Airplane interiors, senior-friendly aids, and furniture that makes you smile. Lanzavecchia + Wai’s thoughtful designs are useful, practical and so very poetic.
Charles Eames once said, “The details are not the details. They make the design.” Nowhere is this more true than in the practical, yet poetic designs of Lanzavecchia + Wai.
Lanzavecchia + Wai is a creative collaboration between Francesca Lanzavecchia and Hunn Wai. Wai hails from Singapore and was educated as an industrial designer at the National University, while Lanzavecchia received her BA in Product Design from Politecnico di Milano, Italy. They met at the Design Academy Eindhoven in the Netherlands, where both graduated with Masters in Design under the direction of Gijs Bakker, co-founder of Droog Design.
The studio was officially established at the end of 2009 at the Danish Art Workshops to realise their inaugural collection “Spaziale Series: New Expressions of Skin and Structure”.
Interestingly, their individual interests are very different. Lanzavecchia’s main interest lies in the relationships objects have with the human body, as well as a deep interest in future trends. Wai, on the other hand, is fascinated by “the collisions and fusions of materials, meanings and forms”.
What this translates into is design projects that are award-winning, unique and very user-friendly.
The Spaziale Series (2010) of “organic domestic creatures that will live with you and your possessions” are a family of furniture pieces including bookshelves, chairs and commodes (tables). The furniture is sensuous, all tactile texture and bold colour. Their unexpected shapes defy conventional design and bring an element of fun into a space. The Chair is “a personal sanctuary for one or two”. A slit-like opening on its face transforms the chair from public to private by extending the textile upholstery around the hands on the armrests. An interesting concept, for sure.
The Spaziale Commode has a similar quirk. The thin material covering the frame is stretched in such a way that its openings can be wherever you like. Store your keys and wallet in a little dip on the top or go digging through its interiors via a butterfly-knotted entrance on the side.
Following this very interesting collection is ‘Lightmate’ – soft anthropomorphic pillows and warming lamps. They were created with the question “Can electric energy fill the void of human absence?” Would you sleep with a warm pillow that curves around you like a comforting blanket? It’s a very tempting proposition indeed. And plus, it doesn’t snore.
Lanzavecchia + Wai’s work is characterised by this thoughtful glimpse into human nature. What do people want from good design? Sometimes, it just boils down to having things that are useful, comfortable and as a bonus, pretty.
The studio’s ‘No Country for Old Men’ series is my favourite. If you’ve lived with an elderly relative in your home or if you are getting on in years yourself, you will appreciate these designs very much. The Assunta chair (2012) “helps us to get up.” Using body-weight as leverage, the chair tilts forward, allowing the user to stand up without external help. The Together Canes (2012) double up as a walking cane and a tea-time tray. This unique design gives the elderly mobility and the freedom to carry things around without assistance.
The Monolight (2012) is a light that illuminates and magnifies. It comes in either portrait or landscape mode, which means simple tasks like threading a needle or reading your favourite book should never be a strain again.
Rockers n°1 & n°2 (2013) is a series of rocking see-saws, for want of a better description. These beautiful rockers are meant to demonstrate how children’s toys, when seen through a sophisticated design lens, can be transformed into “refined grown-up objects.”
The levity in their designs extends to kitchenware as well, with the ‘Circus’ collection of glass cloches (2013) with elephants, monkeys and a trapeze artist at the top. The “Mimesi Urbane” series of ceramic sculptures are equally exquisite and charming with our urban landscape making these animals “invisible”.
More recent designs have included the Mutazioni for Nodus High Design rugs where two fictitious insects (Amaurodes Chernobilis and Tacua Fukushimae) were invented by the designers to refer to the two natural disasters that have occurred in their lifetime.
The MyCocoon (2014) is a futuristic chromatherapy device that boosts wellness with a “light-bath”. Also pretty out there, is their Metamorfosi Vegetali, a “future sensing protheses”, two sets of finger-implements that will allow us to “produce the oxygen we breathe, feed directly off the ground and even grasp the more subtle changes in the weather.”
With every new design, Lanzavecchia + Wai are firmly cementing their position in the design world. Because of their thoughtfulness, their designs will stand out among the thousands of new designs flooding the market every year. Whether it is interiors for an airplane or a walking-stick for the elderly, the attention to detail, as Charles Eames said, says it all.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs (Various) Courtesy The Designer