Among the high-rises that have sprung up like so much tall grass along Chelsea’s High Line, stands the Metal Shutter Houses, Shigeru Ban’s relatively humble contribution to the area that has been dubbed Starchitect Row. Sandwiched between Frank Gehry’s hulking IAC and Annabelle Seldorf’s stout 520 West Chelsea on West 19th Street, the 11-story box wouldn’t draw much attention to itself if it weren’t for its major design flourish: a retractable skin of perforated metal shutters.
If some of architecture and design's biggest names seemed conspicuously absent from this month’s Art Basel Miami Beach—that annual, must-attend conclave for the glitzy-arty set—it was because they were halfway around the world in the adjacent Chinese cities of Hong Kong and Shenzhen.
The Milan Furniture Fair, held every April, is essentially an organ of the Italian furniture industry. Walking the fairgrounds on the city outskirts, one gets the sense that a thousand suits are dealmaking over espresso. At its core, the Milan fair is about business.
These are nervous times for the companies showing off their wares at the sprawling Milan Furniture Fair. At the same time, a showcase for luxurious goods is as good a place as any to see how the prevailing grey mood is translating into the objects around us. These works share a common cause: reduce, reuse, recycle.
We live in an age lashed by natural disasters. Katrina obviously looms in the American mind, but the Sichuan Earthquake and the Indian Ocean tsunami have all imprinted themselves on an entire generation, worldwide. What could we have done differently, before disaster struck, to prevent such loss? What could we have done better? Designers have been noodling on ways to meet the challenge. It's worth taking a step back and surveying the basic design strategies they've come up with.
California architects of the 1970s were a big force in popularizing the idea of indoor/outdoor living, with houses that featured huge patios and glass-walled living rooms. But a new villa in Germany pushes the idea to its logical extreme.