Newsletter 05.2010

Dear Readers

Before we offer you our selection of the most interesting novelties from this year's ICFF New York, allow us to present an architectural conversion of a very particular kind from the Big Apple: The High Line.

During this year's Salone del Mobile, we met up with the Basel-based studio INCH - who designed the furniture collection for the Swiss Pavilion at Shanghai's Expo 2010 - for a fascinating discussion.

Also in this issue of our newsletter, you'll find information on our latest tools and functions.

Let yourself be inspired!

Your Architonic Team
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A Railroad Runs Through It
The Manhattan High Line
    A Railroad Runs Through It  
New York's High Line, with The Standard hotel in the background; photo Iwan Baan © 2009

When Manhattan's High Line - a disused section of freight railtrack turned magical stretch of urban park - opened in 2009, New Yorkers took to the sky. But Diller Scofidio + Renfro's innovative conversion of the former train corridor was always about more than just elevated promenading. To coincide with this year's ICFF, Architonic discusses the High Line's role as architectural catalyst for its environs with some of the key figures who've helped to shape its transformation.

In New York's Meatpacking District and West Chelsea neighbourhoods, the High Line has elevated everyday life: there's something transcendent about glimpsing people strolling leisurely overhead, as you dart among appointments or head to the gym on terra firma. Many visitors to the recent International Contemporary Furniture Fair embraced the High Line experience from both perspectives, as they took to the skyway and then lingered in its shadow to attend the flood of off-site events organized by the Meatpacking District Initiative and ABE NYC.
The High Line's 10th Avenue Square; photo Irwan Baan © 2009

In fact, the High Line triumphs many times over. Besides Diller Scofidio + Renfro's and Field Operations' radical makeover of this former elevated industrial-rail corridor into an innovative public park, the High Line phenomenon has involved the municipal rezoning of the adjacent areas, the architectural derring-do that characterizes much of the resulting new development, and the migration of world-class art and design galleries into the High Line neighbourhood. Arguably, each marvel mutually reinforces the singularity of the others.
The end of the High Line; photo Architonic

Recently critics have argued that, despite the rise of the celebrity architect and a tremendous boom in construction, contemporary New York has remained largely unchanged and that the city skyline lacks a dynamism that hasn't been present for decades. Even if that indictment withstands scrutiny, then the High Line and its environs prove the exception. Here we have asked several critics of another stripe - designers intimately involved in those wholesale conversions - to select highlights of the transformation.

The Measure of Success
Architonic talks to Basel-based design label INCH Furniture about their distinctive collection for the Swiss Pavilion at Shanghai's Expo 2010
Shanghai. Have you been yet? With the Chinese boom-metropolis currently hosting Expo 2010, offering architourists an (at times embarrassing) embarrassment of architectural statements by over 200 countries, now is the time to go. For a furniture designer to be commissioned to create the seating for their nation's expo pavilion is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Design duo Thomas Wütrich and Yves Raschle, aka INCH Furniture, were lucky enough to receive such an opportunity when Swiss Pavilion Architects Buchner Bruendler invited them to design a furniture collection for the project. The result is a series of sublime pieces, whose considered, sober beauty looks set to make them contemporary classics.

Architonic met up with INCH at this year's Salone del Mobile in Milan to discuss their Shanghai project.
  The Measure of Success  
Swiss furniture-design duo Thomas Wütrich and Yves Raschle, aka INCH Furniture; photo Christian Knörr

How did you receive the commission to design the furniture for the Swiss Pavilion?

The main topic of the Swiss Pavilion is sustainability. The overall topic is ‘Better City, Better Life', and within that Switzerland talks about the contrast between city and nature. So, sustainability was one of the criteria when the architects, Buchner Bruendler, were looking for designers. The second was that the designers must be Swiss. Add to this that our furniture is produced in Indonesia - that is, also in Asia - and we'd hit the nail on the head.

What was the process of working with the architects like?

We knew them before, so it was a personal kind of relationship. We met them every couple of weeks and they would talk a lot about their vision, which was very important, about how the pavilion should look architecturally. They knew and liked our furniture, so we started looking for the right answer furnishing-wise to the pavilion. It was a very personal, yet very enriching, conversation that we had with the architects.
'Shanghai Lounge Chair' by INCH Furniture in situ at the Buchner Bruendler-designed Swiss Pavilion in Shanghai; photo Mark Niedermann

It doesn't happen very often that designers and architects have that close of a relationship, where they are both defining a space - architects using structure to define a space, with designers responding to that structure and also helping to define the way the space is experienced.

Well, it was more common years ago. Architects made a house and then furniture was designed specifically for it. It's a pity that it doesn't happen so often these days, because every architectural project is furnished at the end, so if it's a collaborative project it can work out really well for both architects and designers.
'Shanghai Chair' by INCH Furniture; photo by Mark Niedermann
Architonic innovations
Despite our comprehensive relaunch at the end of last year, Architonic is constantly developing new tools and services, to make searching for products and materials friendly and efficient for you.
  Architonic innovations  
Print with individual comment

Save a page as a PDF and print it out with your own notes
It's now possible to add your own notes to product sheets before printing them out - a valuable tool for client meetings, presentations and for internal communication. What's more, you can save each product sheet as a PDF, making it easier to use again electronically.

'Clients also selected...'

'Clients also selected'
Architonic allows targeted but also intuitive searches. For visitors conducting extensive research, our new 'Clients also selected...' service is hugely useful. Here, products are presented that other visitors to the same page also looked at. Thus, a better overview of search results is afforded.
New Projects from 'Architecture & Design'
Heatherwick Studio
  New Projects from 'Architecture & Design'  
UK Pavilion, Expo 2010 Shanghai
Kubota Architect Atelier
U-House, photo by James Silverman
Hutznhaisl - Hut on Fichtelberg Mountain, photo by Sven Fröhlich
Supermachine Studio
Autostella, photo by Wison Tungtunya
Bonnard Woeffray Architectes
École Professionelle, photo by Hannes Henz, Zürich
Light House
More Articles from 'News &Trends'
"...with the level of quality our grandparents demanded"
  More Articles from 'News &Trends'

"Cecilie is just like her furniture," a friend of mine who works as a designer told me when I mentioned I was going to be interviewing the Copenhagen-based designer Cecilie Manz. And, indeed, Manz exudes a calmness and composure much like her pared-down, uncomplicated work. ..

Making an Exhibition of Ourselves: Architonic deciphers some of Expo 2010 Shanghai's architectural offerings

No form of architecture is perhaps as loaded with rhetoric as the expo pavilion. With hundreds of countries currently jostling at the Expo 2010 in Shanghai to attract visitors into their little piece of home, Architonic takes a look at what's at stake in such an enterprise in terms of representation and national identity.

The Milan Conversations: Part IV - Ferruccio Laviani and Luca Nichetto

In this final installment of the Milan Conversations, we catch up with renowned product designer, architect and artistic director of Italian manufacturer Kartell Ferruccio Laviani at the Barovier&Toso showroom in Milan, and talk to him about lamps, light bulbs, and the significance of going back to basics. We also meet young(ish) Venetian designer Luca Nichetto (whose client list already reads like a 'who's who' of high-end design manufacturing) and find out his take on this year's Salone...

Tropical Modernism: The masters of Brazilian Modernism

As part of this year's 'Fuori Salone' in Milan, the 'relics' of the Brazilian Modernism were displayed in a church near the city's Porta Romana: rare pieces by the so-called 'Tropical Modernists' of the 1950s, 60s and 70s...