2020 Year in Review: Deconstruction

Even though we share cool modern designs every week, sometimes we want to go a bit deeper to see how they are made. Most of us have no idea the time, effort, skill and labor that goes into making each design, but when we do we appreciate it so much more. Every month, we enlist designers and brands to break down the design process that resulted in their creations and now we’re taking a look back to see each of the designs we featured in our Deconstruction column in 2020.

12.23.20 | By
2020 Year in Review: Deconstruction

How the Woven Leather Collection From Smilow Design Is Made
Smilow Design is a brand launched by Judy Smilow as a way to pay homage to her father Mel Smilow and his American-made, mid-century designs that have been around since 1949. Part of that catalog of designs is the Woven Leather Collection, a series of minimalist chairs, stools and benches originally designed in 1956 and reintroduced in 2013. The collection pairs stellar craftsmanship and beautiful details noted from every angle that result in classic pieces to last a lifetime. For this Deconstruction, Smilow Design walked us through how the collection is made.

Formica Looks to Nature for Its Layered Sand Laminate
Formica officially launched their new SurfaceSet 2020 collection earlier this year, a series of 30 designs that blur lines between nature and technology. One of those Formica® Laminate designs had us intrigued – Layered Sand – as the finished product is the result of layering actual sand before scanning it to make a new optical visual. In this Deconstruction, Formica took us further into the Layered Sand design to see the lengthy process they go through to create each pattern.

See How the Framery 2Q Gets an Upgrade for a More Relaxed Space
After years of development Finland-based Framery launched Framery O, their inaugural privacy pod that’s still the world’s best selling pod today. Now, the workplace industry pioneers have launched a new, larger model of their Framery Q pod, Framery 2Q, that’s a full-size meeting room designed for 4-6 people with a few new enhancements that make it the ultimate multifunctional workspace for privacy and comfort. In this Deconstruction, Framery is took us through the clever updates to make the booth even more comfortable.

See How unPIZZO Hand-Weaves the Tramae Ottoman for B&B Italia
Italian design studio unPIZZO’s latest work, Tramae, came via a collaboration with B&B Italia Outdoor as part of their new 2020 outdoor collection. Tramae is a vibrant outdoor ottoman available in three, hexagonal sizes featuring a colorful woven exterior that gives nod to wicker basket making. For this Deconstruction, B&B Italia walked us through the design process to see how the Tramae ottomans come to life. Take a look.

Sempli Shares the Process Behind Monti-IRI Limited Edition Taste Set
The Los Angeles-based brand Sempli effortlessly combines “Swedish functionality – Italian design,” giving nod to founder Daniele ‘Danne’ Semeraro’s dual heritage. A prime example is Sempli’s popular Monti Taste set of beer glasses. They took the design a step further by giving the four glasses an iridescent finish and releasing them as the Sempli Monti-IRI Limited Edition Taste Set. Click the link above to see how Sempli made these ethereal glasses come to life, in this Deconstruction.

Season Three Breaks Down the Design Process Behind The Ansel
Founded in 2018 by Jared Johnson and Adam Klein, Season Three is a contemporary outdoor apparel brand conceived while the two were (self-described) highly-opinionated graduate students at MIT. Influenced by art and creative culture, the duo launched their first product, The Ansel, a genderless, all-weather hiking boot that easily transitions from the trails to work, and even a museum, with its rugged yet fashionable aesthetic. The road to get to the finished product included over 50 prototypes, but by the looks of it, the lengthy design process was worth it. For this Deconstruction, Season Three’s founders shared how The Ansel boot came to be and more about the manufacturing process in Northern Italy.

The Making of Abstract Assembly by Donna Wilson
London-based artist + designer Donna Wilson is known for her abstract patterns and bold colors and for Abstract Assembly, she transformed her watercolor paintings into three-dimensional forms that have become the colorful feature on the series of chairs. The wooden components are made from offcuts that are hand painted in various colors and then joined together using traditional joinery. After being fit together like a puzzle, they’re attached to chair and bench bases to become playful + sculptural, limited-edition seating you won’t see anywhere else. In this Deconstruction, Wilson shared with us the idea behind the project and how the chairs are made.

Brecht Wright Gander Makes the Sculptural Illumination Machine #1
Design Milk favorite Brecht Wright Gander is a Rhode Island-born, New Jersey-based artist and designer known for his experimental work that slides the functional into sculptural pieces of art. His latest is the Illumination Machine #1, a piece with a cartoonish silhouette that disguises elegant copper gilding on the inside of the illuminated funnel. The sculpture combines a variety of materials that require different techniques to achieve, resulting in a labor-intensive work of art that Brecht shared in this Deconstruction.

The Making of the Fizi Lighting Collection by Articolo
For this Deconstruction, we headed to Melbourne, Australia to Articolo, an artisanal lighting studio lead by Founder and Creative Director, Nicci Green. With mouth-blown glass being their passion, we were intrigued to find out more as to how their Fizi lighting collection is made. The series has a number of fixtures, including table lamps, sconces and pendants, featuring either glass balls or slabs, all with an “effervescent” look to the glass. The glass is paired with components in a range of materials including linished brass, natural stone and polished nickel, resulting in an ethereal collection of fixtures highlighting the unpredictability of mouth-blown glass. Click the link to see how Articolo creates these intriguing pieces.

ASSEMBLAGE Shares How Their Baku Wallpaper Is Made
Christian and Heidi Batteau are the husband and wife duo behind Arkansas-based ASSEMBLAGE, a handcrafted wallcovering brand that falls somewhere between art and design. Each of ASSEMBLAGE’s wallpapers receive somewhere between five to 21 layers of materials, like 22 karat gold, mother of pearl, blue mica and bees wax, all in-house in their repurposed seed mill headquarters. Earlier in 2020, they released 29 wallpaper designs at HOLLY HUNT, Baku being one of them. In this Deconstruction, ASSEMBLAGE took us through the arduous process of making their Baku wallpaper.

See How the Soda Tables Are Blown + Shaped by 3 Master Glassmakers
Italian brand Miniforms’ latest collaboration with Athens-based designer Yiannis Ghikas produced the Soda sculptural table made only of blown-glass. The complex design requires three master glassmakers working together in a Murano glass factory to create each table, which weigh in at approximately 55 lbs (25 kilos). The finished design is a single structure with three large petal-like columns that form the stem. Soda’s glass surfaces appear hammered which creates light and shadows depending on the angle it’s viewed from. The table’s unique shape piqued our interest in seeing more about how it was made so for this Deconstruction, Miniforms is shared more about the process.

Caroline Williamson is Editorial Director of Design Milk. She has a BFA in photography from SCAD and can usually be found searching for vintage wares, doing New York Times crossword puzzles in pen, or reworking playlists on Spotify.