Thursday, March 26, 2009

Christy sugar bowl | Christopher Dresser | Alessi, Italy | 1993 | UPDATE

after: Model No. 247 Christopher Dresser Elkington & Co., United Kingdom ca. 1885

dresserchristyChristopher Dresser
Alessi, Italy, 1993

This post is an update of my original post on the Christy sugar bowl, which can be found here.  I wasn’t even aware that you could get one of these in purple, but when I saw it on eBay recently, I had to add it to my collection!  I’ll update my original post on the Christy bowl to show the purple one as well.

Christy bowl, purpleHere is the purple bowl.

Christy bowl, Alessi marking Here is a scan of one of the zoomorphic legs of the bowl.  Only one of the three has the Alessi Italy marking, and contrast makes it very difficult to capture.

Christy bowl, slateHere is the bowl in slate gray, from the Fine Art Society in London via The Victorian WebImage source.  Unfortunately I don’t have this color…yet!

Selected Bibliography

Christopher Dresser. An Exhibition arranged by Richard Dennis and John Jesse. London: The Fine Art Society, 1972. Compare catalogue number 26.

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Monday, March 23, 2009

Lumitime clock | various designers | Tamura Electric Corp., Japan | ca. 1970

Lumitime clockVarious designers
Tamura Electric Corp., Japan, ca. 1970

Here’s some more information about the Lumitime family of clocks.  They have an appeal and coolness that digital clocks today just don’t seem to capture.  Here is some more information about some of the other various designs developed by Tamura Electric in the 1970s.

Lumitime clock, blackThis Lumitime C-31 clock.  It is like the CC-33 but no alarm.  It sold for $80 with shipping.  (location, Pennsylvania, USA)

Lumitime "Winecup" advertisementA 1973 advertisement for the Lumitime “Winecup”…an unusual decorative timepiece for home or office.  Lumitime – the extraordinary timepiece of the seventies.  Image source: eBay.

Tamura patent 244,261The first page of the United States “Digital Clock” design, number D244,261 (1977). The rest of the patent can be found here.  There are certainly similarities to the CC-11, but the object in the patent is not the same.

Lumitime CC-11 clockThe Lumitime CC-11 above is the same as in the advertisement below.  Picture courtesy of Teraforce.

Operation of the Lumitime CC-11.  Video clip courtesy of Teraforce.

Tamura patent 238,253

The first page of the United States “Digital Clock” design, number D238,253 (1975). The rest of the patent can be found here.

Lumitime KT-1CE clockThe Lumitime KT-1CE clock.  Picture courtesy of Ray in the UK. He got his clock from eBay for approximately £20 ($28).  The clock above looks to be the same as in the advertisement below. 

Lumitime advertisementNewspaper advertisement from the Oswego Palladium, May-June, 1978.  Link goes to entire ad.

This patent, “Shutter type digital clocks” (number 4,178,752, filed November 21, 1977 and issued December 18, 1979) and this patent, “Digital clocks provided with time switch mechanisms” (number 4,193,256, filed February 3, 1978 and issued March 18, 1980) cover what looks to be the internal mechanism of the Lumitime clock.  If you ever need to open your clock, please snap a pic of the internal mechanics and send it to me for use in a future post!

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Titan soap dish | Marc Newson | Alessi, Italy | 1999

Marc Newson Titan soap dishMarc Newson
Alessi, Italy, 1999

Marc Newson was born in 1963 in Sydney, Australia.  He graduated from the Sydney College of the Arts in sculpture and jewellery in 1984.  He dabbled in furniture design while there and was given a grant from the Australian Crafts Council.  He staged an exhibition featuring the Lockheed Lounge (see below) at the Roslyn Oxley Gallery in Sydney.  In 1997, Newson moved to London, where he set up Marc Newson Ltd. as a studio.  He has designed aircraft interiors for Qantas, shoes for Nike, and luggage for Samsonite.  In April 2005, he was named as one of Time magazine's Top 100 most influential people in the world.   Plus, he digs all things space, like rockets.  Awesome.

Newson has won six Good Design Awards from the Chicago Atheneum.  His designs are present in most major permanent museum collections including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, London's Design Museum, Musée national d'Art moderne - Centre Georges Pompidou and the Vitra Design Museum. Titan soap dish colorsAlessi released Marc Newson’s smooth and bulbous Titan soap dish in 1999 in three colors:  yellow, red, and blue.  It is made of thermoplastic resin.  While the Titan has been discontinued for quite some time, it is still in stock from several retailers in the $30 range in red and blue, but I wasn’t able to find yellow.

