Latest Articles in Design

alessi caffetiere buffing

Alessi 9090: Polish

Alessi uses two types of 18/10 stainless steel (the number refers to the chromium-to-nickel ratio): 2B, with a carbon content of 0.2 percent, is more malleable and less shiny than BA, which has 0.4 percent. The exterior is made of 2B, because the molded surfaces require more malleability. Inner components are made from BA.
January 1, 2009
alessi caffetiere worker spot weld

Alessi 9090: Weld

Tungsten inert gas (TIG) welds and spot-welds join the molded parts. In TIG welding, the inert gas argon is blown out of a nozzle to surround a white-hot tungsten electrode at the tip of the welding torch. A skilled worker torches the edges to fuse them, while the argon stops atmospheric particles from weakening the bond.
January 1, 2009
alessi caffetiere coldpress factory

Alessi 9090: Cold Press

The factory floor is a city of tall hydraulic presses. Humming and chinking sounds bellow down aisle after aisle. Workers wearing light-blue gloves spray grease onto sheet-metal pieces, place them in a mold, and lower a press. In a single motion, a sheet instantly becomes a cutout shape or molded surface. If the curve of a surface is steep—as is the one on the 9090’s angular boiler body—it acquires its shape after a series of presses that slowly increase the incline. After four to five presses, the metal, having reached the limits of deformation without breaking, spends a night in the annealing furnace. Prolonged heat realigns the molecular structure to maintain ductility.
January 1, 2009
bathrooms aeri sink in birch wood whitehaus collection thumbnail

101 Bathrooms: Wood

Wood has been used for centuries to submerge bathing beauties, but most people still think of it only for cabinets, furniture, and floors. A new outpouring of innovative wood-based design, from teak toilet seats to bamboo towels, should help replant wood back in the bathroom.
January 1, 2009
established sons spray paint equipment

01 Woodblocks

Woods’s prints begin as marker drawings on acetate. “We have a set of patterns that have been reduced from wood grain,” he says, “and we use them as a library, and change them around. So it really doesn’t take very long.” He sources the prints from his library and sizes them to register precisely on each panel of the furniture. Then comes what Wrong calls “productionization of an artisanal process.” While Woods would photocopy his drawings onto 1:1 sheets, glue them to the woodblocks, and cut the grooves with a handheld router, Wrong and Lauber turned them into digital files, which the computer numerically controlled (CNC) machine can rout without hands. Lauber simulated the irregularity of a vibrating handheld machine by drawing meticulously wobbly lines. While this step is computerized, the printing step–when the MDF woodblocks are applied to the furniture pieces–uses basic machinery. Woods used to press the blocks with a cast-iron garden roller, but it’s a diffi-cult way to apply even pressure, so the team decided to use a hydraulic press.
January 1, 2009
established sons painting wood blocks

03 Prints

Before the furniture is assembled, each piece is painted jet-black and printed with the CNC-cut MDF woodblocks, which Wrong calls “crude but very effective.” Enamel paint in various shades is rolled onto the blocks, which are then affixed to the plywood surfaces with a hydraulic press. “We have refined the process in order to achieve constant pressure on the printing block,” Wrong explains. When the blocks are removed, the remaining prints are bold, but scrappy, because the paint adheres irregularly. The woodblocks can be used heavily. Just one block can print 200 pieces a day, and cleaning them is easy, since enamel paint coagulates as it dries. “You can just wipe it off,” Woods explains, “and print another 200 the next day. Each piece is laser-engraved with the logo and title of the work, rather than an edition number, as a traditional print would be. “We’re playing with the boundaries of printmaking,” says Woods. “It’s mass-produced and also handmade. To me it’s more interesting than selling prints in a gallery.”
January 1, 2009
flos glo ball cooling

Flos Glo-Ball: Cool and Cut

Vetrerie New Glass can make 18 Glo-Balls per hour—Pellizzon keeps the operation tight in order to guarantee exceptional quality. The balls sit in a slow-cooling kiln for two hours; otherwise, they crack. With a fine abrasive cutting wheel, a young man slices off the parts that cling to the pole during the blowing process. A series of sanders and buffers make the aperture perfectly round and smooth: A flattener removes coarseness outside the cut, and a pointed sander that resembles a witch’s hat rubs out the circular opening.
January 1, 2009
Many a love affair with modern design begins with a book: Here, a host of design experts list the key titles that set them on the path of infatuation.

Architecture and Design Books

Dear Dwell, I am new to modernism and eager to learn all I can about architecture and design. What books would you recommend to a novice? —Mathilda Feigenbaum, Mission Hills, Kansas
January 1, 2009
minarc house entry door portrait1

A Grand Entrance

Expansive glass openings play an essential energy-saving role at the Minarc House, alternately pulling breezes and the sun’s warmth inside.
January 1, 2009