With Salone del Mobile 2015 just around the corner, previews of new products have started to be announced and in the case of the fairly new Italian company Clique Editions, their entire new collection. One of the more interesting launches in 2014, Clique Editions are a company that aims to bring electronics and furniture closer together by designing products that combine new technologies and traditional Italian craftsmanship.
With a big emphasis on exquisitely carved marble, Clique’s second collection moves from the large furniture pieces found in the 2014 launch collection, to smaller accessories this year. Produced with the expertise of T&D Robotics who have used their digital know-how on projects such as the cleaning of the spires of Milan’s Duomo Cathedral and the dome of Guarini in Turin, the range includes a table light, charging station, digital clock, Playstation controller charger and modem cover - all executed in carved marble (and just a little bit of timber and cork).
In these days of ubiquitous technology there is a lot of very masculine black plastic electronics lying around most homes and anything to redress the balance toward a more refined aesthetic is a very good thing. Clique Editions was founded by three Italian designers: Filippo Protosani, Simone Simonelli and Claudio Larcher in 2014, to create a happy symbiosis between technology and furniture objects designed for a sophisticated interior. All three of the brand's founders are successful designers in their own right. Protasoni has pieces in production with for furniture brands such as Lago, Sintesi and Miniforms along with lighting for Prandina, while Simonelli has a list of products with furniture companies such as Valsecchi and Miniforms, lighting for Gibas and accessories for Industreal.
All three designers have independent design studios but also work as academics in Italian Universities: Simonelli as a lecturer at the Free University in Bozen-Bolzano, Protasoni as a professor of product design (also at Bolzano), while Larcher is a professor at the Insitute of European Design in Milan.
The forms developed by Larcher, Protasoni and Simonelli sometimes push the boundaries of what is possible in stone - even when computer controlled cutting equipment is involved. Some of the designs it has to be said are more poetic than others. 'Joy', a gaming controller recharging centre designed by Claudio Larcher, is carved from a solid block of marble but takes on the appearance of a Lego Darth Vader helmet.
Far more minimal and discreet is the 'Chichera' charging station by Filippo Protasoni, that turns the necessity for charging electronic devices into something that resembles tableware. At first glance the design appears to be a platter and cup.
The 'Apollo' modem cover takes a similar approach enveloping the electronic device in a marble bell jar. This warped sphere of marble features a timber base and off-centre cork stopper that due to their organic connotations help to remove any connection with the unsightly electronics hidden within.
The brand’s first collection was launched at Ventura Lambrate during Salone Del Mobile in April 2014 where it presented a room full of bold sculptural furniture pieces - mostly carved from Carrara marble - including a small freestanding kitchen with tablet platform (for following recipes and watching videos), a humidifier, a bookcase with Bluetooth loudspeaker, a side table with extension charging point, a seating system with device recharging tables and a fan heater with integrated coat hooks.
The 'Refill' shared seating system is designed for commercial environments where the ability to charge mobile devices on the run would be highly useful - notably waiting rooms and reception areas. The small paddle-shaped side tables conceal in-built chargers for smart phones and tablets. These tables are made from either a coloured MDF called Valchromat or in marble.
Part of the appeal of the objects is their ability to break out from conventional shapes. The bookshelf 'Echo' is a case in point, where the speaker creates a quirky element in what is otherwise quite a conventional form. The bench like base is topped with a soft loop of marble and finished with a futuristic drop-in speaker carved entirely from solid marble. The speaker can be lifted out and moved to other locations if desired.
The 'Rochetto' by Filippo Protasoni is a little more traditional in its approach, opting for what is essentially a really long extension lead that can be wrapped around the side table's central column when not in use. The power outlet can be used anywhere within the cable's reach and fits neatly into a niche cut out of the table top.
One of the most unusual forms is the 'Heatty' fan heater by Claudio Larcher. Part timber stool, part marble coat stand, the design takes on a slightly 1950's robotic appearance - as if it is about to stagger across the room on its stiff timber legs.
While a number of the items across Clique Editions' two collections are oddball forms that aren't immediately 'beautiful', they do successfully break away from the accepted norms that all to often restrict the development of new forms. Why shouldn't a fan heater incorporate timber legs and provide a convenient hanging point for hats and scarves? Why shouldn't a humidifier be made of stone? Well, okay perhaps the weight is a problem if you wish to move it around but from an aesthetic perspective the marriage of electronics and beautifully crafted forms is to my mind highly desirable.
For more on the Clique Editions collections and the individual designers go to the website here.
Clique Editions will be showing at Via Ventura 3, Milan as part of Ventura Lambrate from the 14-19th April.
All photography by Silvia Rivoltella.