Thursday, 22 June 2017

Alchemists of Minimalism: Tommaso Nani and Noa Ikeuchi

Alchemists at work at Palazzo Litta in Milan. Designers Tommaso Nani and Noa Ikeuchi of Mist-o examine their glass designs for Ichendorf.  Portrait by Ilaria Cilli
Tommaso Nani and Noa Ikeuchi create designs that are odes to the beauty of simplicity and a Zen-like purity of form. This Italian and Japanese duo found a common language and opened their studio, Mist-o, five years ago in Milan and Tokyo, creating a cultural bridge between Europe and Asia. Today, their clients include iconic Italian brands such as Cappellini and Tod’s. Last year they received the EDIDA Young Japanese talent award by Elle Decor Japan. Jeanne-Marie Cilento asks them 10 Questions about their life and work. Portraits by Ilaria Cilli at Palazzo Litta in Milan

Designers Noa Ikeuchi
& Tommaso Nani
ON a hot summer evening in Rome, standing high up on the grassy knoll of the Emperor Trajan's imperial forum, jazz music drifting up to the leafy crowns of maritime pines, Milanese designers look disdainfully across to the ancient exedra of the red-brick market below. Their Roman counterpart, Apollodorus of Damascus,Trajan's loyal architect, designed the market in the 2nd-century and its complex of grocers, apartments and the world's first shopping mall. The stylish Northern Italians are more interested in seeing their own new sleek designs exhibited in the great, vaulted hall, still strewn with ancient fragments of Corinthian columns and reliefs of ancient battles. Despite their Modernist forms, some of these 21st century pieces were hand-carved in Carrara marble, linking this new generation of sophisticated architects back to their forbears 2000 years ago. One of the designers who looked on with pleasure at this baroque party, held at the heart of the emperor's former Roman kingdom to celebrate the opening of a new Italian design exhibition, is Tommaso Nani. Warm and jovial in person and interested in everything around him, the designer creates pieces that are so stripped back to their essence they seem Japanese in their Zen-like purity. And there is a strong element of Japan, as Tommaso Nani works with Noa Ikeuchi at their studio Mist-o in Milan and Tokyo.

Speaking to a keen audience in Milan
at their Palazzo Litta exhibition
The duo opened the design studio five years ago as a cultural bridge between Europe and Asia. Their work includes slim, fine furniture and small, limited edition objects and interior design projects. Both Tommaso Nani and Noa Ikeuchi live between Japan and Italy, working in the two countries to develop their own design language. Even if their backgrounds are very different, they discovered a shared sensibility for the poetry of simplicity with a certain formal discipline combined with functionality. The designers work with artisans all over the world and they believe this working method enhances their understanding of local cultures. Today, their clients include well-kown Italian brands such as Cappellini, Ichendorf, Living Divani, Oluce and Tod’s. In 2016 they received the EDIDA Young Japanese talent award by Elle Decor Japan.

Noa Ikeuchi and Tommaso Nani
with their glassware designed for Ichendorf 
1. Where did you grow up and does this place inspire your creative work?
I grew up in Italy, and Noa in Japan and the cultures of our countries have been an important influence on both of us. The societies shaped each of our the personalities in a very different way. I am much more a “city boy” ~  I grew up in Milan which is a big town that gives you a lot different influences, stress and forces you to live fast ~ more or less like every big city in the world. However, Noa grew up in the countryside, on the Izu Peninsula, South-West of Tokyo on the Pacific Coast a part of Shizuoka Prefecture. It is set amid nature and, of course, life is slower and calmer. Later he moved to Tokyo before coming to Italy to study.

We have been shaped by these different environments and our work is a reflection of that. The interesting thing is that we met when were quite young and became good friends at around nineteen years old ~ an age when humans are still very receptive to stimuli, so we influenced each a lot with our different ways of being. Together we shaped our vision of the world and our way of seeing design. Is difficult to define ourselves, but in our work we are looking for a sort of delicacy mixed with a strictness and functionality that gives life to logical, simple shapes. We try to give them a unique character, and perhaps designs can be seen as a sort of summation of our way of being.

