Quirky Dutch Design Challenge - Design Bureau

Furniture manufacturer Arco invited the 10 designers of Okay Studio to take over an empty Dutch warehouse to create a new collection of work.

A breadbox that moonlights as a knife holder and cutting board. Designer: Raw-Edges

Totem is a series that puts Arco’s scrap materials to use. Now there’s a place to hang your hat. Designer: Oscar Narud

AutoBox. Designer: Andrew Haythornthwaite

In one sleight of hand, a curious, wooden container called AutoBox opens to reveal itself as a dry bar in disguise. Designer Andrew Haythornthwaite created the incognito boozer as one of three pieces that explore the function of levers and pulleys. The smooth mechanics might seem a bit novel, but their imaginative functionality nods to Arco’s reputation as an innovator and the Okay Studio’s modern spin on craftsmanship.

Sleek, simple machines aren’t the only surprise. What appears as an inconspicuous magazine rack on rollers, is, upon closer inspection, a portable armrest. Designer Peter Marigold adapted a traditional Japanese design for Western use. Wait — there’s more! The humorous but fully functioning lean-to has a built-in compartment for your favorite pencil.

Hallie says:

where can i get me one of those bread boxes?

Quirky Dutch Design Challenge

Thursday, September 29th, 2011

by Sarah Handelman
photos by Lucas Hardonk 

Down the road from the historic Victoria & Albert Museum and tucked behind Brompton’s traditional well-moneyed residential facades, one not-to-be-missed exhibition is almost missable. But make the right few turns, and you’ll discover a breath of fresh air and furniture design in the midst of more conventional shops and showrooms.

Dutch furniture manufacturer Arco challenged ten designers of the London-based Okay Studio to create works from wood that departed from Arco’s existing collection. No chairs, tables, or cupboards. Oh, and one more thing: they had one week to realize their work. The brief might seem limiting, but the studio — the second group to participate in the Arco collaboration —  transformed restriction into imaginative explorations of what furniture can be. Sliding, rolling, rising, releasing — the result, which includes jointed coat racks, a sliding desk, and a dramatically minimalist breadbox and knife holder, takes on a life of its own. Viewer beware: this furniture is not what it seems.

If it all seems like a bit of nerdy gadgetry with a kiss of the Dutch, you might be right. But without taking themselves too seriously, the designers and pieces within the Arco/Okay collaboration genuinely celebrate and challenge the intersection of tradition, craft, and innovation. We can roll with that.

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