If you think $30 for a soap dish is a lot, consider that in 2006, his 20-year-old Lockheed Lounge, a curvaceous divan made from aluminum, sold for $968,000 at Sotheby's in New York.  This set a record for the highest price paid in history for furniture by a living designer.  And that was in 2006.  Check the prices realized lately.

Lockheed Lounge        Lockheed Lounge Madonna video

The stunning curves of Newson’s Lockheed Lounge (left).  One of the 10 made was used in the 1993 video for Madonna’s “Rain” (right).

You may not be able to sit in it, but I certainly see some similar curves in the soap dish.  It is 3.5 cm in height, 12.5 cm in length, and 10.4 mm in depth.

Here is the hard to capture marking on the underside of the dish:


Titan soap dish imprint

I have a blue one on the counter next to my kitchen sink (left) and a yellow one in the bathroom (right).  That’s a rock, not soap on the yellow one, plucked from the beaches of Cape Cod. 

Blue Titan soap dish         Yellow Titan soap dish

Designed around the same time and of equal importance to my kitchen is the 1998 Dish Doctor dish drying rack Newson made for Magis out of polypropylene.  We’ll be seeing that in a future post!


Jana, R. (2006, December). Marc Newson and the art of design. Retrieved February 2, 2009, from BusinessWeek Web site: http://www.businessweek.com/innovate/content/dec2006/id20061214_268221.htm

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Italy: The new domestic landscape | Emilio Ambasz, editor | Museum of Modern Art, publisher | 1972 | PART 2

Ambasz Emilio Ambasz
The Museum of Modern Art, United States of America

Centro Di, Florence, Italy, 1972

I have listed the page number in the exhibition catalog followed by the name of the object or brief description and in parentheses, the composition of the object.  In some cases, the listed composition refers only to the exterior casing.  For the purposes of furniture, fabric coverings are not usually considered.  A single asterisk indicates that plastic components appear with non-plastic components.  A double asterisk indicates that the bulk of the object is plastic.

Alphabetical listing of artists represented at the Italy: The new domestic landscape exhibition.

  101  Sanremo floor lamp* (perspex, lacquered metal)
  103  Mies armchair* (rubber,  chromed metal)
  108  Superonda convertible sofa bed** (expanded resin)
  108  Safari sofa (lacquered wood) 
Arioli, Roberto 
    82  DA 8 ashtray (ceramic) 
    85  Uno Team 11 ashtray (marble) 
    85  Uno Team 12 dish (marble) 
    87  Containers (ceramic with metal handles)
Aroldi, Danilo and Corrado 
    62  Periscopio table lamp (lacquered metal)
Asti, Sergio 
    48  Trentaré low tables** (fiberglass) 
    64  Daruma lamp (opaline glass) 
    88  Collina flower holder (ceramic) 
    88  Marco vase (glass)
  109  Charlotte chair (steel)
  109  Démodé vase (opaque veined glass)
Aulenti, Gae 
    43  Aprile folding chair (stainless steel) 
  109  Pipistrello lamp* (perspex, aluminum, steel)

Bartolini, Dario and Lucia (see Archizoom)
Bassi, Giampiero and Giovanni 
    64  Crack lamp (lacquered metal, opaline glass)
Becchi, Allesandro
  119  Anfibio convertible couch** (polyurethane)
Bellini, Dario 
    68  Totem Hi-Fi set (metal)
Bellini, Mario 
    31  932 armchair (upholstery) 
    48  4 Gatti stacking tables** (fiberglass) 
    68  Totem Hi-Fi set (metal) 
    70  GA 45 Pop automatic record player** (ABS)
  120  Camaleonda cushion system** (polyurethane) 
Bicocchi, Giancarlo and Luigi
  130  living element
Bimbi, Carlo (see Internotredici)
Boccato, Marilena 
    84  Mattia umbrella stand (ceramic)
Boeri, Cini 
    29  Bobolungo lounge chair** (polyurethane) 
    61  602 and 1098 lamps** (PVC)
  121  Serpentone unlimited seating element** (polyurethane)
Bonetto, Rodolfo 
    28  Boomerang lounge chair** (polyurethane) 
    33  Melaina armchair** (fiberglass) 
    49  Quattro quarti combinable low tables** (ABS) 
    71  Magic Drum portable radio** (ABS) 
    72  Contaminuti timer** (ABS) 
    72  Sfericlock alarm clock** (plastic)
Branzi, Andrea (see Archizoom)

