Gufram: I Multipli

The “Multiples” series began with a collaboration with Piero Gilardi, with an emphasis on creative freedom over the functional demands imposed by production. The artist designed the first series of Sassi (Stones) in 1968. The Sassi resembled enlarged versions of simple stones, and thus became simultaneously playful and sculptural objects. Before long, the “Multiples” series expanded, giving free rein to an unrestrained sense of fantasy and creativity. In 1971 Giorgio Ceretti, Pietro Derossi and Riccardo Rosso, members of the architectural group Strum, designed the “Pratone” (Large Lawn), a well-chosen example of hypertrophic nature in the form of a rug that resembled an overgrown lawn. That same year saw the introduction of the Bocca (Mouth), a sofa-sculpture inspired by a painting by Dalì, seen by Sudio65.

Cactus was brought out in 1972, designed by Guido Drocco and Franco Mello. The desert plant, divested of thorns and presented in human proportions, was transformed into an unexpected clothes-stand. This exhibition presents these well-known pieces to a broader public, along with other lesser known or never before seen pieces, such as the Minnie, the Farfalla (Butterfly), the Mattoni (Bricks), the Tavolo Erba (Grass Table), the Detecma, and the PietraLuce (StoneLight), objects whose radical visionary nature has remained unchanged.

-Franco Mello

Studio 65: Bocca, 1971

Guido Drocco and Franco Mello: Cactus, 1972

Piero Gilardi: Massolo, 1974

Piero Gilardi: Pavé Piuma, 1967

Gruppo Strum: Pratone, 1971

Gruppo Strum: Puffo, 1970

Piero Gilardi: Sassi, 1968

Gruppo Strum: Torneraj, 1968

Studio 65: Capitello, 1971

Pretty excellent.


Inventor of the Day: Dr. Peter Schlumbohm

Doesn’t that name just roll off the tongue?!

Though you may not know his name, I can almost guarantee you know his greatest invention – the Chemex coffee maker. The creation is part chemist’s funnel, part Erlenmeyer flask, with a blond leather band in the middle corseting its hourglass curves. It is an iconic symbol of German modernism and simple, functional Bauhaus style.  Its success launched its inventor, Dr. Peter Schlumbohm (1896-1962), into the arms of the design establishment (the coffee maker has been a part of the MOMA’s design collection since 1944, just three years after Schlumbohm patented it), and in the early years of World War II, it was considered a patriotic alternative to products made from metals and plastics (which were essential to the war effort). A Time Magazine article from November 1946 quotes the ebullient inventor as saying, “with the Chemex, even a moron can make good coffee.”  So true.

But Schlumbohm (don’t you just love that name?!) also had some pretty excellent though lesser known inventions.  There was the disposable Instant Ice container for the man about town lugging a warm bottle of Champagne; the Tubadipdrip was a coffee and tea maker by day, and a cocktail mixer by night.  In fact, by 1949 the doctor held patents on some 300 inventions, ranging from a propane-fuelled motor to a conical garbage can, about a dozen of which were developed into successful products, and an insane amount of which are part of the MOMA collection.

Filterjet Fan

The Ice Vault

Cocktail Shaker

Fahrenheitor Cocktail Shaker

Fahrenheitor Flower Vase

Fahrenheitor Mushroom Tray Bottle Cooler

the Tubadipdrip

Conical Garbage Can

Water Kettle

Two-Gallon Coffeemaker with Ring Base

There was even a car – the Chemobile!

The Chemobile featured a wrap-around windshield. Schlumbohm described the passenger compartment, which was placed over the powertrain, as being “rather analogous to a man riding a horse or to a maharajah riding in a basket on top of an elephant.”

Kind of makes you feel a bit unproductive, huh?!


