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Spotlight

Spotlight: Tom Dixon

Spotlight: Tom Dixon

Tom Dixon, a former bass player in the band Funkapolitan, has morphed from disco journeyman to a virtuoso of design.  The O.B.E. recipient, whose works can be found in the Victoria & Albert Museum, the MOMA and the Centre Georges Pompidou, has said that he designs for longevity.


Tom Dixon, 2015

 

Dixon's obsession with "honest" materials began in the mid 1970s while taking Pottery and Life Drawing classes in London. After teaching himself to weld, he began turning scrap metal into functional objects, and quickly rose to prominence in the 1980s as the "talented untrained designer with a line in welded salvage furniture." During a stint at the Italian design house Cappellini, Dixon created the S-chair, a sculptural seat that today sits in New York's Museum of Modern Art.  

 

The S-Chair, 1991

 


Beat Lights

In 1993 he participated in the "greatest exhibition of British furniture design of the 20th Century" before being appointed as head of design for Habitat, later becoming Creative Director.  Dixon was the public face of a collective team responsible for rejuvenating the Habitat brand.  In 2002, the Tom Dixon brand was founded and since then, Dixon has expanded his design aspirations from lighting, furniture and home accessories to high profile interior design projects such as Jamie Oliver's restaurant Barbecue as well as London's Shoreditch House.  


Shoreditch House, London


In 2012, he launched his accessories range at Maison et Objet, Paris, where we fell in love with his rich metal objects made from brass, copper and steel.  Dixon, the guest of honour at this week's IDS16 in Toronto, has said that he wants his designs to be "anti-fashion". He must be having a laugh given the irony of his present-day status as one of the design world's most fashionable and forward-thinking trailblazers.


Bash Bowls

Brew Coffee Set

Form Tea Set

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Spotlight: David Mellor

Spotlight: David Mellor

David Mellor's Quiet Design

David Mellor's work was so understated that it has slipped into the canon of modern British life with little fanfare. 

~ New York Times, July 2016


Mellor's English pattern, with monograms for Queen
Elizabeth II and 10 Downing Street.

 

David Mellor's work never demanded much attention, yet it has become as
much part of British culture as afternoon tea. From farmhouses and townhouses to palaces and embassies, Mellor's work is ubiquitous in the UK, having been commissioned by 10 Downing Street and Queen Elizabeth II. 

Born in Sheffield in 1930, David Mellor trained as a silversmith at the Royal College of art. After a trip to Sweden and Denmark in the early 1950s, he developed a strong affinity for simple  minimalism.  

Like many architects of post-World War II modernity, David Mellor considered good design his civic imperative.  This led to several important government commissions in the 1960s, including a controversial square mailbox (right), street lamps, traffic lights, bus shelters, park benches and telephones. Mellor also produced a one-off silver candelabrum and tubular steel chairs (below, right), both of which are in the permanent collection of the Design Museum in London. Sir Terence Conran has described him as 'Britain's greatest post-war product designer'.

 


                 

 

 

Deceptively simple silverware

Often referred to as "the cutlery king", Mellor was  at the centre of the renaissance of handmade silver in 1960s Britain. His most important work was a complete new collection of modern silver tableware commissioned by the government for British embassies in a drive to give Britain a more forward-looking image. 

 Alongside silversmithing, Mellor was stimulated by  the relatively new design potential of stainless  steel. His was the first high-quality stainless steel  cutlery to be produced in quantity in the UK. 

 

David Mellor's tableware stood out amid the bright  and noisy designs of the 60s and 70s. His work, never demanding attention, quietly and steadily became an integral part of English life.

 

A craftsman at heart

Mellor's approach to design was always to some extent that of a craftsman, in his close involvement in materials and techniques and his insistence on the highest standards of environment and working conditions. Today, the entire process of making cutlery is set up in The Round Building (below), Mellor's factory near Sheffield.


Built in 1990 in collaboration with the architect Sir  Michael Hopkins, The Round Building has won numerous architectural awards. Hopkins also designed the nearby David Mellor Design Museum, which opened in 2006, and covers the spectrum of Mellor's work over  the past half century, from tea spoons to traffic lights.​

The first David Mellor shop opened at 4 Sloane Square, London, in 1969 and immediately set international standards for retailing design. In addition to additional shops across the UK, David Mellor became available for the first time in Canada in 2015 with the opening of Hopson Grace. Among other honours throughout his life, Mellor became a trustee of the Victoria & Albert Museum, became the youngest Royal Designer for Industry at the age of 32, was awarded four honorary doctorates and was appointed OBE in 2001. David Mellor passed away in 2009, but his legacy lives on in his Sheffield factory, in London at his Sloan Street flagship store, and through his son Corin Mellor, who acts as Creative Director of the company.


