Dutch duo Daphna Isaacs and Laurens Manders form the dynamic label Daphna Laurens. They conjure up elegant designs that have dual uses and yet are beautiful enough to be works of art.
The award-winning label Daphna Laurens is in essence the coming together of Dutch designers Daphna Isaacs and Laurens Manders. Based in Eindhoven, the Netherlands, the two graduated from the Design Academy, Eindhoven and founded their design studio in 2008. The duo’s forte lies in their research of traditional materials and incorporating them into everyday objects with a contemporary edge.
From their earliest work, Daphna Laurens has challenged conventional shapes and design. In 2009, Daphna Laurens designed Misshapes for the Fashion Biennale 2009 in Arnhem. These were five oversized objects that were deliberately devoid of any function. “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder,” they say, and indeed, these museum-worthy sculptural objects stand out in any setting.
In the same year, the duo launched Tafelstukken (Centrepieces), an award-winning, limited edition collection of five handmade bowls and lamps that have a dual function. The porcelain and oak confection double up as lighting and as a space to store your little essentials. A special series of the Tafelstukken lamps was exhibited at the London Design Week and a new range for Cappellini in walnut wood and coloured in chocolate brown, signal blue and sand was presented at the Salone del Mobile.
Carrying on with the ‘worthless’ theme is ‘Vault’ a “valuable worthless vault in which you can treasure your personal richness”. The design of the Vault is inspired by the mineral Pyrite, also called Fool’s gold, because of its resemblance to the valuable metal, despite being pretty worthless itself. The Vault is a mishmash of wooden shapes, seemingly disjointed and falling apart, but then falls in place to reveal a set of drawers in which you can store letters and tiny objects, the kind that have no value but a lot of sentiment.
For a private collection, Daphna Laurens created the Basis Table made from 600 year old wood that once held up the gate to Eindhoven. This remarkable design shows a “fragment of the map made from the archaeological site of discovery”. The wooden legs of the table pierce through the glass table top, to reconstruct how the foundation rose from the water.
The Cirkel Collection of lamps, mirrors and a coffee table is based on the circle and yet is rooted in fantasy. The Mirrors are abstract shapes that call to mind the Elephant, the Owl and the Mole. “The shapes seem to arise from the tabletop and so appear to be fluid shapes.” The Cirkel Leaning Lamp is an ingenious and fun floor lamp that is built to be leaned against a wall – there is no other alternative. This results in the lamp looking like a little creature peering through the wall from the other side. The Cirkel Wall Light is designed to be a piece of art during the day and a functional wall light when lit. The Cirkel Coffee-Table is an unusual convention-defying design with a conical appendage that acts as the third leg of the table. The cone which can be used as storage is a certain conversation starter.
Following this is the ‘Cover Collection’, a collection of cork and aluminium containers that make you curious, and want you to reach out and touch them. The ‘C’ Chair for Poltrona Frau is an elegant, timeless chair created to “take your time in.” Like other Daphna Laurens designs, this one too has dual purposes; a sleek convertible, the ‘top’ of the chair folds down or up depending on the use. While down, it encourages conversation and leaving it up makes it a more intimate armchair where you can hide away with a book or your music.
The Chair 01 and Stool 01 series for Austrian furniture company Wittmann is again, in a quirky, playful shape. The Chair 01 has a bulging backrest and a narrow headrest, while the Stool 01 has a duckbill shape with two loops of triangular steel that make up the base.
Apart from furniture, Daphna Laurens has also designed other functional objects for the home. The ‘Ziel’ is a set of stunning glassware with a ‘dimple’ at the bottom. In the ‘Inventory’ collection, the Grid Plank is a range of four cutting boards in different sizes and grid formations. The Grid Table is also from the same range.
The Inventory collection boasts of the Lookshelf as well, which is a deceptively delicate-looking bookshelf that is designed to display individual books but can also hold your iPad or cookbook. The ‘Legged Frame’ is a ready-to-use display ladder inspired accessory that can hold your artwork and display other things as well. And adding a touch of Dutch whimsy is the ‘Bottle House’, a wooden bottle topper in the shape of a house. Start a collection to build your own little village.
Daphna Laurens’ philosophy is to aspire to find a combination between design, applied art and fine art. Looking at these creative and eloquent products, you are left in no doubt about their aesthetics and indeed, their usefulness.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy The Designer