A Panorama of Design – The New York Times

This article is part of our latest Design Special Report, on new creative avenues shaped by the pandemic.


This month Humanscale, one of several furniture companies committed to helping the environment, introduced Path. This 41.6-pound office chair is made from nearly 22 pounds of recycled content, including about 10 pounds of plastic, much of which was sourced from the ocean. The base and arms are made of unpolished aluminum that can be easily disassembled for recycling. Even the packaging has been made eco-friendly – the mass has been reduced so that more seats can fill a truck, saving trees and fuel.

Finding sources for green materials required Humanscale to reinvent its supply chain. The company thought it was “clunky but good,” says Path’s designer Todd Bracher. Like other Humanscale office chairs, it automatically adjusts to the user’s body weight, without annoying buttons or levers. The slim silhouette is meant to fit comfortably in homes and hotels and not just offices.

Path is available in a wide variety of finishes and fabrics, including Mr. Bracher: A knitted material that provides support like a mesh, but gives the more cloudy feel of fabric. From $1,198; humanscale.com. (Additional office chairs that might work well at home are shown here.)

Deborah Osburn recalled being “chained to her laptop” during the pandemic lockdown, looking at fashion, homewares and art and noticing a “strange” repetition of the colorful crochet patches known as granny squares. She consoled herself with these throwbacks to hippie-era blankets and cardigans, translating them into a highly unlikely material: cement. And so we have Granny Squares: limited edition tiles produced by Clé, her company, based in Sausalito, California.

Packed in bundles of six coordinated patterns (about the mix you’d find in an Afghan, Ms Osburn said), the 8-inch square matte tiles are cheerful, no-nonsense and durable, with a spontaneity—just like the granny-made throws of the past. The patterns, with folky shades of teal, brown and orange, can be kept consistent with a white or black background, or mixed for more flair.

Each bundle of 36 tiles covers 32 square feet and costs approximately $798. cletile.com

Hannah, an African Gray Parrot, is an exceptional talent.

Five years ago, when she was chewing a piece of balsa wood into something that resembled a little Giacometti, her owner, Joseph Havel, a Houston artist, realized, “Wow, I have a bird that’s a sculptor!”

It was the beginning of a human-pet collaboration that evolved into “Joseph Havel: Parrot Architecture,” an exhibition of sculptures and wall mounts at Dallas Contemporary.

The collaboration was a blessing during the pandemic. Parrots are social creatures that live in colonies, and Hannah is a natural nest builder, Mr. Havel said. She works by gnawing and pecking at pieces of balsa wood and cardboard boxes, which the artist casts in bronze or resin for durability. The works have sold for $35,000 to $120,000.

“Many of our dilemmas in this human-centered world stem from the fact that we don’t have an empathetic relationship with other species,” he said. “She has a culture, and I have a culture, and we found common ground.”

Mr Havel said he found himself “translating between the bird and the foundry” and avoided putting too much of himself into the pieces. “Birdhouse 1” is a bronze cast of a chewed balsa wood pedestal that Mr. Havel only covered with two chewed shoeboxes. He took more liberty with “Broke Palace 1,” a composition of Hannah-sculpted online shopping boxes commenting on the pandemic’s deluge of wasteful packaging. Until August 21; dallascontemporary.org

In January, Ambre Jarno, the founder of Maison Intègre, a design company based in Paris, reinforced her involvement with the West African bronzesmiths she had employed for several years by opening a workshop in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. There, up to 15 artisans produce bronze pieces using recycled metal and a technique known as lost wax casting.

Also in January, Burkina Faso’s military staged a coup in response to the government’s failure to stem incursions by Islamist militants. But Ms Jarno wrote in an email that she was determined to provide “meaningful support” to the artisans she works with against this backdrop of civil unrest, while continuing to bring new interpretations of an ancient craft to a global audience.

From May 11 to July 26, 16 limited-edition bronze pieces from Maison Intègre’s latest collection will be on display at the Les Ateliers Courbet gallery in Manhattan.

Designed by Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance, of France, with references to West African architecture and household and ritual objects, the group includes a forked floor lamp based on the ladders used by the Kassena people of southern Burkina Faso to reach their rooftops. climbing, where grains are stored. dry; cylindrical chairs inspired by the shapes of their homes; and masks being redesigned as wall sconces. From $9,500 to $33,000. ateliercourbet.com

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