Trad­ing sharp for rounded

Whether it’s so­fas or su­per­struc­tures, the era of ra­zor-edged de­sign is giv­ing way to soft lines, fem­i­nine curves and the ob­vi­ously or­ganic

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Per­haps it’s a re­ac­tion to all the sharp words and pointed ar­gu­ments pol­lut­ing global politics these days. Maybe it’s a de­sire to sur­round our­selves with more el­e­men­tal shapes and forms in a world in­creas­ingly dis­con­nected from na­ture. What­ever the rea­son, the pre­pon­der­ance of softer lines and rounded edges in ev­ery­thing from fur­ni­ture to ar­chi­tec­ture is a hard fact right now. It’s also a wel­come one af­ter years of ul­tra-sleek light­ing, in­dus­trial-style in­te­ri­ors and ma­cho su­per-build­ings. For the an­tithe­sis of ag­gres­sively self-ref­er­en­tial ar­chi­tec­ture, one needn’t look fur­ther than the first build­ing de­signed en­tirely by artist Ola­fur Elias­son, whose 28-me­tre-high Fjor­den­hus – the har­bour­side head­quar­ters of a Dan­ish in­vest­ment firm – opened in the city of Ve­jle to much ac­claim in June and prom­ises to be in­flu­en­tial for years to come. Although it’s faced with cus­tom-glazed brick and has a cer­tain ro­bust­ness to it, Fjor­den­hus is all curved and el­lip­ti­cal forms, twist­ing walls and par­a­bolic arches, the four in­ter­sect­ing cylin­ders that make up the build­ing punc­tu­ated by nega­tive vol­umes. His team’s aim, says Elias­son, who has more large-scale projects on the draw­ing board, was “an or­ganic build­ing that re­sponds to the ebb and flow of the tides, to the shim­mer­ing sur­face of the water.” A sim­i­lar flu­id­ness and fo­cus on na­ture dis­tin­guishes Piero Lis­soni’s Eda-mame chaise longue for B&B Italia (the won­der­fully wavy piece was in­spired by the shape of a soy­bean) and Ate­lier Alain El­louz’s Prague lights (al­abaster pen­dant lamps that pay “homage to the teardrop”). The ex­u­ber­ant curves and gen­er­ous pro­por­tions of Jonas Wag­ell’s up­hol­stered Julep seat­ing for Tac­chini, mean­while, sug­gest a num­ber of in­flu­ences, from 1950s avant-gardism to the fe­male form. In any case, it’s as re­fresh­ing a range as the epony­mous cock­tail on a hot sum­mer day, much like the trend it em­bod­ies.

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