Philolux

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Timepieces designed by Memphis Group designers and by designers in Japan and USA.


Neos by Lorenz, Italy

Super Present by Wakita, Japan

Artime by Canetti, USA

NATHALIE DU PASQUIER & GEORGE SOWDEN

SHOHEI MIHARA

NICOLAI CANETTI

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NATHALIE DU PASQUIER & GEORGE SOWDEN

Wall clocks and table clock

Neos by Lorenz, Italy

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Nathalie du Pasquier is a painter and designer. She was born in Bordeaux, France in 1957 and has lived in Milan since 1979 where she met the designer George Sowden. Two years after moving to Milan, she met Ettore Sottsass who invited her and Sowden to become founding members of the Memphis Group. Her iconic patterns for Memphis are today the group's most recognizable designs. They have become a widely recognized aspect of the Memphis brand and defined the esthetic of the 1980s in general.


In 1987, she dedicated herself to painting after designing furniture and objects. Over the past 10 years her fine art career has had strong recognition and her iconic Memphis work has been re-edited by brands like American Apparel and the Conran Shop, entering the lives of new generations and showing how relevant her early work is today.

George Sowden is an architect and designer. He was born in Leeds, UK in 1942. After studying architecture at the Gloucester college of art he moved to Milan in 1970 where he founded his own design and product development studio in 1979. He met Ettore Sottsass while working as a design consultant for Olivetti. Sottsass invited Sowden and his wife Nathalie Du Pasquier to co-found the Memphis Group in 1981. Their contributions to the New Design are now the most emblematic of the movement that changed design and pop culture.


After the Memphis Group disbanded in 1988, Sowden collaborated with world-famous companies like Olivetti, Alessi, Bodum, Guzzini, Lorenz, Rancilio, Steelcase, Swatch, Segis, Memphis, IPM, Moulinex, Telecom Italia, Tefal and Pyrex. Today SOWDEN is his eponymous brand that offers a collection of innovative products for the 21st century.

The series of clocks shown in the Postmodern Times collection/exhibition is the fruit of Nathalie du Pasquier's work with George Sowden. Their collaboration made them the Memphis Group power couple. These clocks were manufactured and produced by the Italian brand Lorenz, and they are a kind of Memphis Group 2.0: colors clashing pleasingly alongside intricate and bold patterns. A revolution in clock design that demonstrated how the Memphis Group ethos could drive commercial success without making any concessions.

 

LORENZ AND DESIGN

COURTESY PIETRO BOLLETTA, CEO of Lorenz

Lorenz brand was created in 1934 by master watchmaker Tullio Bolletta. In 1960 Lorenz won its first “Compasso D’oro” design award with the Static Table Clock designed by Richard Sapper.

 Photo slide courtesy Pietro Bolletta

Photo slide courtesy Pietro Bolletta

In the 1980’s Federico Bolletta, son of Tullio Bolletta (who joined the company in the early 60’s), was looking for some new designers who could create a watch/table clock/wall clock collection, with the objective of keeping the connection alive between the Lorenz brand and design. The Memphis Group of designers, which included George Sowden and Nathalie du Pasquier, was located close to via Montenapoleone in Milano, where the Lorenz headquarters is located.

Soon a friendly collaboration started with the two designers who would create the new Neos Collection. Entirely made in Italy, the Neos Collection was anticipating the market with innovative shapes, colors, materials and dial. The wooden frames, ceramic frames and plastic frames, represented something new in the timepiece industry. New production techniques like “cubic printing” for plastic wall clock cases were used to create the Neos Collection. In a way Neos was so anticipatory of the trends that the sales were good in the designer and architect communities worldwide, but were quite poor in the main market of the Lorenz brand, the watch and jewelry market. George Sowden would also design a special chronograph under the Neos Collection, which recalled some of the design guidelines of the collection.

In 2007, Pietro and Anna Bolletta, nephews of Tullio Bolletta and the son and daughter of Federico, created with the Spanish design group Cul De Sac, the new Neos Chronograph, with a very special “sandwich construction”, made of different layers. In 2008, Neos was once again awarded with the Compasso D’oro.

 Photo slide courtesy Pietro Bolletta

Photo slide courtesy Pietro Bolletta

 

NEOS CATALOG

COURTESY OF JOHN VELDKAMP, GRONINGEN NL

 

GEORGE SOWDEN AND NATHALIE DU PASQUIER TALKS

INSIGHTS INTO THEIR EXPERIENCES AND INSPIRATIONS

George Sowden interview in a guide through the sometimes diverse ideas, designs and innovations that developed during the postmodern era.

Nathalie Du Pasquier shares her thoughts on the works of other artists. Even though her own work is not discussed directly, the lecture instead reflects her influences, tastes and interests.

 

SHOHEI MIHARA

Wall clocks and table clocks

Super Present by Wakita, Japan

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SHOHEI MIHARA INTERVIEW

TRANSLATED FROM JAPANESE BY FUKU MIYAKAWA

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What was your inspiration for Wakita timepieces?

In 1976 the inspiration was simple, modern, and consistency in design. Later it was inspired by avant-garde like, colorful, and ingenious design.

How did you get the job?

Wakita was a company that undertook shipbuilding material mostly in metal. In 1975, my very first work for Wakita was to utilize stainless steel pipes through an unique manufacturing process. The method was selected by the design comity and awarded the Good Design award. This is how Wakita, a company in Fukuoka, and I, who at that time was working in Tokyo, started our product development together.

During that time there were only a few simple and modern designs, therefore the clocks, calendar, and metallic flooring were all made with simple design intents. In the 1980s the brand MUJI was launched, and about 25 of the makers decided to take a different route, showcasing the importance of personality and character. We wanted to challenge ourselves by bringing in a new era in design.

What were the reactions of the first people you showed the clocks to? What did they say?

There were some people in the design community that showed disagreement and disdain. The movement started from 1985 and currently the designs have gained attention in auction houses.

What happened in your life at the time you were working on these clocks?

In the beginning, we visited countless manufacturers to sell the products that were designed. Around 1980, we officially began selling our product. After 1985, OEM production started to manufacture watches, so we were able to have development experts that challenged difficult designs.

What music were you listening to?

I liked to listen to ABBA.

Would you consider the clocks Postmodern?

Many people might think the clock is Post-Modern design, but at the time, Wakita and I did not intend it. However, it did feel like an irony against designs that emphasized morality and functionality, thus it made us feel like peers of the Memphis Group, which we truly respected.

 

NICOLAI CANETTI

Wall clocks

Artime by Canetti, USA

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