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Best of Conversations in Design (Part 2): Michele Caniato Talked about Opportunities for Innovative Designers

Michele Caniato

Michele Caniato

After listening to Michele Caniato at Conversations in Design, I see him as some kind of agent for designers and inventors. Many designers have a hard time to sell themselves. Other do not take the time or have the connections to make deals with retail brands. He saw a niche in the market when he founded Culture & Commerce, a strategic design consultancy that develops high potential design opportunities for global brands and international designers.

Brands and retailers would gain from challenging designers to come up with new concepts for products and packaging. What he looks for are people with vision. Then, he looks for the right fit. As he said at his Conversations in Design talk, vision, not spreadsheets, leads company forward.

Behind the Scene of the PUMA’S Clever Little Bag

puma clever little bag

To prove his points, Caniato chronicled the development of the Clever Little Bag by PUMA. The collaboration between a designer and PUMA led to important savings both in production and distribution costs. The solution enabled PUMA to run a more sustainable business while delivering form and function.

When Yves Béhar, of San Francisco based fuseproject, got the job to create a game changing packaging system that will reduce the shoe box footprint, insiders told him that they couldn’t change the shoe box. For 21 months, Yves Béhar with his team studied and deconstructed the shoe box. The solution came when they got rid of the box all together. Instead, the Clever Little Bag acts as a minimalist shoe box until the cashier grabs the handle to turn it into your shopping bag. All that was done with a reusable shopping bag that carries a strong brand identity.

Watch this video to know more about the birth of the Clever Little Bag by PUMA and Yves Béhar.

Mushroom Packaging

Caniato’s quest towards innovation carries to materials and techniques. He founded Material ConneXion which operates materials libraries across the globe. His materials libraries is the leading resource for innovative and sustainable materials and processes. He presented a cool material called EcoCradle made by Evocative Design.

ecocradle

This revolutionary material is the brain child of by two Rensselaer Graduates, Eben Bayer and Gavin McIntyre who became fascinated by how mushrooms grow on wood chips. A few years later, the launch a mushroom packaging material aimed to replace plastic foam packaging. They now have a partnership with 3M.

Thinking Outside the Box

The lesson I took home from Michele Caniato’s talk was that if you are willing to look at things differently there are a world of opportunities that could open to you. He mentioned that  But whatever you do, you must always be true and be fair to ourselves.

By the way, you do not have to be a renowned designer to be represented by his firm. What you need are remarkable design ideas that solve real problems, to have a story and to be passionate about it.

SOURCING:
Culture & Commerce
PUMA’s Clever Little Bag by Yves Béhar of fuseproject
EcoCradle by Evocative Design
+ Conversations in Design – IDS Toronto 2012

LIVING TRAVEL

Travel in Style with Design Hotels

design hotels

design hotels

If you are fond of boutique hotels, you are probably familiar with Mr and Mrs Smith‘s hotel booking services. I love their story.

But what if you are looking to expand a little bit the selection of boutique hotels? This is where Design Hotels can help you. They describe themselves as a consulting, marketing and positioning service provider for hotels and small hotel groups listed in the new luxury tourism segment. So far, this German traded company represents and markets a hand-picked collection of more than 200 hotels in over 40 countries across the globe. You can book your room online with a best rate guarantee.

Sadly, only two Canadian hotels and a few US hotels are available on Design Hotels. Nonetheless, I found European hotels where I would like to stay. 25Hours Hotel Hamburg, a sixties and seventies inspired hotel, caught my eye with their pink wall lobby and girlie bike. Family up to four can stay in one of their 6 XL-Family rooms. The 25Hours Hotel in Hamburg has a total of 128 guest rooms.

SOURCING:
Design Hotels
25Hours Hotel

DESIGN and style LIVING

Sock Slippers by Collegien

collegien slippers illustrations

Isabelle of Accro de la Mode captured the warmth that I felt when I laid my eyes on these French-made sock slippers. They seem so comfy and perfect to keep my feet warm right now. Collégien, the French maker, produces pairs made of cashmere for the colder months. I wish that we could buy here somewhere in North America. Here are some of my favorite patterns.

SOURCING:
+ Ireland – Flake Slippers by Collegien $45.99 USD
+ illustration by Accro de la Mode

LIVING URBAN Living

Urban Living: How the Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths

cycle path in the Netherlands

cycle path in the Netherlands

This video starts with: The Netherlands has the world’s largest number of cyclists, but it is also the safest place to cycling. It says a lot about what is possible when you want to. Even if it is just to see how another nation solved an universal problem, I invite you to watch the video (below).

The suburban lifestyle is not for me. I like too much the proximity to great shops, restaurants, and museums and the creative energy  that you get in the city to settle for less. But as a new mom, I also want to live in a safe environment for my kid. I sometimes wonder how we can raise a child in the city. I was raised in a small town. Riding a bike is part of my childhood memories. I know that my son won’t be able to enjoy the same freedom than I did. Still, most North American and Canadian cities could be more family friendly.