Your Surrealism for the Day, a la Pedro Friedeberg

Pedro Friedeberg‘s, Artist Statement….
“I was born in Italy during the era of Mussolini, who made all trains run on time. Immediately thereafter, I moved to México where the trains are never on time, but where once they start moving they pass pyramids.
My education was first entrusted to a Zapotec governess and later to brilliant mentors such as Mathias Goeritz, who taught me morals, José González, who taught me carpentry, and Gerry Morris, who taught me to play bridge.
I have invented several styles of architecture, as well as one new religion and two salads. I am particularly fond of social problems and cloud formations. My work is profoundly profound.
I admire everything that is useless, frivolous and whimsical. I hate functionalism, post modernism and almost everything else. I do not agree with the dictum that houses are supposed to be ‘machines to live in’. For me, the house and it’s objects is supposed to be some crazy place that make you laugh.
Americans do not understand Mexicans and viceversa. Americans find Mexicans unpunctual, they eat funny things and act like old-fashioned Chinese. When André Breton came to Mexico he said it was the chosen Country of surrealism. Breton saw all kinds of surrealist things happen here every day. The surrealists are more into dreaming, into the absurd and into the ridiculous uselesness of things. My work is always criticizing the absurdity of things. I am an idealist. I am certain that very soon now humanity will arrive at a marvelous epoch totally devoid of Knoll chairs, jogging pants, tennis shoes and baseball caps sideway use, and the obscenity of Japanese rock gardens five thousand miles from Kyoto.
I get up at the crack of noon and, after watering my pirañas, I breakfast off things Corinthian. Later in the day I partake in an Ionic lunch followed by a Doric nap. On Tuesdays I sketch a volute or two, and perhaps a pediment, if the mood overtakes me. Wednesday I have set aside for anti-meditation. On Thursdays I usually relax whereas on Friday I write autobiographies.”
Don’t we all?!

The Whimsical Creations of Libuše Niklová

When you think of Czechoslovakia, I’ll bet toys don’t come to mind; you most likely think of communism, or maybe one of the ex-country’s Olympic athletes, perhaps your mouth waters at the thought of delicious Czech schnitzel, but I can almost guarantee that you don’t think of toys … unlessyou are familiar with the name Libuše Niklová (1934-1981).

Niklová revolutionized industrial toy design beginning in the 1950s with simple, sometimes surreal animal forms in rubber and plastic.

One of Niklova’s most famous creations is the cat with the accordion body, which dates back to 1963.  Libuše Niklová saw the employees in the Fatra Napajedla factory developing a new toilet flush system that used a special accordion tube.  In this way the accordion cat was born!  Not only could you squeeze the tube body, but you could also make it move in all sorts of ways, which was pretty revolutionary at the time.  The cat was the first one of the tube collection, which consists of 11 toys in all – ten animals and one baby.

There is a show up in Paris on the works of Niklova titled “Plastique Ludique.”  It will be at the Musee de Arts Decoratifs, until November 6th, 2011, but just in case you can’t make it to France for the show, check out the book Gift Set – Toys and Monographs from Libuse Niklova!

The Eames’

Charles & Ray Eames had many talents; they produced museum exhibitions, architecture, logotypes, toys, slide-shows, furniture, books, photography, paintings, and over 100 lesser-known films.  They reason why these shorts are not more well-known is that they are quite hard to come by, but here are the few that I could scramble up from the depths of YouTube … enjoy!

Tools at School, Redesigning the Classroom

I think we can all remember sitting in a classroom at some point wishing it was more comfortable, less bland, and better designed.  Well, a group of kids at the School at Columbia University made that dream a reality when they were given the opportunity to partner up with furniture manufacturer Bernhardt Design and top-seeded designers from Aruliden in order to reinvent the classroom.  Finally, someone to listen!

The project, Tools at Schools, aims to teach children that design is not just about the way things look, but also about making everyday objects work better. There is no group better qualified to re-imagine the classroom than the students who spend hours a day sitting in the chairs, using the desks, and lugging around the backpacks and supplies.  The result?  A great looking school furniture collection that includes ergonomic chairs and desks, which easily hold pens, pencils and books.

