exit Gno by Vitamin

i.d. — December 2006
Gno by Vitamin
They could have gone with pink flamingos or animal-shaped
topiaries, but for their debut series of indoor/outdoor bonechina accessories, London-based housewares designers Vitamin
decided to tackle a different suburban plague: the garden
gnome. “It was time for them to become fashionable again,” says
Chris Vernall, who with his brother Andy heads Vitamin’s team.
Called Gno, the 8x8 in. handmade, weather-resistant gnomes
are at home in a windowbox, a koi pond, or a mantle. “The idea
was to break down the boundaries of products that can go inside
and outside,” says Chris.
The firm designed the squat, minimalist white forms to serve
as a canvas for their graphics—Dragon, Eskimo, Heart, Skull,
Wings, and Zip—which they lithograph-fired onto bone china.
The line launched at the tail end of 2005 and was greeted
with both befuddlement and success. “Getting people to warm
to the concept was a challenge,” says Chris. “People don’t go into
a store thinking, ‘You know, I really need to get myself a couple of gnomes today.’” But consumers soon learned to love the
design’s quirkiness and simplicity, and today the most menacing
gnome—Skull—is one of the most sought after.
This fall, Vitamin added an “organic” line that reveals a softer,
gentler Gno: Ants, Bamboo, Dandelion, Scatter, Undergrowth,
and Wallpaper are twists on traditional nature themes. The Ants
pattern, for example, is a trail of insects tracing out the London
Underground network.
Reinventing what’s normal and functional is key to Vitamin’s
designs, which include an ashtray that’s also a vase, a lamp that
doubles as a mechanical broom, and a plant pot that feeds itself
via a medical drip. (“We had an office full of dead plants that
we never got around to watering,” Chris explains.) The restless brothers aren’t above rethinking their own designs as well:
They’re currently expanding the Gno range to include audio
gnomes that double as MP3 speakers and a Gno-Glo version fitted with 5-watt energy-saver bulbs. In the future, there may even
be a line of solar-powered sprites to light up your yard after dark.
And what about the brothers’ own yards? Andy goes for the
Dandelion gnome, while Chris prefers Skull. Still, it’s the Heart
version that Chris has peering out, half-submerged in a well
behind his house: “It’s not my favorite, so I make that one suffer.”
$92; www.vitaminliving.com — jessica powell
i.d. — December 2006
A SPLINTER BENCH doesn’t sound
like something you’d want to sit on,
but Canadian designer Matthew
Kroeker’s teak-and-aluminum
construction charms with its oddball
interpretation of modern romance:
Two individual chairs, each with an
irregular pattern of slats along one
side, can be brought together to
form a complete bench, or in case of
irreconcilable differences, flipped
with the jagged ends pointing
outward. Contact designer for price.
Its perenially pleasing aqua-and-teak
color palette references a mid-century
modern aesthetic, but M Studio’s
COMBO LOUNGER has a form that’s
totally new: The extra-wide, twoperson lounger consists of a steelframe chair and ottoman mounted with
wooden bars that are also available in
mahogany or black walnut;
$4,800–$5,400. www.mdidit.com
While Harry Bertoia’s iconic Wire
chair augured the space age, the
LEAF CHAISE for Arper uses similar
construction and materials in an effort
to return to nature. Available in three
clear-coat colors—white, mocha, and a
bright green well-suited to spring;
$1,755 as pictured. www.arper.it
Young Finnish designer Terhi
Tuominen—currently finishing up a
Master’s at Helsinki’s University of Art
and Design—has just one design on her
website, but it was enough to get her
noticed by Finnish design promoters
Imu. Her indoor/outdoor expandedmesh BLACKBIRD seat has angular
dips in its steel frame, creating an avian
profile. Contact seller for price.
Pentagram designer Robert Brunner
dreamed up FUEGO 01 as a way
of turning the grill into a social
hub. The piece is encircled by slate
counters and food-prep stations to
encourage interaction and comes
prepared for potluck-style parties
with a deep fryer, steamer, wok,
and cast-iron grill. Intuitive fueling
options (coal, infrared, gas), and an
electronic thermometer that chimes
when food is done, turn neophytes
into grizzled grillmasters; $3,500.
Duravit’s SUNDECK TUB, designed by
Vienna-based Eoos, is a multipurpose
spa bath that can be installed in the
bathroom or on an outdoor patio. An
array of wood paneling options gives
Sundeck a furniture-like warmth, while
a set of white hand-sewn headrests and
deck cushions turn the tub into a chaise
when it’s closed; $8,500–$12,000.
i.d. — December 2006
Seattle architect Ryan Grey Smith’s
Velocity Art & Design succeeds in the
tricky task of making two generations
happy—parents get to extend their
design aesthetic into the backyard,
while kids get a unique environment
that fosters imaginative play. A host of
accessories, including specialized wall
panels and a deck, offers opportunities
for customization; $2,995.
Described by its designers, the Sydneybased Product People, as the world’s
first fully upholstered soft stadium
seating, THE BOX SEAT will meet its
match now that Britain’s famed Arsenal
soccer club has installed 60,000 of them
in its new North London stadium. The
seat slides easily into a stadium rail or
pedestal, where it remains fixed with
a strap system. Via a patented rotation
mechanism, it flips down and tips back
up to a slender 8.5 in. depth. Soft inserts
combine with lumbar support and a
pressure-relieving waterfall front edge
to enhance spectator comfort. Contact
manufacturer for price.
SYNUA doors combine luxury and
security. “No more ugly hinges,” the
Italian manufacturer points out,
referring to retractable pins at the
top and bottom around which the
doors pivot. An aluminum frame
can be clad in a variety of finishes,
including pickled and dark oak,
brushed black larch, natural teak,
glass, stainless steel, and lacquer.
Contact distributor for price.
Quinze & Milan’s signature foam is
at its best when put to use in outdoor
furniture, such as the BY THE POOL
lounger and ottoman: It’s washable,
durable, and comfortable, unlike
woven plastic mesh, which mimics the
sensation of sitting on a straw hat. An
additional sheer fabric screen cuts both
sun and wind, helping ensure that the
lightweight lounger won’t fly south in
windy conditions; $720 for the chair
and ottoman, $320 for the screen.