Oskar Zieta, the guy who invented the air inflated metal stool, ‘Plop‘, has now created a system of products that all use the same perforated sheet metal material - chairs to tables, stools to workbenches. The mechanical look might not be for everyone, but for me, a product made from perforated or punctured sheet metal is always exciting - just look at the iconic Hans Coray ‘Landi’ chair (re-released this year by Vitra) or the ‘De la Warr Pavilion’ chair of Barber Osgerby. Even James Irvine’s ‘Open’ chair for Alias has the same special quality.
I have to confess to owning each of these examples, so I am already a convert to the cause but somehow the dynamism of the surface helps make them all great. The holes create a visually interesting surface with a contrast between solid and void, light and dark. It doesn’t have to be a hole either, as slots or grids work just as well to create the same type of visual enhancement.
To my knowledge the use of perforated materials was developed for highly practical purposes in the twenties and thirties to improve such things as the design of steel tractor and aluminium aircraft seats. The holes drained water and reduced weight respectively. Similar things were done by Jean Prouve to reduce the weight and create strength in some of his aluminium building constructions.
Now however it seems that holes are a way to capture shifting light patterns and to play on the moiré style effects that unavoidably occur when two panels with holes or a grid of lines almost overlap. Another added bonus is that steel versions allow for attaching accessories magnetically. This is particularly relevant to designs such as notice boards and even bathroom cabinets. So without further ado, feast your eyes on these great examples I came across during the recent Milan Fair.
Showing just how delicate an industrial material can be in the right hands, Junpei Tamaki overlays several styles of perforated steels in his 'Snowscape' cabinet to create changing patterns as the screens as open and closed.
Joa Herrenknecht is a young German designer who showed again at this year's at SaloneSatellite. Her powder-coated steel, 'Cosmo' wall mirror concept is equally at home in the living room, bedroom or bathroom. The mirror pivots and many things are attached magnetically to the circular 'peg-board' style backing board.
While it might be pushing the 'perforated' concept into questionable 'big hole' territory, several new wire cage designs were released around Milan too. Matali Crasset's 'Wardrobe' for the Ikea PS 2014 range, is an open wardrobe with clip-on plastic elements for the user to customize the level of opacity versus transparency as they see fit and to create geoetric patterns. 160 plastic pieces in black, red, yellow, orange and green are included, together with 3 suggested patterns to get your creative side started.
In a similar vein, Cristina Celestino's 'Les Volieres' cabinets for Seletti, combine glass shelves with an industrial-style metal mesh carcase. The colour selection is infinitely more sophisticated and the proportions a little more arty but the overall look retains the industrial 'cyclone-fence' aestetic.