Still a bright idea

One of my favorite Kartell products, the Bourgie lamp, kicked off its tenth birthday at last weekend’s Maison&Objet in Paris (alas, no, I wasn’t there). Designed by Ferruccio Laviani for the fantastic plastic company ten years ago, the Bourgie has since become an iconic piece.

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For the Bourgie’s 10th anniversary, Kartell commissioned 14 reinterpretations by its current stable of designers. Here are some that I am looking forward to seeing:

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Top, from left: Front’s cheeky blown-away/melting Bourgie is called Liquid, Tokujin Yoshioka’s star-like version sparks;
Bottom, from left: Alberto Meda’s futuristic, minimalist version; Piero Lissoni’s oversized paper version.

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Top, from left: Philippe Starck’s bracelet-wrapped lamp; Christophe Pillet’s matte black “coal” version is the antithesis of the sparkly, transparent original;
Bottom, from left: Patrick Jouin’s version has gold lettering around it that says The future is a present from the past; Nendo inverted and rotated the silhouette of the original to create the mould of their reinterpretation, called Eigruob.

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Eugeni Quitlet replaced the single bulb with 10 candles.

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Ludovica+Roberto Palomba made a wire version.

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From left: Mario Bellini put two and a half Bourgie’s together to make a lamp-coat stand; and Patricia Urquiola deconstructed the Bourgie to make a chandelier.

I interviewed Kartell’s president Claudio Luti in 2011 for a business story for The Peak, and I was really impressed by what he had done with Kartell, particularly the Kartell Museum. I’m excited that he is heading the Salone del Mobile this year — which is one more reason (in addition to seeing the Bourgie anniversary installation) for going back to Milan.

Photos courtesy of Kartell.

Who says design is dead?

It’s two years after French design star Philippe Starck declared “design is dead” and that he would be retiring from the industry in a couple of years (let’s see, his interview was published on Breitbart on March 27, 2008…so he should be done right about now)…and what do you know – he’s again front and center at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile (the Milan Furniture Fair) 2010, launching new collections of what he had lamented as “materiality” and “unnecessary”. Wonder if he’s eating his own words?

The longer he stays in the biz, the more we think he’s deplorable. He should just issue a retraction, a public apology to design, and we can happily go back to not feeling the need to defend it.

As if design needs our defense. It doesn’t really. Who was it that online publisher Don Nicholas quoted as saying, “Design is not A thing; design is THE thing.” Never mind that Don was talking about website design…we do think design is THE thing.

It is the thing that improves our quality of life; the thing that is minimizing if not correcting the mistakes of previous generations; the thing that evens the field for the disadvantaged. The “jargon” for these, if you don’t already consider them bywords: good design, green design, universal design.

But design, too, is a thing that uplifts our spirits, and heaven knows we’ll always need that.

(PS Sorry about the picture of Starck’s old Kong chair, haven’t got my press release images from the brands yet)