Latest Articles in Furniture & Products

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Free City Shop, Los Angeles

Nina Garduno recently opened her shop Free City—a mix between an actual store and a design commune–on Highland Avenue in Hollywood. She started the company in 2002, inspired by her "hippie childhood" and creative communities like Christiania in Copenhagen: "places where people collect to experiment with different ways to live out their life." Unconventionally designed and riotously colorful, Free City is stocked with products, furniture, and clothing made exclusively by Los Angeles-based artisans—and occasional outsider collaborators like the Mission Bicycle Company in San Francisco. Almost everything in the shop, from the silkscreened t-shirts to the handcrafted wooden furniture, is made just five blocks away, by the dozen or so employees in Free City's workshop, none of whom are trained designers. "No one went to school to learn these things," says Garduno. "Whatever it is, we figure out how to make it ourselves."
November 1, 2010
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Camper's Miguel Fluxa

I've long been a fan of the Spanish shoemaker Camper (I have two pairs, I'll confess) and in recent years their strong sense of design has translated off the foot and into the retail environment. I had a chance to chat with Miguel Fluxa, one of the head's of the brand that his father Lorenzo founded in 1975. I asked him about the various Camper shops that have sprung up around the world, how they sort out who designs what, and precisely why so damned many industrial designers have been engaged to make shoes for them. Read on.
October 30, 2010
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A Week at the Airport: Part II

Earlier this week I had a go at the first half of Alain de Botton's new book A Week at the Airport, where he reports on a week spent at Heathrow's Terminal 5 as the airport's writer-in-residence. I finished it off this afternoon, largely over a bowl of curry ga at one of Dwell's local Vietnamese haunts, and here's the rest of my review.
October 28, 2010
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Corbusier-Approved Paint Deck

I was excited to learn, from this recent New York Times story, that the Swiss company KT Color manufactures a line of paints created by Le Corbusier.
October 28, 2010
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A Week at the Airport: Part I

Not so long ago I read the English pop philospher and writer Alain de Botton's book The Architecture of Happiness. It was a middling book, one that took great pains to make the case that the design of the buildings we inhabit have a strong effect on us, and that we ought to pay more attention to the wonder that architecture can provoke. It's a fine point, and one worth repeating, but it also felt a bit elementary. Neither a work of serious criticism nor serious philosophy, it was a light romp through design's capacity to make us feel. His latest book has all the grounding that The Architecture of Happiness went without: de Botton was asked to play writer in residence for a week at the British Airways terminal at Heathrow Airport. A Week at the Airport is the result, a small book with telling photographs by Richard Baker, and over the next two posts here on I'll be giving you my review.
October 26, 2010
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Shipping Container Retail Design

I wish I could see this cool new pop-up shop in person, but alas, it's in Manhattan and only until October 31. It's the first (albeit temporary) retail store for fashion designer Richard Chai, set in a shipping container underneath the High Line park.
October 22, 2010
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W New York Downtown

While in New York City last month, I spent a night at the new W New York hotel, downtown in Wall Street. Like all W's, this one was peppered with self-consciously 'cool' design-y touches, some of which grated a bit. That said, I was particularly impressed with two elements of the design: the undulating, glowing ceiling in the lobby (or, excuse me, the "living room"), and the built-in furniture in the guestrooms.
October 21, 2010
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Evil People in Modern Homes

I was wandering around William Stout's architectural bookstore the other day when I came across Yale University graphic design student Benjamin Critton's wonderful tabloid treatise Evil People in Modern Homes in Popular Films. It's been noted many times that villains always wind up in cool modern homes in movies, but here's a sustained take on the phenomenon (in newsprint, no less) that spans the design and film canon from Diamonds are Forever to the Big Lebowski. I had a chat with Critton and here's what he had to say about his project.
October 21, 2010
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Gusto: A Guide to Restaurant Design

Just as the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, "the essence of restaurant design cannot be found in any one element but in the unity of all ingredients working together to create a singular experience." So begins the book Gusto: A Journey Through Culinary Design. Capitalizing on publisher Gingko Press's ability to cull together top-notch examples of graphic and interior design, Gusto is a tasty roundup of nearly 60 restaurants, bars, and cafes—event mobile eateries—from around the world (presented in 256 pages overflowing with 750 photos and illustrations).  
October 21, 2010