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Interior Design Media
Playful graphics in bold colors cross disciplines to become striking art and custom furniture pieces by Emily Alston. “I really like the idea of functional art—which is basically furniture,” laughs the British designer, who draws from a background in graphic design and illustration. With the unforgettable moniker of Emily Forgot, also the name of her design studio, she has collected a diverse roster of clients since graduating from the Liverpool School of Art & Design in 2004. Notable among them: prestigious London cultural institutions the Victoria & Albert Museum and Somerset House, hotel chains Mondrian Suites and CitizenM, retailer Selfridges, and furniture manufacturer Herman Miller.

This fall, at The Interior Design Show (IDS) in Vancouver, running September 26-29, Forgot will debut “A Sense of Place,” an installation based on the shapes and architecture of Canadian Modernism. In parallel, 13 of her pieces will be for sale with 50 percent of proceeds benefiting education program Out in Schools. Interior Design sat down with Forgot to learn more about her boldly colored wooden relief pieces, the favorite pastime she indulges all around the world, and why little has changed in some areas of her life since the age of six.

Interior Design: We understand you recently wrapped up a residency program.

Emily Forgot: That’s right, with de Bijenkorf, a department store chain in the Netherlands. I created a series of furniture and domestic objects inspired by the de Bijenkorf stores and the Bauhaus movement—so a table, chair, rug based on a Marcel Breuer staircase, and a set of three mobiles. The program, called Room on the Roof, is organized to coincide with the centennial of the Bauhaus movement and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Eindhoven de Bijenkorf store, designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti. The pieces will be used in window displays.

ID: Can you share a little more about the IDS installation and what else is upcoming for you?

EF: For IDS, I'm making some colorful wooden relief pieces for “A Sense of Place,” an installation and entrance hall feature. Similar to others I have made, these reliefs will be based on architectural or interior spaces that I quite like, with relevancy to location. Therefore, I've been researching a lot of Canadian architects and architecture and visiting some Vancouver-based spaces. I then reinterpret and abstract them for the relief pieces.

I am also working on a maze for the hotel chain CitizenM that will be open to the public during the London Design Festival, also in September, and a series of assemblage pieces and prints which will be exclusively for the Victoria & Albert Museum shop.

ID: What gets your creative mind energized?

EF: Travel is really important. As an example, this past February I did a project for Stay One Degree, a vetted-member-only holiday home rental website. They sent me out to the Canary Islands in Spain, to Tenerife, to be inspired by one of the villas they have there and then also by Tenerife itself. For them, I also created a unique series of colorful wooden pieces. A film was made to document the trip and the making of the pieces It was a really nice project and made me think a little bit differently about my work, which always has inspiration coming from a sense of place. Travel doesn’t have to be about getting on a plane and going somewhere, it's also about going to the library and picking up some old archive magazines.

ID: How do you believe the British design culture helps enable your vision?

EF: With social media and the internet being so much a part of our creative lives, things feel a lot broader. You can uncover an amazing restaurant in Australia or a new kind of furniture brand in New York. I gain inspiration from all around the world and don't think my work necessarily has a particularly British feel. But then again, I do really like a lot of British design; it's quite playful and there is a little bit of humor.

ID: In what kind of home do you live?

EF: I've recently moved with my partner into a 1960s home with quite a lot of original features. It’s near the sea, about an hour outside London, and is a huge ongoing project. My partner, Von, is an illustrator and artist as well, and we have a studio in the house that we share. Although some people just think that’s crazy, it
Los Angeles Clippers/AECOM
The Los Angeles Clippers have released initial renderings of their brand new 18,500-seat arena expected to open in 2024. Team owner Steve Ballmer and the city of Inglewood are moving forward with the $1 billion, 900,000-square-foot NBA arena over neighborhood concerns and lawsuits over the project,

Designed by local architecture and engineering firm AECOM, the metal-clad, oval-shaped arena is said to be inspired by the “swoosh” of a basketball net. Ballmer told ESPN, “I want it to be a noisy building… I really want that kind of energy.”

The grand vision includes a basketball arena, corporate office building, sports medicine clinic, retail, community and youth-oriented spaces, parking garages, a solar-panel-clad roof, indoor-outdoor “sky gardens,” and an outdoor game-viewing area with massive digital screens.

Ballmer’s goal is to create, “the best home in all of sports,” he said in a statement accompanying the release of the renderings. “What that means to me is an unparalleled environment for players, for fans, for sponsors and for the community of Inglewood. Our goal is to build a facility that resets fans’ expectations while having a transformative impact on the city we will call home.” Ballmer, one of the richest people in the world, will privately finance the mixed-use development.

The project must overcome several legal challenges that cloud its potential success. First, from the Uplight Inglewood Coalition, an organization looking to strengthen Inglewood residents’ political power, is suing the city on allegations that the city’s deal to sell the land for the arena violated California state law. The California Surplus Land Act requires that public land be prioritized for affordable housing development before any other uses. Housing costs in the area had soared since 2016, when the NFL agreed to let the Rams and Chargers relocate to Inglewood.

