2015 AZ Awards: “Best furniture design,” “Best furniture system” and “Best lighting fixture”


Our jury of five international experts had the Herculean task of selecting 19 winners and 47 finalists from a record-breaking 720 submissions, coming in from around the globe. Their picks for the fifth annual AZ Awards inspired, engaged, and challenged convention.  We are also proud to introduce the Social Good Award and the Environmental Leadership Award, two new categories that celebrate those inventive and daring talents who are finding brilliant ways to problem-solve through the power of design.

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Now that the cubicle wall has fallen, replaced by more loosely defined work environments where cafés double as boardrooms, contract furniture has undergone a seismic shift as well. Kinesit by Arper, launched last year at Orgatee in Cologne, Germany response to the new office terrain by running the task chair into what looks like an ordinary seat. Observing how the today’s best technological innovation are integrated, intuitive and invisible, the design team, Lievore Altherr Molina of Spain, decided to invest in its own soft-tech thinking by sculpting the mechanisms and command levers right into the seats profile. What is most remarkable about Kinesit cannot be seen, because it’s not there: no complicated levers, spring-loaded appendages or protruding know. The exoskeletal back rest has also vanished.

The polished aluminum frame is embedded with an automatic tension mechanism, meaning that the seat and back rest respond in sync with the user’s weight and pressure. Users experience continuous reclining movement up to 18 degrees, and the seat breathes by up to 15 millimeters to improve stability and circulation. Meanwhile, the back rest locks into three reclining positions, every nine degrees, and the armrests are stripped away, leaving a modest but supportive L.

Despite its outward simplicity, Kinesit meets performance norms, and even fulfills safety regulations for workplace seating, including the European requirement that all desk chairs have an adjustable lumbar support. By tidying up the task chair and giving it impressive versatility, Kinesit is going places, as a valued contributor and better team player.

Headquartered in Monastier Di Treviso, Italy, Arper manufactures and distributes contemporary furniture for residential, commercial and custom settings worldwide. For years it has collaborated with Barcelona design studio Lievore Altherr Molina to produce new furniture typologoes and award-winning creative direction in graphic design and branding. arper.com, lievorealtherrmolina.com.

“Kinesit does all the work for you. It takes into consideration your weight and height when you sit on it, yet it’s extremely clean and simple.” — Phillipe Malouin


Like a master Yogi, Grip uses its centre of gravity to sink into a grounded, statuesque pose. The movement reveals a new kind of built-in flexibility for the table, which strengthens and stabilizes as more weight is put on it. Designed by architect Troels Grum-Schwensen of Copenhagen for Randers + Radius, the three components assemble almost effortlessly into a free-standing piece. Each set of cast aluminum legs operates like a pair of pliers that pry open, then tighten around a central extruded beam. No tool needed.

This structure allows for the table to take on various configurations. Users have the freedom to space the legs anywhere along the beam span, and to change their positioning on the spot. While the various tops come in a fixed width of 80 centimetres, the table can extend to an infinite length, only requiring a set of legs every three metres.

Flexibility is an appealing feature for any work environment prone to change, especially start-ups that can mushroom overnight, and that require space for hot desking rather than closed offices. Given Grip’s universal nature, it’s surprising that it wasn’t invented sooner. Had Grum-Schwensen come up with the design sooner, perhaps children would draw tables differently today.

Architect and designer Troels Brum-Schewnsen is the principal of Brumdesign in Copenhagen. He has produce over 40 pieces of furniture since 1989. Niels Kastrup and Lars Andersen established Randers + Radius in Hadsten, Denmark, in 1999. The studio is renowned for its architect-designed furniture. Nienkämper is a two-gnereation manufacturer of furniture and a retailer based in Toronto. grumdesgn.com, randersradius.dk, nienkamper.com.

“Visually speaking, Grip reminded us of French industrialism of the 1040s, yet its aesthetic and manner is designed for today. It’s a great product” — Phillipe Malouin

Designer: ARIK LEVY 

By reversing the usual roles assigned to diffusers and other components, where the wiring is primary and explicitly decorative, Wireflow has cracked open a new topology, part drawing, part sculpture, part lamp. This groundbreaking series of pendant and chandeliers, each handcrafted in Barcelona by lamp maker Vibia, raises several visual tensions between presence and absence, transparency and luminosity.

According to designer Arik Levy, who debuted the series in 2013, Wireflow manages to fill a room with a special presence yet seem weightless and unobtrusive.

Inspired by his own rudimentary drawings of chandeliers, Levy decided to recreate them as convincingly as possible as thee-dimensional objects. One of the biggest challenges was to keep the electrical wiring as thin as a pencil line. Three-watt LED units encase in pressed glass diffusers proved to be the perfect solution, since the LED capsules require only a very thin diameter of copper wire to conduct a current.

The volumetric shape can be custom or prête-a-porter, as each wire is struck onto as many square and hexagonal metal frames as desired, and the fixture is ridiculously easy to install. The only variable with the off the shelf models is the length of the cords.

Now based in Paris, Arik Levy has produces furniture and lighting for some of the biggest international brands, including E15, Desalto, Living Divani and Molteni&C. Wireflow is one of a number of lighting fixtures he has made for Vibia, an innovative manufacturer in Barcelona that regularly collaborates with renowned designers. Levy’s latest lights for the company were launched in Milan this spring, at Euroluce. ariklevy.fr, vibia.com.

“I love the idea that the lines become a definer of volume, but they also provide energy for the light. It’s like a piece of clothing in that it’s very likeable in a low-tech kind of way.”

About mmcontentatlarge

austinmacdonald.net journalist | copywriter | producer/editor

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