Archive for January, 2014

In Memoriam: Maya Romanoff

By danielle


Our industry lost one of its finest this week. On January 15, Maya Romanoff passed away peacefully at his home with his wife and partner Joyce and loving family  by his side. He was diagnosed with Parkinson’s in 1991, yet continued to lead the company with in partnership with Joyce and their family. He made the best of his 72 years and brought beauty into the lives of all he and his company touched. A leading resource for surface coverings, Maya Romanoff has been featured in prestigious projects including Nobu in Hong Kond, Melbourne and Los Angeles, the Green Room at the Kodak Theater for the 2007 Academy Awards, Tiffany & Co, the new Playboy Club in Los Angeles, Boucheron stores, Phantom of the Opera Theater in Los Angeles, special projects for Walt Disney, the palace of the Crown Prince of Dubai, Harrod’s, American Girl Stores, and luxurious homes around the world.

Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and staff. While he may no longer be physically with us, he has left an indelible mark on the design industry that will live on forever.

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You Can Print That?

By Evan Backer


How can one produce a magnificent piece of art without ever touching it? The distance between your computer screen and the “real” world is getting smaller and smaller with each day. With the advent of better and more precise 3-D printing technology, architects, designers, and a wide range of other artists are jumping at the opportunity to explore new realms of production. You have probably heard of 3-D printing, and you might have an idea of how it works as well. Artists use various programs to digitally render an object in three-dimensional space – this could be almost anything, and the possibilities seem to grow more and more as technology advances. This software then communicates with 3-D printing hardware to bring the object to life by “printing” it. This past October, the Museum of Arts and Design in NYC opened up a stunning exhibit called Out of Hand, featuring a myriad of digital artworks, most of them directly related to 3-D printing. The exhibit is ongoing until the first day of June.

clone_chairNow, the sort of printing you may be used to is two-dimensional. Imagine your typical printer – you send it an image from your computer and it rolls ink out onto paper, producing a physical version of the two-dimensional digital object you sent it – whether that be text or an image (such as a jpeg, png, gif, or bitmap). Now imagine that same printer, sans paper. The ink is replaced by, well, whatever you’d like. Some examples include polyurethane foam, polyethylene, recycled plastic, and polyamides (such as nylon). The printer works in layers. Basically, the printer envisions the object you sent it in slices, and it produces these slices (usually through a nozzle on a precise robot arm) stacked on top of one another. This is also referred to as additive manufacturing. It’s a truly unbelievable process that, if you’re like me, might remind you of cheesy science-fiction gadgets like Star Trek’s replicators. 3-D printers can also work negatively, with the same effect. What I mean by this is that instead of adding material, the robot arm is capable of removing it with a laser beam (yes, lasers!), which allows a much higher degree of precision than past machining techniques.

For instance, Materialise’s .MGX series includes extremely detailed designs that betray the eye and tend to confuse our sense of organic substance. One of Wertel Oberfell’s designs, featured at the Out of Hand exhibit, is a fractal .MGX table, made easily enough with epoxy resin and printing hardware, yet appearing almost like some otherworldly mineral growth, beginning at a simple polygonal base and branching upwards to become incredibly complex and patterned.


Further, Bathsheba Grossman’s Quin.MGX lamp, also produced through Materialise and seen above, also appears to have a fractal “quality” to it, with interlocking starfish-shaped structures that spiral into one another. The cell-like latticed surfaces allow light through while throwing enough shadow to accent the gorgeous mobius-band curves of the lamp.

While 3-D printing is not quite at the stage of being able to mass-produce objects such as cars or buildings (the ability of printers to use multiple materials is limited, for now), the future possibility is definitely there. Softkill Design has put forth an idea for a modular home, which would be printed in sections at a factory and pieced together onsite. Seen below (and appearing a uncannily like a modernized spider’s nest), the Protohouse 1.0 would be porous to allow for rainwater permeation, with internal waterproofing rather than external. The point is less labor-intensive construction with less material with the same amount of function. Apparently, the house would be assembled in a day.


For now, it is possible to print articulated joints and complex objects that require no subsequent assembly once they’re out of the printer. In fact, 3-D printing is being used for prototyping, biomedical engineering, fashion, interior design, and more. For example, design company Nervous System takes inspiration from organic structures, digitally renders them, and prints them. Their Hyphae pendant lamps are present at the Out of Hand exhibit, and they look uncannily like branching cellular structures, casting beautiful, fractured patterns on the surfaces around them.


Also present at the MAD was the Rapid Racer. Made by Andreas Schultz, Barbara Kotte, Johannes Zäuner, Rebecca Wilting, and Nicholas Eggert, the Rapid Racer claims to be the first functional vehicle printed in one piece. It is about the length of a bike, but it sits much closer to the ground and looks like something out of The Matrix or Blade Runner. It’s much too strange and impractical to see much use in day-to-day life and remains something of a novelty, but this is just a first step. And yes, an electric hand drill powers it.


Art and design that incorporates new technology always introduces new questions – questions that can be fun and interesting to ask. No more are the days of the digital attempting to mirror reality. With the advent of 3-D printing, some interesting philosophy of mind and knowledge is at hand as we see works that attempt to reproduce a computers reproduction. Putting an object through several perspective distortions and enhancements is what makes a lot of digital art so interesting. Seen at the beginning of this post is Julian Mayor’s Clone Chair. He used several descriptions and specs for a Queen Anne side chair, and used them to render an image of one digitally. What he then did was lower the image resolution, giving us a blocky, almost 8-bit reproduction. Then, slices of the chair were laser-cut into plywood, and stuck together to create what you see.

chairgenics3-D printing and additive manufacturing open up so many possibilities for us. Aesthetically we can have objects that were previously impossible or extremely impractical to produce. It gives us more outlandish (at least they seem so now) geometries and structures. It confronts us with logically grey areas, and follows them to their sometimes absurd end.