ABOVE: David Mellor in his Sheffield factory. BELOW: Corin Mellor.

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Spotlight: Zalto

Spotlight: Zalto

Glassware that raises the (wine) bar.

"The stem is like a stiletto heel."

~  Michele Smith, Wine Director of Brooklyn Fare

Just prior to opening our doors in the Spring of 2015, we were introduced to an elegant line of wine glasses that we were told would be perfect for Hopson Grace: stunning designs combined with a handmade product of the highest quality and craftsmanship. New-ish to the market, Zalto was relatively unheard of and not inexpensive.  But the glasses were so beautiful, and Bon Appétit's Adam Rappaport had just claimed they were "quite possibly the greatest wine glass we'll ever drink from," so we decided to give them a try. We haven't looked back.

Called "the cool, new wine glass to covet" by the L.A. Times, Zalto is a boutique glassware maker from Austria, founded in 2000. The non-lead crystal glasses are hand blown and are limited in production. And like other brands' sommelier series, Zalto's stemware features an ultra-thin rim that makes drinking wine a pleasure.

 

Top to bottom: Zalto's Universal Glass, Axium Decanter and Coupe/Cocktail Glass

 

Sommeliers are Smitten

 

Above: Zalto's Champagne Flute


Thomas Keller is using them at the French Laundry and Per Se. They’re on tables at Eleven Madison Park, Bouley and Le Bernadin. And Robert Parker, arguably one of the world's leading wine critics, has given Zalto an enthusiastic thumbs up.  Why? For wine aficionados, the importance of the glass is significant. The last thing between the mouth and the wine itself, Zalto uses ancient Roman proportions that are said to enhance aroma and drinkability: the glasses' shapes imitate the 24-, 48-, and 72- degree tilt angles of the Earth.

But it's not just about ancient theories about aroma that stirs up desire for this stemware. Simply put, they're downright sexy. Cat Silirie, Executive Wine Director at Boston's Menton's restaurant (who now uses Zalto exclusively) says, "It's about the sensuality, the glass, the lighting. People are always taken aback at their beauty and glamour.” She adds, “these are some of the most beautiful glasses you could dream of."

A Cut Above

The Telegraph's Victoria Moore writes that she likes the way wine tastes out of Zalto, but "it’s really the way these glasses feel in your hand that makes them so seductive". The glass is hand-blown and so fine, so light that when you pick up other glasses after holding one, they feel uncomfortably clumsy." Jancis Robinson, the British wine journalist, critic and writer, concurs: "Any other glass just seems a bit clod-hopping," she states. Beauty and elegance aside, Zalto glasses are remarkably strong. Designed to be cleaned in a regular dishwasher, we put them to the test and, after almost two years, any breakages have been entirely our fault. One of the reasons they're so strong is that unlike most manufactured glasses, which are assembled, Zalto stemware is made using a single piece of glass. Watch below as the crystal is formed by highly skilled glass-blowers.

 

 

How to polish your Zaltos

Though they're amazingly durable in proportion to their delicacy, there's no warranty against breakage due to human error. Care needs to be taken as to where they're put in a dishwasher, and it's important to understand the best way to polish your glasses. Take a look (right) as Aldo Sohm, Le Bernardin's head sommelier demonstrates his recipe for success.

Why it's important to pair your wine with the right glass

Knowing that aroma and bouquet are a vital part of the enjoyment of your wine, the glass you use is key to the experience. Most importantly, it should have a bowl large enough so that the wine will fill only a third of the glass. This allows the aroma to fill the bowl. With each sip, your nose does more tasting than your mouth. Read on for a breakdown of the science behind the marriage between wine and wine glasses. 

 

REDS With red wine, it's important to choose a glass with a round wide bowl because that helps the wine make contact with air. Reds taste their best at room temperature and therefore needs air to breathe so the flavours of the wine are at their best.

WHITES Because white wines - with their citrus-based or spicy flavours - are most flavourful served cold, they require a narrow bowl, which concentrates the aroma and reduces the surface area to keep the wine cool.

CHAMPAGNE A growing movement toward a tulip-shaped glass is taking place in the world of bubbles. Similar to a flute, the tulip glass has a greater bowl space to maintain bubbles, and yet its wider aperture helps the bubbles hit the right regions of your tongue (rather than ending up in your nose).

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