At the world’s largest contract furniture fair, wrapping up in Chicago today, we sat down with Patricia Urquiola, Todd Bracher, Michael Young and Kori Girard to learn about their latest office pieces and their ideal style of working.
1 The Spanish designer (and husband Alberto) flew from Milan to officially launch Openest: a concept that debuted at last year’s NeoCon and will be in production by end of year. The line took a Best of Show and Best of NeoCon Gold in the Collaborative Collection category, and includes sofas, pouffes, tables and recyclable moulded polyester space-dividers. Each of its upholstered pieces comes in 24 muted or bold shades.
Past AZ Awards juror Giulio Cappellini was also onsite huddled within one of Urquiola’s wooly alcoves. As for her own work setting, Urquiola explained, “I’m not afraid of colour or introducing the comfort zone into the workplace. I work with my husband and we mix flavours from the domestic landscape into the office.”
2 For his first collaboration with Coalesse, the Hong Kong-based British architect drew from his experience in designing bicycles. Made of carbon fibre, the Less Than 5 chair (it weighs in at under five pounds) is ultra-light, super strong and stackable. It’s available in endless colours and finishes including metallic, matte or glossy, and retails for only $950, far less than its predecessors. Young was also at the show to introduce his hospitality pieces for Connecticut’s ICF.
He said his own home office consists of a tiny desk and a bathtub “because I need to refresh myself every 10 minutes. I don’t like typing on a sofa so am not a fan of this open, crossbreeding work experience. I’m a stickler for desks.”
3 Todd Bracher x and As NeoCon’s opening keynote, past AZ Awards juror Todd Bracher discussed his design philosophies (which include taking everything out and leaving behind the essence), business partnerships and heroes (such as Darwin and Hokusai). The highly sought after Brooklyn designer also launched products for HBF, Humanscale and 3M, where he introduced the Vessel light fixture – which combines a solid quartz light guide with 3M optical technology – to the North American market (left).
For Humanscale (right), he took cues from the curvature of a lobster’s flexible shell to create Trea: a multipurpose, reclining chair in a number of finishes and base choices, with optional seat pad. “It’s about bringing a new, fresh, young solution to the market,” Bracher said. “It’s never about me: it’s about the user and the client. As Humanscale legend Niels Diffrient used to say, ‘We try to make the majority of people happy, the majority of the time.'”
4 “I had a magical childhood around Alexander,” said Kori Girard, the grandson of the mid-century designer. “The house was a fantastical place and attached to the studio, which allowed for prolific output. His studio, however, was incredibly sparse: a clean, white slate. He built a 5,000 square-foot, windowless, cinder block room where the collection lived.”
Kori, the creative director for the family business and an artist based in Los Angeles, paid homage to his grandfather by applying his textile patterns to Skyline Design’s sustainable, interior glass. Its inagural Alexander Girard collection includes 10 re-issued designs in transparent, translucent and opaque finishes, in bold and neutral options. The Girards also popped up at Maharam where the Alexander Girard offering doubled this year, and Vitra which reissued furniture pieces and fabric panels.