Design

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Craft Design

Freewheeling Hares and Bespectacled Kangaroos Hop Into Hugo Horita’s Playful Wooden Menagerie

January 12, 2023

Kate Mothes

A detail of a wooden sculpture carved to look like a sheep with a crocheted sweater on.

All images © Hugo Horita, shared with permission

Although they are carved from timber, the personalities in Hugo Horita’s growing menagerie are far from wooden. An adventurous camel, a sheep in a sweater, and a deer that’s quick on the draw are just a few of the characters the Buenos Aires-based artist has introduced. “I like to bring ideas and shapes to a three-dimensional language, and I chose wood because it is a very noble and warm material,” he tells Colossal.

Trained as an illustrator, Horita’s work often rests squarely in the digital realm, and he sought a creative outlet that involved using his hands. While some ideas can lead to a new piece in just a few days, sometimes the process takes months, beginning with a sketch on paper or a virtual vector image. He then carves the toy-like sculptures with an emphasis on the details of the grain to accentuate joints and muscles and often incorporates other found elements like pencils. Preferring to use scrap pieces that others have thrown away, which allows for various tones and textures, Horita completes each animal with the cartoonish addition of wheels, spectacles, or skis.

Find more of the spirited critters on Behance and Instagram.

 

A wooden sculpture of a deer with pencils for antlers.

Wooden sculptures of a sheep and a camel. The sheep has a crocheted sweater on, and the camel has mountains for humps and is wearing skis.

Sheep sweater made in collaboration with cAlma mía

Two wooden sculptures of leaping hares.

A wooden sculpture of a joey in its mother's pouch, and both animals are wearing white glasses.

A wooden sculpture of a rocking horse with two horses facing each other on the same rocker.

A wooden sculpture of a moose with a pick comb for antlers.

A detail of a wooden sculpture of a moose.

A wooden sculpture of hare holding wheels.

A wooden sculpture of a sloth laying upside-down in a chair.

A detail of a wooden sculpture of a sloth laying upside-down in a chair.

A wooden sculpture of a deer with antlers made of pencils.

 

 

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Design

Discarded Scallop Shells Combine with Recycled Plastics in the Waste-Reducing ‘Shellmet’

January 12, 2023

Kate Mothes

A shell-shaped helmet made from recycled plastics and discarded scallop shells.

All images © Quantum and TBWA\Hakuhodo

The village of Sarufutsu in Hokkaido, Japan, is known for bringing in some of the country’s biggest hauls of scallops. Unfortunately, when the bivalves are processed for the food industry, they generate about 40,000 tons of discarded shells annually. The village teamed up with product design startup Quantum and plastics manufacturer Koushi to tackle the ever-mounting quantities in local landfills. Along came Hotamet—a portmanteau of “hotate” (which means scallop) and “helmet”—alternatively known as Shellmet. The marine-inspired, eco-friendly safety accessory incorporates discarded, crushed scallop shells into a protective covering.

A main component of seashells is calcium carbonate, a compound also found in hard materials like eggshells, pearls, and some rocks and minerals. Combined with recycled plastic, the substance produces a tough material that Quantum and Koushi could form into headgear. “Based on the idea of biomimicry, Shellmet incorporates a special rib structure in its design that mimics the structure of scallops, which are part of the material. As a result, we have achieved a strength approximately 33 percent greater than normal,” Quantum says.

Originally designed as a protective hat for the fishing community, Shellmet will also come in handy when Japan mandates that all bicyclists must wear protective headgear starting in April this year. You can find more information on the company’s website. (via Spoon & Tamago)

 

A row of shell-shaped helmets made from recycled plastics and discarded scallop shells.

A collection of shell-shaped helmets made from recycled plastics and discarded scallop shells, photographed on a beach.

A mound of scallop shells.

A detail of a shell-shaped helmet made from recycled plastics and discarded scallop shells.

A shell-shaped helmet made from recycled plastics and discarded scallop shells.

