When Australian designer Henry Wilson moved to the Netherlands to study for a Masters Degree at the Design Academy Eindhoven, he says he experienced a "philosophical shift away from the creation of new things and a re-examination of the role of the designer." He was feeling "increasing disenchantment with the role of the designer at a time of evident excess and wastefulness in a consumer driven market," he writes, along with a growing awareness of the world's dwindling resources. His musings and experimentations led him to invent a design exercise for himself: to tweak and update existing "classic" designs in a way that would reveal them in a fresh light. Here are the clever and elegant results of his experiments.
Famed theater designer and artists Robert Wilson was at the lunch, in part to speak about Perchance to Dream, a series of video portraits of dancer Roberto Bolle with iconic objects from Italian design.
A typical enamel factory lamp is built for the purpose of directing as much light as possible downwards.
To make the light more appropriate for domestic use, Wilson sliced the fixture and added a two-part bone china sleeve around the bulb, enabling both a bright 360-degree glow as well as the down light.
I am particularly fond of this experiment—an addition to the iconic galvanized Tolix A56 chair, designed by Xavier Pauchard for Tolix. "The 'A’ chair was born out of an understanding of material and is a great example of technique and industrial knowledge informing the aesthetic of the design," says Wilson. Here it is unadorned.
And here it is spiffed up and softened with a fitted vegetable-tanned leather cover, which will age and patina beautifully over time. "It reflects and highlights the chairs ingenious method of production, whilst giving it a suitable indoor application," says Wilson. He hopes to make the cover available for purchase soon on his website, henry-wilson.com.
"One of the keys to Le Creuset pot design is the suggestion that due to the beauty of form and material it can be served directly on the table," says Wilson. "This does however require a heavy-duty trivet or stand so as to not damage the surface." So Wilson affixed this metal frame to the lid...
...which enables the pot to be carried to the table and set down on the flipped, modified lid.
Wilson also updated the classic British Anglepoise lamp with a fine transparent glass lampshade and a nearly invisible low-power LED light source. He'll start producing this in a limited-edition soon, with models available on his website.
In another experiment as part of the series, Wilson 'modernized' a workaday enamel coffee pot by transforming it into an electrical kettle. There are no plastic components inside the jug and the heat-conducting points have been dipped in industrial silicone to protect surfaces from heat transfer.
Here's a group portrait of Wilson's "revisited" things. Note the two glass bottles adapted to fit the classic Kikkoman soy sauce cap. This way the plastic caps can be used on bottles containing liquids like olive oil and vinegar.