Talking points: Design news from around the world

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At Home with Bottega Veneta


ITALIAN luxury maison Bottega Veneta has just opened a dedicated boutique for its magnificent collection of items for the home in Milan. Located within the 18th century Palazzo Gallarati Scotti, the boutique is Bottega Veneta’s third in Italy’s fashion capital and its first dedicated to its furniture, lighting, tabletop and home decoration. The new boutique also represents the maison’s commitment to its home collection, which has evolved from a single bench designed by creative director Tomas Maier — who worked with the artisans who make Bottega Veneta’s luggage, using the same materials — to a full lifestyle offering that was launched in 2006.

Designed by Maier, the 205 sq m space is meant to present a curated story, bringing luxury and craftsmanship together with local culture and historic architecture. In a refined atmosphere that exudes the comfort and intimacy of a luxurious home, the collections are organised in a series of displays, proposing various dining, living, bedroom and studio areas. Discover the Meta and Tasselo collection of seating designed in collaboration with Poltrona Frau, oakwood bookcases and beds, Murano glassware from the tabletop collection as well as Bottega Veneta’s first-ever rechargeable light offering.

Notable design features of the space include double glass doors with burnished metal handles, tiled floors, traditionally plastered walls and custom furnishings throughout, such as the display table in the boutique’s foyer crafted from iridescent black Rovere Slavonia oak and glass. These contemporary elements play dramatically against the historic palazzo’s soaring coffered ceilings and remarkable frescoes by 18th century masters Carlo Innocenzo Carlone and Giovanni Battista Tiepolo, providing an exceptionally unique setting that honours the existing beauty of the location.



Antique Finds


If you’re a fan of antique finds for the home, a visit to London institution Bentleys is a must. Named after its founder Tim Bent — no relation to the famous British carmaker — Bentleys is a true destination shop and a treasure trove of the unexpected. Run by Bent and two other friends, Bentleys specialises in antique English leather accessories and travel goods, beautifully made silver from the Edwardian era and the finest vintage trunks from the great French houses of Louis Vuitton, Goyard and Hermès.

One of its most recent acquisitions is a magnificent set of five saddle-hide leather cases containing a complete series of linen-backed maps for Scotland, England and Wales, circa 1910. Some other great finds for the homeowner who has it all includes a display case for artist’s pencils with concertina mechanism labelled George Rowney & Co (circa 1910), a large-scale mahogany wood model of a late-Victorian crane (circa 1880) and a pair of unusually large electro-plated Magnum decanter coasters with gadrooned borders (circa 1860). A mahogany artist’s box by art suppliers Winsor & Newton that goes back to 1910 contains water colours, a mixing bowl, three palettes and brushes that can still be used, but are almost too precious to touch. 

Vintage trunks often serve double duty as décor pieces in the hands of today’s interior decorators, so try your hand at it with some of Bentleys’ new stock — a Louis Vuitton steamer trunk with woven monogram, leather trim and brass handles, a flat Goyard cabin trunk replete with its original interior trays (circa 1925) and an exceptionally beautiful leather case (circa 1910) emblazoned with the mysterious initials NFB.



Design Kinship


A unique exhibition entitled Great Minds Think Alike: 18th Century French and Chinese Furniture Design is set to showcase the aesthetic and formal similarities of French and Chinese furniture made between the 17th and 18th centuries. A collaboration between Hong Kong’s Liang Yi Museum and the Kraemer Gallery in Paris, the exhibition will include furniture from these two countries, revealing an uncanny kinship in their design and craftsmanship.

In the exhibition, which runs until May 31, the pieces are presented as pairings in individual galleries. Viewers are invited to study the contrasts and similarities in style, technique, craftsmanship or function in a range of objects, from stools to chairs and lampstands to tables, screens, bookcases and beds. 

Highlights of the exhibition include a huanghuali wood Chinese six-post canopy bed and a Louis XVI painted wood canopy bed, both from the 18th century. In addition, two special salons have been created to reflect the cultural tastes of the era: one decorated in a typical 18th century French style, with objects such as clocks, a vernis Martin tapestry loom, and even a dog kennel, and another as a Chinese Qing-style reception room.



Temporary Holding


Throughout the day, we come by all sorts of information that we might want to jot down — a cherished memory, a random phone number we need to take down or a phone message for a co-worker. In our eagerness to record these details, we put them down on bits of paper that clutter our desks that more often than not, become litter. 

