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The biggest news from the world of product design, from a ‘digital wonder wall’ robot to stylish lamps that can nourish green spaces

Carlo Ratti’s ‘wonder wall’ robot could become reality with crowdfunding
The writing’s on the digital wall: Scribit works on a two-axis plane and moves up and down on thin cables
Carlo Ratti

Carlo Ratti Associatti has developed an intelligent robot capable of writing and drawing on vertical surfaces.

Called Scribit, the device allows users to personalise any wall, transforming it into a ‘wonder wall’, with customisable digital content. It can be installed in just five minutes, needing only two nails and a power point, and features patented technology that enables users to draw, erase and re-draw new content numerous times without damaging the surface. Controlled by an app, users can upload content, or source it from the internet. Its interactive software enables the device to replicate any kind of data - including notes, messages, images and graphics - in real time. Once digital information is received by Scribit it begins to replicate it immediately.

“Scribit is a robotic system that draws on any vertical surface, following a primordial act performed by humanity since our first cave grafitti” - Carlo Ratti

The Scribit is circular in shape and measures 20cm x 8cm (7.9” x3”) in diameter, it is covered in aluminium, with four different coloured marker pens at its centre. It works on a two-axis plane and moves up and down on thin cables attached to the surface.

“We’re totally deluged with information, and spend too much time of our non-sleeping time in front of one form or another of digital screen - TV, desktop computers, laptops, tablets or phones. Do we really want to add more screens to our lives.” said Carlo Ratti, founding partner of Carlo Ratti Associati and director of the MIT Senseable City Lab at MIT.

“Scribit offers up an alternative: a robotic system that draws on any kind of vertical surface, following a primordial act performed by humanity since our first cave graffiti.”

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Aotta eco-panels utilise ‘charming’ hemp seeds, says Tanya Repina
The writing’s on the digital wall: Scribit works on a two-axis plane and moves up and down on thin cables
Carlo Ratti

Russian design studio Aotta has developed a range of eco-friendly, sound-absorbing panels made from the waste products of hemp seeds.

Made from the seed husks, which form when the seed is peeled and are usually discarded, the panels are designed to maintain ‘healthy spaces’ and consist of hemp husks fashioned into a natural porous membrane that absorbs sound and regulates temperature and humidity levels.

The shape of the husk is preserved to create a unique and visually-interesting tactile panel that is 100 per cent biodegradable, whilst being strong enough for long term use.

“We were charmed by hemp for its exceptional appearance. Unusual finishing materials are trendy now” - Tanya Repina, designer at Aotta

In addition, the panels are non-flammable with anti-fungal properties and are available in a number of different collections, including The Island collection, which features rounded geometric shapes and are designed to give the feeling that the panels have grown organically out of the walls.

Tanya Repina, designer at Aotta, says: “We were charmed by hemp for its exceptional appearance. Unusual finishing materials are trendy now. The husk consists of half semi-spheres and looks like small shells on the seashore.”

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Keyword: AOTTA

Maha Kutay on carpet collection celebrating Zaha Hadid’s legacy
The new carpet designs capture Hadid’s use of layering and interweaving

The Zaha Hadid Gallery has partnered with carpet manufacturer Royal Thai to create a new carpet collection inspired by the work of the late Zaha Hadid.

Billed as a celebration of Hadid’s legacy, the collection, called RE/Form, made its debut at this year’s London Design Festival, and consists of 22 designs inspired by themes - organic cellular shapes, pixelated landscapes, striated lines and ribbon-like projections - featured prominently in Hadid’s work.

“Zaha's product design and architecture have always been connected; with furniture projects being part of our repertoire from day one” - Maha Kutay, director of Zaha Hadid Design

The carpets capture Hadid’s notable use of layering and interweaving as well as her use of light and shadow, and are Axminster-loomed and hand-tufted, with a vivid colour palette that includes bold shades of red, green and turquoise.

Maha Kutay, director of Zaha Hadid Design, says: “Zaha’s product design and architecture have always been connected; some of the earliest projects in the office were designs for products, interiors and furniture.”

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Keyword: Keyword: ZAHA HADID

Humberto Campana introduces sustainable cork collection
The writing’s on the digital wall: Scribit works on a two-axis plane and moves up and down on thin cables
Humberto Campana PHOTO:Courtesy of Estudio Campana photo by Fernando Laszlo

Brazilian design firm Campana has created a four-piece furniture collection made almost entirely from Portuguese cork.

The collection, called Sobreiro, made its debut at the Experimenta Portugal arts and culture festival at the Consulate of Portugal in Sãn Paulo, Brazil, and was designed to showcase cork’s potential as a sustainable and versatile material.  

It combines Brazilian design with Portuguese materials and consists of an armchair and three cabinets in a neutral brown palette with nature-inspired designs.

“Cork has always fascinated us, not only because it’s an ecological material, but because of its lightness” - Humberto Campana

The armchair is made entirely of cork, while the cabinets have wooden frames to support their structures, and are made from an expanded cork agglomerate, a material created when cork is heated, with one of the cabinets being made from a cork agglomerate-natural clay hybrid.

“Cork has always fascinated us, not only because it’s ecological, but because of its lightness,” says Humberto Campana

“The texture and variety of applications enrich the possibilities of expressing through the material a lot of new concepts and gestures.”

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Keyword: CAMPANA

product photos Courtesy of Estudio Campana, Epoca and Amorim photo by Nuno Sousa Dias
Holocene oil lamp creates atmosphere, says John Pawson
The writing’s on the digital wall: Scribit works on a two-axis plane and moves up and down on thin cables Photo: Gilbert McCarragher
John Pawson Photo: Cindy Palmano

Swedish lighting company Wästberg has expanded its Holocene collection, with a new addition, Holocene No. 4, designed by acclaimed architect John Pawson.