Casati, Cesare 
    96  Pillola lamp** (ABS, acrylic)
  118  Rocchetto armchair (prototype)** (fiberglass)
Castelli Ferrieri, Anna 
    47  4997/8 table** (reinforced polyester resin) 
    52  4953/4/5/6 Componibili stacking storage units** (ABS) 
Castiglioni, Achille    
    65  Arco lamp (marble, stainless steel, aluminum) 
    66  Taraxacum hanging lamp* (metal, synthetic fiber) 
    66  Splügen Bräu / C hanging lamp (aluminum)  
  102  Mezzadro seat (metal, wood)
  102  Toio floor lamp (lacquered steel, nickeled brass)  
  118  Primate kneeling bench (synthetic leather)
  123  Rampa desk and shelves (wood)
Castiglioni, Livio 
    67  Boalum flexible lamp* (plastic, metal)
Castiglioni, Pier Giancomo 
    65  Arco lamp (marble, stainless steel, aluminum) 
    66  Taraxacum hanging lamp* (metal, synthetic fiber) 
    66  Splügen Bräu / C hanging lamp (aluminum)  
  102  Mezzadro seat (metal, wood)
  102  Toio floor lamp (lacquered steel, nickeled brass)  
  123  Rampa desk and shelves (wood)
Catalano, Umberto
  114  Ghiro mattress lounge chair** (polyurethane)
Cattelan, Franco 
    53  Cubo Idea storage units** (ABS)
Ceretti, Giorgio
  101  with Gruppo Sturm, Pratone mat** (polyurethane)
  103  Torneraj chair**(polyurethane)  
Colombo, Joe 
    30  4801 armchair (plywood) 
    40  4860 stacking chair** (ABS) 
    45  Poker card table (wood, stainless steel) 
    53  Square Plastic System storage cubes** (ABS) 
    62  Spider wall lamp (metal)
  116  Tube chair** (PVC, polyurethane)
  116  Additional System chair** (polyurethane)
  117  Multichair chair** (polyurethane)
  123  Minikitchen (wood, stainless steel)
Coppola, Slivio 
    42  Gru chair (laquered metal tube)
Corretti, Gilberto (see Archizoom)
Cuneo, Marcello 
    63  Longobardo table lamp (ceramic)

D'Aniello, Pierangela
    43  Fiera di Trieste folding chair (wood)
Decursu, Giorgio    
    44  Chica demountable child’s chair (prototype)** (ABS)
Deganello, Paolo (see Archizoom)
De Pas, Johnathan
    34  Blow inflatable armchair** (PVC)
    44  Chica demountable child’s chair (prototype)** (ABS)
    57  Brick modular shelving system** (plastic)
    95  Joe sofa* (polyurethane, leather)
  114  Galeotta lounge chair** (polyurethane)
Derossi, Piero
  101  with Gruppo Sturm, Pratone mat** (polyurethane)
  103  Torneraj chair** (polyurethane)
D’Urbino, Donato
     34  Blow inflatable armchair** (PVC)
    44  Chica demountable child’s chair (prototype)** (ABS)
    57  Brick modular shelving system** (plastic)
    95  Joe sofa* (polyurethane, leather)
  114  Galeotta lounge chair** (polyurethane)

Facchetti, Gianfranco (see Group G 14)
Ferrara, Gianni (see Internotredici)
Frassinelli, Piero (see Superstudio)
Frattini, Gianfranco
    67  Boalum flexible lamp* (plastic, metal)

Gardella, Ignazio
     47  4997/5 table** (reinforced polyester resin) 
Gatti, Piero
  113  Sacco lounge chair** (polyurethane pellets)
Gigante, Gian Nicola 
    84  Mattia umbrella stand (ceramic) 
Gilardi, Piero
    99  I Sassi** (polyurethane)
Gioacchini, Nilo (see Internotredici)
Gramigna, Giuliana

    35  Poker armchair (prototype)** (ABS)
    77  Pomona serving dishes/place settings (ceramic) 
Gregotti, Vittorio
    60  537 Table lamp (lacquered aluminum)
Group G 14
    32  Fiocco armchair (iron tube)
Gruppo Architetti Urbanisti Città Nuova
    63  Nesso table lamp** (ABS) 
Gruppo Sturm
  101  Pratone mat** (polyurethane)