This short documentary called “How the Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths?” is the perfect example that we can make our cities more pedestrian and cyclist friendly with will, proper government support and imaginative city planners. Amongst the main reasons that triggered the huge city planning change in the Netherlands was a public outrage caused by the high number of kids under 14 who died due to a bicycle accident. The protesters wanted to stop the killing of those children. And they did!

It takes a lot of courage to limit the number of parking spaces available in a city centre or to restrict the car lanes on our road. But it can be done successfully. The transition, like any transition, would be hard and painful for some. But if the people have the gut to give it a chance, they could see that new habits will take shape. In the end, I believe that it would benefit the majority. In the Netherlands, only 14 kids died from a bicycle accident in 2010. This is the best reason to change the way we design our roads. I would welcome a system that prioritizes even more the pedestrians and cyclists over cars.

SOURCING:
+ How the Dutch Got Their Cycle Paths video

 

LIVING TRAVEL

More Comfort in Economy-Class Flights

Qantas footrest

Occasionally, I browsed the Web for articles on what are the innovative ideas from airline companies around the world. While the more impressive upgrades happen in first-class, there are still cool things that are implemented for the economy class travelers. I am always sad to notice to see no Canadian or American companies. It seems that passenger comfort has been forgotten by us. But comfort is not a luxury, it reduces stress and improves our quality of life. In a tiny attempt to revive a sense of style for the average travelers, I will share the best innovations from my reading.

Today, I present you the foot hammock, a little net that act as a footrest. Elevating your legs like that will provide you better circulation, which is an important things to do when you are in the sky.

Air New Zealand economy class 3 seats bed for 2

Then, an economy row of three seats could convert to a “comfy” bed for 2 with the touch of a button. The arms retract, the seat base extends and the seatbelts lengthen to buckle up when reclining. Air New Zealand says that two passengers can snuggle horizontally, leaning against the wall or lying flat. I do not know if you can pay extra to guarantee this option or if you need to be lucky to enjoy this feature.

See more innovations in economy-class flights at BBC.

SOURCING:
+ photo: Qantas
+ photo: Air New Zealand

DESIGN and style LIVING

What to Do in Montreal: The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier. From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk

animated mannequin

animated mannequin

Tomorrow will be the last day that you can see Jean Paul Gaultier’s exhibit at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. I went a few weeks ago and I really enjoyed the visit.

The animated mannequins add a wonderful touch to the exhibit. Dressed by Gaultier, the figures soliloquize, observe in silence and sometimes even break into song. The technique involves the projection of a video onto a mannequin head. It engages us further into the universe by providing details about why and how Gaultier created those outfits or styles.

men suit dress by jean paul gaultier

The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier. From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk exhibit explores the signature styles of Jean Paul Gaultier through five galleries: Boudoir, Skin Deep, Punk Cancan, Urban Jungle and Metropolis.

extra long jeans by jean paul gaultier

There are plenty of wonderful creations to see. I selected a few details to show you the extent of his artistic genius. I like this men suit dress. And I wish I could buy extra long jeans for my baby, just to replicate this style. Sadly, they would not fit him at the waist, if I do.

elaborate hairdo :: urban jungle gallery

Have a look at the intricacy of the hairdo. The Urban Jungle gallery was filled with amazing detailed works.

metropolis gallery jean paul gaultier

If you live in the States, you weill be happy to know that The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier. From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk will travel to Dallas and San Francisco before going to Europe.

Dallas Museum of Art
November 13, 2011 – February 12, 2012

Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, de Young
March 24 – August 19, 2012

See More Photos on my Facebook page.

SOURCING:
+ The Fashion World of Jean Paul Gaultier. From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts
+ photos: Kim Vallee – excuse the picture quality, I only had my iPhone with me

LIVING TRAVEL

What To Do in Montreal: Magie des Lanternes 2011

magie des lanternes 2011

magie des lanternes 2011

My husband, our baby and I had a great time at the opening night of Magie des Lanternes. It is truly magical.

magie des lanternes 2011 family activity

Our baby enjoyed the view of the lighted theme lanterns.

magie des lanternes 2011 :: emperor parade

The 19th edition organized by the Montreal Botanical Gardens is under the theme of “The First Emperor’s Procession”. The exhibit pays tribute to China’s first Emperor, Qin Shi Huangdi, and his impressive cavalry. It takes 8 months to the exhibit design team in Montreal to draw about 200 new thematic lanterns. They put a lot of attention to details. For example, each character has its own facial features.

magie des lanternes 2011 closeup

The drawings are send to Shanghai where the lanterns are produced using traditional methods. To withstand our fall weather and the test of time, the lanterns are made with parachute fabrics instead of the traditional silk. The lanterns arrived in Montreal not completely unassembled. They proceed like that to ease the installation of the LED lamps on the metal frame.

magie des lanternes 2011 :: The First Emperor's Procession

You have until October 31st, 2011 to experience the Magie des Lanternes exhibit. Do not miss it; it makes a great family activity or a romantic walk.

magie des lanternes 2011 chinese family

Go to my Facebook page to see More photos of the exhibit.

