Does your furniture have a passport?In most homes there is at least one piece of furniture that will have travelled through time and crossed country and borders with its protective owner. One of the FOUNDiiD partners has a modest coffee table which has been with him since the 1980s. This humbly crafted piece of furniture has lived in North London, on the English Coast, in East London, and now Limassol. In interior design, furniture can carry the strongest meaning for us in terms of owned objects.
The character of this human-object relationship is vividly described in a study called “Emotionalism in Furniture Design”. It says that it is “vital that designers understand how strong the connection can be. It’s so strong that people will keep a piece of furniture in their home for years and years, even after it’s broken. Maybe they never even particularly liked it, but it holds so much meaning to them. They are in a relationship with it and completely attached to it so they can never let it go. That is an astonishingly powerful connection. One which really lives with the owner at a basic level. One which fulfils meaningful and emotional needs”.
Price to Pride
For the greatest part of the past 50 years the emotional importance of furniture design has been largely neglected. The most common concern was the cost and potential financial return of furniture investments. Look at furniture simply in economic terms, the most impactful trend in home interior design had been the explosion in cheaper disposable furniture. At the same time the market for furniture as economic investments became a booming trend. Furniture came to be some of the most expensive objects ever sold in the antiques world.
Over the past twenty years however shopping habits and shoppers have changed. Driven by many factors, including the internet and the recent recession, we consumers have become far more knowledgeable and demanding. According to the writer Nicholas Lovell in the book The Curve, it is also the fact (he writes), that for Western Europe and the US, we live in a world where affordability, availability and quality is almost guaranteed. This is why, he recommends, the only way for business to set themselves apart from the crowd is to make people feel something.
Customers are now as likely to ask who made this?, who designed it? and what is the story of this object? and where was it made? as frequently as asking how much is it?. We are now looking at furniture in multiple ways, not just as functional necessities. We decide how right furniture is for us not just by style, design, functionality and cost, but also by its eco-sensibilities, its origin and the feeling it gives us.
FOUNDiiD has been fortunate to have worked for two home design and furniture companies whose philosophy and approach is deeply focused on the successful marriage of functional and emotional values:
Knoll furniture is one of the most celebrated furniture makers and collaborators of the past century. Founded in 1938 by Hans and Florence Knoll, the company believes that “design transcends style; it creates coherence in a chaotic world. Steeped in the history of modernism our vision is carried forward today by the most talented designers to bring order and beauty to life and work. Well-designed objects deliver efficiency, satisfaction and joy to the people who use them”.
Plain English Kitchens launched 50 years later than Knoll. Starting in a farmhouse deep in the British Countryside, the essence of their design originates from the plain architecture and simple domesticity which surrounded them.
Plain English Kitchens describe their furniture as referencing the values of the past and gently evolving to embrace the modern ways lived now. Their blend of the traditional and modern triggers a sense of warmth and familiarity. Most importantly it draws you in with a true “I want to cook here” feeling.
Cyprus – Hemonides
Hemonides are Nicosia based furniture makers with a family heritage which is three generations old. In 2008 they launched a new studio under the name Hemonides Applied Arts. Georgia Hemonidou and Vassilis Hemonides, the company partners, describe the importance of emotion and self expression in their handcrafted furniture:
“As third generation Cypriot furniture makers, we understand the emotional fluidity that comes with choosing items for the home and the office. Furniture, in many ways, not only serves practical purposes, it is also an expression and an extension of ourselves. Apart from being affected by passing trends, which are fluid, furniture also needs to highlight key elements of each individual personality, which is emotional.
Emotional fluidity never affects the quality or practicability of an item. These are values that are preset in the Hemonides signature. It does however affect the way an item presents itself in a room. Whether it merges harmoniously with its environment or acts as a showstopper; whether the chosen materials are earthy or industrial and whether the design is organic or rigid.
Form, materials and presence are the three key elements that will help you subconsciously choose an item of furniture that expresses who you are. While minimalism undoubtedly characterises all the Hemonides collections, by using carefully chosen combinations of this three-fold formula, we make sure there truly is something for everyone”.
Ireland – Aodh
Travelling to the other corner of Europe, we turn to Aodh (pronounced “A”). Established in 2011 by Garrett O’Haggen, Aodh works with local and international designers to create an Irish based design business with a strong global focus. It is Aodh’s Aran chair in particular that FOUNDiiD loves. It was designed by Garrett in collaboration with the Italian designer Alex Gufler and Knut Klimmek (who makes the furniture in his Dublin workshop).
In a newspaper interview* Garrett described the process of making the Aran chair. “It took me three years to work out the relationship between the seat and the backrest of the chair. The Aran chairs have that attention to detail that makes you still love them years later. That’s the difference between a luxury item with a fashion sensibility and an object that is so obsessively made that every surface is considered and you can see the craftsmanship in the joints.”
When we look to the furniture of these Cypriot and Irish makers, as well as to Knoll and Plain English Kitchens, we see objects designed for the home which have beauty and endurance. Furniture created to physically, functionally and emotionally fulfils our long term needs. Furniture which might just travel the world with us.
The Design Collaboration
FOUNDiiD are proud to collaborate with Hemonides in a showcase of their craft at our Limassol workspace. A selection of elegant Hemonides chairs are complimented with a Window Design which reflects the simple, solid and beautiful design values of FOUNDiiD.
* Irish Independent: Sitting pretty: Irish designers wow London with high-quality bespoke furniture.