September 2020

Lively, fresh, forward-looking, but also socially relevant — this defines Azure, the leading design publication covering the expanding world of international contemporary architecture and design. Each issue delivers readers inspiring ideas and cutting-edge innovations, from state-of-the-art green building to the latest in furniture and home accessories from around the globe.

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the promise of uncertainty

It’s easy to forget, in the immediate trauma of events such as COVID-19, that history has a way of sneaking up on us. Major changes rarely come with warnings, much less the assurance that the world as we know it will go on. But go on it does, even if it’s in ways that are unimaginable beforehand. Prior to 9/11, for instance, the thought of removing your shoes to get through airport security or of limiting the amount of liquids you can bring aboard an airplane would have seemed ludicrous to most travellers — until, of course, it didn’t. Implemented almost overnight, such previously inconceivable protocols are now a commonplace part of air travel. One of the main differences between our current situation and the aftermath of a terrorist attack or…

we asked…

What technology is set to shape how we work? LEXI TSIEN Co-writer, “The Office as We Knew It No Longer Exists” (page 80) I think the TikTok generation will create some new technologies for collective learning that upgrade Zoom. Social media in general will continue to blur what work is, how it is organized and the production of value. The office as an architectural typology is going to be much more informal — more a place for social connection than a place for you to be supervised. What was the most memorable part of your assignment? MAXIME BROUILLET Photographer, “Service with a Style” (page 76) Capturing the CO-Sol offices by Toronto studio Uufie was a challenge. Not only was this a unique space in a somewhat standard office building, but it was also my first time shooting…

closing the loop

In the boardroom, the Swurve conference chair is distinguished by its light, elegantly sinuous form. But while the graceful chair boasts a standout design, its sustainable features are equally compelling. A completely carbon-neutral product, Swurve is a marquee achievement for Keilhauer, representing the culmination of a decades-long investment in sustainable design, and proof positive that the leading North American manufacturer isn’t resting on its laurels. Throughout its almost 40-year history, Keilhauer has consistently pioneered environmentally conscious manufacturing. “Keilhauer has been a design activist from its start in 1981,” says president Mike Keilhauer, “and we are constantly working toward our goal of closed-loop manufacturing — a process in which all materials are recycled back into the system.” With the ultimate target of re-using every material and producing zero waste, the company’s operations are…

silver linings

Don’t touch that. At the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, every interaction suddenly became a potential vector of transmission — and of heightened anxiety. Fortunately, not all surfaces are created equal. Ceramic and porcelain are inherently bacteriostatic, exceptionally non-absorbent and easy-to-clean materials, and they’ve been used to create hygienic and durable spaces for centuries. But that’s no excuse to stop evolving. For Ciot, the intrinsic properties of porcelain and ceramic tiles are a springboard for innovation in new technologies that supplement their natural qualities. Enter Microban. A marquee addition to Ciot’s extensive porcelain and ceramic portfolio, the antibacterial technology has recently been introduced to a number of its striking collections. Microban integrates ceramics with silver ions during the firing process to embed a powerful — and permanent — protective shield directly…

torii chair

Riffing on the simple form and refined lines of torii, the entrance gates common at Shinto shrines throughout Japan, designer Oki Sato has translated this post-and-lintel structure into an interlocking metal frame that defines his latest collection for Minotti. The Nendo founder’s aptly named Torii series is a flexible and sprawling family of furnishings that includes coffee tables, consoles, sofas, ottomans, dining chairs and armchairs, to name of few of the many options. Complementing the unique horizontal supports, a curving backrest gives the line’s seating elements their unique sculptural quality. The high- and low-back versions of the armchair (shown) feature vertical quilting and piping drawn from traditional luggage-making techniques, which combine with the bronze-varnished legs (inspired in part by the kigumi method of wood joinery) to effortlessly marry Italian and Japanese…

5 things we learned from mut design

Sitting among the 12 new prototypes prominently displayed within MUT Design’s al fresco iteration of the annual Das Haus installation at IMM Cologne this January, the influence of the Spanish vernacular resounded. Since establishing their Valencia-based practice in 2010, co-founders Alberto Sanchez and Eduardo Villalon have garnered widespread admiration for graphically reimagining quotidian objects, acquiring a growing list of clients from their native Spain to Italy to Japan. As Sanchez and MUT designer Pola Knabe told Azure during the fair, this success has been informed as much by their Mediterranean roots and proximity to local manufacturers as by their uncompromising commitment to an unhurried, confidently open-ended approach. “It’s never done!” Sanchez says of the firm’s latest product for German manufacturer Pulpo. “I’m already thinking about changing the dimensions.” Here are a…