Among the many new products presented by Arper during the last Milan Design Week, one can discern a clear direction towards the hybridisation of spaces and functions. This is not a difficult path for a brand that has made the rules of simple, linear aesthetics combined with tailored finishes its own. The interpretation of contemporaneity and the future is condensed in The Project of Living concept, the leitmotif of 2022. Versatile products and dynamic systems, colours and textures that tell of a lifestyle that spontaneously mixes spaces and functions to help us divide our time between work and leisure in a harmonious and orderly manner.
Listening to change
The task of design now is to listen to change. Not only of people's expectations and needs, but also of new sustainable economies. Although it goes without saying that ecological thinking is a natural part of design and production processes, it is less obvious to think in these terms in the context of formal research. How do we shape complexity? Jonathan Levien is the author of the Shaal upholstery system together with Nipa Doshi. According to him, complexity is: "...the most exciting part of our work, bringing worlds together and trying to create a hybrid between different universes. Another important aspect is the need to take the issue of sustainability seriously. Arper is a very committed company in this regard, it wants to create products that are really designed with this in mind. From the design point of view, therefore, we tried to think about what would happen to the Arper sofa once it reached the end of its life cycle".
Comfort and ergonomics
Shaal is a system with a precise objective: to bring comfort and ergonomics into any kind of space. The theme has been solved by reasoning on the original structure of the sofa: a rigid shell containing a soft and welcoming part. It is an object that plays on the continuous contradiction of terms: it is modular yet sophisticated, adaptable yet solid, sustainable yet precious. The search for a convincing synthesis of so many different qualities is one of the tasks of contemporary designers. Levien and Doshi have worked out a strong concept, which directs the entire composition towards the idea of a comfortable nest that can adapt to different sizes and spaces.
Inspired by origami
The theme of contrasting qualities also fascinated Peter Kunz, who designed the Aeeri table collection for Arper. The starting idea is the work on the monocoque, the production technique also used for metals in aircraft and car bodies. Peter Kunz is a purist, he likes to simplify. Aeeri's design is therefore very simple, inspired by origami, and takes advantage of technologies borrowed from technological fields. As subtle as a pencil drawing, the table top becomes a structure simply by screwing the legs onto the bottom of the top. Five light and essential steel components give stability and structure to a product that has a light, ephemeral appearance.
Elegant, stable, solid
The theme of sustainability is addressed by skilful use of resources: only four millimetres for the top and a general idea of rigour in the selection of materials (steel and wood). Peter Kunz explains: 'Once I had arrived at the idea of the folded sheet metal that inspired origami, I had to perfect the monocoque technique. I created several prototypes and, at first, making the table stable and identifying structural critical points was a challenge. I worked with a blacksmith and an engineer on the details to be refined more precisely. The result is an elegant, unexpectedly stable and solid product. Generally sustainable because it was designed on the principles of rigour and simplicity. The colour palette and material combinations are what define its aesthetic identity and, therefore, its ultimate function in the most diverse environments.
The photos of the Shaal sofa are by Salva Lopez, those of the Aeeri table by Alga Studio.