Every year around this time, designers and makers from all over the world show off their new ideas at the Los Angeles Design Festival. This year, global artisans have kept the trend of simplicity alive while exercising a welcome sense of restraint. The result: Designers have churned out deceptively simple pieces to solve everyday problems. Although these introductions firmly embrace utility, they maintain a refreshing air of flair and whimsy.
“Design should be beautiful and functional, and that’s what we’re trying to bring back,” designer Simon St. James LeComte of New Made LA said about the brand’s collection of wire desk planters. “We thought they would make for very simple additions to any workspace or surface that was in need of a little life. The various pot sizes and heights allow for the user to truly get the right fit for their space.” The planters were designed to provide visual intrigue but still remain in the background.
Finland-based design company Magisso’s mission is to create modern, quick fixes to daily conundrums at home. Its Vertigo fruit plate, for example, can help keep your fruit fresh longer because of its waved surface that minimizes contact between fruit and plate. “In a normal fruit bowl, there is no air circulation, and fruits are tightly crammed together. This is why the fruits on the bottom of a normal bowl go bad so quickly,” creative director and founder Anssi Hurme said. The company has even designed ceramic pet bowls with cooling technology that — upon soaking in water for 60 seconds — will remain cold for hours.
Designers at Settlewell and Multiply have also used materials to amp up functionality. Settlewell founder and designer Laura Cornman shaped concrete into small jars that are great for home organization. “Jars are incredibly useful, but the options are fairly limited to glass, amber glass and plastic,” she said. “I’m always looking for ways to get rid of visual clutter.” Husband-and-wife duo Mark Britton and Alice Kim of housewares company Multiply use American-sourced wood for their stackable, space-saving Diamond Wine Trivets. “They’re different from traditional wine racks and refrigerators in that they allow for a presentation of a selection of wines and can be moved to wherever a party is thanks to their upturned edges,” said Britton, the designer.
Bend Goods’ Switch piece can be a compact stool or a side table and is an example of multiuse furniture, providing more space at home with less clutter. The piece’s glass tabletop can be switched out with a padded seat, which itself can be flipped over and turned into a second, leather tabletop. And British brand Modus collaborated with English designer Michael Sodeau to produce a trio of tables made of 100 percent cork. Not only do they promote sustainability, but they can also be used as traditional corkboards for important notes, lists or children’s artwork.
Finally, Sevak Karabachian, an architect for Gehry Partners and founder of Karabachian Design Office, has designed a magnetized paper clip holder in the shape of a charming wooden fox. This little piece shows the amount of detail, technology and care that goes into making housewares that are complex, beautiful and functional.
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