Stylish and Practical: Modular Slow Sofa by Frederik Roijé

I think most of us appreciate the significance of the sofa in a home. While the kitchen is often referred to as the heart of the home, and the bedroom is where we spend a quarter to a third of our lives, the lounge, sitting room, front room, or whatever we want to call it, is the hub of the house. And the centre of that room is, most probably the settee or sofa. It’s where one or some of us- friends and/or family- sit and unwind from the rigours of the day, engage in conversation, perhaps watch some dvds or television, perhaps listen to some music, or perhaps just shut our eyes and chill out.
The choice of sofa is therefore crucial. Do we want a small modest unassuming sofa flanked by some armchairs? Do we want a larger sofa that can accommodate a number of people and/or allow you to stretch out on? Do you want a strikingly shaped sofa, like an L-shaped one, or a round affair? The choices are almost limitless, and therein may lay the problem. A hasty purchase and because you won’t be buying a new sofa every year, you may be stuck with something that doesn’t hold its attention (or its shape!) for you. My advice is to go for the best sofa you can afford, and also to go for something that you won’t find in every High Street furniture shop. Like a modular slow sofa by Frederik Roijé. Have you heard of him?
Frederik Roije is an international design agency which designs diverse products for brands and for the market for private clients. It is renowned for its creativity and innovative designs in furniture, lightning, interior and industrial design. They are not splendid isolationists and are always keen to collaborate with others to create ground-breaking must-have creations. Roijé is a relatively young Dutchman (he was born in 1978) who, in his own words, creates “products created out of love for surprises, curiosity and beauty”. That’s a great combination in my book. A million miles away from conformity, convention and careful and cautious creativity.
The slow sofa is not a sofa that moves around the room slowly (!) rather it is a modular sofa that comes with no less than nine modular volumes. This means that it can be supplied in various configurations and is therefore a design that is highly adaptable to the constraints of space. Now this is where things get funky; some of these sofa modular parts can be transformed into a table, storage space and a frame support. Moreover, the materials used to create this versatile and uncommon couch are durable and sustainable.
The sofa design itself is quite straightforward and has few rounded edges. It’s a strong-looking no-nonsense sofa that will take a bow each time you enter the room! It has that open “in-a-meadow” feel that the Pre-Raphaelites praised and to a limited extent, tried to copy. Make your own mind up. Some may not appreciate the minimalist beauty. I do!

Adapted to a Nomadic Lifestyle: Peliships Floating Shelves

Question: When is a shelf not a shelf? Answer: When it is a floating shelf. Traditionally shelves have been long evenly spaced one above the other affairs, and used to store books, CDs, DVDs, and the like. But in recent years people have realised that to fill a wall with symmetrical layers of shelves is, well a bit dull and conventional. Increasingly people are turning to what are known as floating shelves. They are smaller shelves that can be placed in an almost random pattern across a wall, with no visible brackets to hold them up. Enter Peliships.
The American studio David Hsu Design, in collaboration with Elkamii, designed the Peliships floating shelves in an effort to challenge convention and rethink what modern shelving should be. Part of the idea behind Peliships is that as we have access to more and more information at our fingertips (via PCs lap-tops, iPads and mobiles) there is less and less reason to have racks and shelving devoted to books, and reference material. So what we might want to do with as wall is have some scattered small shelves across it, housing things that are important to us. In other words, we display things that we treasure, that are significant to our personalities and/or our past. It could be photos, objects (such as ceramics) that were acquired at particular places, but that have meaning.
So why the odd name Peliships? Deconstruct the word: Pelicans and Ships. Yes that was the inspiration for the shape of the shelves, the bows of boats and the beaks of Pelicans. Currently available in a couple of great hard woods; Maple and Walnut, one can mix and match small, medium or large Peliships, “sailing” in either direction. Others who have acquired and fixed Peliships have said that a wall of Peliships look like a flock of pelicans carrying precious memories across the years. I like that analogy!
Each Peliship is unique and can come with felt glued to the shelf to house ceramics such as those produced by Elkamii. Each Peliship shelf is handmade in New York and Kentucky. The designs are quite minimalist, but that doesn’t mean that the design isn’t completely eye-catching if not captivating.
Who is David Hsu, the designer of Peliships? David Hsu was born in Taiwan, raised in New Zealand, and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Columbia University in New York. While working in the field of IT for photographers and designers, he developed a desire to make a more meaningful impact on the world. He returned to school in 2010 and received a master’s degree in Industrial Design from the Pratt Institute.
As always the best designs are also the simplest.. the ones where you cry “why didn’t I think of that?” I could have sat down with pen and paper and not had the inspiration to match a pelican with a boat’s prow for the rest of my life. But Hsu has done that and we can all be thankful he did because we now have open to us the opportunity to decorate our walls with original natural wood floating shelves adorned with that which is important to us!