The roughly four dozen students who participated in the project learned the entire design and manufacturing process—from rough sketches, to 3D plans to shaping the first prototype. The experience of being involved from beginning to end, allowed the kids to work with real-life materials and develop creative skills through real-world experience in the fields of communication, art, mathematics and science.  After 25 weeks, the fruits of this student labor have moved beyond the classroom laboratory, debuting at ICFF last week and moving on to the Museum of Arts and Design in November 2011.

“I used to think that design was really exotic and abstract,” wrote one student in a testimonial. “The first thing I would think of when I heard the word ‘design’ was fashion. It amazes me to think back and see how off I was.”

Eddy Sykes: Designer of the Future

Eddy Sykes is like a jack-of-all-trades.  He is part inventor, part designer, part architect, part mechanic, and all parts cool.  Recently I was in Los Angeles and I discovered Sykes work at a furniture store called J.F. Chen.  While wandering around looking at all of the beautiful things (there are so many there!) I passed by some chandeliers designed by Sykes.  At first glance I thought they were just incredible chandeliers – super contemporary, brightly colored, uniquely designed.  Then they transformed in front of my eyes, literally.

Sykes is a creator of living objects; ones that change, grow, and tell a story (the more technical, for this kind of thing being kinetic art).  He dreams up these incredible pieces, whether they are clouds, gardens, lights, or anything else, and then figures out a way to build them from scratch.  For engineering problem-solving Sykes looks at everything from crumpled paper to quilts to the pattern on a stick of chewing gum, and then he handcrafts each and every component – from the big pieces all the way down to the nuts and bolts.

yakuza lou

Simply amazing.

If you are in the L.A. are go see them for yourself at J.F. Chen – 941 North Highland Avenue, Los Angeles, CA. 90038

The dream mobiles of Luigi Colani

Luigi Colani is a German industrial designer who has been rethinking the future since the ’40s.  His vision is a rather rounded, streamlined one, and it has been applied to just about everything from kitchens and spacecrafts to cars/trucks and furniture.  Most people call him a designer, but he calls himself a “3-D philosopher.”

“The earth is round, all the heavenly bodies are round; they all move on round or elliptical orbits,” Colani once said. “…I am going to pursue Galileo Galilei’s philosophy: my world is also round.”  So here’s to a rounder world of the future …

Colani was also the designer to some pretty incredible objects for kids.  His designs were meant to be sat on and used, just as much as they were created to be played with!

Alexander Calder’s Airplanes for Braniff International Airways

Braniff International Airways was an American airline that was in business from 1928 until 1982.  In 1973, the airlines asked Alexander Calder to paint one of their airplanes. The result was a Douglas DC-8 known as “Flying Colors.”  When Calder designed the plane he wanted it to reflect the bright colors and simple designs you see all over South America and Latin America.  “Flying Colors” was used mainly on flights to these areas.

Later, in 1975, Calder created the plane known as “Flying Colors of the United States” to celebrate the Bicentennial of the United States. This time, the aircraft was a Boeing 727-200.

Interested in designing and building your own airplane?  Check out the paper airplane garage to find out how!

Enzo Mari’s Puzzles

Enzo Mari is an Italian designer of all sorts of beautiful things.  From books to art, furniture to toys, Mari has done it all.  In 1957 he completed his first project for design company Danese.  It was called 16 Animali, or 16 Animals, a wooden puzzle of simply carved animal shapes – including a hippo, snake, giraffe and camel – that join together to form a rectangle.  Used as building blocks, the animals can also be stacked  in all sorts of way to form various sculptures.  This puzzle was followed by 16 Pesci, or 16 Fish, which is a similar toy made up of all sorts of sea creatures.


16 Animali




16 Pesci


Made of precious wood and contained in a beautiful box, again made of wood, these toys are part play thing and part art.  They are beautiful and interesting enough to be appreciated by children and adults alike.   And with a price tag of nearly $500, they should be!

They are both available from Nova68.c0m