 "In our work we are looking for delicacy mixed with a strictness and functionality"

The Mist-o exhibition of Ichendorf glassware
 at Palazzo Litta during Milan Design Week
2. Why did you choose design as your artistic metier?
If you are a curious person, design gives you the possibility to explore many different things and not to repeat the same day every day. Of course, there is a routine, but it is a profession in which you can learn many different things and it gives you the possibility to deal with various projects and situations. For example, you can be involved in designing small products hand-made by an old artisan, but also design products for the mass market that come from a big, technological machine. Or sometimes the project involves both of those things, starting with a primitively crafted object and ending up with an industrial product. Good design is not easy and is often much more complicated than this, but there is always a new journey at the start of every project.

3. How did you get your break into the design world and have your work manufactured and sold in stores or galleries? 
We started with the Salone Satellite in 2010 at the Milan Furniture Fair because it is a fantastic place for young designers to show their first projects and fresh ideas and show them to a large and cultured public. From that point, it took us some years to established our studio and to find the right companies who were interested in manufacturing our ideas, but in that period we kept doing research to feed our ideas and start shaping our design language. Mostly in the last few years we have worked with companies that produce and market our projects, but we are very interested in collaborating with galleries or editors, it is something we are looking for, especially to explore more deeply the cultural research behind a design.

Hand-weaving the Daydream Daybead,
designed by Mist-o for Living Divani.
Photo: Alberto Strada
4. How did you and Noa meet?  How has working together had effected your design careers so far?
We both studied Milano, and we first met at university, we were class mates. We became friends and for the first year we were just close friends, and after a while we realized we have similar aesthetic sense, and that we are both very curious about each other's culture and very interested to see things from a different perspective. We came from places that are almost polar opposites, so this mix was perfect to fulfil our curiosity. This was the experience that had the greatest impact on our design career, not a specific person or a training but this very personal and unique exchanging of culture.

5. Today, your studio is based between Milan and Tokyo ~ what does each city give you creatively?
If you are curious, both cities give you have many opportunities to experience and to learn beautiful things. Both cities are full of energy, and both have a sort of very unique intimate atmosphere. Milan is a city that is quite small in size but the quality of living and the atmosphere is very European and yet it feels international. Tokyo is a huge city, but it’s replete with small things, tiny gaps between buildings, narrow streets, short distances between very different districts… So I always find this contrast very unique and fascinating, and it also gives you a feeling of warmth.

"Tokyo is a huge city, but it’s replete with small things, tiny gaps between buildings, narrow streets, short distances between very different districts…"

Ichendorf Tequila Sunrise Carafe by Mist-o
2013-2016. Photo: Aberto Strada
6. Do you find your creative process when designing is more rational or instinctive?
It is very instinctive at the beginning, we start quickly from a rough idea without thinking too much of designing the right shape or doing something pretty. We try to keep a sort of fresh approach. But later our process is very rational and logical, and we try to find the essence of a design, in order to give life to a clear concept, and not just to design a minimal object. We look for a deep and comprehensible simplicity. We also have to be very clear and logical to understand each other, we both work on all projects together so we need to eliminate all the unnecessary things that creates "noise" in the process.

7. What do find the most challenging aspect of working as designers? And what is the most challenging aspect of your work technically?
The most challenging aspect is also the most interesting ~  to keep the uniqueness, freshness and even naive approach to design, in order not to repeat yourself. And this means you have to be extremely curious and you should have broad cultural interests and a fascination with many different things to feed your creativity. Technically the most challenging aspect is that design is not only drawing a pretty shape, but it is always a new journey with a lot of unknown endings. For example, new technologies and new production methods, different budgets and contracts plus your relationship with the clients are not always the same. Each time we have to be very quick to understand a situation or a context and learn to deal with the people involved. If we take on a project we want to know as much as we can before we start designing, in order to make the journey as smooth as possible. We are still quite young and I think the more our careers grow the more we learn, but with design there will always be unknown and unexpected situations to deal with.

