A Panorama of Design – The New York Times

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This article is part of our latest Design special report, about new creative pathways shaped by the pandemic.


This month, Humanscale, one of many furniture companies seeking to help the environment, introduced Path. This 41.6-pound office chair is made of nearly 22 pounds of recycled matter, including about 10 pounds of plastic, much of it retrieved from the ocean. The base and arms are unpolished aluminum that can be easily disassembled for recycling. Even the packaging has been made ecologically friendly — its mass reduced, so more chairs can fill a truck, saving trees and fuel.

Finding sources for green materials required Humanscale to reinvent its supply chain. The company believed it was “inconvenient but right,” said Todd Bracher, Path’s designer. Like other Humanscale office chairs, this one automatically adjusts to the sitter’s body weight without fussy knobs or levers. The sleek silhouette is meant to fit comfortably in homes and hotels and not just offices.

Path is available in a wide variety of finishes and fabrics, including Mr. Bracher’s own invention: a knitted material that supports like a mesh but gives the more cosseted feel of fabric. From $1,198; Humanscale.com. (Additional office chairs that could work well at home are shown here.)

Deborah Osburn recalled being “chained to her laptop” during the pandemic lockdown, looking at fashion, housewares and art and noticing an “odd” recurrence of the colorful crocheted patches known as granny squares. Taking comfort in these throwbacks to hippie-era blankets and cardigans, she translated them into a highly unlikely material: cement. And so we have Granny Squares: limited-edition tiles produced by Clé, her company de ella, which is based in Sausalito, Calif.

Packaged in bundles with six coordinated patterns (about the mix you would find in an afghan, Ms. Osburn said), the eight-inch-square matte tiles are cheerful, unfussy and durable, with a look of spontaneity — much like the Grandma- made throws of the past. The patterns, featuring folksy shades of teal, brown and orange, can be kept consistent with a white or black background, or mixed for more flair.

Each 36-tile bundle covers 32 square feet and costs about $798. cletile.com

Hannah, an African gray parrot, is an exceptional talent.

Five years ago, when she chewed a piece of balsa wood into something resembling a small Giacometti, her owner, Joseph Havel, an artist based in Houston, had a realization: “Wow, I have a bird that is a sculptor!”

It was the start of a collaboration between man and pet that evolved into “Joseph Havel: Parrot Architecture,” an exhibition of sculptures and wall assemblages at Dallas Contemporary.

The partnership has been a boon during the pandemic. Parrots are social creatures that live in colonies, and Hannah is a natural nest-builder, Mr. Havel said. She works by gnawing and pecking at pieces of balsa wood and cardboard boxes, which the artist casts in bronze or coats in resin for durability. The works have sold for $35,000 to $120,000.

“Many of our dilemmas in this human-centric world are from not having an empathetic relationship with other species,” he said. “She has a culture, and I have a culture, and we have found common ground.”

Mr. Havel said he found himself “translating between the bird and foundry” and avoided putting too much of himself into the pieces. “Birdhouse 1” is a bronze cast of a pedestal of chewed balsa wood that Mr. Havel merely topped with two chewed shoeboxes. He took more liberty with “Broke Palace 1,” a composition of online-shopping boxes sculpted by Hannah that comments on the pandemic’s torrent of wasteful packaging. ThroughAug. 21; dallascontemporary.org

In January, Ambre Jarno, the founder of Maison Intègre, a design company based in Paris, deepened her commitment to the West African bronzesmiths she had been employing for several years by opening a workshop in Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso. There, up to 15 artisans produce bronze pieces using recycled metal and a technique known as lost-wax casting.

Also in January, Burkina Faso’s military staged a coup in response to the government’s failure to stem the incursions of Islamic militants. But Ms. Jarno wrote in an email that she was determined to provide “meaningful support” to the artisans she works with against this background of civil unrest, while continuing to bring new interpretations of an ancient craft to a global audience.

From May 11 through July 26, 16 limited-edition bronze pieces from Maison Intègre’s latest collection will be at the Manhattan gallery Les Ateliers Courbet.

Designed by Noé Duchaufour-Lawrance, of France, with references to West African architecture and domestic and ritual objects, the group includes a forked floor lamp based on the ladders the Kassena people of southern Burkina Faso use to climb to their roofs, where grains are dried; cylindrical seating inspired by the shapes of their houses; and masks that are reimagined as wall sconces. From $9,500 to $33,000. ateliercourbet.com