Iliprandi, Giancarlo
    124  Arcipelago kitchen unit (stainless steel, aluminum) 
    133  Tuttuno living unit (laminated plywood)

Jacober, Angelo
    43  Fiera di Trieste folding chair (wood)

Kiler, Hans von 
  107  Gli Animali miniature drawers (lacquered wood)

La Pietra, Ugo
    55  Uno sull’atro stacked shelving (wood)
Lenci, Fabio
  122  230/1/2 table and chair set* (polyurethane, metal)
Leonardi, Cesare
    27  Dondolo rocking chair** (ribbed fiberglass) 
Lomazzi, Paolo 
    34  Blow inflatable armchair** (PVC)
    44  Chica demountable child’s chair (prototype)** (ABS)
    57  Brick modular shelving system** (plastic)
    95  Joe sofa* (polyurethane, leather)
  114  Galeotta lounge chair** (polyurethane)
Lucci, Roberto
  101  Nuvola ceiling lamp** (plexiglas)
Lucini, Ennio
    82  Mangiafumo ashtray (ceramic)

Macchi Cassia, Antonio
    60  541 table lamp (lacquered metal)
Magistretti, Vico
    33  Vicario armchair** (reinforced polyester)
    39  Stadio 80 table** (reinforced polyester)
    39  Gaudi armchair** (reinforced polyester)
    41  Selene stacking chair** (reinforced polyester)
    59  Eclisse table lamp (lacquered metal)
    65  Giunone floor lamp (lacquered metal)
  109  Golem chair (lacquered wood) 
Magris, Allesandro and Roberto (see Superstudio)
Mangiarotti, Angelo
    46  M 1 table (marble)
    82  4000 B ashtray (ceramic)
  128  Cub 8 living system 
Mango, Roberto
    78  Flatware (prototype) (silver)
Manzù, Pio
    72  Chronotime battery clock** (ABS)
Mari, Enzo
    54  Glifo storage cubes** (plastic)
    76  3094 Trilobed carafe (glass)
    77  3089 A B C D Bowls** (melamine)
    83  Colleoni pen and pencil holder** (ABS)
    89  Single flower vases (marble)
    89  Marmo H vase (marble)
    90  3087 reversible vase** (ABS)
    91  3083 B Tortiglione vase** (PVC)
    91  3084 A B C D Bambú vases** (PVC) 
Marotta, Gino
  101  Dalia wall or ceiling lamp** (plastic) 
Masi, Gianfranco
  114  Ghiro mattress lounge chair** (polyurethane)
Massoni, Luigi (Studio BMP)
  129  A 1 Component system (wood) 
Matta, Sebastiano
  115  Malitte cusion system** (polyurethane)
Mattioli, Giancarlo
    64  MT lamp (lacquered metal)
Mazza, Sergio
    35  Poker armchair (prototype)** (ABS)
    56  Sergesto stacking bookshelves** (ABS) 
Meneghetti, Lodovico
    60  537 Table lamp (lacquered aluminum)
Monsani, Roberto 
  130  living element
Morozzi, Massimo (see Archizoom)
Munari, Bruno

  131  Abitacolo structure (varnished welded steel) 

Natalini, Adolfo (see Superstudio)

Orsoni, Umberto (see Group G 14)

Paolini, Cesare
  113  Sacco lounge chair** (polyurethane pellets)
Pareschi, Gianni (see Group G 14)
Peduzzi-Riva, Eleonore

    64  Vacuna floor lamp (blown glass)
    86  618 and 619 fruit bowls (stainless steel, blown glass)
    87  S 621 large dish (blown glass) 
Pensotti, Pino (see Group G 14)
Pesce, Gaetano
    35  UP 2 armchair** (polyurethane)
    97  Moloch floor lamp (metal)
    98  UP 5 Donna armchair and UP 6 hassock** (polyurethane) 
Pietrantoni, Marcello
  101  Nuvola ceiling lamp** (plexiglas)
Piretti, Giancarlo
    34  Plona folding armchair (polished aluminum)
    36  Plano folding table* (reinforced polyester, aluminum)
    37  Plia folding and stacking chair* (plastic, aluminum)
    51  Platone folding desk* (ABS, chromed steel) 
Pizzo Greco, Alfredo 
    98  Venere 70 “whatnot”** (transparent acrylic)
Ponzio, C. Emanuele 
    96  Pillola lamp** (ABS, acrylic)
  118  Rocchetto armchair (prototype)** (fiberglass)

