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Curious About Collabs

Words: Polly

Photos: D&G, Starck, Alajmo, IKEA

‘When we see the world is changing, how people live is changing, how people use products is changing, we have a duty to reinvent our basics. still with a typical IKEA design sensibility, so that you can see that it is us from the beginning, so you can see that it relates to our Scandinavian heritage, which is part of being IKEA‘  Marcus Engman, Ikea.

Collaborations are big right now; from music to fashion through to interiors. Designers make magic, joining forces conjures up genius;

1. Dolce & Gabbana x Smeg
The worlds of haute couture and product design merged last spring with the launch of a totally unexpected collaboration – the hand painted limited edition D&G Smeg fridge (just 100 at £34k each – gasp!) are more art than design, and like art, definitely an investment. Each is decorated with Sicilian symbols from lemons and prickly pears, to ornamental friezes that capture the aesthetic of Dolce and Gabbana. Look out for smaller appliances such as toasters, citrus juicers, coffee machines, kettles, blenders, stand mixers and slow juicers, coming this October. Prices tbc!

2. Alajmo x Starck
I once shared a table with design legend Philippe Starck and his wife at an awards ceremony held at Lord’s Cricket Ground. Starck is a design legend, no other word, rarely am I star struck, but I was that day. He has collaborated on many, many projects from Yoo eco housing, Axor bathroom fittings for Hansgrohe, chairs for Kartell, kitchen utensils for Alessi, to Mi Mix – a sleek new smartphone for Chinese tech firm Xiaomi, with 13hrs battery that really could rival iPhone…

In December the AMO Restaurant/Cafe opened in Venice, described as a revelatory experience, elegant and authentic, from the food and the people. The restaurant is one of a high end network of eateries run by the Alejandro brothers, located in the ground-floor courtyard of the newly renovated T Fondaco dei Tedeschi, Venice’s first luxury lifestyle department store (think Harrods).

Starck envisioned the restaurant design as a metaphor of Venice and its ‘mysterious duality’. “AMO is an island of Venetian mystery in the middle of the world’s treasures. Each piece of furniture or interior design is a concentrate of the Venetian spirit, sofas inspired by gondolas, glass works directly stemming from the genius of Murano, mural paintings representing fantasies from the Venice carnival. All becomes the décor of a Venetian theatre”. explains Starck. Meanwhile, I’m more than a little bit drawn to those gold coffee cups.

3. IKEA x HAY / IKEA x Tom Dixon
Who could have predicted A-list design heavyweights would weigh in to create with mass production mogul Ikea? I for one am excited, viewing Ikea not with design snobbery, but admiration and respect for their clever and affordable solutions for living. Isn’t that what design is ultimately all about – to make our lives better?

Hot off the heels of their widely respected Ilse Crawford collaboration in 2015, the thirty piece Sinnerlig collection that captured her tactile, human aesthetic (I love my Sinnerlig bamboo pendent); Ikea are about to launch two more creative collections:

Both collaborations have focused on the emotional and functional needs in 21st Century homes; how people work, eat, socialize and rest in urban environments. For HAY this included exploring many different materials including, aluminum, metallic, terracotta, textiles, plastic and wood to create a diverse range with different uses that we are excited for.I think the time we are living in is much about sharing experiences, and the future is much about collaborations”. (Mette Hay, co-founder HAY).

The Tom Dixon collaboration also responds to the notion of modern homes as more fluid in terms of multi-purpose use and how to ease the friction this can create, as well as exploring new production methods. “Working with Tom is exciting because he shares our curiosity and drive to find new ways to make things better‘” (Engman speaking with Designboom).

The new collections are set to launch this October for Hay, and February 2018 for Tom Dixon – noted in my diary.

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