A group of three fishermen wearing shell-shaped helmets made from recycled plastics and discarded scallop shells.

 

 



Design

A Chinese Village’s Breezy New Library Uses Traditional Construction Techniques to Make a Social Impact

January 11, 2023

Kate Mothes

A contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques.

All images © Condition_Lab and UAL Studio. Photograph by Sai Zhao

Modeled after a traditional Dong timber house, a new local library designed by Chinese architecture firm Condition_Lab highlights the region’s architectural heritage through elegant, contemporary details. Pingtan Book House is located in the village of Pingtan, Tongdao Province, Hunan, and nestles into the courtyard of a primary school that serves 400 children. The studio saw an opportunity to complement the school—a 20-year old blocky, concrete construction—with an addition that was more empathetic to its cultural and natural surroundings.

Condition_Lab conceived of the idea for a pitched, tiled roof and mortise-and-tenon construction from the local vernacular, drawing attention to the region’s disappearing historic construction. “Entire villages built over centuries from a single sustainable material, indigenous China Fir, are rapidly losing their identity,” the studio explains in a statement. “Dong’s cultural DNA is being challenged by contemporary living and the quest to modernize.”

Connection and interaction within the space and with one another is an important facet of Condition_Lab’s ethos. “Social impact does not require large amounts of financial investment, design is not limited to high-end projects, and architecture must have a purpose,” the studio says. To make the interior space inviting for children to explore, sit, and read, the designers devised a unique plan: instead of rooms and doors, the layout consists of two staircases that wrap around one another in a double helix. Landings between staircases provide wall space for books and top-to-bottom windows that peer out into the surrounding landscape. The steps provide seating for the children, with views up and down the three-story structure through airy balustrades.

Condition_Lab focuses on purposeful design as a vehicle to make change, and you can explore more of the studio’s work on its website and Instagram.

 

A contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques.

Photograph by Sai Zhao

The interior of a contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques.

Photograph by Sai Zhao

Two photographs of a contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques.

Left: Photograph by Xiaotie Chen. Right: Photograph by Sai Zhao

A contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques, photographed at night.

Photograph by Sai Zhao

Two photographs of a contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques.

Left: Photograh by Sai Zhao. Right: Photograph by Xiaotie Chen

A contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques.

Photograph by Sai Zhao

A contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques.

Photograph by Sai Zhao

A contemporary library building in Pingtan, China, using traditional building techniques, photographed from a distance within the context of the village.

Photograph by Xiaotie Chen

 

 



Art Design

All of Us Skin Tone Crayons Reflect the Planet’s Diversity with Eight Different Pigments

January 10, 2023

Grace Ebert

A photo of eight skin-tone crayons

All images © All of Us

How can you accurately draw the human population without an appropriately diverse array of colors? The team at All of Us offers a counter to traditional sets with its skin tone crayons in eight different hues. Made from beeswax and natural pigments, the collection is entirely hand-poured and is available in three shapes: triangles, rounds, and blocks. “I started making crayons in my kitchen because all children deserve to be seen,” All of Us founder Sabine says. “They deserve to have their smiles drawn on paper, in shades true to their identity.”

Pick up a few packs of the crayons in the All of Us shop, and follow the company on Instagram for glimpses into how the tools are made.

 

A photo of eight skin-tone crayons

A photo of eight skin-tone crayons

A photo of skin tone crayons and drawings

A photo of skin tone crayons and drawings

A photo of eight skin tone crayons

 

 



Art Design

Elaborate Towers Emerge from Basic Building Blocks in Raffaele Salvoldi’s Architectonic Installations

January 10, 2023

Kate Mothes

A photograph of a tower made out of KAPLA blocks in a large room with a man looking up at it.

All images © Raffaele Salvoldi, shared with permission

In January 2021 in the middle of Italy’s second Covid-19 lockdown, photographer and director Raffaele Salvoldi’s work took a different turn. “That was a tough time since I wasn’t working and had a lot of free time. So, I started to build small forms to keep my hands and mind busy,” he tells Colossal, sharing that he tapped into the nostalgic, childhood activity of tinkering and stacking simple wood blocks.