“In the midst of booming development—which has caused skyrocketing rents and the loss of affordable housing—it simply does not make any sense to prioritize an NBA arena over the needs of Inglewood residents without investing in the needs of residents,” Uplift Inglewood member D’artagnan Scorza said in a recent press release, “Public land should be used for the public good, and access to housing is central to building strong communities.”

Second, James Dolan, owner and CEO of Madison Square Garden, owner of the New York Knicks and the nearby Forum has also sued the city, accusing leaders of secretly negotiating with the Clippers to build on land that it once leased. The 26-acre complex will house all team operations, from corporate headquarters to the team’s training facility. The Clippers currently practice in Playa Vista, have a business office in downtown Los Angeles, and play at the Staples Center (shared with rival Lakers and NHL’s Kings since 1999). Their lease ends in 2024, putting pressure on team ownership to finish construction on time for the next season.
Alicja Biała, Iwo Borkowicz and Dominik Pazdzior
Designer Alicja Biała and architect Iwo Borkowicz have aimed to capture the realities of climate change with these colourful Totemy towers that serve as multi-storey data visualisations.

Installed beneath MVRDV's Bałtyk tower in Poznań, Poland, each of the six Totemy sculptures is a nine-metre-tall, geometric wooden tower.

Each of the totems has been designed to communicates a statistic about an environmental issue. For instance, one totem illustrates what has happened to every piece of plastic produced throughout history.

The sculpture is dominated by its blue top half, carved into bold geometric shapes and faintly patterned with swirls. This represents all the plastic that has been discarded as waste.

Below it, slimmer sections in different colours show the fates of the remaining plastic. Green shows it is still in use; red, that it has been burnt. The slimmest section, a mere belt of yellow, represents plastic that has been recycled.

Viewers can access these explanations — as well as links to the statistics' sources — by scanning a QR code on each sculpture.

Biała said she hopes the installation, which will remain at the site permanently, will help to inject climate change into people's conversation.

"We wanted to address the public at large, and at an everyday level," she said. "Passersby on the street and tram will catch out of the corner of their eye a flash of strong colours and be reminded of the current state of our world."

She has been buoyed by the positive response, both locally and abroad, since Totemy opened on 16 May.

"This is particularly important within the state of discourse in Poland where many politicians and public figures manifest climate ignorance, like Polish President Andrzej Duda, who has a rich climate change denial history," said Biała.

"The thing is that our totems are designed to represent science; you may discuss with me, but you cannot argue with facts."
Mancini Duffy
From photo-real renderings to the proliferation of architecture-orientated social media accounts, digital tech has transformed the way designers envision the world and the way the world engages with design. With today’s tech, the sky’s the limit for what an architect or interior designer can imagine. One firm in particular has realized digital tech’s revolutionary potential and has ran with it, creating multiple new services that promise substantial ROIs and a more collaborative, expedited design process.

That firm is Mancini Duffy, a veteran powerhouse in the New York design scene. At a recent lunch and learn hosted at Interior Design’s New York City headquarters, Mancini Duffy principal Michael Kipfer and his team presented several digital services that are already impacting the physical world. “Over the last five years, we’ve really embraced a startup mentality in our R&D department,” explained Kipfer. “Our end-goal is to spread this tech to other firms and completely transform the way the way our kind of work is done in the future.”

Over the course of the hour-long lunch, Kipfer elaborated on the boundary-pushing services Mancini Design Lab has developed between when it opened in June 2018 and now. These include a 360-degree design session, aided by top-of-the-line augmented and virtual realities developed using a popular video game engine called UnrealUnity. Clients are invited to participate in the design process, speeding up the time it takes to get a final client sign-off down from a few weeks to a single three-hour collaborative session. In this way, Kipfer said, everyone’s time is respected. They most recently used this technology at Pier 17 for the ground floor public spaces and restaurants.

VR is also used in the Mancini Duffy’s Mancini:Tool Belt. Powered by the HTC Vive, designers can grab and move objects in a Rhino and Revit-created space, “paint” them with different finishes, measure them, and teleport freely through the proposed project, picking up on design flaws long before they have advanced to stage where they would be costly to fix. This tech was first developed when Boqueria’s owner Yann de Rockfort and Chief Executive Chef Marc Vidal approached the firm about designing a new kitchen for their staff. Today, it’s a standard tool embraced across Mancini Duffy’s project teams.

Mancini Duffy makes use of new tools outside of simulated realities, as well. They recently completed a parking study for a national financial client using drones to survey the number and flow of cars across a 157-acre site. What ordinarily would have taken a team of three humans a day to accomplish was completed by the drone in five minutes. Realizing this, the team used the drone to map the site twice an hour day for two days, taking in LIDAR data and importing it into a 3-D software. From this data, heat charts and flow diagrams were made available to the remote Mancini team, speeding up the process for the client and cutting down on the design team’s time wasted on travel.

So what’s next for the Design Lab? “On the whole, we foresee 2-D drawings and construction documents completely disappearing from the design process,” said Kipfer. That could be accomplished by licensing or trademarking the aforementioned services to be used by the wider architectural community. “We see a huge potential to make the design process more expedient, more collaborative, and ultimately more creative with what we’ve invented at Design Lab. It’s not about keeping it all to ourselves and outpacing the competition. It’s about creating a new competitive environment that stimulates better design and ultimately gives the end-user something better than they could have ever expected.”