Reflecting Pawson’s pared-back style and neutral palette, Holocene No. 4 is a modern twist on a traditional oil lantern. The free-standing lamp is cylindrical in shape and is made from stainless steel and aluminium. It features a squared-off handle and a matte-exterior drum with a polished interior, designed to best reflect candle light. It measures 40 cm in height and is suitable for both indoor and outdoor use.

It is the fourth light in the collection, which boasts pieces designed by architects Ilse Crawford, David Chipperfield and Jasper Morrison and eschews electricity in favour of non-electrical light sources.

“I wanted to create something that had its own presence so that when you set it down it makes its own atmosphere” - John Pawson

“Working with Wästberg was a real opportunity to design something I really wanted,” says Pawson.

“Lighting is the biggest element of architecture and completely changes one’s perceptions of space. I wanted to create something that had its own presence so that when you set it down it makes its own atmosphere.”

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Keyword: Wästberg

Gople creates environment for plants to thrive, says Jakob Lange
The lamps are also designed to nourish green spaces Photo: Photo: Pierpaolo Ferrari
Jakob Lange, BIG partner Photo: Fleming Leitorp

Bjarke Ingels Group has partnered with lighting design firm Artemide to create the Gople Lamp, a new lighting concept, that is designed to ‘reconcile human spaces and nature through light.’

The lamp, which debuted at London Design Week, combines modern techniques with artisanal traditions. It has a pill-shaped glass form, available in three different colour ways: white, bronze and silver, created using ancient Venetian mouth-blowing techniques, and features patented RWB (red, white and blue) lighting technology that is designed to nourish nature and enhance plant life and human perception.

“The lamp brings together technology & Venice's know-how while helping plants to thrive” - Jakob Lange, BIG partner

It was inspired by ‘area2071’, a BIG project in Dubai that featured lamps that were capable of simultaneously illuminating and nourishing the green spaces.

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Keyword: BIG

The lamps are available in white, silver and bronze
Dave Foster unveils Designworks glow-in-the-dark tile collection
The glowing tiles use luminescent pigments and are available in four colourways

High-end tile supplier Designworks has created a range of glow-in-the-dark mosaic tiles for commercial use.

Designed to bring light into wet areas, the Fosfo range uses luminescent pigments, which ‘charge’ when exposed to light, to create a spectacular glow-in-the-dark display. The collection is available in four different colourways as a dramatic blocked sheet, or in six different colourways in a random pattern effect.

“Our new Fosfo collection adds vibrancy, fun and distinction to the Designworks mosaics range” - Dave Foster, Designworks

The tiles feature the company’s ‘JointPoint’ technology, an innovation that allows for easy application and stronger adhesion. “Our new Fosfo collection adds vibrancy, fun and distinction to the Designworks mosaics range. These tiles work beautifully as a feature wall in spas and steam rooms and look spectacular when integrated in swimming pools, especially at night,” says Dave Foster, head of Leisure Sales at Designworks.

“This new collection will be very popular among luxury hotels and spas looking to add a unique touch to guests experience, and we’re very excited to offer this special product to our clients.”

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company profile
Company profile: SPARCSTUDIO
Sparcstudio offers a bespoke and comprehensive design service with real attention to detail. Logical and inspiring space planning forms the bedrock of all Sparcstudio projects.
BluGalaxy a Division of Blu Spas
Blu Spas
This animation showcases the beautiful concept design of BluGalaxy Spa.
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Building the hotel involved draining and refilling most of the quarry water
Martin Jochman founded JADE+QA in 2013. He formerly worked for Atkins
"We didn’t want to put in any gimmicks. We wanted to create a building that’s inherently sustainable through passive sustainability"

When Martin Jochman set out to transform an old quarry into a luxury hotel, he faced some serious challenges

CF Møller’s Storkeengen climate adaption project will see the creation of a new public nature park
"Funding woes and murky timelines are common problems. It can be easier to make a difference one small project at a time"

From parks designed to mitigate the effects of flooding to warming huts for one of the world’s coldest cities, these projects have been designed for increasingly extreme climates

The Electric Lemon restaurant features glamorous interiors by Rockwell Group
"Further hotels have been confirmed for Los Angeles, Santa Clara, CA, Seattle, Chicago and Houston"

Rockwell Group and Joyce Wang on the inspirations behind the guest rooms, public spaces, spa and gym at Equinox Hotel Hudson Yards

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The Canova Suite, one of the hotel’s top suites, features an outdoor terrace with views across the city
Olga Polizzi is director of design for Rocco Forte Hotels and also owns two of her own hotels
"On Via Sistina, everything breathes history. At the same time I wanted to reflect the modern hunger for the fantastical - Tommaso Ziffer"

Following the highly anticipated launch of Rome’s Hotel de la Ville, Rocco Forte’s director of design reflects on a fascinating project

Profile: Daan Roosegaarde
"I want to demonstrate that creativity is our true capital as humans "

Rather than feeling fearful and helpless about the future, we must design a way out of the environmental problems we have created, argues the innovative Dutch designer, artist and inventor Daan Roosegaarde

CopenHill urban ski centre
"It was born from the sheer anxiety of having to submit something brilliant in a very short timescale"

How a moment of desperation led to BIG’s CopenHill, the clean power plant that’s doubling as a skiing and leisure destination. Magali Robathan speaks to the architects that made it happen

Tina Norden
"We have created an approach which is playful, provocative but also functional"

Conran and Partners’ Tina Norden on playing with colour at Prague’s newly redesigned Hotel Maximilian

The suites are sleek, modern and calming, with natural colours and materials
"Wellness embraces the entire holiday experience"

The design of the newly-opened Lefay Resort and Spa Dolomitti in Italy aims to celebrate and protect its spectacular surroundings

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