Design Icons

  • The World's most iconic lamps

    Posted on 23rd July 2013 by Andy.

    Lighting can transform a room. It can be used for dramatic effect or in very subtle ways creating a very different sense of space as to the one you may experience during daylight. Similarly, you may want lighting to be subtle or unassuming so you don’t know a light is there until it is switched on. Alternatively, some of the best lamps can also be great pieces of sculpture. Here are just a few classic and timeless lamps:


    WOKA AD9 This Art Deco lamp designed for the Viennese lighting company WOKA by the likes of Josef Hoffmann and the Wiener Werkstätte in 1925. The simple yet beautiful curved supporting arm is reminiscent of a desktop globe and creates a nice pool of light to work by. The company and the lamp are still going and one could be in your living room for just €2,050.


    Arco Silver Floor Light Designed by Achille Castiglioni in 1962 the Arco Silver Floor Light is a design classic. It makes a great centrepiece for a living room, its bold silouhette and gleaming metallic bowl dominating any space it occupies. It would fit well in a retro styled home and wouldn’t look out of place beside a bubble chair. It has been much copied and you can find reproductions, but a new one would probably set you back the best part of £1,700.

    Kartell Bourgie Lamp

    Kartell Bourgie A modern classic of sorts, the Kartell Bourgie is Kartell’s biggest selling lamp, which is a twist on a baroque style. It comes in a range of colours and is surprisingly versatile, effortlessly fitting into a modern minimal space or a more classical décor.


    Anglepoise The British company has been making lamps for 70 years and is currently celebrating the 75th anniversary of the design that started it all, the Anglepoise Original 1227. Designed by George Carwardine its innovative spring mechanism meant it is flexible and well balanced, making it a popular desk lamp. These days it is often copied and you can get one in virtually any size or colour.

    This Post was posted in Design Icons and was tagged with arco, flos, kartell, lamps, light, lighting

  • Philippe Starck

    Posted on 22nd June 2013 by Andy.


    The former enfant terrible of design, known for his eccentric and confrontational style has worked both in interior design and product design during his 44-year career. There is very little he won’t turn his hand to, creating everything from door knobs to motor bikes. While his extensive list of clients includes such big names as Eurostar, Asahi, Apple, Microsoft, LaCie and Virgin.


    Starck likes to find new approaches to familiar objects to create something that is both sculptural and functional. So it’s as good to look at, as it is to use. His iconic juicer, Juicy Salif, which he designed for Alessi in 1990, has achieved cult status and is still a big seller. You can see a wide selection of his latest product designs on his website here: Starck gives as much consideration to the materials he uses as the form his designs will take. Often one influences the other. A recent example is the Louis Ghost Chair that he designed for Kartell. He adapted the familiar shape of a classic chair but rendered it in a tough clear polycarbonate so that it almost isn’t there at all. His refit of the Royalton Hotel in New York is often credited with transforming the hotel industry and establishing the fashion for boutique hotels with distinctive, unique rooms. Now in his 64th year Starck shows no signs of slowing down. As creative head of his own firm he still extends his signature designs across a whole range of products and industries. From headphones to hard drives and restaurants to luxury yachts. Find out more:

    This Post was posted in Design Icons and was tagged with deisgn, philippe starck, starck

  • Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life

    Posted on 21st June 2013 by Andy.


    Where: Tate Britain, Millbank, London SW1P 4RG When: 26 June – 20 October 2013 Next week sees Tate Britain playing host to one of the country’s most prolific and distinctive painters. The exhibition, Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life, is a comprehensive retrospective of the artist’s studies of industrial and urban landscapes.

    His pale colour palette, muddy tones and stylised figures will probably be quite familiar but his pictures also document life in the North of England from the 1920s to the 1950s. His large canvases of street scenes are bustling with people and lots of great details that reveal themselves the more you look. This exhibition is going to be popular, so book to avoid disappointment. Find out more:

    This Post was posted in Design Icons and was tagged with britain, exhibitions, lowry, tate

  • The Design Museum says hello to Paul Smith

    Posted on 14th June 2013 by Andy.


