Title: Products, interiors, events, ideas
Pages: 48 - 53
Text: Products, interiors, events, ideas
This regular review is intended to provide a cross section of interesting items from a variety of sources-and to reveal some of the current attitudes which are affecting the world of design. This month, the subjects include some unusual chairs, a large hotel in the North, and a new industrialised building system.
The brief for a new chair to be designed by Robin Day for S. Hille and Co Ltd required that the chair should be robust, be formed of flat elements for easy packaging and also that it should be of a distinctive character (if possible, a design that could not be quickly copied, plagiarism being the problem that it is in the furniture industry). The result is the Axis chair. The distinctive element in its construction is the starfish like side frame, whose complex shape is determined by its function as the basic component. The frame was designed as an aluminium casting, formed by the use of a low pressure die casting technique. William Mills Ltd. a subsidiary of The British Aluminium Co Ltd. worked with Hill on the development of the process for this particular use. Though tooling costs were high, pressure die-casting gives a sparkling surface finish to the aluminium. A single pressure, double faced aluminium die casting tool is used for both left and right chair frames, and, by means of blanks, an arm chair version can be obtained from the same die. They are available either in formed, laminated timber with a teak or rosewood veneer, or upholstered, using Pirelli webbing and latex foam with a ribbed or panelled pvc top cover. Both versions are available with or without arms and can be easily bolted together to form multiple seating. When the chairs are united, one side frame is shared between adjacent chairs. A table top in wood veneer or white melamine has also been designed for use with rows of units. It can be bolted between two frames. The chairs are easily Remountable and are packed flat in pairs in a display box. Designed for use in contract applications wherever compact and multipurpose seating is required, the Axis is also available on the domestic market. Chair prices are from £23. The table top is £6 10s.
Two from Japan
The two speed, belt driven transcription turntable, right, has a die cast aluminium table 30 cm in diameter. The aluminium deck has a grey wrinkle finish. It was made by Chuodenki Co Ltd and designed by the Kak Co Ltd. The light weight binoculars, far right, were designed and made by the Nippon Kogaku Co Ltd.
Naval haven in Plymouth
The Eagle is an Ind Coope public house named after an aircraft carrier which is base' in Plymouth. Tandy, Halford and Mills Ltd. commissioned by Ind Coope to design the pub, has incorporated blown up photographs of the aircraft carrier, as well as other naval impedimenta, into the interiors of the saloon and public bars. The design has been kept simple and uncluttered. The public bar, below, has white painted brick walls: tables are from Race Furniture Ltd. chairs from Conran, and the built-in seating has been specially designed. The attractive 'lighting boxes', on the end wall, are of mahogany faced ply, trimmed with aluminium angle: the light is diffused by a sheet of opal Perspex. The dropped canopy over the bar contains grills for ventilation and Dined music. The saloon bar has amber coloured glass bricks on one wall to give a warm glow for relaxed drinking and reminiscing. Race tables and Conran chairs are again used in this bar.
This polypropylene baby bath was designed by Richard Neagle and made by Babymex, s.r.l. (Italy). Easy to handle and clean - and sensibly provided with a hole for hanging up - it is 21 1/2 inches long and 19 1/2 inches wide. It is designed to support the baby and prevents it from slipping under the water without the need for the mother's constant attention. Available from nursery equipment retailers in this country, the price is about £2 5s.
Aram Designs Ltd is now selling chairs manufactured to the designs which Le Corbusier produced in 1929. Basculant, shown below right, is in bright chrome steel tube with a black and white calf skin seat and back, and black leather strap armrests. It sells at £72 10s. Grand Confort, also in chrome steel tube, with loose cushions covered in aniline leather, sells at £168 2s (small version), below left, and £152 12s (large). Chaise Longue, illustrated above, is adjustable on its black enamelled steel base, and sells at £177 17s. One of the aims of Aram Designs is to bring into this country internationally known designs not previously available here. In addition to the Corbusier chairs, the firm also has on sale the famous Wassily chair, manufactured to Marcel Breuer's design of 1925. This sells at £61 2s 6d.
Building with light
An unusual lighting system, called Plux, has been developed by Gunter Schmitz of the Hochschule fur Gestaltung, Ulm. Based on a four inch module, the components comprise intersections acting as electrical dispensers, joining elements detailed either as sockets for bulbs or as connecting units between the intersections, and bulbs. With these components, a wide variety of lighting fittings can be built up, simple or complex as required, and in two or three dimensions. Except for the connection to the mains, there is no additional wiring however complex the shape created. The structures can be put on any horizontal surface, or fixed to walls or ceilings. Equally attractive as a tiny concentrated light source or as a large area of illumination, the system, in the words of the designer, "is an interesting object, appealing to the homo ludens in youngsters and adults". The prototype components were made mainly from duroplastic chromatic material with a flat finish.
