A sculptural chair, design patents and more

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Dusen Dusen recently remixed Dims’ Cleo chair, originally designed by Stine Aas, with punchy and Memphis-y colors.
Photo: Sean Davidson

From time to time, I’ll share the objects (and the people who make them) that I’m particularly passionate about as well as the latest design news and events.

Photo: Jonathan Hokklo

A sculpted ceramic chair that appears to have been cleaved in an ice cave? Yes please. Simone Bodmer-Turner, known for her organic and abstract vases, now makes furniture. Chair I is the first of the larger scale pieces to come, and I can’t wait to see what comes out next.

Lauren Halsey, creator of South Central LA Summaeverything Community Center, covers the cover of Consideris the second number. During the pandemic, Halsey transformed his center into an organic food distribution system.
Photo: Deem Journal

I consider myself a long time student and am always curious about the different ways of seeing and moving around the world. Consider – a new biannual journal that focuses on how design can tackle social issues – devoted its second issue to the theme “Pedagogy for a New World” and features interviews with artists, theorists, architects and organizers on how they focus attention, respect and community in their work. In the issue, Ramon Tejada, an American-Dominican graphic designer, talks about the decolonization of design and how this concept – which challenges the way Western ideology has determined what is canonized – not only transforms the way which designers think about, but can also lead to structural change for BIPOC communities. . “Who dictated what ‘good design’ is? ” he writes. “Good design may be good for you, but it’s not for me, and we have to make room for it… I’ve been educated in a way, but how do I start unboxing this? I realized myself that as a student I was brainwashed. Do I continue to pass this on? Do I keep regurgitating it? Or do I start pushing it and asking questions? These are questions that seem particularly urgent to me, as a person who writes and thinks about design.

From left to right : Art: courtesy of PhaidonArt: courtesy of Phaidon

From above: Art: courtesy of PhaidonArt: courtesy of Phaidon

In a new book for Phaidon, architectural designer Thomas Rinaldi has scoured the archives of the United States Patent Office to examine one facet of design history: what people have claimed as their own intellectual property. Design patents – which protect the appearance of an object, as opposed to utility patents, which protect the functioning of an object – were not introduced until the 1840s, after manufacturers thought that ‘there would be a lot of money to be made in mass-produced consumer products. (Boy, if they were right.) As Rinaldi explains, patents tell only part of the story of industrial design innovation, as some companies and individuals have filed a lot while others big brands didn’t really care about filing it, and women and people of color are massively under-represented in filing. Yet it is fascinating to see how much, or how little, certain objects have evolved over the years. Portable fans, for example, haven’t changed much since the 1890s, with the exception of a 1970 Braun model and a 2015 Dyson product. Rinaldi’s book, which includes 1,000 design patents illustrated, shows one detained by Francis Ford Coppola for hexagonal beverage packaging with holes.

Photo: Dims

Direct-selling furniture brand Dims worked with Ellen Van Dusen on this limited edition Cleo wooden chair (above), originally designed by Stine Aas. It’s delightfully colorful and looks like a playful homage to Gerrit Rietveld and Ettore Sottsass.

Vignesh Swaminathan, transportation engineer and founder of consulting firm Crossroad Lab, recently posted a TikTok tour of a protected intersection he designed in downtown San Jose, California. Everything there prioritizes cyclists and pedestrians and forces cars to slow down through obstacles like barricades, painted crossings and a very tight turning radius, giving pedestrians and bikes a head start. Please do NYC next, Mr. Barricade!


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