 "We try to keep the uniqueness, freshness and even naive approach to design, in order not to repeat ourselves"

Fruit bowl prototype by Mist-o designed in 2011
Photo: Alberto Strada
8. What part of the designing and making process gives you the most happiness? 
Every part of the design process has something that gives us happiness: when you come up with some good ideas or when you solve some problems with the design, or when we take the pictures of the final products, and many other things ~ we are passionate about our work! But also being a duo as designers sometimes can also be frustrating, for example when one of us thinks he come up with some great ideas and the other doesn’t agree…We have to put our ego aside and find a common ground and it is not always easy. But most of the time this leads to unexpected and better solutions. It is probably the part of the job that every creative duo has to deal with.

9. Do you have a set schedule of working creatively everyday or is the process more fluid?
Our team is geographically spread all over the world for most of the year, so the work process is well organised. For example, when we are in different countries we make a Skype call every day (early morning in Italy, late afternoon in Japan) to update on the what has happened during the day and to decide about what the most important daily tasks. On the other hand the creative process is fluid and it takes time, although you always have to deal with deadlines and appointments so the process is not random and programming is crucial.
"Design is a discipline that if it is done well and with deep thought and research can offer positive improvements to life"
Mist-o's Atlantis Flower Vase designed for Cappellini.
Photo: Alberto Streada
10. In our digital age, what does design give us as an art form?
Design is something with a very wide meaning and it can be applied to almost every aspect of life, both physical and digital, but the real issue is what kind of culture you bring to it, which is that certain uncontrollable thing that gives the elegance and the character to a design.
In any age, good design should improve our lives.  Through design you try to solve things: you try to find a solution to both very small problems to big issues dealing with social and economic hardships. Design is a discipline that if it is done well and with deep thought and research can offer positive improvements to life.


Monday, 19 June 2017

Fashion & the Future: Interview with Christian Lacroix Creative Director Sacha Walckhoff

"I believe you can still say a lot through fashion. I think there is the possibility to express something really interesting," says Sacha Walckhoff, photographed in Paris by Elodie Dupuis. Cover picture, backstage at Issey Miyake Paris, by Elli Ioannou.
Christian Lacroix's Creative Director Sacha Walckhoff talks to Jeanne-Marie Cilento from his Paris atelier about fashion, creativity and the future. Photographs by CG Watkins 

TALL and handsome with an infectious laugh, Christian Lacroix's creative director Sacha Walckhoff brings his ebullient artistic energy to the house's menswear and lifestyle collections. After the eponymous couturier left the house five years ago, Mr Walckhoff has brought a fresh vision to the French brand. He worked closely with Christian Lacroix for 17 years so has a profound understanding of the house's artistic origins.

Sacha Walckhoff & Christian Lacroix
during the glory years with the couturier
Speaking from his Parisian studio, he says: “Today's collections are also very close to Christian Lacroix the man, even if we are not working together anymore. I'm still faithful to the spirit, the origin of the house. People associate Lacroix with very colourful prints. But I think there is another level of the brand which is about an artistic vision.” As a designer, Sacha Walckhoff works on many different projects for both fashion and interior design and brings a very passionate approach to his own creations. “I think everything in life is about what you feel, so feelings for me are very potent,” he says. “They are the foundation of the Lacroix brand too ~ it is all about creating emotions first. Then of course there are colours and prints. But the reason why the house is still alive is because it is built on feelings. I think that is why so many people are attached to Christian Lacroix.”

"Feelings are the foundation of the Lacroix brand ~ it is all about creating emotions first."

Sacha Walckhoff with actor Julie Delpy
 at Lacroix in the early 1990s
He says the ideas behind the men's SS16 collections and Nouveaux Mondes home ware are contemporary yet still connected to the history of Lacroix. “I want to express tolerance and being open minded, this is what society should be. But it is very important for me to have an eye on the past and know where you are coming from. You have to know your past to go into the future. This is the theme of the collections this year. We still use the symbols of Lacroix, like flowers which could be quite traditional such as roses and peonies. But we put stripes on them and create a graphic statement and suddenly the flowers seem very modern.
"At Lacroix we have a story and yet we find a way to make it relevant. In the beginning, when I was appointed artistic director five years ago we went through the archives but I didn't want to change the designs otherwise people wouldn't recognise them. But we also realised very quickly that the things we took from the archives were not successful ~ because they were made at a special moment and now the times have changed."