Steambent lighting and furniture handcrafted in Cornwall

Steambent Lighting and Furniture is the company created by Tom Raffield, which, as the name suggests, specialises in the design, manipulation and crafting of wood into intricate and stylish 3D forms that become furniture and lighting items. Each item is a treasure of the designer’s visions made material by the craftsman’s skill. It’s mostly low-tech and hands-on- and there’s a clue in the company name as to the process used- steam bending. But let’s focus on Tom Raffield first.
Tom grew up surrounded by the tranquility and natural beauty of Exmoor, one of the last wilderness areas in England. It was an environment that stimulated his imagination, and inspired in him a freedom to be different and adventurous in his designs. His introduction and fascination with the traditional craftsman practice of steam bending occurred while studying at Falmouth College of Arts. However the traditional technique of using a chamber didn’t give him the complex 3D twists and bends he saw in his imagination. He then undertook a number of years research and experimentation. This culminated in his developing a new steaming method to turn his design ideas into reality. He is now feted for his spectacular and innovative furniture and lighting, and for being ecologically sound in his use of natural materials. He was the winner of the Lighting Design Association’s Lighting Design Award in 2011.
The low-tech steam bending uses little energy, and Tom can adjust his designs to your own specifications, making your own item of lighting or furniture totally individual and personal to you. Tom is very much at one with the environment within which he works and the main medium of his work; wood. While he uses a number of different sustainable woods, the most popular is oak; a very traditionally English wood. Local timber is used wherever possible from renewable resources, thus reducing transportation costs. The wood comes from sustainably managed woodlands where more trees are planted than cut down. That’s important to Tom. Similarly he avoids any energy-intensive kiln drying for the wood. If he doesn’t use unseasoned or green wood, he will use air drying.
Steam bending is the main form of production and for shaping the wood. It is a low energy method of manufacturing, with little wastage. There is also no use of toxic or harmful chemicals; steam is just heated water.
The bottom line is that once you’ve acquired a piece of Tom Raffield furniture or lighting, you’ve got something that will last you a lifetime. It’s not only practical, but it’s something to be looked at, touched, appreciated and savoured year after year. It’s also good to know that while it may look similar to similar models, each one is handmade from original natural wood. That means what you have is a one-off. It’s exclusive to you. You also have the backstory as to how Tom and his company make the furniture and can (or bore) tell admirers of your piece about the steam bending technique used!

Are you sitting comfortably?