Designer Kirsten Camara created the Analog Memory Desk as a way to efficiently record all those small details that we need at that moment but may not need by tomorrow. “I’ve come to realise that I’m somewhat obsessed with how we remember the past,” Camara says in a statement. “This is the latest instalment in that series and a more serious attempt at furniture making. There are hundreds of little things that we don’t try to remember every year or even every week. Does the sum of all these tiny parts produce a new narrative on our lives?”

The glass-topped table is made from maple wood and comes with 1,100m of paper that runs across the surface. As you finish using one section of the paper, just turn the wheels and move on to the next part: a nice, clean sheet to start your thoughts afresh.



Versace’s New Release


At the recently held Salone del Mobile fair in Milan, luxury Italian maison Versace revealed a new chair that is simply breathtaking in its classic lines and evocative style. An ode to the celebrated fashion house’s rich legacy in fashion and the arts, the chair was easily a highlight of the fair and is certainly something that would fit beautifully in a palatial abode in Asia just as well as it would in a minimalist living space in Europe.

Created by artistic director Donatella Versace, the new La Coupe des Dieux chair is inspired by the graphic lines of the famous Versace Greek key. The geometrically shaped key has been deconstructed and softened for a more sensual shape that is delicately rendered in gold and gunmetal steel. The unusual circular shape of the chair’s back is in leather that has been printed with classic Versace baroque insignia over a base of the Greek key. The seat and arms are hand-made and in laminated leather.

The stunning La Coupe des Dieux chair truly echoes the elegance of art nouveau design as well as the modernity and innovation that Versace has always been known for.



High Fashion to Home Décor 


The quirky founder of Brooklyn-based clothing brand Dusen Dusen, Ellen Van Dusen, has crossed the border from fashion to home décor. Famous for her fashionable textiles, the eclectic designer has turned her attention to creating a delightful array of products for the home, featuring her signature geometric patterns.

Her inaugural home collection, which will be available for purchase later this year, includes sheets, blankets, rugs and towels, as well as pillows and a pouf. Characterised by bold primary colours as well as soft, paler tones, the textiles range from abstract patterns to fun, squiggly lines. Charmingly, the lookbook for the upcoming collection includes an image of Saturday Night Live comedienne Aidy Bryant and her official canine mascot, Snips.

Raised by architect parents in a vibrant and creative home, Dusen used to sponge-paint her own clothes and re-dye thrift store discoveries. In university, through a self-directed major at Tufts University, she studied the psychology of design and the brain’s reaction to visual stimuli. She started off Dusen Dusen as a line of universally flattering basics driven by the prints she creates from scratch, inspired by everything from mid-century resort architecture and Italian industrial design to Scandinavian textiles, Google maps and handwriting.



Dixon’s new stars


British designer Tom Dixon is famous for his ability to turn everyday items into fascinating design masterpieces. In his four newest collections, unveiled at the recent Maison et Objets in Paris, Dixon made use of sleek materials like copper, crystal, and black cast iron to transform desk accessories, vases, and barware into enchanting minimalist sculptures.

The Scent Element candle range has been extended to include diffusers, which are unique in their usage of natural sticks of charcoal grown in the UK. If you’re more of the scented candle type, the new Axis holders consist of chunky blocks in simple geometries made from hand-pressed glass that are great examples of table-top architecture. The brand’s witty collection of bookmarks has also grown, and now includes a dandelion head design and a London-inspired postcard.

The barware collection, Tank, is Dixon’s best this year. Consisting of a highball glass, a lowball glass, a jug and a decanter, these stunning pieces are available in either mouth-blown coloured or clear glass, brought to life with hand-painted gold detailing.



Stamp of history


London-based design and advertising agency GBH recently immortalised some of the city’s most beautiful bridges on a series of limited edition postage stamps. The agency was commissioned by the Royal Mail to document the evolution of Britain’s bridges for this unusual project, which celebrates the simplicity of the pre-16th century Tarr Steps to the elegance of the 2011 Peace Bridge.

Royal Mail head of stamps and collectibles Andrew Hammond says: “The story of Britain’s engineering genius can be found in its bridges. These new stamps celebrate 10 beautiful and groundbreaking landmarks that span centuries of our history.”

All of the bridges have been photographed from a three-quarter perspective, which helps maximise the viewpoint and unify them as a set. In the presentation pack, the stamps are displayed in order in two rows of five, and a graphic timeline device has been created, which runs along the bottom of each one. This theme has been extrapolated to also form a central spine in the presentation pack, which also includes biographies of engineers Thomas Telford and Robert Stephenson and gives an overview of the importance of bridges to civilisation.



This article first appeared in The Edge haven, on Issue #72 April + May 2015.