Raimondi, Giuseppe
  100  Cirro mirror (glass)
Rosselli, Alberto
    33  Jumbo lounge chair** (fiberglass)
    38  Jarama chair and table** (fiberglass) 
Rosso, Ricardo
  101  Pratone mat** (polyurethane)  
  103  Torneraj chair** (polyurethane)

Salvati, Alberto
  126  Tavoletto (lacquered wood)
  127  Armadio-letto wardrobe/bed (lacquered wood)
Sambonet, Roberto
    79  Center Line cooking utensils (stainless steel)
Sapper, Richard
    44  4999/5 small child’s chair** (polyethylene)
    69  Doney TV set** (plastic)
    69  Black TV set** (acrylic)
    71  TS 502 portable radio** (ABS)
    73  Knife sharpener** (ABS)
    74  Grillo telephone** (ABS) 
Sarfatti, Gino
    61  600 G and 600 P (metal, leather)
Scarpa, Tobia and Afra
    28  Soriana lounge chair** (polyurethane, dacron)
    29  Ciprea arm chair** (polyurethane)
    30  925 lounge chair (plywood, wood)  
Seassaro, Alberto
  132  Central Block living element 
Siard, Marcello
    57  4949/50/51 Mensola wall brackets** (ABS)
Soavi, Giorgio
    83  Paperweight with ball (stainless steel)
Sottsass, Ettore, Jr.
    50  Nefertiti desk (laminated plywood)
    75  Valentine typewriter** (plastic housing, case)
  104  Wardrobe models/prototypes
  105  Cupboard models/prototypes (laminated plywood)
  106  Yantra vases (ceramic)
  106  Asteroide lamp* (perspex, wood) 
Stagi, Franca
    27  Dondolo rocking chair** (ribbed fiberglass) 
Stoppino, Giotto
    48  4905/6/7 Nesting tables** (ABS)
    60  537 Table lamp (lacquered aluminum)
Studio BMP (see Massoni)  
Studio OPI
    80  123 Ice bucket cube** (plastic)
    81  Cylindrical bar set (stainless steel)
    84  Revolving magazine rack** (ABS) 
Studio TG
    80  Bombo ice bucket** (acrylic) 
  100  Passiflora floor lamp** (plastic)

Teodoro, Franco
  113  Sacco lounge chair** (polyurethane pellets)
Toraldo di Francia, Cristiano (see Superstudio)
Tresoldi, Ambrogio
  126  Tavoletto (lacquered wood)
  127  Armadio-letto wardrobe/bed (lacquered wood)

Ubaldi, Roberto (see Group G 14)
Ufficio Tecnico Snaidero

  125  Centralblock kitchen (steel, plywood, laminated)

Valle, Gino
    72  Cifra 3 synchronized digital clock** (plastic)
Vignelli, Massimo
    77  Max 1 stacking dishes** (melamine) 
Vigo, Nanda
    58  Utopia table lamp (stainless steel)

Zambusi, Antonio
    84  Mattia umbrella stand (ceramic)
Zanuso, Marco
    35  Springtime armchair** (ABS)
    42  Lambda chair (lacquered sheet metal)
    44  4999/5 small child’s chair** (polyethylene)
    69  Doney TV set** (plastic)
    69  Black TV set** (acrylic)
    71  TS 502 portable radio** (ABS)
    73  Knife sharpener** (ABS)
    73  Scale (lacquered metal, foam pad, artificial leather) 
    74  Grillo telephone** (ABS)


Ambasz, E., ed. (1972). Italy: The new domestic landscape:  Achievements and problems of Italian design. New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art, NY. 

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Italy: The new domestic landscape | Emilio Ambasz, editor | Museum of Modern Art, publisher | 1972 | PART 1

ndl Italy: The new domestic landscape.  Achievements and problems of Italian design.  The book was printed in softcover and hardcover editions, with hardcover running over $100 and softcover at $30 and up.  Occasionally available on eBay or half.com.  The cheapest copy on amazon.com is $50.

The vellum cover is usually found aged brown, so don’t let this condition issue stop you from getting a copy.  It doubles as a pocket that contains loose cutouts of the five items shown above.  That the reader participates in the design process by arranging these as they wish is testimony to the interaction with the user that many designers of the period were striving for.

Italy: The new domestic landscape was an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, shown from May 26 to September 11, 1972.  This book is the exhibition catalog.  It is 432 pages in length with 520 illustrations and 124 color plates.  Emilio Ambasz, driving force behind the exhibition, was born in June, 1943 in Resistencia, Chaco, Argentina.  He studied architecture at Princeton University and earned an M.F.A. in architecture in 1966.

