March 2016 - Aesthetic Post


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Piece in Brief: Alvar Aalto Tea Trolley 901

Aalvo Tea Trolley 901

Aalvo Tea Trolley 901

Designed by Finnish designer Alvar Aalto in 1936, the Tea Trolley 901 is a decidedly modern take on a traditional piece of furniture; a nod to British tea culture, perfectly balanced with Japanese carpentry and architecture, at home as a tea or coffee cart, but also a distinctive bar or side table. With a bentwood frame of blonde birch, and a tabletop and lower shelf finished in linoleum, the trolley is designed with functionality in mind; a handle that spans the width of the trolley, as well as rubber-treaded wheels, allow it to be moved gracefully.

Aalto’s cart designs were first introduced at the 1936 Milan Triennale, and later at Paris’ world’s fair in 1937. The design is still produced by Artek (now owned by Vitra), a Finnish company that was originally founded in 1935 by Aalto and his wife Aino, art promoter Maire Gullichsen, and art historian Nils-Gustav Hahl.

Alvar Aalto on The Aesthetic PostAalvo’s work on display at the Triennale di Milano, 1936.

Aalvo Tea Trolley 901Aalto at his home in Helsinki.

A world-class architect, and one of the faces of the International Modernism movement, it was Aalto who originally employed the process of bending thick layers of birch into smooth, chic curves to frame furniture, perhaps best noted in his stackable Stool 60, an icon of functionalist design.

Aalto’s work greatly influenced midcentury designers such as Eero Saarinen and Charles & Ray Eames. His style, which incorporated nature to architectural form, became known as Humanist Modernism, and his design philosophy, Gesamtkunstwerk (“a total work of art”) became his trademark, whereby he and his wife Aino, would design everything from the building, to the furnishings, lighting, even intimate details like glassware, inside.

As a final note, last year, Dutch designer Hella Jongerius designed an updated version of the 901 for Artek’s reintroduction of some of their archive’s most iconic pieces. In her interpretation, the frame’s color is the same as the shelf and tabletop, in light birch or black lacquer (see below).

Aalvo Tea Trolley 901

More at: Artek
Photos: Artek

Tuve Hotel by Design Systems

Tuve Hotel by Design Systems

Tuve Hotel by Design Systems

Intended to be an escape from the bustle and chaos of Hong Kong, a discreet, signless entrance in the Tin Hau district guides you into a quiet experience, Tuve, by architecture firm Design Systems.

Inspired by photographer Kim Høltermand’s panoramas of Sweden’s Lake Tuve, the owner wanted to incorporate the mood of Scandinavian landscape to the 66-room boutique hotel. Design Systems thoughtfully translated the atmospheric, cold images to the space, making the best of natural, often common materials. As described by the firm: “We feel that the term luxury has much been vulgarized nowadays, rather, we prefer the term refinement. Refinement goes beyond the surface.”

Avoiding the cliches of exotic, over-the-top elements, Tuve keeps it simple and engages the visitors emotions. Materials such as concrete, galvanized steel, brass, and oak are familiar, but used appropriately and elegantly. Creative use of lighting throughout the spaces, both artificial and natural, reveals texture, casts shadows, and establishes a specific ambiance.

Tuve Hotel by Design Systems

Tuve Hotel by Design Systems

Tuve Hotel by Design Systems

Tuve Hotel by Design Systems

As the spaces are used, hidden craftsmanship is revealed, quietly interacting with the minimalist environment. From the pale wooden box that opens to a desk and minibar, to the door that folds from the side of the cabinet to store tea-making equipment. Stools are made from roughly hewn marble, and brass switch plates are left to oxidize, exposing the true nature of the material.

By sticking to the basics, and executing this with the ultimate finesse, Tuve sets itself apart in a way that challenges the typical hotel experience.

More at: Tuve
Photos: Matteo Carcelli, Design Systems.

Listening / Viewing: Mind Enterprises – Girlfriend


Directed by Ben and Ross.

California Topiaries by Marc Alcock

California Topiaries by Marc Alcock

California Topiaries by Marc Alcock

California Topiaries by Marc Alcock

California Topiaries by Marc Alcock

California Topiaries by Marc Alcock

California Topiaries by Marc Alcock

California Topiaries is a photo series by San Francisco-based, British photographer Marc Alcock. With a background in design and art direction, Alcock’s work typically focuses on form, and the evocation color and texture bring to environment, leaving the viewer intrigued by what may lurk beyond.

California Topiaries explores the relationship between houses and vegetation, and how trees work in a similar fashion to sculpture, landscape-wise. Alcock describes the contrast across the series as the “conscious aesthetic decision” of thoughtful grooming and placement in relation to architecture, and at the other end, buildings almost “swallowed by nature,” where vegetation acts as a sort of camouflage.

More at: Marc Alcock









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