Urban hubris SS16. Photo: CG Watkins
Looking at fashion on the streets, Sacha Walckhoff sees it as increasingly casual. "The problem with casual is that it is not very elegant ~ a very French statement! But you know in Paris in the 14th and 15th arrondissments, I see guys with beautiful suits and girls wearing beautiful dresses, jackets and hats. So the street style can look very good. But today people are lot fatter now than in the past and this is related to why they choose more casual wear."
As far as current trends in fashion, he still sees a slender aesthetic."People are wearing very slim lines, slim outfits and slim trousers, the young generation are still very body conscious."

The men who buy from the Christian Lacroix boutique in Paris are a heterogeneous group of artists, architects and lawyers from 25 years old upwards. "They are looking for something amusing with a good cut and good print with exquisite designs and fabrics. We are close to our clients. I am always trying to make the perfect shirts and suits. Pieces that you are happy to wear every day and then find them again in the next collection.When men find what they love, the right cut of pants or shirt ~ they don't want us to stop!"

"I believe you can still say a lot through fashion, you have the possibility to express something interesting."

Nature rules in the Paris suburbs. Photo: CG Watkins
Today, the fashion world has changed as luxury brands have some of their biggest clientele in Asia not Europe: "They were starving for fashion because of the political situations in their countries. I think what they are going through now is what we went through in the 1960s and 70s. Europeans are not our largest clients anymore. We have other situations that are very difficult here: people are too busy fighting for work, for places to live, really struggling. It is a difficult moment to talk about fashion in Europe because it is very frivolous. But I believe you can still say a lot through fashion. I think you have the possibility to express something interesting and the more that is expressed the better."

But the designer comments that he is surprised that many young designers are not expressing themselves as creatively as in the past with what they wear and design for themselves. "Today, when you look at men's collections that are very trendy, colourful and full of strange shapes ~ it is made for people to talk about and not to be worn. In the 1980s, we were making strange clothing but we were wearing it. We wanted to have originality and if you couldn't find what you wanted we made our own clothing. But now it is different as all of those young guys who are designing crazy outfits don't wear them. They are still wearing jeans and t-shirts as the designer and coming out on to the runway. It is very bizarre to me! It is like they are presenting clothes that they don't want to wear themselves.

"People do not wear what they are designing today. We need people who are a bit crazy and creative not only for the runway but also in real life."

Sacha Walckhoff as a young designer in Paris
"We were designing clothes and wearing them because we wanted to really express ourselves. I think fashion is becoming just an image ~ it is not real any more. Truly it is a feeling I have right now that people do not wear what they are designing. We need people who are a bit crazy and creative not only for the runway but also in real life." Mr Walckhoff  has an encyclopedic knowledge of fashion and can explain the history and provenance of a new jacket going back to influences from the Renaissance to David Bowie. But he thinks that the way new designers often just take ideas from the past directly without creating something new is very dull. "I don't think inspiration should be so literal as it is today ~ you need to transform it. I know the history of every piece of fashion. This is why at Lacroix I am always reworking designs from the past ~ but it never looks like the original. This is what is interesting in our world. I think it is a bit boring when you just take something and you reissue it. It is not something I would like to do."

Talking about the power of the fashion image today the designer believes it is more difficult to make an impact because we have visual overload. "We are bombarded by images today with the Internet and social media. It is difficult because you have to edit them all of the time. I am a bit afraid of being insensible to images in the future because there are just too many to filter through your mind. Even when you wake-up there are so many images to digest ~ even before having your coffee." Mr Walkhoff is also concerned about the increasing mechanisation of everyday life that makes us more distant from hand-crafted designs and

"We are bombarded by images today with the Internet and social media. I am a bit afraid of being insensible to images in the future."