The book is divided into sections that cover objects, environments, historical articles, and critical articles.  The objects were chosen for “formal and technical means, sociocultural implications, and implications of more flexible patterns of use and arrangement.”

They are not solely plastic objects, illustrating instead the design positions that were evolving in Italy in the 1960s and 70s.  In fact, many of them are made of wood, metal, ceramic, marble and glass, just to name a few.  After the objects is a section on environments followed by two sections on historical and critical frames of reference for the exhibition.  It is, of course, a terrific book.  If you’re reading this blog, it’s a worthwhile endeavor to find and get a copy. 

In my research, I’ve often wanted a list of the artists represented at the exhibition and what they exhibited but it doesn’t seem to be available. Part 2 of this post will feature this information.

Library of Congress Data 
Library of Congress catalog card number 73-164878 
ISBN 0-87070-394-3 (softbound)
ISBN 0-87070-393-5 (hardbound)

APA Citation
Ambasz, E., ed. (1972). Italy: The new domestic landscape:  Achievements and problems of Italian design. New York, NY: Museum of Modern Art, NY.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Infinity bottle holder | Ron Arad | Kartell, Italy | 1999

Ron Arad Infinity bottle holderRon Arad
Kartell, Italy, 1999

The Infinity bottle holder by Ron Arad for Kartell is a modular set of 16 identical hourglass shaped elements, each 9.5 cm tall, 5.7 cm wide, and 14.5 cm deep.  Yes it is a bottle holder and sure you could use it to stow your Perrier, but it just so happens wine bottles fit equally well.  They interlock easily by one sliding into the other in an almost endless variety.

Infinity schematicAbove:  The schematic of the bottle holder in one of its most common configurations, the pyramid (uses 15 of the 16 elements).  In this configuration, it is 18” wide by 18” tall by 6” deep.


Sets are interchangeable and multiple sets can be combined.   The sets are designated 7680 by Kartell and come in four colors, opaline white, yellow, orange, and blue.  They are made of batch dyed polypropylene.

Infinity bottle holder, four colors  Promotional image for the Infinity bottle holder in four colors.

Infinity element, joint

Above:  The joint that allows the infinity rack to be connected into infinity.  Below:  Two views of a single element.  The joint above runs the entire length of each of the four edges of the element and allows one to be slid into another.

Infinity element, side view

Infinity element, front view

I used to keep more wine in it but seeing as I have this rack situated on top of the kitchen cabinetry, I keep the storage to a minimum, usually no more than a couple of bottles.  The last thing I want is for the cabinets to come careening off the wall!

Infinity bottle holderInfinity bottle holder with the Philippe Starck Hot Bertaa kettle.

The Infinity bottle rack is still in production.  The 16 elements will set you back about $81 new.  Here’s an orange one at that price.  Highbrowfurniture.com has them in different colors on sale at $57 shipped.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Centopiedi bed | Pietro Salmoiraghi and Antonio Locatelli | Kartell, Italy | 1972

Centopiedi bedPietro Salmoiraghi
Antonio Locatelli
Kartell, Italy, 1972

Pietro Salmoiraghi was born in Milan in 1941 and Antonio Locatelli was born in Bergamo in 1931.  Together, they designed a bed (“letto”) base for Kartell that is amongst the rarest of Kartell’s designs.  It takes a single mattress and was given the designation 4545.  A double version for two (“matrimoniale”) was given the designation 4546 and could be used with the addition of a specially seamed mattress.  The bed was characterized by low cost of production, lightness, versatility, and ease of shipping and storage.  In space challenged dwellings, it can serve just as easily as seating as it can a place for sleeping.  One of its features is that it is hinged and can be folded in half.  The folded and extended dimensions are provided below.

Length opened 196 cm
Length folded 98 cm
Height opened 28 cm
Height folded 56 cm
Width 86 cm
The bed features 12 hollow, slightly tapered cylindrical tubes integrated into the body that serve as legs.  The look is not unlike that of a centipede, hence the name “Centopiedi.”  A dynamic design, it’s poised and ready to scamper away!
Centopiedi bed, white This Centopiedi 4545 in white, is for sale from 1stdibs for $4,800.  This example was documented in the “Pop Goes the Plastic” exhibition catalogue, Katonah Museum of Art, 1998.
The bed is made of ABS, the hinges of nylon.  It was produced in two colors, black and white.  It was designed in and production began in 1972.  Production continued until 1977.  The black in 4546 configuration is shown below in a photo from the Kartell Muesum.  Pandolfini estimated one in white at €800-900 ($1,000 to $1,100) in their 2003 “Design Italiano 1940-1990” sale.  This design has the distinction of being the first I’ve featured that I don’t have a copy of.

