The Presidency campfire meeting room, for the Luxembourg presidency of the European Council
By analysing the usually conventional set-up of meeting rooms for diplomats & heads of state one thing becomes clear, there is always a certain distance between the individual seatings – not too close and yet not too far away from your interlocutor. On this occasion I was able to challenge this status quo by creating a space where everybody had to decide for himself how close he or she wants to sit in relation to their interlocutor (and how good a friend he or she really is).
The ‘campfire’ is a space for people that share a common project & a common cause. A place where you can sit all night talking to friends, sorting out differences and coming out with a stronger bond… even if that looks like a difficult thing to achieve at this moment in time.
Conventional tables and chairs wouldn’t have worked that well for the terrasse of my local hangout. The cultural centre Carrérotondes in Luxembourg, with its concerts, exhibitions, kids theatres and parties required a flexible way of sitting (and drinking). The Lego principle gives plenty of options on how to configure the modules, leaving it up to the user and the moment to choose how to use them.
Materials: Custom designed male & female rubber connectors combined with water resistant low-cost plywood.
Some images of my latest interior & furniture design project for the new offices of the Max Planck Institute Luxembourg for International, European and Regulatory Procedural Law located in the Weicker Building in Luxembourg-city.
The building itself was designed by Richard Meier & Partners Architects, a building with a very specific formal identity. The challenge was to find a suitable visual language that fits the architecture and, at the same time, cover all the functionalities and representative needs required by this prestigious client – all of this within a framework of a EU wide open tender procedure. The result is a mix of products from high-end furniture manufacturers and a range of custom-designed objects to ensure a coherent visual language and quality throughout the building.
Developed in collaboration with Teisen-Giesler Architectes
Client: Max Planck Insitute Luxembourg
Office & library surface: 4500m2
Photos © Christian Mosar
Designed for outdoor spaces like nature reserves, parks & forests, this seating range is composed of large & chunky shapes with very simple profiles. The large – single piece – wood parts are made from locally sourced oak trunks with a simply sawn finish to resist weathering and vandalism. Due to its thickness, the wood can be sanded down if damaged but can also happily live with the added texture.
The wood profiles and tubular powder coated steel tubes are both an integral part of the structure and form objects with a strong visual contrast between natural and man made materials. The simple & sculptural shapes should integrate well in natural environments, yet stand out enough to be noticed for its quality.
It is well known that the bistro culture in Paris is a league on its own, sitting tightly packed on street corners, coffee & cigarettes, waiters that don’t care, gazing at the people passing by …
The typical Paris bistro table with a single foot and an oversized thin metal edging embodies this way of life quite well for me. Every bash and knock the metal edging gets adds character & texture to the table, making it age gracefully without aspiring to be perfect.
Interior concept for the 74 branches of the Banque et Caisse d’Epargne de l’Etat, a national institution in Luxembourg – designed by Teisen-Giesler Architectes & integratedPlace.
We elaborated a scheme conveying the notion of safety, tradition, quality and long established values. By emphasising solid build elements made from cast terrazzo and oak we underlined the trustworthy image of the bank. Timeless shapes and high quality materials should also underline the fact that the bank, with it’s long history, is here to stay.
The design proposal were elaborated following an closed competition initiated by the BCEE.
Good craftsmanship is key to produce fine quality objects. Unfortunately, outside the luxury industry, they are hard to find. With labour costs going constantly up are we loosing all the fine techniques that made objects special? It seems a shame, but it motivates me even more to collaborate with skilled craftsmen on the next projects!
I have seen this type of benches before in forests and parks without really appreciating them. But the concept of a bench with a cast structure that mimics root wood, as disturbing as it looks, starts to grow on me. If you choose casting as a technique you can also open up to other shape typologies, no reason to keep the geometric language you pretty much have to respect if you fabricate something in any other standard way.
To then paint it in such a colour makes the bench almost eccentric, even if it goes against the initial idea of making the bench blend into its natural surroundings.
I also wondered if Maarten Baas came here on holiday one day…
A very small but dynamic, elegant and highly versatile space commissioned by the Union Commerciale de la Ville de Luxembourg.
Primarily it is a place where visitors can get any shopping information (opening hours, retail services, maps, customised shopping trails …etc) the city has on offer. Within that primary task of giving out information it is also a place where the city’s retailers can celebrate particular themes and organise special events & exhibitions.
Furthermore, the second aim of the space was to establish best practice retail design with innovative materials and finishes. The floor is made from two coloured resin floor (made from cast Polyurethane). The grey brown floor is split in the middle by a central band of white that invites the visitor in from the outside. This band is then folding up to create a central display made from thermoformed partially back-lit white Corian sheets.
By contrast, all the walls are lacquered in a warm dark and super mat Nextel paint finish. This material, often used on control panels and dashboards, is hard wearing and extremely light absorbing to minimise light reflections and emphasis the artifacts & displays. Moreover, the lighting is kept low to focus on the displays and create a beautiful museum like experience.
Cramped into an area of only 50m2 the space is packed with multiple functionalities while keeping a sober and high-quality appearance.
Here another fine example of a vintage kids furniture piece I recently bought. Named Hokus Pokus, this multifunctional furniture was manufactured in Sweden by AB Bjärnum Möbelfabriker. All in one, it is a high chair that becomes a rocking chair with steering wheel or a desk with seat, depending on how you flip it around. Every aspect and form has a purely functional ‘raison d’être’ which gives the object its visual complexity and its overall shape. This uncompromising and honest approach linking form and function makes this unusual object in my view very interesting.