Colour & embroidery SS16. Photo: CG Watkins
"I was talking to [Dutch designer] Marcel Wanders, we were saying the machines will take over ~ they don't need food or rest ~ and one day there will be robots on the runway and robots making the collections and robots buying the clothes. We will be left at our country houses out of it all!" he says laughing. "With the new menswear collection, maybe it is about the fact that in an increasingly mechanised world nature is still much stronger than anything man can create. Maybe it is something unconscious trying to say that nature will always win ~ that is really the theme of this menswear collection."

Working with designer Jose Gandia, head of Lacroix's Studio Homme, on the collection, Sacha Walckhoff wanted to design classic clothes with a young and modern twist. There are very well cut suits in beautiful fabrics with linings made out of silk as well as prints and embroideries. All of the sweaters are from cotton so they are very breathable with others in Jacquard with embroidery. "The house is known for its mix and match, combining different things like prints, flowers, bright colours such as fuschia that in the end really work," says Mr Gandia. "This season we found the colours of Paris suburbs interesting, you feel like you could almost be in LA. It was very nice to shoot there."

Industrial Paris SS16. Photo: CG Watkins
For the collection's photo shoot, nature and the city were big inspirations. Mr Walckoff worked with photographer CG Watkins to shoot the pictures in the suburbs of Paris. “Nature is always stronger than man-made cities ~ here in the Parisian suburbs even though the plants grow in small spaces and on balconies ~ there is still a spirit of wildness. So we wanted to have the pictures taken in places which were quite built up but at the same time nature still managed to grow there." The photographer, who grew up in Australia, was very attracted to the idea of going to the outer suburbs in Paris to shoot. "It was really interesting and it was so busy ~ I didn't think the suburbs were so busy," Sacha Walckhoff says. "We went to a squat and saw this whole universe of people who are free and living with a certain wildness. They are constructing a new way of life. In some ways, it is a spirit that for me is quite close to what Lacroix is all about.The collection is based on both human nature and the wilderness which is coming out in the cities ~ despite the concrete."

"I like to have a creative dialogue with my colleagues when I am working ~ I feed them but they also need to feed me."

Mr Walckhoff say the menswear collection expresses his vision of Lacroix. "Collaborating with CG Watkins who is British but raised in Australia we talked a lot about the dessert. You can feel it in all of his images. It is always good to have a link with the young photographers and the young magazines because it is the kind of customer we want to share the collection with. We have a lot of customers who are faithful to the brand. But it is also important to be connected to the young generation ~ it is a great way to do it working with young photographers."

Christian Lacroix's Nouveaux Mondes collection
The first collection of Christian Lacroix lifestyle was created in 2011. Mr Walckhoff is now responsible for overseeing the design of the menswear collections, eye wear, sunglasses lines, scarves and leather goods collections as well as home décor. The lifestyle and home wares collections have been very successful along with the menswear, but the creative director doesn't rule out a return to designing women's fashion again in the future.
Sacha Walckhoff has a special way of working artistically with his team at Lacroix. Designer Jose Gandia says: "It is a real pleasure working with Sacha as each season I discover something fresh as he presents a new book, a new artist for our inspiration. We share ideas then we work out what we want. We talk about the exhibitions we have seen and how that inspires us."

As artistic director, Sacha Walckhoff makes a presentation to his team twice a year and then the other designers have an input for specific collections. "Sometimes they propose things that make the designs richer," he says. "I like to have a creative dialogue with my colleagues when I am working ~ I feed them but they also need to feed me. I need interaction, this is my way of working. If I don't like something I just say it. But I love it when an idea comes from the studio and makes the concept deeper and more interesting. I welcome new ideas while keeping the vision of Christian Lacroix."