At the base of Salvoldi’s towering, temporary installations is a single component: KAPLA planks. Devised by a Dutch antique dealer in the late 1960s, KAPLA are an alternative to chunkier blocks that make it easier to build long or horizontal features like lintels and roofs. Initially, Salvoldi started with a set of 1,000 of the wooden construction bricks, and as he amassed thousands more, his constructions became increasingly voluminous. Spiraling columns, delicate towers, and airy apertures emerge gradually from a foundation on the floor, and the structures are often illuminated from inside and reveal dramatic effects in cavernous spaces. Each piece responds to its environment, drawing the eye upward to unique settings like the historic, neoclassical Casa Bossi. “The only limit is your imagination and, of course, gravity,” he says.

One of Salvoldi’s installations can take between three weeks and four months to complete, and rather than opening a show with a completed work, viewers are invited to observe as he adds piece after piece over time. “I believe it isn’t just a performance, rather a kind of a window on an artistic process,” he says. “That’s why I like to define it as a living, mobile room or atelier that people can visit and see the installation growing day after day, week after week.” When a show closes and the work must be disassembled, visitors are invited to deconstruct the installation by throwing additional planks at it until it crumbles, or the artist will devise a domino-like path of KAPLA that strikes at the foundations.

In May 2022, Salvoldi founded the project Wood Arc through which he continues his research into architectural and structural forms. Between February 12 and April 2, he will exhibit a new work at the 16th-century Villa Bono, just north of Novara, Italy. Find videos and more of his work on Instagram, and learn more about the project on his website.

 

A photograph of a tower made out of KAPLA blocks.

A GIF of a tower made out of KAPLA blocks.

Left: A photograph of a tower made out of KAPLA blocks. Right: The interior of a tower made from KAPLA blocks.

A photograph of the inside of a tower made out of KAPLA blocks

Two photographs of towers made out of KAPLA blocks

A photograph of two towers made out of KAPLA blocks and an ornate ceiling.

A photograph of an installation made out of KAPLA blocks comprised of an arch and towers.

Two photographs of a tall tower made out of KAPLA blocks, illuminated in the dark.   A photograph of two towers made out of KAPLA blocks in a large, ornate room with a decorated ceiling. The artist stands between the two towers for scale.

A photograph of a tower made out of KAPLA blocks with an ornate ceiling in the background.

 

 



Design History

The National Library of France Reopens with Renovations That Add 21st Century Details to the Beaux-Arts Gem

January 9, 2023

Grace Ebert

All images © Bruno Gaudin Architects

After more than a decade of renovations by architect Bruno Gaudin, the Bibliothèque Nationale de France reopened last fall with more light and space to view both the massive collections and the original Beaux-Arts features of the space.

Spread across two sites, the Richelieu and François-Mitterrand, the now-updated repository at Richelieu dates back to the 18th century. French architect Henri Labrouste originally designed the main reading room, known as the Salle Ovale, which is largely preserved with a vaulted glass ceiling spanning 60 feet, mosaics cloaking the ceilings, and hundreds of thousands of volumes lining the perimeter and interior shelves. The regal space is now open to the public for the first time.

For the renovation, Gaudin added a large, steel and aluminum staircase that spirals toward the upper floors, which house a museum and the nearly 150-foot-long Mazarin Gallery with its Baroque frescoed ceiling. A glass walkway with an angular, sloping roof connects the east and west sides of the library, and the architect added a new entrance for greater accessibility.

Alongside books, the library also stores a vast array of historical documents and artworks totaling 22 million objects. Inside its halls, you’ll find the second-largest collection of Greek vases in the world, original prints from Rembrandt and Picasso, an engraving by Matisse, a Gutenberg Bible, and Charlemagne’s ivory chess set, to name a few. 

 

 

 

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