Because what’s old is always new again, sometimes the best forward-thinking designs are the ones that look to the past for inspiration. Here, 11 gorgeously modern pieces with classic retro style.
Script LED Lighting Series
From the 19th Century Viennese crystal and glass purveyor LOBMEYR, a new remote-controlled LED lighting series called Script, inspired by typographical forms, includes chandeliers as well as floor, wall, and table lamps designed by London-based Bodo Sperlein. Made of gold- or silver-plated hand-bent brass, all Script lamps have several frosted glass hemispherical dome lights attached to flat brass plates. Can be found on Bright on Presidio. Prices vary with finish.
The “Nice” faucet line designed by Matteo Thun and Antonio Rodriguez for the Italian manufacturer Fantini Rubinetti is another example of this historic company’s mold-breaking approach. To spark up mono-material chrome or darkened bronze bath fittings, Fantini’s Nice faucets have a pop of color — a thin sliver of red, crimson, black, blue, turquoise, green, or white film — embedded within clear methacrylate plastic handles. The film creates an interesting optical illusion: because of the handles’ molecular structure, the grips seem fully infused with color when seen from some angles and not from others. Prices vary. dzine.com
For more design inspiration, including stunning home tours and tips on choosing the perfect paint colors, visit Better Decor & Design.
ic! berlin Unisex Aviator Style Eyeglasses
Seeing is believing: German industrial designer Sebastian Herkner has created four lightweight unisex aviator-style eyeglass designs in stainless steel and transparent acetate for the ic! berlin brand. Available in prescription, reader, and sun-blocking versions in three colors, the styles are named for Berlin neighborhoods and landmarks: Avus, Bellevue, Hansa, and Dahlem. All have the company’s patented screwless hinge system and are handmade in Berlin. Prices hover around $400 to $475.
Hokanson Rugs Empire Collection
Grand Rapids, Michigan-based Scott Group Studio, a national bespoke rug firm with a Sausalito showroom, has just launched the art deco-inspired Empire collection under its Hokanson brand. Empire’s five styles — Karri, Laiton, Bloc, Bricka, and Latta — incorporate one or all of these elements from early 20th-century rug designs: geometrics, stepped forms, sweeping curves, and bold colors. Each rug in the Hokanson for Scott Group Studio collection is hand-knotted and hand-tufted in Asia and can be produced in custom colors and sizes. Prices vary depending on materials and size.
Gay Outlaw’s 3X3, 2019
San Francisco sculptor, photographer, and printmaker Gay Outlaw’s 3X3, 2019 is part of a new series of recently unveiled soft ground fine art etchings, with aquatint, drypoint, and spit-bite and soap-ground aquatints, done in limited editions of 20 for the venerable Crown Point Press. Outlaw’s partly ink-jet printed works were in a recent show she curated at the press called King Phillip Came Over From Germany Stoned. Her 3×3 depicts objects she previously photographed, then composed on a 33-by-303⁄4-inch orange gampi-paper chine-collé background. $2,800 each.
Little Table Lamp
Designer Michael McEwen, famous for giant chandeliers of cast metal and vintage parts for prominent Bay Area winery tasting rooms and homes, has created the more accessible modern Little Table Lamp. With a cast-iron base (available in deep brown oxide or other finishes), it has a mold-blown glass shade (six color options) and an etched Pyrex diffuser, evoking hurricane oil lamps. Found at De Sousa Hughes lighting. About $1,480 depending on finish.
California designer Kelly Wearstler’s “Frequency” vase, lantern, footed bowl, and centerpiece bowl for Danish silversmith Georg Jensen incorporate a wavelike element that is industrially produced and then hand-finished. Wearstler’s pieces — comprising an undulating stainless steel ribbon, folded to form crests and dips (inspired by the Pacific Ocean) and attached to polished stainless-steel or glass vessels — come in several sizes and are affordably priced from $95 to $250.
The 1898 German luggage company Rimowa, whose distinctive designs include 1937 ribbed aluminum luggage inspired by aircraft construction and similar cases made of polycarbonate since 2000, is now a part of the French LVMH luxury brand, which has opened a tiny new Rimowa store in San Francisco’s Union Square area. Housed in a historic building, the new 1,400-square-foot space features a luggage carousel design that has aluminum and polycarbonate details. Polycarbonate luggage can be personalized with in-store heat embossing. Alongside new sage, saffron, coral, and slate cases, look for vintage limited-edition pieces from the brand’s archive on display.
Technology is shrinking time and space. Google tech has streamlined mapping, and now a San Francisco company called Wescover can, with Google Lens, help people find creators of art or furnishings easily. The artist or maker has to be registered with Wescover to enable users in a public space like a hotel or restaurant to aim their phone cameras at something they like, and link to metadata accessible through Wescover and its “virtual gallery.” Co-founded by Israeli engineer-turned-entrepreneur Rachely Esman, Wescover has cataloged over 35,000 artworks and has “7,500 creator brands and individuals registered,” Esman says. As many as 1,000 design objects are being cataloged daily.
New software called AR Instantly, by the firm Geopogo, could be game-changing for architects and consumers, as “augmented reality for the built environment” or “3D made simple,” CEO/co-founder architect Dave Alpert says. Currently operating out of UC Berkeley’s startup accelerator SkyDeck, Alpert and his team can construct virtual buildings on a site. “With AR Instantly, you can bring a BIM (building information model) into a flexibly scaled AR model with only two button clicks on the desktop and no custom effort,” Alpert says. For example, with AR Instantly and a headset, designers, proponents or opponents of a project can assess its potential physical impact on a site in advance; they can also “walk” untethered through the “structure.” Colors and other construction details on this kind of architectural model can be changed in an instant, and economically, because a Geopogo headset and AR Instantly software license starts for the relatively low price of about $9,500.
Type 80 Anglepois Lamps
At age 90, Sir Kenneth Grange, a founder of the design collective Pentagram and design director of the British Anglepoise company, has created Type 80, a new line of Anglepoise lamps that have timeless profiles and innovative “halo” features that allow light to “spill” over their conical shades. The table lamp has sprung joint mechanisms, cables routed through the arms and an on-shade on/off switch. The wall sconce and ceiling rose options are easy to install. Ultra-matte colors include rose pink, pistachio, gray mist and matte black. Prices range from $160 to $295.
This article originally appeared in SPACES.
Editor-in-chief Zahid Sardar brings an extensive range of design interests and keen knowledge of Bay Area design culture to SPACES magazine. He is a San Francisco editor, curator and author specializing in global architecture, interiors, landscape and industrial design. His work has appeared in numerous design publications as well as the San Francisco Chronicle for which he served as an influential design editor for 22 years. Sardar serves on the San Francisco Decorator Showcase design advisory board.