Tuesday, 13 June 2017

Contemporary Art and Design are Thriving in Brussels

 Maarten Van Severen's LCP chaise longue made from a single, folding piece of transparent methcrylate designed in 2002, part of the Plasticarium Collection at the Brussels ADAM design museum. Cover picture of the Atomium and all photographs for DAM by Elli Ioannou

We take a look at the flourishing art and design scene in Brussels which is rapidly expanding with strong investment and government support. Funding from the EU and local government bodies has doubled in the past three years as part of the city’s strategy to become a cultural hub in Europe. Elli Ioannou reports

The Tour & Taxi building that houses Art Brussels
CONTEMPORARY art weeks in Brussels resemble the pace of a Paris fashion week. The city swarms with international art buyers, galleries and art media. Next year, Brussels is the official European city of contemporary art reflecting its changing cultural landscape. Economic expansion and investment in art and design has made them thrive. Allocated funding from the EU and local government bodies has doubled in the last three years as part of the city’s strategy to become a cultural hub in Europe. Significant international and local art fairs plus new museums are being hosted in developing areas of Brussels, bridging the socio-economic divide between uptown and downtown.

The 35th Art Brussels fair was held in a formerly industrial district, within the Tour & Taxi hangar. In this redeveloping area of Brussels, there are innovative and ecologically sympathetic architectural developments and the new headquarters of Environment Brussels. Ultimately, the area will offer a mix of diverse housing, work spaces, state-of-the-art conference and seminar venues plus retail, leisure facilities and publicly accessible open space.

In 2018, Brussels is the official European city of contemporary art reflecting its changing cultural landscape

Soaring staircase at Maison Delvaux
Today, design and art can be found everywhere in Brussels. Highlights include, the Maison Delvaux flagship boutique, situated in the heart of the city. It prides itself on being the oldest luxury leather company in the world, operating continuously since 1829 ~ even before Hermes opened. Located in a grand 19th Century former private mansion, the space reflects the brand's philosophy of fusing tradition with innovation and an identity and history connected to Belgium. Walking into Maison Delvaux, you see a majestic curving staircase of wood and marble rising up at the entrance to the top of the mansion. The main room, visible from Boulevard de Waterloo, includes designs displaying luxury bags and accessories with a tribute to Mondrian. A table of glass and iron by Pieter de Bruyne, on the original parquetry wooden floor, is the centre piece, with a minimal display of fine leather handbags. Other original features include a vast bow window spanning two levels and various movable displays. Exhibitions on the first floor include a ‘cabinet de curiosites’ displaying a history of handbags from various creators as seen through the Aumonères collection, some dating back to 17th Century.

Selected design pieces in the permanent collection include a marble, leather and bronze table by Ben Storms, hexagonal brass chandeliers, 'Osaka' by Jules Wabbes, made for the 1970 world fair's Belgian pavilion, a light chandelier by Nathalie Dewez called 'Prism' and an organically shaped desk designed in 1952 by Renaat Braem. Maison Delvaux is neither an art gallery or a typical boutique but offers a unique experience mixing its mid 20th Century design collection of furniture, the handsome 19th Century building and its fine luxury handbags.

The Art and Design Atomium Museum in Brussels
The Art and Design Atomium Museum (ADAM ) pays homage to plastic and its impact on design with its current exhibition titled 'Plasticarium'  from the permanent collection. The ADAM is currently the only museum in Brussels dedicated to art and design from the 20th and 21st Century. The building itself has a classic concrete cube style interior, designed by architects Lhoas & Lhoas. The exterior is a minimalist tube made of mirrored glass, the main architectural signature is the entrance designed by Jean Nouvel, with its bright primary coloured staircase, duplicated in reverse on the ceiling. The colour palette refers to the plastic furniture in the exhibition. The nucleus of the 'Plasticarium' show is mainly from the private collection of Philippe Decelle, including prototypes and everyday objects from the 1960s and '70s. In addition, other works were sourced from a combination of international public collections and galleries. The pieces from the collection show baby boomers’ freedom of expression in the Sixties and designers creating signature pieces that are still iconic today.