    London’s Design Museum announced this week that it will stage an exhibition dedicated to British fashion designer Paul Smith. It will explore his inspirations, and collaborations, giving a rare insight into the wit and wisdom that he brings to his clothing and accessory ranges. His eccentric and playful designs have established the Paul Smith name as a one of the biggest fashion brands in the world. The exhibition will look at Sir Paul’s past, present and future, starting with a recreation of his first shop in Nottingham, a windowless 3m by 3m room located in a narrow  alley in Nottingham's city centre. Hello, My Name is Paul Smith, opens on 15 November, and you can find out more here:

    This Post was posted in Design Icons and was tagged with design, london, museum, Paul Smith

  • Sir Terence Conran

    Posted on 17th May 2013 by Andy.


    If there is one person whose shadow looms large over the UK interior design industry it’s Sir Terence Conran. Not only did he single-handedly bring stylish and functional contemporary design to British homes but he also made it more affordable. Born in Kingston Upon Thames in 1931 he studied at the Central School of Art and Design in London before getting his first design job working on the Festival of Britain in 1951. By 1956 he had established his own design company creating furniture and designing a shop for Mary Quant. In 1964 he opened the first Habitat shop, which quickly grew into a large chain of stores. Conran later built upon this success with a number of other projects, which included Mothercare and Heals. Although Conran lost control of Habitat in the 1990s he hadn’t lost any enthusiasm for new projects. He had co-founded the architecture consultancy Conran Roche in 1980 and was instrumental in the regeneration of the Shad area of London beside Tower Bridge, which is also home to the Design Museum, which he also helped establish. He also branched out into high-end restaurants, including Bibendum and the Soup Kitchen. Being named the UK’s most influential restaurateur in 2005. Now in his eighties there is little sign of Sir Terence stopping. He is still a big supporter of British design industries, designing furniture for Marks & Spencer, Content by Conran, Benchmark and The Conran Shop, as well as writing over 30 books on the subject. The Conran Shop, a chain of 10 stores around the world, including two in London continue to specialise in his signature, stylish, contemporary designs, reflecting his simple ethos: ‘All I’ve ever wanted from life are plain, simple, useful products’. Find out more:

    This Post was posted in Design Icons and was tagged with conran, contemporary, designer, interior design, london, Sir Terence Conran

  • The Best Things On Four Legs

    Posted on 11th May 2013 by Andy.

    A classic designer chair can make any living space. They’re not just somewhere to sit, their sculptural form can be a talking point, adding character and dominating a space, even setting the tone to how the rest of the room looks. Few designs manage to make it to iconic status but here are several whose four legs (or in one case a single leg) straddle the 20th and  21st centuries.

    Eames Lounge Chair

    Eames Chair The Eames Lounge Chair and Ottoman were designed by Charles and Ray Eames for the Herman Miller furniture company in 1956. The classic design, made from moulded plywood and leather, has been in production ever since. Brand new, the chair in the classic leather design retails for around £4,000. However, original, vintage versions are also very collectable as they are made from Brazilian Rosewood, which is now protected. Ideal for that vintage feel the Eames chair is an evocative retro throne for those that want to chill out, read or listen to music.


    Ghost Chair A modern classic from leading French product designer Philippe Starke is the iconic, transparent Louis Ghost Chair. Starke designs a lot of furniture for the Italian manufacturer Kartell, many using durable, injection-moulded polycarbonate plastic. A clever twist on a classic Louis XVI armchair, Starke stripped back the design to just its shape. It’s the chair that isn’t there, which pulls off the double whammy of being both traditional and modern. Although it is available in black and a variety of different tints it is the clear version that is most iconic and that will pretty much go with any colour scheme. Get a lot together for a stylish dinner party or a single one makes an ideal occasional seat.


    The Barcelona chair Originally created during the German modernist movement for the International Exposition of 1929 in Barcelona, furniture manufacturer Knoll resurrected the design in the 1950s. It is a design that has managed to stay timeless and has become much copied. A popular fixture in fashionable reception areas its sleek design and smooth surfaces make it beautiful to look at, while its wide seat makes it ideal casual seating. Its low profile makes it seem to shy away from the limelight and it can often be found skulking against walls. However, arrange a few around a low table to create a relaxed place to sit and mingle with friends.


    Ball Chair Designed by Finnish furniture designer Eero Aarnio in 1963, the Ball Chair (also known as the Globe Chair) screams Sixties quirkiness like a six-foot tall lava lamp. As designs go it couldn’t have been more simple – a revolving ball sitting on a single leg. When designing the chair Aarino drew an outline of his head in a sitting position on a wall to determine the chair’s height then took in to account the need to fit it all through a doorway. It’s a big statement chair that sets a retro tone and demands to be sat in. It comes with a caché of cool and will dominate any big room making sure all eyes are on it.


