Design Wire July 2023

IKEA turns 80 this year, which is both surprising—how has it been around that long?—and also not. Like contemplating life before television, it’s hard to imagine living without the Swedish furniture giant. To celebrate its octogenarian status, the company’s anniversary collection, called NYTILLVERKAD, looks back through its archives for inspiration, presenting a playful take on company classics with updated materials and bold new colors. These new productions of old designs include an updated version of Rutger Andersson’s 1975 cactus-inspired hat and coat stand, now called BONDSKÄRET, in candy-coated lilac and yellow, as well as the stackable DOMSTEN stool, which now features a smooth pine top
and colorful metal legs. Ready yourself for some maze-like shopping—the collection launches this month.

This past spring, 184 pieces of art previously on long-term loan at the COLBY COLLEGE MUSEUM OF ART were given permanent gift status from the late NORMA MARIN, the daughter-in-law of the painter JOHN MARIN, a seminal early American Modernist known for abstract landscapes and watercolors. According to an article published in the Portland Press Herald in April, the trove of art includes 28 prints by John Marin; a family portrait that he painted in 1953, the year he died; and more than 150 photographs that represented Norma Marin’s personal passions, including images by friend Berenice Abbott as well as prints by Abbott’s peers Ansel Adams, Harry Callahan, Imogen Cunningham, Walker Evans, Paul Strand, and many others. Today, Lisa Marin, Norma’s daughter, serves on the museum’s board of governors and chairs one of its committees.

Photo: Doan Ly

Inspired by the Italian concept of sprezzatura, meaning “effortless elegance,” the new woman-owned company SPREZZ launched this past spring and offers colorful handmade tableware meant to be used every day. Founder ANAM SADARANGANI, who is originally from Bombay and whose last name translates to “always colorful,” has said that growing up in India, where long dinners with friends and family were the norm, sparked a lifelong passion for beautifully set tables. She’s started with two glassware collections: The Whimsical Tumblers are designed by Alessandra Baldereschi and inspired by both Henri Matisse’s cut-outs and the colors of the ocean. The Romantic Collection is designed by Margherita Rui and includes glasses and flutes whose shapes are inspired by Qing Dynasty teacups. The glassware in both collections is handmade with borosilicate glass and is, luxury of all luxuries, safe to run through the dishwasher.

In collaboration with the FRANK LLOYD WRIGHT FOUNDATION, the fashion and lifestyle brand KITH and its founder RONNIE FIEG have created a NEW BALANCE sneaker that reflects the textures and colors of Wright’s utopian Broadacre City sketches. Broadacre, which began as an exhibition Wright mounted at Rockefeller Center on April 15, 1935, was to be a city with no traffic jams, where people could move easily, communicate, and work from the comfort of their homes. According to Dezeen, the campaign photoshoot took place at Taliesin West in Arizona, Wright’s final home and the current headquarters for the Wright Foundation, and features Taliesin West staff members. The shoe, called “Made in USA 998 Broadacre City,” is now for sale, but due to its elite sneaker status, may require an eBay search.

Before the THOMPSON’S POINT summer concert season, which begins this year on July 3 with a concert featuring Robert Plant and Alison Krauss, work began on adding a permanent bar and concession building and a dock to the arts and entertainment development on Portland’s Fore River. The new concessions, which will combine three shipping containers, each 8 feet wide by 40 feet long, will provide food and beverages during Thompson’s Point events all year long, including large concerts and smaller events in the summer and ice skating in the winter. The hope is also to break ground on a 148-room, Marriott-branded hotel there this year, which has been part of the plan for the development since it was first announced over a decade ago.

This spring, SEA BAGS, the Portland-based designer and manufacturer of handmade tote bags and accessories sewn from recycled sails, added five new stores to its roster: two in North Carolina’s Outer Banks; one in Saint Michaels, Maryland; one in Vineyard Haven on Martha’s Vineyard; and one in Kittery, on the southern Maine border. President and Chief Sustainability Officer BETH GREENLAW has said she envisions the company as part of a revolution to bring fashion production back to Maine, which has a long history of cutting and sewing. Sea Bags products rely on U.S.-manufactured thread and New England–produced rope, and whenever possible, materials come directly from Maine. After 24 years in operation, these new openings bring a total of 50 Sea Bags stores in 15 states, employing 200 people.

The new Barcelona-based company ALTED’s mission is to transform climate-positive materials into low-impact architectural products that will never again become waste. Their first collection, called ALTED H01 and designed by Berta Julià Sala, is a series of decorative panels for interior use on walls and ceilings and is made using HONEXT®, a carbon-negative board made of waste from the paper industry. In an April article published in Dezeen, Julià Sala said, “To offer an overview of the impact, 100 square metres of Alted panels save 722 kilograms of waste from ending up in landfills.” The panels come in three different patterns and are also designed to be completely recyclable, embodying the principles of a circular economy.

Even gamers can feel better about their landfill footprint with the release of MICROSOFT’s new XBOX REMIX SPECIAL EDITION controller, one-third of which is made from a mix of post-consumer recycled resins and “regrind,”or ground industrial plastic waste—in this case, the company’s leftover Xbox One–generation controller parts. The inspiration for the new controllers’ green and sandy hues is the earth’s natural landscapes and the lichen of the Pacific Northwest, and the textured patterns on the side grips, bumpers, and triggers are based on topographic maps. Microsoft’s sustainability commitments include becoming carbon negative and zero waste by 2030.

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