Today at Nvidia GTC 2019, the company unveiled a stunning image creator. Using generative adversarial networks, users of the software are with just a few clicks able to sketch images that are nearly photorealistic. The software will instantly turn a couple of lines into a gorgeous mountaintop sunset. This is MS Paint for the AI age.

Called GauGAN, the software is just a demonstration of what’s possible with Nvidia’s neural network platforms. It’s designed to compile an image how a human would paint, with the goal being to take a sketch and turn it into a photorealistic photo in seconds. In an early demo, it seems to work as advertised.

GauGAN has three tools: a paint bucket, pen and pencil. At the bottom of the screen is a series of objects. Select the cloud object and draw a line with the pencil, and the software will produce a wisp of photorealistic clouds. But these are not image stamps. GauGAN produces results unique to the input. Draw a circle and fill it with the paint bucket and the software will make puffy summer clouds.

Users can use the input tools to draw the shape of a tree and it will produce a tree. Draw a straight line and it will produce a bare trunk. Draw a bulb at the top and the software will fill it in with leaves producing a full tree.

GauGAN is also multimodal. If two users create the same sketch with the same settings, random numbers built into the project ensure that software creates different results.

In order to have real-time results, GauGAN has to run on a Tensor computing platform. Nvidia demonstrated this software on an RDX Titan GPU platform, which allowed it to produce results in real time. The operator of the demo was able to draw a line and the software instantly produced results. However, Bryan Catanzaro, VP of Applied Deep Learning Research, stated that with some modifications, GauGAN can run on nearly any platform, including CPUs, though the results might take a few seconds to display.

In the demo, the boundaries between objects are not perfect and the team behind the project states it will improve. There is a slight line where two objects touch. Nvidia calls the results photorealistic, but under scrutiny, it doesn’t stand up. Neural networks currently have an issue on objects it was trained on and what the neural network is trained to do. This project hopes to decrease that gap.

Nvidia turned to 1 million images on Flickr to train the neural network. Most came from Flickr’s Creative Commons, and Catanzaro said the company only uses images with permission. The company says this program can synthesize hundreds of thousands of objects and their relation to other objects in the real world. In GauGAN, change the season and the leaves will disappear from the branches. Or if there’s a pond in front of a tree, the tree will be reflected in the water.

Nvidia will release the white paper today. Catanzaro noted that it was previously accepted to CVPR 2019.

Catanzaro hopes this software will be available on Nvidia’s new AI Playground, but says there is a bit of work the company needs to do in order to make that happen. He sees tools like this being used in video games to create more immersive environments, but notes Nvidia does not directly build software to do so.
PARKED IN A Berlin platz at night, the concept car gleams, city lights dancing off its sinuous lines. I crouch down next to its hood to admire its shape, and as the paint twinkles, a word etched on the tire catches my eye. SPEEDGRIPP. Though faint, each letter looks pristine and unbroken, like the tire’s never seen a mile of road, like it’s been airlifted from some secret factory. It’s not like anything I’ve seen before—and certainly not in a VR headset, where print legibility goes to die.

Credit the resuscitation to Varjo. The first time I saw the Helsinki company’s prototype headset, nearly two years ago, it was little more than a kludge—an Oculus Rift that Varjo had rigged to project an ultrahigh-resolution microdisplay into the center of my field of view. Rift or no Rift, it was the most stunning clarity I’d ever seen. It’s better now, and it’s also a finished (and Finnish) device.

Varjo bills the VR-1, which goes on sale today, as “the world’s only professional VR headset with human-eye resolution.” The word “professional” is key here: While the VR-1’s mirror-polished eyebox and unprecedented visual fidelity make it feel like an artifact from the future, its $5,995 price tag makes clear that this isn’t a device for everyone. Specifically, it’s not for consumers, but for Airbus, Audi, architecture firm Foster + Partners, and dozens of other companies who participated in Varjo’s beta program over the past year. Any sticker shock pales next to the benefits they’ll see in the long run.

In the enterprise world, your VR headset isn’t for games or social experiences; it’s for work. So a company’s feature wish list is a bit different. You don’t need it to be completely untethered, because you’ll be sitting at your workstation. Instead, you want it to work with your professional design or rendering software of choice, whether that’s Autodesk VRed, Unreal, Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D, or any of a half-dozen others. You also probably want it to have eye tracking, especially if you’re using the headset for training and simulation.

Those were things the Varjo team kept hearing as they worked with early partners, and as they grew from 12 employees to over 100 (thanks in large part to a $31 million Series B round last year). “This is something that was done with the professionals, for the professionals,” says Varjo CMO Jussi Mäkinen. “It's not a consumer product retrofit for the professional market.”

But from the moment Varjo emerged from stealth in 2017, one constant corporate chorus rose above the rest: resolution, resolution, resolution. “If you can crack that,” Varjo CTO Urho Konttori says, “you win the professionals.”