The Art and Design Atomium Museum pays homage to plastic and its impact on design with the Plasticarium Collection

Colourful Sixties and Seventies television designs
The vast exhibition includes categories of so-called 'pop-functionalism', for example a long display of various television designs that finishes with the first Mac desktop computer. Other noteworthy pieces are the inflatable and transparent furniture and the anti-design, contemporary pieces. Decelle's collection began in 1987 when he rescued a Joe Colombo chair from a dustbin, eventually prompting him to launch his Plasticarium collection in the heart of Brussels. An ardent collector, Decelle's collection is the only one of its kind in the world. He has collected several thousand plastic items, spanning from 1960, when the first piece of furniture made entirely from plastic was produced, to 1973, the year of the oil crisis.

The collection has been extended to the post-pop era of today. Although various major museums have already exhibited its key pieces, such as Tate London, few Belgians are familiar with the entire collection, including items from every aspect of daily life, including TV sets and Tupperware. There are also original works by many famous designers, including Joe Colombo, Verner Panton, Philippe Starck, Charles Kaisin and others.

The brilliant exhibtion of design from the
Plasticarium Collection
The collection celebrates plastic, a cheap material that has inspired so many designers. Originally it was a product of the economic boom of the Sixties when a generation embraced fun, vividly hued furniture that could be mass produced. For designers this new material symbolised cheerfulness and unpretentiousness. Philippe Decelle's pieces give expression to a new era that felt relaxed and light-hearted. Plastic inspired Pop Art designers and artists alike, in this collection you can see work by Belgium's Evelyne Axell as well as pieces by the New Realists César and Arman. The oil crisis of 1973 heralded the end of the golden period of plastic design. Soon plastic's impact on the environment also became clear. At the ADAM there is a special section devoted to pieces that have been made from resin or recycled plastic.

The Art & Design Atomium Museum is part of Brussels' International Trade Mart (BITM), almost half of which is to be devoted to the permanent collection of the Plasticarium. Overall, it comprises more then 2,000 pieces ranging from everyday objects to works of art via designer items. As there will not be sufficient space in the ADAM to present the collection in its entirety, the display will be rotated on an annual basis. This will offer visitors a different experience with every new visit to the museum.
Tap images for full-screen slideshow
The Art and Design Atomium Museum ADAM with an entrance designed by Jean Nouvel
Cesare Leonardi and Franca Stagi's 'Dondolo' 1969, part of the Plasticarium collection at Brussels ADAM
The enormous Plasticarium collection of iconic and everyday designs at ADAM
Transparent sculptural, fantasies part of Philippe Decelle's original collection that he began in 1987
 Maison Delvaux's Renaat Braem1952 organic desk
Display at the stylish Maison Delvaux housed in a 19th Century mansion
The dramatic stripes and curves of Renaat Braem's 1952 desk and chair at Maison Delvaux
 Jules Wabbes hexagaonal brass chandeliers at Maison Delvaux
Pieter De Bruyne's Mondrian-inspired table at Maison Delvaux
Natalie Dewez's 'Prism' chandelier at Maison Delvaux
The former industrial Docks area of Brussels that is being redeveloped

The sustainable new Environment Brussels building in the Docks area

Wednesday, 24 May 2017

Cannes Film Festival: Hollywood Foreign Press Association Benefit

Cover picture of Cindy Bruna on the red carpet wearing a crystalline Georges Hobeika haute couture gown at the premiere of Sofia Coppola's new film The Beguiled

One of the highlights of the packed calendar at this year's Cannes Film Festival was the star studded benefit hosted by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for the International Rescue Committee at Nikki Beach. The throng of actors included Tilda Swinton, Jake Gyllenhaal, Dustin Hoffman, Ben Stiller, Emma Thompson and Lily Collins, Jeanne-Marie Cilento & Antonio Della Rovere report

Tilda Swinton looking graceful in a
Schiaparelli dress with Ahn Seo-Hyun
AS the sun set in a sea of pink and lilac clouds over the rippling bay at Cannes, the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) hosted their annual philanthropic benefit at Nikki Beach across the Croisette from the Carlton Hotel. This year, the event was held for the International Rescue Committee (IRC), a nonprofit organisation giving aid to humanitarian crises worldwide and helping people effected by conflict and disaster to rebuild their lives. The press association donated $500,000, with actor Jake Gyllenhaal accepting the donation on behalf of the IRC.