Centopiedi bed, black

The Centopiedi black in 4546 configuration from the Kartell Muesum.

Centopiedi bed, black

The Centopiedi black in 4545 configuration from the somewhereinspace blog.

Centopiedi bed, whiteCentopiedi bed, white Centopiedi bed, whiteCentopiedi bed, white Various bed views.

Cent3Centopiedi bed, white Centopiedi bed, white Hinge system.

The pictures above were provided with permission by fiandfran (thank you!).  The Centopiedi above in white was for sale, location Australia, with a starting bid of AU$499 (US$320).  There were four bids, with a winning bid of AU$520 (US$340).  The condition is particularly nice!  Check out the eBay store of fiandfran for other modern design items, especially of Scandinavian origin.

Selected Bibliography

Augusto Morello, Plastiche per design, Arcadia Edizioni,
Milano 1984, pp. 183–184.

Abitare n. 117/118, Agosto Settembre, 1973, p. 316.


Montalvo, P. R. (2003, November 26). Design Italiano 1940-1990. Retrieved January 18, 2009, from Pandolfini Casa d’Aste Web site: http://download.aperion.it/pandolfini/20031126design.pdf

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Cycloc bicycle storage device | Andrew Lang | Andrew Lang Product Design, United Kingdom | 2006

Andrew Lang Cycloc Andrew Lang
Andrew Lang Product Design, United Kingdom, 2006

Andrew Lang earned a BSc in Industrial Design Technology from Napier University of Edinburgh in 1992 and an MA in Industrial Design Engineering from Royal College of Art 2003.  He has received numerous awards for the Cycloc, including Plastics Industry Awards – Consumer Product Design of the Year and recognition from Time Magazine in 2006.  Coincidentally, he is in charge of Andrew Lang Product Design, Ltd.

Cycloc colors 

The Cycloc bicycle storage device is available in four colors, white (icicle), orange-red (popsicle), green (verticle), and black  (recycle) from Andrew Lang Product Design amongst other retailers.  The black Cycloc is produced from 100% recycled post-industrial MDPE (medium density polyethylene).  The other colors are made from virgin MDPE.  Additional colors are supposedly in the works.

Cycloc The Cycloc, in white.  Placed on a concrete column, it easily holds up my Badd racing BMX and gives plenty of room for the handlebars.  Be sure to consider your bars when mounting the Cycloc.  I measured this out before buying one.  I also measured out my bike to be reasonably sure I could make it work on such a compact frame.

Cycloc A closer view of the Cycloc.

Cycloc The hole through the top and bottom of the Cycloc can be used to lock up your bike with a standard cable lock.

As the Cycloc website says,

Cycloc is strongly constructed and fits a wide range of bike frames. A matching insert panel neatly conceals the fixings and slotted mounting holes allow Cycloc to rotate to suit the angle of the top tube – so your bike is stored horizontally.

Cycloc's built-in storage space is ideal for keeping lights, gloves and other cycling accessories, where you can find them.

The box contains three things:  the Cycloc itself, a bucket with two hook like appendages and a hole through the top and bottom, an inner cover panel that goes over the screws, and the installation template.  The box does not contain mounting screws/bolts, which you will need and which depend on the type of wall you plan to mount the Cycloc to.  Be patient and make sure you get the right bolts, or you will find yourself back at the hardware store.  You may also need extreme tools for the mounting.  I used a hammer drill to sink the holes and hit rebar once (on the third hole, of course).  It made it so I had to mount off-center.

One of the things I wanted to see in advance but that I couldn’t find anywhere were the installation instructions.  Note that there is a template associated with these instructions.  Do not use the template posted here.  It must be sized correctly with the holes on the back of the Cycloc or it will not work. 

Cycloc instructions Cycloc instructions

The Cycloc is available direct for £77 ($110) shipped to the United States.  Sellers in the US are charging $128 up to what looks like a standard $135.  The fasteners will cost you a few bucks extra.  There is no reason to grumble about the price.  This is a sturdy, functional unit that also has a graceful, artistic, modern form.  It is incomparable to your standard, run-of-the-mill metal rack. 


