an evening at the Graye showroom in Los Angeles last week at a gathering to celebrate his furniture designs for Living Divani and Porro, which Graye reps in the States. Hosted by Graye owner Maria Cicione, the event was focused around Lissoni’s recent work, including thoughtfully designed sofas, beds, chairs and shelving and storage units. Lissoni, soft-spoken and humble, explained his approach to each design in a quick, ten-minute interview.
May 19, 2011
dieter rams vitsoe

30 Minutes With Dieter Rams

The word "icon" is thrown around rather freely in the design world, but when discussing Dieter Rams and his body of work, it is the only word that sticks. Last week, on the morning after attending the opening of 60s 606 is 50, an exhibition at the New York City Vitsoe shop celebrating 50 years of Rams’ 606 Universal Shelving System, I was lucky enough to sit down for 30 quick minutes with the legend. Joining us in the dining room of the Mark Hotel is Mark Adams, Vitsoe's managing director. The conversation was less an interview and more a glimpse into a conversation between two old friends and colleagues, part of which is captured below.
May 18, 2011
icff greypants 2

ICFF 2011: From the Show Floor

I'll admit, it's a little daunting stepping onto the show floor at the International Contemporary Furniture Fair (ICFF), held for a long May weekend every year at the Javits Convention Center in New York. There's a lot to see. But once you start wandering the aisles, uncovering design gems in the various booths is a blast. Here's round one of some of the things I saw that stuck with me.
May 18, 2011
Grow Bottles from Branch

Grow Bottles

If you live in an apartment or otherwise lack a patch in which to plant a garden, Potting Shed Creations Grow Bottles (also available at sustainable-living shop Branch) might be your answer to indoor herbs. The company is repurposing wine bottles and calling on the art of hydroponics to allow those with limited outdoor resources partake in the gardening fun.
May 16, 2011
wanted design spotlight

Wanted Design & NYC Design Week

Design Week is upon us in New York City. Designers, manufacturers, retailers, press, and the design loving general public will descend upon ICFF, the International Contemporary Furniture Fair this weekend. Outside of Javits, the convention hall hosting the show, many smaller exhibitions will spring up showcasing the work of emerging designers and less established brands. This years also marks the launch of Wanted Design, a new group show that places the products of many designers, and the conversation surrounding that work, into a more informal and social space.
May 13, 2011
bkr bottle five colors

The bkr Bottle

When Tal Soltz set out to design a reusable water bottle, dissatisfied with the clunky and chunky options on the market, she refused to compromise aesthetics to be environmentally friendly. "We created bkr [pronounced "beaker"] with the inspiration of everything we love in life: modern art, designs we saw in Tokyo, Italian furniture, Parisian street chic, etc." says Soltz. "Most of all, though, because we believe green products should be creative, beautiful and inspirational." Each bkr holds 16 ounces of liquid in a rather comely and compact glass bottle sheathed in a silicone sleeve. I like that the design isn't over designed; its simply a screw top bottle with a handy carrying loop, free of extra bells and whistles. And the five colors the bottle comes in are quite alluring as well. We asked Soltz, who is President and Founder of the San Francisco-based company, a few questions about bkr. Here's what she has to say.
May 12, 2011
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