A panorama of design

A panorama of design

The Iso-lounge chair in oak designed by Jasper Morrison. Photos © 2021 The New York Times

Finding Fertile Ground In Odd Lots

The fourth edition of the Chicago Architecture Biennial, from Sept 17 to Dec 18, focuses on the untapped potential of the urban landscape. Called “The Available City”, the show takes place largely in vacant lots around town.

“We’re thinking about the lots as collective space,” said David Brown, the biennial’s curator, who worked with community partners to develop the 18 projects.

One, The Living Room, capitalises instead on an extant permaculture garden run by the Community Christian Alternative Academy, a high school that uses the space to teach students about growing food.

The Bittertang Farm, an architectural firm, designed a series of biomorphic totems in wood — if you squint, they might make you think of the natural undulations depicted by artist Charles Burchfield, or a fanciful vision by Dr Seuss. They form a plaza of sorts that includes several cage-like forms made of woven willow strands.

“We try to be playful in a formal sense,” said Antonio Torres, one of the firm’s founders, who is based in Chicago.

A panorama of design

The Living Room, an outdoor installation by the Bittertang Farm. CHICAGO ARCHITECTURE BIENNIAL/THE BITTERTANG FARM

Michael Loverich, the firm’s other founder and its Seattle-based partner, said touching the hardware was encouraged: “We want that interaction.”

Loverich noted that the wooden columns were full of nooks and crannies that would provide homes for plants, as well as canopies for birds and insects.

“All these crevices are habitats,” he said. Given the community emphasis, the team hired a local chainsaw carver to shape them.

Unlike many temporary biennial projects, The Living Room is intended to remain as a permanent enhancement after the show is over. As Torres put it: “This gives back to its immediate environment.” chicagoarchitecturebiennial.org. — TED LOOS

The Cantilever Chair Reintroduces Itself

The cantilever chair has been reincarnated many times. It hit the Bauhaus fashioned out of cool leather and steel, thanks to Mart Stam; got a groovy 60s revamp from Verner Panton; and still flourishes in Marcel Breuer’s Cesca design, which can be seen all over the dining rooms of Instagram.

On Sept 18, at the London Design Festival, it will be reintroduced once again, this time by London-based designer Jasper Morrison. Morrison, in collaboration with British manufacturer Isokon Plus, has created the Iso-lounge, re-imagining the archetypal cantilever design as one sleek line of plywood. The piece, offered in a light birch or oak finish, is US$2,325 (76,000 baht).

“The design was loosely based on one which never got built, which appears on the company logo,” Morrison wrote in an email. “I’m very much in favour of looking back and refreshing what’s been done [or in this case not done] before.”

The Iso-lounge will be unveiled at an Isokon Plus installation at 14 Cavendish Square as part of the London festival, which unfolds across the city in various locations. Until Sept 26. londondesignfestival.com. — LAUREN MESSMAN

A Lamp That Creates The Illusion Of Fire

Hiroto Yoshizoe is hardly the first designer to gravitate to light, but he is extraordinary in creating an illusion of fire with an acrylic teardrop and a few LEDs. His new lamp, Hymn, introduced at the Milan Furniture Fair on Sept 5, is inspired by an old-fashioned candlestick in a dish. Swaying on a wire loop within a glass globe, the teardrop-shaped element refracts light, which shoots up through a sinuous metal tube and flickers like a dancing candle flame that no draft can snuff.

“The original inspiration comes from my experience at a cathedral in Florence, Italy, where I was moved by the beauty of the candle lights that illuminated the space,” Yoshizoe wrote in an email from Tokyo. He compared the mood created by fluttering flames to the tremolo of a voice singing in a church choir.

A panorama of design

The Ambientic Hymn lamp. RIE AMANO

Hymn, produced by Japanese company Ambientec, burns steadily for about three hours before its lithium-ion battery needs recharging. The lamp is about 18cm high and comes in an anodised aluminium finish in black (for about $335) or gold (for about $362). ambientec.co.jp. — JULIE LASKY

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