Lang, A. (2007). Features. Retrieved February 3, 2009, from Cycloc - Cycle storage solutions Web site: http://www.cycloc.com/

Lang, A. (2009). About. Retrieved February 3, 2009, from Andrew Lang Product Design Web site: http://www.andrewlang.co.uk/

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Hot Bertaa kettle | Philippe Starck | Alessi, Italy | 1990

Philippe Starck Hot Bertaa kettlePhilippe Starck
Alessi, Italy, 1990

Philippe Starck:  prolific, intense, stupendous.  He was born in 1949 in Paris, France.  In 1982, he decorated the private apartments of President Mitterand at the Elysée.  His accomplishments and designs are too numerous to do justice to, so spend a few moments exploring his web presence.

He is modest about an object that I find astonishing in grace and poise, the Hot Bertaa kettle.  The kettle proper is made of cast aluminum colored by a silicone resin.   It holds 200 cl and is 25 cm tall.  It appears pierced by a hollow tube made of polyamide in either green or anthracite.  Consistent with my favorite colors being Lucite, lacquer, leather, and chrome, I have the anthracite version.

Above:  various views of the kettle.

The long side of this tube is the kettle handle, the short side is the spout.  The kettle is filled by pouring water slowly in through the short end.  On heating, steam exits through this opening, offering the illusion of locomotion. Production of the kettle launched in 1990 and lasted seven years, stopping in 1996.  It was pulled from the market in 1997.  The Bertaa kettle is often cited as the favorite ‘design fiasco’ of Alberto Alessi. Says Alessi, “You shouldn't need an instruction manual to operate a kettle.”  Starck has this to say of it:

The “Hot Bertaa” is one of my first pieces produced by Alessi. Alessi is a star, so it was a real highlight, a heart-stopping moment. Michael Graves had done it, as had Richard Sapper, so I had to be extraordinary, to show all my talent. But I became somewhat self-deluded and came up with the theory of immobile aerodynamics. There are certain objects that don't need to move, like a kettle placed on a table. If you give such objects movement, or dynamics, as they are unmoving, they might try to instill movement around them. It may be true. It seems to work a little. But with hindsight, I was just trying to get myself noticed, I wanted to make a masterly, sculptural object. In fact, this sculptural object is one of my worst pieces ever. It isn't very functional, it's dated, too fashion conscious. It's one of the things I'm most ashamed of. And to take the story further, this object, which existed for all the wrong reasons, also had a very difficult birth. It took 5 years to develop. Firstly because certain people at Alessi were very slow. And secondly, they didn't understand the complex system of valves and such. After 5 years, we couldn't recall why this object existed. So if a thing starts out badly, it ends badly, too. That piece was one of my big regrets. It illustrates the limitations of design, and it was responsible for my gradual loss of interest in stylistic design and masterly design.


I looked for something, anything, online that showed the Hot Bertaa in operation but found nothing, so I thought I’d share.  Click below to watch a video of filling the Hot Bertaa with water and what happens when the kettle boils.  By the way, you won’t see me pouring scalding hot water out of it.  The kettle is a sculptural design, not very much a practical one.

As always, look for good condition items.  They can sell in the $250 range on eBay, $300 for the anthracite edition.  Both are uncommon, the anthracite more so, but a couple a month come up for auction.  The bottom scratched easily, so that’s a good place to look for use.  The joint between the handle and kettle and spout and kettle may have some bubbling, peeling, or corrosion on well used examples.  With the advent of the 1/3 scale miniature Hot Bertaa ($32) the original has become a little harder to search for.  

Hot Bertaa, polished aluminumThe Hot Bertaa in polished aluminum and with a blue handle and spout.  An exhibition piece.  Image source.

Green Hot BertaaThe Hot Bertaa with a green handle and spout.  Image source.

Anthracite Hot Bertaa with box, tag, and literature   Alessi imprint Left:  The anthracite kettle with box, tag, and literature.  Right:  Alessi imprint on the bottom of the kettle.  Image source: eBay.

Visit the Design Museum “Discover Design” website for an interactive exhibit of the Hot Bertaa kettle and other items. 


Centre Pompidou, (2003). Communiqué de Presse: Philippe Starck 26 February - 12 May 2003. Retrieved February 28, 2009, from Centre Pompidou Web site: http://www.centrepompidou.fr/Pompidou/Communication.nsf/docs/IDE8982C4D9CEA9510C1256D1700496167/$File/dpanglais.doc

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