SOURCING:
+ Magie des Lanternes
+ photos: Jérôme Paradis for kimvallee.com

DESIGN and style LIVING

Textile Field Installation by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec

Textile Field installation

Textile Field installation

The Bouroullec brothers have designed an art installation that democratizes a visit to the museum. For the London Design Festival, the Victoria & Albert Museum invited them to intervene in any space we wanted within the Museum. Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec decided to create a huge textile platform on which you can sit or lay down in any way you want. The idea is to bring comfort and to not feel intimidated by the art pieces displayed at the museum.

Textile Field installation by ronan and erwan bouroullec

Made in collaboration with Kvadrat, Textile Field is an installation 30 meters long and 8 meters wide which takes over 240m sq of the floor of the famous Raphael Cartoons Gallery. Their design would translate well in a cosy couch for a home theater room or become a mat for playroom.

Textile Field installation at Victoria & Albert Museum

The installation will be on show during the London Design Festival, from September 15th to September 25th 2011.

Victoria & Albert Museum
Cromwell Road
London SW7 2RL
Opening hours: daily from 10am to 17.45pm and on Friday from 10am to 22.00pm

SOURCING:
+ Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec

DESIGN and style LIVING

What to Do this Weekend: The exhibitIKEA 2011 in Toronto

david dixon dresses exhibitikea 2011

exhibitikea 2011

I attended the opening gala of the exhibitIKEA last Wednesday night. It showed IKEA under another eyes. It is inspiring to see how four renowned artists transformed everyday products and furniture. I truly enjoyed three installations out of the four that are presented.

Bruno Billio’s Chair Columns

ikea fabrics and cushions on a bench exhibitikea 2011

As you enter the gallery space, you will notice the chair columns. Bruno Billio stacked 400 black and white identical IKEA REIDAR chairs under a big mirror to create his piece. Honestly, I only care for that piece because it created zones for the party. The nice fabric of the cushions on the long bench caught more my eye.

David Dixon’s Dressing Room

David Dixon's IKEA-inspired collection

The dresses created by fashion designer David Dixon were my favorite part. It is not surprising that he designs everything around a large dressing room.

david dixon dresses exhibitikea 2011

Dixon really demonstrates that, with a proper eye, you can take mass-market fabrics and produce a refined product. Like he does for his own collections, he selected a color palette for his installation. I never thought that they were as many fabulous grey and white fabrics at IKEA.

dress room exhibitikea 2011

It is also a nice lesson on how to match patterns to create an individual look. I might steal his fabric choices for a chair that I wish to reupholster with several fabrics. Grey and white is the palette of my living room.

art photos and dresses exhibitikea 2011

George Whiteside’s Still Life Photos

photography gallery exhibitikea 2011

Influenced by the work of Italian painter Giorgio Morandi, he layered vintage papers as his background and created soothing combinations with IKEA vases, pots and objects.

photography details exhibitikea 2011

His photographs were all framed in white IKEA ODBY frames.

Thrush Holmes Shack

rustic house exhibitikea 2011

Holmes built the outside with the nondescript IKEA flat boxes. The graffiti style exterior contrasts with the refined interior. He staged a cozy guy bedroom, that does not scream IKEA.

rustic bedroom exhibitikea 2011

There is still time to see it in person. exhibitIKEA is open to the public today until from 10am to 6pm and on Sunday,  August 21 from 12 to 6pm. It is located at 363 King Street West, Toronto.

Disclaimer: I was invited by IKEA, who paid for my flight from Montreal to Toronto and my hotel. Besides showing up at the media event, they asked nothing else from me. I wrote about the exhibit because I think that it is worth a visit.

DESIGN and style LIVING

Tools at Schools Taught Eight Graders about Good Design

tools for school desk chair locker

tools for school desk chair locker

I believe that design should be a part of every step of our daily life. Therefore, I can only applaud this initiative by Design studio aruliden and Bernhardt Design. They conceived Tools at Schools to teach the eighth graders at The School at Columbia University the value of design as a problem-solving tool.

tools for school study desk

The project involved designing a student locker, chair and desk. I think that they did a brilliant job. They addressed the needs of the different classes through a set of accessories. This is a cost-effective and practical solution since the core of the desk stays the same for all classes.

tools for school art desk

Each locker is identified with the kid’s name. The inside of the locker contains multiple storage units for books and school supplies, a message board, hooks for clothes and a large bottom drawer.

tools for school lockers

The students have been taught what is design but most importantly, they experienced the process on a concrete manner. Good design enhances our life at many levels. It provides comfort since it is fitted for a task and it should be aesthetically pleasing. We are never too young to appreciate good design.

If you wish to learn more about this fabulously inspiring project, watch the 6 videos that cover the processes.

SOURCING:
+ Tools for School

DESIGN and style LIVING

I’m in Fashion Magazine

kim in fashion magazine of May 2011

kim in fashion magazine of May 2011

Just a quick note to highlight the fact that I participated in an article where two dermatologists assess the daily routines of 5 women and give advice on aging gracefully. We each represent one decade.

This involved a photo shoot when I was 38-week pregnant. I was glad that it was only for a portrait. You can discover little facts about my life in the May 2011 issue of Fashion magazine. The photographer was Coey Kerr. My hair and makeup was done by Andrew Ly.

SOURCING:
+ Fashion Magazine – May 2011 issue