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The mysteriously wonderous world of Tord Boontje

Once upon a time there was a mystical creature who came from a cold country in the North, looking for a way to challenge the world, challenge mind you, not to do battle but to juxtapose. Tord Boontje came from the Netherlands to London to create designs in which he sought to marry design and emotion that is as broadly accessible as it is enticing. The image above is a screenshot from Pan’s Labyrinth and I am using it as a portal to enter the world of an exceptional designer. Enjoy the short journey guided by his thoughts and works.

“The Studio’s work draws from a belief that modernism does not mean minimalism, that contemporary does not forsake tradition, and that technology does not abandon people and senses.” Nightblossom has been designed for Swarovski , “jet black like a piece of Victorian jewelry.

This black silver tray was created to celebrate the 70th birthday of the De Vecchi company in 2005 and exhibited in Milan. The silver dragons are hand modeled by Gabriele De Vecchi himself.

The Studio’s designs often temper edges with softness, take inspiration from nature, and employ a décor of forms and layers to engage and entice an observer’s imagination and emotions.

We made this candelabra for the Blue Door restaurant as a centre piece. In addition, there are small pearl candelabra’s on every table in the restaurant.

We have all taken an empty bottle and turned it into something else: we pop a candle into the neck and it is a candelabra, we fill it with flowers and it becomes a vase. A diagonally-cut Soave bottle becomes a jug, two Chardonnay bottles make a carafe. Silician table wine transforms into a vase for orchids and the bottoms of beer bottles make a group of drinking glasses.

But these references to nature and emotion reflect only an outcome, not the process of design itself. Rain Chair and Rain Table constitute an alternative way of working both metal and sheet metal. They have a tubular steel structure and plates of perforated sheet metal that are decorated with delicate images and natural scenes. The shapes are a contemporary reworking of the classic wrought iron garden furniture, embellished and made lighter by the perforated floral pattern in the surfaces.

A collection of vases, bowls and containers produced by Moroso. The range of simple, classical forms is decorated with contrasting imagery. One vase, for example, has a side with a flowering spring image, while the reverse side depicts wilting flowers, thorns and spiders.

I had seen glass blowers making glass with air bubbles trapped inside the glass a year before. To do this, the blower first makes a bubble of hot glass, which he scores with a spiked tool. Then he gathers another layer of glass over this. Where the glass was scored, air is trapped in-between the layers. I liked this half-way step, where the glass is distorted and starts to sparkle. To create patterns, I made some wooden boards with nails sticking out. These were used to create the patterns by pressing the hot glass against the nails.

The monumental fig-leaf encrusted doors open to reveal a bronze tree arching up and outward against the background of a peaceful landscape in silk.Each wardrobe requires 616 hand-painted enamel leaves, the largest project of its kind in history. The leaves are painted on both sides, based on an artist’s original watercolour for each of the ten basic shapes. A special method of supporting them, so that no clamp marks were present, had to be developed. The overall size of the larger leaves as well as the enormous surface area to be painted, was originally thought to be impossible to enamel. The enamel is hand painted by a few of the finest enamel painters still working in England. Each leaf is signed on the underside, numbered and recorded in the archives of the production of the Fig Leaf wardrobe.


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