The portfolios of National Design Awards winners
include Saks Fifth Avenue brand identity and
packaging by Michael Bierut, winner, design mind.
ARBITERS OF STYLEThe Smithsonian’s Cooper- Hewitt, National Design Museum in New York recently announced winners of its Ninth Annual National Design Awards, which recognize excellence in a variety of disciplines, from interior design and architecture to fashion and product design. Recipients include Tom Kundig (architecture), the Olin Partnership (landscape design) and the Rockwell Group (interior design). The public can cast votes for their favorite style-makers in the museum’s People’s Design Award. Ballots are online from September 22 through October 21; the winner will be announced at the Cooper-Hewitt’s awards gala on October 23. To cast your vote and see a full list of 2008 National Design Awards recipients, visit the Web site www.cooperhewitt.org.
—Sharon Jaffe Dan
ARRIVALS ON THE DESIGN SCENE
JANUS et Cie: Los Angeles-based JANUS et Cie makes its Washington debut in a spacious new two-story showroom in Georgetown’s Cady’s Alley. The company is known for its range of comfortable and elegant interior and exterior furnishings (including the new powder-coated aluminum Forest chair, below). The light-filled showroom will also feature exquisite accessories, textiles and rugs.JANUS et Cie is located at 3304 M Street, NW; 202-333-8111; www.janusetcie.com.
Warp & Weft: Following the success of his New York location, Michael Mandapati is opening a second carpet gallery in The Washington Design Center in September. Designed by architect David Jameson, the showroom will feature an array of antique and modern rugs. 202-554-4949; www.warpandweft.com.
Sylvia Gottwald, a Harvard-trained architect, knows a thing or two about the synergy between design and materials. She spent 10 years as director of design for Washington’s Ronald Reagan International Trade Center and worked on similar developments around the globe.
So when she began designing avant-garde jewelry, the shift was partly because “it’s an instant gratification,” Gottwald says. “These large, multi-purpose projects that I used to work on take forever. So maybe this was an urge to get into something that takes no time.”
Gottwald’s designs juxtapose exotic, iridescent shells with industrial, manmade materials such as rubber, steel, leather and chain mail. Her necklaces, rings, earrings and brooches are edgy, modern and thoroughly unique.
During extensive travels in Asia, the Croatian-born Gottwald started to collect rare shells. In 1999 while living in Paris, she created her first shell jewelry. These early pieces were featured in French Vogue and Elle Décor and Gottwald’s second career was born. Her work has been shown at the National Museum of Women in the Arts
in DC, at the Palais du Louvre in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in New York.
Today, she splits her time between a home in DC and a 15th-century Venetian-style villa on the Croatian island of Korcula, where she displays her collection every summer in her own boutique. In between, she journeys to the Far East to buy non-endangered mother of pearl, abalone, paua and Turbo marmoratus shells.
Then the design process begins. “You can do two million things out of each one of these shells. What actually gives me pleasure is to explore as many possibilities as you can and take the material as far as it will possibly go,” she says. “It’s the same thing as architecture.”
Gottwald’s wearable art is available locally at Zenith Gallery, Keith Lipert Gallery and the Sidney Harman Hall gift shop or by appointment. Phone 202-387-5681.
MODERN to the EXTREME
When Corcoran College of Art + Design student and DC native Marc Ross chose iconic designers Charles and Ray Eames as the subjects of his senior thesis, he didn’t intend to design a chair based on their principles.
A husband-and-wife team, the Eames produced visionary, compact, affordable seating out of plywood, fiberglass, bent wire and plastic. The furniture was only part of their effort to make modern design an agent of social change.
“It happened unconsciously and came together organically,” says Ross, 23, who now works for his family’s business, Spectrum West, a manufacturer of mid-century-modern acrylic furniture in Jessup, Maryland. “I wanted to push the topic to the extreme and tie my research together, but the question was ‘Could I design and produce a chair and work on my thesis in six months?’”
The answer is the Lore Swivel Chair, with its aerodynamically molded acrylic seat and single-continued on page 34 stem aluminum swivel base. “When you sit in my chair, it carries a period with it and a thought process. And it pays homage to modern designers,” says Ross. He named the chair for his grandmother, Lore Ross, who had one of modernist Harry Bertoia’s wire chairs in her Victorian home.
Ross began sketching the Lore in the fall and then transferred his drawings to the computer. While other students spent their winter break relaxing, Ross visited Spectrum West production facilities in Thailand. For a month he worked on drawings that were transferred to a laser cutter. Then, the heated acrylic template was bent over a mold of plywood and metal before it was buffed, sanded and polished by hand. It was not until the fifth mold that Ross was satisfied with the way the chair “sat.” A prototype was produced in charcoal acrylic before he had to return to DC to finish his senior year.
During spring break, Ross went back to Thailand to make final modifications. He brought back the finished chair, which was displayed with his senior project at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in May. The Lore Swivel Chair, now part of Spectrum West’s luxury collection, is available in clear, white and charcoal at Vastu in Washington, DC.
Ross is now working on sketches for another chair “based on mod fashion” and the Eames aesthetic of functionalism in three dimensional, shaped surfaces of flexible materials. As Charles Eames once said, “The ‘looks good’ can change, but what works, works.”
Vastu is located at 1829 14th Street, NW; 202-234-8344; www.vastudc.com. For more information on Spectrum West, visit www.SpectrumWest.net.
—Alice Leccese Powers
JANUS et Cie
Architect Sylvia Gottwald and her daughter Gaella model
Marc Ross and his new Lore Swivel Chair