As additive manufacturing becomes more and more accessible through easy-to-use software and inexpensive hardware (you can get your own basic 3-D printer right now for about $100, although higher-end performance and industrial models can run you thousands of dollars), it might be that the 3-D printer will become a household object, with almost limitless possibilities. The opportunities that this new technology presents are astounding. We have seen plans for printing houses, vehicles, and furniture. What’s more is the ability to print clothes, jewelry, utensils, articulated prosthetics (limbs and even faces), and so on. The only question left to ask is whether or not a printer could print a smaller version of itself.

On the 30th of this month, there will be a presentation at the MAD by three design professionals – Mike Szivos of Softlab NYS, Jan Vingerhoets of FLOS North America, and Nicholas Domitrovich of ICRAVE Design. They will cover the creation of cutting-edge environments, transformation of interior spaces with light, and what’s next for designers as far as planning a futuristic interior. It will be held at 7:00pm, and you may pay whatever you like. It’s a wonderful opportunity to learn more about design and the interesting consequences of advanced fabrication technology.


Robert Allen presents Libby Langdon (plus, this spring’s hot color palette!)

By Lucy


Designers looking for inspiration, priceless advice, and even a little humor were served just that this morning at the Robert Allen NYC Showroom, where interior designer and TV host Libby Langdon presented “How Our Clients Really Live: Insights from the Front Lines of Makeover Television.”  Langdon drew from her vast design experience on TV shows like “Design Invasion” and her current “Daykeover” to share her top tips and lessons for her fellow designers. What’s most important? Having fun and making sure the client is happy with the end result! And Langdon’s design empire, including lines of furniture, rugs, and wallcoverings, is proof that her business philosophy works.

We also couldn’t help but notice another star in the room: the lush, spring colors of Robert Allen’s new Filtered Color collection! These soft hues are inspired by the delicate wash found in your favorite photo app. With fresh designs and on-trend metallic accents, these textiles are sure to add a dash of “instaglam” to any space. My personal favorite is the perfectly purple Iris. Definitely the color of the spring! You can check out the whole Filtered Color collection on Robert Allen’s website here.


By kristin


'Out of Hand' 3rd floor installation view (photo by Ed Watkins)

‘Out of Hand’ 3rd floor installation view (photo by Ed Watkins)

By now, almost anyone with a pulse has heard of 3D printing – although judging by many overheard conversations is still a nebulous concept to many. In an attempt to demystify digital fabrication as a whole, MAD Museum presents Out of Hand: Materializing the Postdigital.

Organized by MAD curator Ron Labaco, Out of Hand is the first major museum exhibition to focus on contemporary design made possible by advanced methods of computer-assisted production. From the more ‘traditional’ methods of CNC milling and laser cutting to new additive processes such as 3D printing, laser sintering, and digital weaving, the exhibit presents an array of cutting edge technologies and techniques used by not only furniture and product designers but also jewelry and fashion designers, sculptors, ceramicists and architects.

Out of Hand spans three floors of the museum and features the pioneering work of over 80 international artists, designers and architects. The following is a selection of highlights from the 120+ objects on display:

"Self Portrait/Five Part" by Chuck Close uses an electronic loom to digitally weave over 17,000 colored threads (photo credit: Magnolia Editions)

“Self Portrait/Five Part” by Chuck Close is made from over 17,000 colored threads digitally woven on an electronic loom. (Photo credit: Magnolia Editions)

"Twisted Dump Truck" by Wim Delvoye (photo courtesy of Studio Wim Delvoye)

“Twisted Dump Truck (Counterclockwise — Scale Model 1:5)” by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye is a beautifully intricate, Gothic-inspired display of nickel-plated lasercut stainless steel. (Photo credit: Studio Wim Delvoye)


Bone Armchair by Joris Laarman, made of cast marble resin (photo credit: Jon Lam)

“Bone Armchair” by Joris Laarman is made of cast marble resin and ground bone china. The concept for the chair’s design was realized with the aid of a computer algorithm based on the ability of the human skeleton to respond to external stimuli. (Photo by Jon Lam)

Knitted Wool and Cashmere Jacket from Control-C Collection, Fall/Winter 2009-2010 (photo courtesy of Peter Gehrke)

Knitted Wool and Cashmere Jacket from the Control-C Collection by Maglificio Miles, Fall/Winter 2009-2010. (Photo by Peter Gehrke)

"Brain Wave Sofa" by Lucas Maassen and Unfold derives its shape from an EEG of the designers’ brain wave patterns while they thought of the word “comfort.” The form is rendered in three dimensions in CNC-milled polyurethane foam and hand-upholstered in felt with traditional button-tufting. (Photo credit: Lucas Maassen and Unfold)

“Brain Wave Sofa” by Lucas Maassen and Unfold derives its shape from an EEG of the designers’ brain wave patterns while they thought of the word “comfort.” The form is rendered in three dimensions in CNC-milled polyurethane foam and hand-upholstered in felt with traditional button-tufting. (Photo credit: Lucas Maassen and Unfold)

Out of Hand will be on view at MAD until June 1, 2014.