We’ve already written about the new talent at Ambiente Frankfurt, but given that this year 4,811 exhibitors came from 94 countries to fill an exhibition center the size of 50 football fields, there’s no way that was going to be it. The show was buzzing with curated spaces, installations, and new product launches. One of my favorite features was Basket Case II, a collaboration between designers and basket weaving communities in Zimbabwe. French designer Matali Crasset worked with a community of women in Bulawayo to design and make the Gourd Family (above). She took a form they already knew how to make, and gave it a unique identity – crucial if their work was to stand out at Ambiente.
British designers Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby have designed Olio, a new tableware collection for 200 year old British ceramics brand, Royal Doulton. It is inspired by handmade, found and timeless objects and designed for people to use and combine in their own way.
Friedemann Bühler makes his delicate vessels, bowls, and translucent lampshades by hand-turning whole sections of oak, maple, ash, walnut, wild service tree, hornbeam, and birch, which he sources from the forests of Hohenlohe, a small region in the northern part of Baden-Württemberg.
We originally spotted German designer Laura Jungmann’s work at Open Studios during Designblok in Prague, in October of last year, so it was a real treat to see her again in Frankfurt. She collaborated with glassmaker Cornelius Réer to re-blow mass-produced glassware into sculptural vessels, resulting in the Same Same collection. “Some of the products get new functions, like the water carafe,” said Jungmann. “Some gain a new quality just through the contradictory aesthetic of the industrial features combined with the handmade character.”
Prague-based Dechem was also originally spotted at the same event, and they were back with a new collection, turning some of their vessel concepts into a lighting range. The table and pendant lamps are handblown into beech molds from smoke grey, crystal clear, or colored gradient glass, with copper coated metal parts, an Edison bulb, and textile-coated wire.
Buoy by Martin Hlubucek was part of Slow! Glass!, an exhibition of handblown glass from the Czech Republic. Inspired by marine bouys, the collection is made using layered glass blown into a rotation mold, and is also available in blue and green.
Jakub Berdych makes his Metamorphosis collection by repeatedly heating and reshaping Czech vases that belonged to his grandparents and vintage pieces he has collected over time. The plastic clamps provide a contemporary counterpoint to the traditional craftsmanship in the original vases.
Ondrej Strnadel is unusual as a designer in that he works alone without the help of local craftspeople and ‘free-blows’ his own work. His Corn collection stood out for its bold use of color and organic forms.
More bold colors from Korridor Design, founded in 2013 by Danish architects Henrik Ilfeldt and Lærke Hermanssen, who we first spotted at 100% Design during the London Design Festival. Their Pyramid boxes bring a pop of color into often minimalistic Scandinavian interior schemes.
And finally, the United Stated was the partner country for 2015, and to celebrate Scott Henderson created the Seashore Galore installation, comprising three oversized American Adirondack chairs facing a seascape complete with sound effects. “Good design involves a big idea that is so embodied into the product that it communicates a clear and memorable story,” said Scott. “In my work I try to incorporate one clean and clear thought, that when seen even at a glance, makes you say ‘I get it.’. And when you get it, you smile and experience happiness. If the idea is strong enough, an ordinary object becomes an extraordinary one.”