Under the evening's twilight sky, the water lapping the sandy beach, the crowd of lively high profile actors, directors and producers gathered to hear the press association's president Lorenzo Soria talking about the work of the International Rescue Committee. Tilda Swinton, co-starring with Gyllenhal and Lily Collins in the new film Okja, said she believes we need to know people can rely on each other in times of need. "Its so important that people know we can trust each other," she said. "There is a lot spoken these days about how different we all are, the truth is we are much more alike that we are different. And the more we can remind people that we can look after one another and that our innate dignity is dependent on us treating each other with dignity the better."

 The Meyerowitz Stories director Noah Baumbach
with Dustin Hoffman
Dustin Hoffman in dapper black tie said he felt quite emotional at the event as his own parents were immigrants from Eastern Europe. The actor had just come from the Grand Theatre where he received an ovation for his work on American director Noah Baumbach’s new movie The Meyerowitz Stories with co-stars Ben Stiller, Adam Sandler and Emma Thompson. The comedy follows a Jewish family and their eccentricities, successes and failures while living in New York City.

Greta Gerwig, Baumbach's partner, said she thinks its important that actors and others in the industry bring attention to humanitarian issues. “Its amazing how the Hollywood Foreign Press Association giving so generously to this crisis," she says. "It's part of the responsibility of artists and those who support them to draw the worlds attention to crises that need help."

Many of the actors gathered among the white cushions and banquettes overlooking the beach were not only there to support the International Relief Committee but took the opportunity to see friends and colleagues and catch up about their new films launched at Cannes. They enjoyed a special menu created for the event by the Nikki Beach Chef Alessandro that included Tartare de Saumon Asiatique, Brochette au Poulet, Éclair au Chocolat, Savarin Chantilly and Perrier Jouët served a special champagne cocktail with fresh fruit.

Greta Gerwig & Noah Baumbach 
As much as the guests enjoyed the seaside locale, the reason for the gathering was not far from people's thoughts. The Hollywood Foreign Press Association's fete for the International Rescue Committee is the latest in a long history of nonprofit organisations that have benefited from contributions that today approaches $30 million. The press association's president Lorenzo Soria commented that the HFPA has donated to organisations ranging from Martin Scorsese’s Film Foundation which preserves historic films, scholarships for private and public universities and programs for underrepresented students from around the world with a passion for the arts.

"Tonight we shift our philanthropic efforts to another organization that responds to the world’s worst humanitarian crises," Lorenzo Soria said.  "From Syria to Nigeria, from East Africa to Afghanistan, more people have been forced to flee their homes than at any time since World War II ~ 65 million to be exact. That is why this year we are honoured to lend our support to the International Rescue Committee.”

Lorenzo Sora &Jake Gyllenhaal give the
check to Elinor Raikes
Elinor Raikes, the regional representative of the IRC Europe, believes we are on the front line of the greatest refugee crisis the world has faced in decades. "Here in Europe, the IRC is helping people whose lives have been shattered, to recover and regain control of their future," she said. "Whether they are stranded due to border closures in Greece and the Balkans or applying for asylum in a country like Germany, they're trying to find their feet, find a school and job, and settle into a new home. This generous donation will go a long way in supporting individuals and families like these seeking safety on our shores.”
Actor Jake Gyllenhaal does a sterling job as MC at the Hollywood Foreign Press Association benefit
Molly Sims wearing a sparkling gown and husband producer Scott Stuber enjoy the evening
Ben Stiller was touched by the enthusiastic reception his new film the Meyerowitz Stories had at Cannes
 Actor Lily Collins with a new curly look wearing an Eighties style Miu Miu short dress is in a new film with
Tilda Swinton called Okja 
Adam Sandler with his wife actor Jaquie Titone is pleased his performance in the new Meyerowitz Stories film has been so enthusiastically received at Cannes
Tilda Swinton wearing a Schiaparelli silk dress with hearts pierced by arrows. The actor is in Cannes for her new film Okja
Jake Gyllenhaal with the Hollywood Foreign Press Association President Lorenzo Sora
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