    The Wassily Chair Also known as the Model B3 chair, The Wassily Chair was designed by Marcel Breuer in 1926 while he worked at the Bauhaus in Germany. A classic of the modernist era it is simple and utilitarian in its design. The design was revolutionary in its use of materials. The bent tubular steel and canvas design had only become feasible after German steel manufacturer Mannesmann perfected a process for making strong, seamless steel tubing. This was also critical in that it allowed for mass production, which helped cement its iconic status. It inspired many similar designs and has been widely copied. It wouldn’t be out of place in a minimalist, utilitarian space where its clean angles and lines will add another dimension.

    This Post was posted in Design Icons and was tagged with chair, design, eames, furniture, kartell, knoll, vitra

  • Design Icon: Karim Rashid

    Posted on 11th March 2011 by yasmin.

    The prolific and versatile industrial designer Karim Rashid is one of the most productive designers of his generation. He was born in Cairo, Egypt in 1960 and in 1982 went on to gain a bachelor in industrial design from Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada.  He later went on to complete his postgraduate studies in Italy. Rashid currently Works out of his private design studio in New York.

    To date Karim Rashid has had approximately 3000 design pieces put into production with some of his most iconic designs including the Garbo waste can and the Oh Chair for Umbra. One of our favorite Rashid designs has to be the Bonaldo Kandor chair and matching pouf. These fantastic pieces feature a steel structure and are available in leather or fabric.

    As well as individual objects and furniture items, Rashid has also designed the contemporary Japanese Morimoto restaurant in Philadelphia and the Switch restaurant in Dubai as well as completing exhibitions for Audi and Deutsche Bank. As a designer of any statute, you know you have made it when your designs are exhibited in a museum. Well Karim Rashid has definitely made it as his work is in permanent collections in over fourteen different museums worldwide including the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. Rashid’s many designs have in turn won him many awards and honors including the Special Pentaward for creativity in packaging design, 2009 and the Red Dot distinction for high design quality, 2005-2010 to name but the recent. From furniture to accessories, to architecture and interiors, Rashid has designed them all, and to very high, award-winning standards. The question we want to ask here at Controliss is what is next? Perhaps more of what he is famed for, or perhaps even electric blinds or patterned designs for electric blinds, wishful thinking. Who knows, but we are excited to find out!

    This Post was posted in Design Icons and was tagged with Bonaldo, controliss, design, designer, designs, icon, industrial, Karim Rashid, New York

  • Design Icons :: Vivienne Westwood

    Posted on 13th February 2011 by yasmin.

    When we think of the long standing British design icon that is Vivienne Westwood, we think of everything that is whacky, fun and fabulous. Born in 1941 in Glossop, Derbyshire, Vivienne Westwood is one of the most internationally renowned fashion designers of the past 30 years. Vivienne began designing cloths back in 1971 which shortly followed with the opening of her first shop ‘let it rock’. Vivienne really hit it big time when she met her then lover and business partner, Malcolm McLaren; through this interest Vivienne got the chance to dress the Sex Pistols in clothing from her store. From then on Vivienne soon became synonymous with the punk rock era and still to this day many of her items remain with that theme. In 1981 Vivienne showed her first collection in London named ‘Pirate’, the show put her firmly on the fashion map and the rest they say is history. Today, Vivienne Westwood is synonymous for her funky sense of style, love of outlandish textures and bold prints. Her designs have generally stayed within the fashion world, however, over recent years her designs have thankfully branched out into home interiors.

    Perhaps one of her most famous home interior designs, Vivienne created the union jack rug and other carpet designs for ‘The Rug Company’. Vivienne’s tattered union jack rug is British patriotism at its best from one of the greatest British designers of our time. Vivienne Westwood is perhaps one of the most controversially eccentric and tremendously  artistic designers of our time, her prints are fabulously original and perhaps in the future we will see more of them on such items as wallpaper, curtains, home furnishings and remote control blinds, let’s face it; we all need a little bit of Vivienne Westwood in our lives!

    This Post was posted in Design Icons and was tagged with design, designers, fashion, home, icons, rugs, Vivienne Westwood

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