Ministry's new method
A new industrial building system called the Public Building Frame has been developed by the Ministry of Public Building and Works under the general direction of L. R. Creasy, the director of civil engineering. It is an open system of precast concrete framing which is suitable for almost every type of multi-storey building. The system comprises very simple elements - storey-height columns, singlespan beams, floor and wall units and stair flights-which give the architect and engineer wide freedom in planning and design. The model, below right, shows the basic elements. A simple grouted pin and socket connection is employed as a standard joint. The simplicity of the components make for economy and ease of manufacture, and speed of erection. The Public Building Frame is currently in use for a number of projects, including new government offices under construction, see illustration top right, in the Horseferry Road, London. Copies of a booklet describing the Public Building Frame are available, free of charge, from the Cement and Concrete Association, 52 Grosvenor Gardens, London, SW1.
Tough stuff for the tots
The robust plastics tableware shown here was designed by Eric Slany and made by Benzing (West Germany). It is intended for children from about two years old. The range comprises a tray, plate, cup, saucer, knife, fork, spoon, and a slidespoon for the very young. The cups have large, easily graspable handles, and the plates and trays have 'lips' for convenient holding and carrying. The rounded edges on all the items help to make them safe. The tableware is stackable and can be machine washed.
A present from Scotland
Visitors to Scotland can find some well designed souvenirs made by Castlewynd Studios Ltd. a pottery in Inverness- shire run by James and Mary Crawford. The most attractive of the designs are the Highland cattle and sheep. The large Highland bull, shown here, sells at £1 9s, and the small one at 13s.
By the waters of Tyne
The new Rank Organisation hotel at Gateshead on Tyne, called The Five Bridges, was designed with businessmen in mind: it has several large conference rooms as well as bars, restaurants, dance floors and 108 bedrooms.
The design brief covering the interior and fitting out of the hotel was given to Tributus Design Unit, with instructions that the design should be modern, efficient and practical, and that, as far as possible, local materials. labour and equipment should be used. Both parts of the brief were faithfully carried out by the design team, led by Susan Ferguson. Most of the furniture, for instance, for the public areas was made in collaboration with the Merchandise Presentation, Northumberland, and all the beds were developed by Universal Bedding and Upholstery, Newcastle.
Local traditions of industry have not been forgotten either. A model of a ship's engine constructed on Tyneside in 1883, and discovered in Swan Hunter's attics, has been restored and put on display in the Steak Bar. The Tynesider bar is shown above.
The hotel is being used by the County Borough of Gateshead as the focal point of a large clearance and development project. The architects were H.Hubbard Ford and Partners.
Comments on cab design
J. B. Davey, author of Looking after the Lorry Driver(DESIGN 196/46-53), in which he described the Ergomatic cab developed by Leyland Motors, reports that a lighter version has now been produced for the medium weight Leyland Super Comet trucks. UntiI recently these vehicles had retained an older design of cab. In recent years the mass vehicle manufacturers, BMC, Vauxhall, Rootes and Ford, have tended to increase the load carrying capacity of their trucks and to enter the medium weight market, previously the preserve of the specialist lorry manufacturers. The cab designs have included some of the desirable features of vehicles likely to be used for local delivery work in town. In particular, it is an advantage to be able to cross the cab and to use the near side door instead of emerging into the traffic from the driver's door. In forward control cabs, the engine separates the driver from his mate.
To achieve a more or less flat floor without an abnormally tall cab, some manufacturers have laid the in-line engine on its side, while other have pushed it backwards under the seat and beyond, where it encroaches into the space normally profitably used for load carrying. The growing use of compact V6 and V8 engines has also helped to reduce the height of the engine cover.
In long distance haulage, which is what most medium weight lorries are used for, access to the driver's seat is not the most important design feature, but is a bonus that the driver gets in a lorry from one of the mass vehicle producers. Leyland use well tried vertical six cylinder in-line engines and this, together with the relatively low seating position, combine to make crossing the Ergomatic cab virtually impossible. It will be interesting to see whether the next generation of Leyland group engines will be more compact. It might then be possible to add cross cab access to the driver's seat to the already formidable list of advantages of this advanced design.
Hot and cold from Sweden
The Signatur vacuum carafe, right, takes boiling liquid without cracking: the inner container is of Rosalin steel glass, and the outer casing of ANS plastics produced in three colourways. The carafe will hold a litre of liquid. Complementing the carafe, is the Signatur vacuum container, far right, for hot or cold food. Materials and colours are similar to the carafe: the capacity is just under one litre. Both were designed by Carl-Arne Breger and are made by Aktiebolaget Husqvarna Borstfabrik.