March 1, 2004
More Is More
Tord Boontje’s latest collection marries decoration, function, and affordability.
For the past few years Dutch designer Tord Boontje has been the darling of the London scene. He’s collaborated with Alexander McQueen and Paul Smith. And in addition to being nominated last year’s “Designer of the Year” at the Design Museum, his work is currently being featured in the exhibition Brilliant, at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Boontje’s crystal chandelier for Swarovski, which sells for $23,000, reflects a move away from the stark minimalism of the 1990s and a return to the celebration of ornament in design. His latest collection, available in the United States from Artecnica, is unabashedly decorative and surprisingly affordable.
Boontje’s Garland lamp shade is a long brass or stainless-steel ribbon with tiny etched flowers and leaves that you simply wrap around a lightbulb. The base is a floral mass in which structure and decoration are inseparable. The ornament is the design. Introduced in the United Kingdom last year by home furnishings company Habitat, the lamp has been a great hit: the first 12,000 units sold out in two weeks. Boontje’s Midsummer light is made of durable Tyvek (the same material used for FedEx envelopes) and ships flat to minimize costs. “The lamp, with its intricately cut paper, becomes like lace and is reminiscent of a field or drapery,” he explains. “It hangs with a sort of structured chaos within.”
The designer has also produced an inexpensive paper greeting card that comes as a flat disk and opens up into a long garland of flowers. He is currently finishing details on a lacelike Tyvek curtain that will be released by Artecnica later this spring. “The great thing about it is that if it’s too big for your window you just get a pair of scissors and cut it,” he says. Working with companies like Habitat and Artecnica has allowed Boontje to produce his designs in large quantities and keep the prices down. “Now we make 30,000 instead of just 50 in one go,” he says. “Still, it’s really nice to make one lamp for 23,000 dollars and another for 23 pounds.”