In their light-filled studio in Sydney Australia’s Strawberry Hills, Louise Olsen and Steve Ormandy fashion resin destined for landfill into jewelry and home wares of rare beauty. Their studio’s name, Dinosaur Designs, is a play on the longevity of their pieces—they last forever.
Van Bo Le-Mentzel arrived on the shores of Germany as a young refugee from Laos. He was fascinated by Spiderman and dreamed of the day when he could help the helpless. Today, he still prefers to wear blue and red, in homage to his superhero, and—after studying architecture at Beuth Hochschule, a University of Applied Sciences in the working class Wedding district of Berlin—has found a way to emulate him. Like Peter Parker, he has a day job, though Van Bo has a few: as a celebrated hip hop-rapping MC, a prolific radio and television show broadcaster, a graffiti-artist, a social media king and ambassador for startnext.de, the German version of Kickstarter, and as a full-time employee at Dan Pearlman Communications and Branding. By night—and this is the Spiderman part—he moonlights as a guerilla furniture designer. Inspired by Berlin’s Bauhaus legacy and the cool factor of DIY, he creates the plans for beautiful, affordable furniture and releases them for free from his website hartzivmoebel.de. “This gives the power to the people to make their world a more aesthetic, more social, more uplifting place, without government, police or multinational interference,” he says. “They are plans for happiness—and change starts with you.” In exchange for the free plans, he has asked the furniture makers to send him pictures of their finished products along with stories of its making and uses. The result is the book Le-Mentzel & The Crowd: Hartz IV Moebel.com, published by Hatje Cantz in July—a delightfully inventive showcase of a brave new world where virtual crowds and furniture can change your life.
Hans and Franz were a pair of characters in a Saturday Night Live sketch who yodeled with fake Austrian accents while wearing Schwarzenegger-send-up body padding. German Gen Y’ers Horst Wittmann and Konstantin Landuris took this moniker as their namesake when they launched their Munich-based design studio in 2006, while still students at the Munich Academy of Fine Arts (they graduated in 2009 and 2010). With a fresh eye to tomorrow’s design challenges, and their signature upbeat humor, they took two thoughtful lamp prototypes to Milan the following year and were hailed as "Futurism from Munich." A succession of interesting design pieces and unusual cross-pollinating collaborations have ensued for the duo, who credit the magic of their Bavarian childhoods—Landuris wanted to be an astronaut, and Wittmann was a graffiti artist—as their inspiration. “I still have the same fun and challenges today in design as I had as a graffiti artist but now I’m addicted to the complexity of three-dimensional objects…and it’s all legal,” says Wittmann. Yes, there is a boyish charm to the cleverness of the work—and several winks to outer space.