Every now and again Design daily will be delivering a roundup of items from a particular furniture or lighting category - The first of these product spotlights takes a look at inspiring clothes rails and open wardrobes. The humble clothes rail that is easy to transport and take from house to house has been a favourite of students the world over for decades but in recent times the concept has been reinterpreted and elevated to the level of an object of desire. No longer just a bit of chromed steel on wheels (invariably lopsided), the concept now takes any number of forms in a wide range of materials.
I’m not a big fan of acres of wardrobe space. I know that if I lived in a John Pawson house I would be required to hide everything away so as not to disturb the purity of the building’s form and I would gladly comply just to experience what it is like to live in a minimalist utopia but in reality I prefer the concept of a few good clothes hanging on a nicely crafted free-standing unit. It’s not that I have a wardrobe comprised solely of Comme des Garcons garments, it just feels like such a waste to spend big bucks on acres of veneered or lacquered MDF when you could be bringing something more three-dimensional into your interior – something that makes a bit of a statement rather than revelling in being so restrained that it is nearly indistinguishable from the neighbouring wall. So long as the clothes are hung or folded neatly, a well-designed clothes hanger brings a bit of sculptural expression to the bedroom and an unpredictable injection of colour (albeit predominantly blue and black in my case) to soften the general precision of architecture.
Along side mirrors, the clothes hanger or freestanding wardrobe has become something of an underground focus of furniture design in recent years - not in the same league as coat stands and wall mounted coat hooks but there has been a definite spike in their numbers. Under represented for years, the category is now full of interesting concepts that bring your clothes out of the moth-ridden darkness of a conventional wardrobe and into the light and airy bedroom interior. The dozen or so products showcased here are not intended to be a definitive list of the best, newest or most avant-garde, they are purely examples that offer either a lovely sense of craft, some sort of artistic refinement or are a genuinely practical and affordable solution.
Dutch designer Jeroen van Leur designed his leaning wardrobe 'Woodstock' for "urban travellers". Made from six sticks of oak and six curved metal corner pieces the design comes in a small bag just like a one-man tent. It can be erected in a few minutes and actually gets more rigid as you add clothes to the rail as the weight forces the angled pieces back against the wall with increasing vigour. Available in natural oak with powder coated white, black sage metal details or in copper or gold plated steel. The wardrobes can be purchased from van Leur's website starting at 350 EUR for the small 60 cm wide version. The design also comes in 80 and 100cm wide variants all of which can be easily disassembled and transported.
Similarly simple but with the idea of space saving corner positioning, the 'Blanche' clothes hanger was launched in 2014 by German designer Meike Langer. Made from copper plated steel and ash the two-part system can be opened or closed to suit the available space. Maybe even John Pawson would approve of this one!
In my exploration into what was available in the clothes rail sector, I came across the 'Leaning Loop' - a refined solution to the hallway coatrack by Canadian designer, Jason van der Burg. While not exactly a wardrobe it's more than a coat stand or coat rack and eminently practical. The solid hardwood frame is beautifully crafted in five different timbers: ash, cherry, walnut, rift-sawn white oak and maple. It also comes with various top sections that provide a mirror, a blackboard or a magnetic whiteboard. The design is made to order and can be purchased from Leaning Loop.
Australian design Rowan Wagner designed his 'Mantis' clothes rail very much with fashion photo shoot examples in mind but with the inspirational addition of mobility that becomes part of the design rather than a bolt-on afterthought. The result has a strong graphic line and is perfect for giant warehouses as seen in the picture below (after all, with this much space at your disposal you never know where you might like to park your clothes rail).
Milan design duo Studiopepe created their glamorous 'Pret-a-porter' wardrobe-cum-complete dressing solution as part of their Milano Collection for Ivano Redaelli from 2013. The combination of brass and fine tubular metal is amazingly delicate and beautiful with a strong 30's feel. The addition of a fabric back softens the look and adds just enough texture and intimacy.
The Hay 'Loop' was one of the early pioneers in the reinvention of the clothes rail. Designed by Leif Jørgensen in 2007, it is ultra compact with a pleasingly unfussy aesthetic. Available in two sizes (45 or 130cm wide) it sadly now only comes in black or white. The design works well in multiples to create a larger hanging capacity. Hay 'Wire' and 'Soft' coat hangers are available to go with it.
A fairly recent design from 2014, the 'Plateau' clothes hanger was designed by super-talented Swedish outfit Note Design Studio for Spanish brand Punt Mobles. The name comes from the grounding the timber plinth provides while the material is carried on in the beautifully restrained plywood boxes that can house shirts and accessories. The metal rails are available in numerous colours.
Another Swedish design effort, The 'Sine' clothes hanger by Kyuhyung Cho & Erik Olavsson combines powder coated metal tube and large slabs of marble to great effect. Inspired by the regular pattern of the sine wave in audio, the design comes in four colour variations and three sizes. Pricing ranges from 500 - 900 EUR depending on the size and the rareness of the marble used with the blue Azul Macaubas (a kind of blue granite) being the most expensive. The white version uses Bianco Statuario marble, the black Nero Marquina. My personal favourite is the Mint with it's contrasting pale pink Rosa Portagallo marble. Each one comes with 2 specially designed sine wave coat hangers and a hanging accessories bowl (as shown on the mint and white racks below). Additional coat hangers and a belt hanger (shown on the black example below) can be purchased separately for 12 EUR.
'Tra-ra' is part of a group of products designed by London based Japanese designer Tomoko Azumi for the small but incredibly well-priced Italian brand, Zilio Aldo. The design from 2011 uses the tension provided by special cuts in the beech timber to keep the minimal design rigid. It takes just a few minutes to put together and is surprisingly light yet strong. The design comes in natural or can be stained or lacquered white or black.
German brand Nils Holger Moormann is a perennial favourite of mine and the 'Lodelei' wardrobe encompasses their philosophy perfectly; the restrained use of wood and a clever solution. In this leaning design by Martin and Edina Dufala Pärn, the draped backing material is felt and it's excess material forms a shelf at the bottom where folded clothes or handbags can be stored.
The 'Toj' clothes hanger for Danish brand Normann Copenhagen was designed by frequent collaborator, Simon Legald. The simple 'A' frame structure comes in two sizes with the perforated metal shoe/clothing rack available in charcoal grey or white. The small is 296 EUR, the large 376 EUR.
The recipient of a Wallpaper* Design Award in 2012, the 'Tati' wardrobe by Swedes Mats Broberg and Johan Riddlestrale for Asplund, is an elegant stripped back example of the genre. Available in two sizes either 100 or 130cm wide in violet, white, anthracite grey, nougat, deep blue, orange and the lovely shade of olive green shown below. The design is offered with optional brass accessories to provide hooks and a "hat knobs". The stone base comes in either carrara marble or black granite.