The human body is a remarkable combination of brain and machine. Since the dawn of time, we have designed equipment to allow the body to rest, recline, climb, sleep, relax, and just sit. Sitting is probably the standard rest position of choice for us except when going to sleep. Over the centuries furniture manufacturers have laboured long and hard to produce sofas, chairs, chaise –longs and similar to provide us with both style and comfort when we sit. While a nice comfy sofa is undoubtedly the most common piece de resistance in the sitting room, I would argue that there is now something more desirable, more comfortable, and with more pizazz to be the focus of your relaxation. This is the Natuzzi Re-Vive reclining chair.
Recliners have of course been around for many decades, but the Re-Vive is truly ground-breaking: Traditional recliners are operated with lever mechanisms. Natuzzi set out to change that and design a recliner that intuitively responds to the body’s movement. The idea behind this is that we don’t sit still, even when we are relaxing. We move, a little, sometimes a lot, as our bodies contort and slide into ever more comfortable positions. Re-Vive moves as you move, it flexes as you adjust, and therefore provides a seamless transition between your body’s sitting/reclining positions. And not a computer in sight!
A world first, the performance recliner was displayed at the end of last year in Milan. It was created in collaboration with award winning New Zealand furniture design studio, Formway, who specialise in ergonomic technology used in the workplace. La-Z-Boy was the inventor of the original recliner chair nearly a century ago. It was in need of a technology and style refresh. Not so much innovation as a revolution; no less than 124 separate elements, two of which are patented, combine to create a supportive ‘vertebrae’ that behaves three-dimensionally with the sitter. This vertebra uses Natuzzi’s Responsive Recline feature of weight compensation along with a 360 degree movement pivot in the base, and a tilting ottoman. Basically, you move and the chair will follow.
To develop this skeletal support, the company engaged in a lengthy research period of nearly three years, interviewing people to find out how they use their lounge environments. This was followed with the installation of video cameras in homes to see how people moved when seated. In other words how they interfaced with their furniture, and how they changed their positions over the period of sitting. The results led to the creation of two chairs, the King and the Queen. This was because women moved more often and in different ways in their chairs, and were more inclined to “curl up” than men.
The chair’s semi-sentient intelligent technology also means that it can ‘evolve’ to meet the needs of its user. Indeed you can grow old with this recliner! Many older people cannot (or don’t want to) reach down for levers and buttons on a recliner. With this chair that’s no problem. It responds to your movements- like a faithful friend dedicated to your comfort!
Re-vive is available in two sizes and four upholstery designs; each tailored in quality Italian leather, in a range of contemporary colours.

Contemporary Furniture from HOOKLundSTOOL

HOOKLundSTOOL is a new manufacturer and editor of contemporary design furniture and objects. Each item they make exudes style and their attention to detail is phenomenal. That’s because each piece is handmade and if you were to stand two of the same pieces side by side, you would see slight variations and imperfections (but I would call them “perfections”) that show that every item is exclusive in its own way. That’s partly because the materials used are all natural (and therefore subject to minor natural variations in texture and look) and because the craftsman brings his or her own individuality to each piece.
HOOKLundSTOOL are a relatively new manufacturer and editor of contemporary design furniture and objects. But they are already making waves and a name for themselves. Who is at the helm of this particular style ship? The company was founded by Serbian-born Aleksandar Ugresic. He trained as a pharmacist but he had a deep and innate love of design. This convinced him to pursue his passion for furniture design. He joined forces with Croatian designer Zoran Jedrejcic, the other designer behind the brand and together the pair develop the designs for the furniture collections which are aimed at the high end, residential and contract markets. But that’s not to say that their prices are unreasonable given the time and effort put into each item.
The HOOKLundSTOOL philosophy is to combine artisanal craftsmanship with contemporary designs using both traditional crafts and innovative techniques, mixing solid wood – walnut, elm, cherry, pear and acacia – with metal, glass, leather, fur, upholstery and concrete. That’s a heady combination of course, but that is the skill of the designers. Concrete? Really?? Yes. That’s the shock of the new- but their pieces are not brutal industrial heartless slabs of cold statement that turn most people off. Their pieces are warm and homely, and one can see the time and trouble (and love?) that has gone into the production of the company’s furniture.
Their catalogue includes seating, tables, and occasional furniture. Let’s look at one particular collection. The Armada collection is designed by Zoran Jedrejcic and is inspired by the colossal fleet that (almost) conquered the world- the mighty Spanish Armada of the 17th century. It features a high armchair, chaise longue, foot rest stool and coffee table. What is great is that you can choose your own wood. Solid of course- no veneers here! So you can select from elm, walnut, cherry or pear. The seat covering can be made from high quality leather or fur. The choice is yours. The upholstery is removable, and it can be double-sided, made for hot/warm climates or hand woven on request.
With such attention to detail, it is not surprising that you are likely to want this furniture to be around in your home for a long time. And it will be- there’s a ten year guarantee on the furniture.
So if you want to just have one signature piece in a particular room in your home, or if you have the inclination to deck out a room in a revolutionary and desirable style from one of today’s cutting edge furniture companies, then look up HOOKLundSTOOL furniture and prepare to be delightfully challenged as to how sustainable wood and modern materials can be combined to great effect.