The “Wow” Factor

On an unremarkable stretch of road — a shortcut on my way to work — extravagant patches of forsythia grow. Unpruned by any hand, each bush is free to take the spiky, starry shape nature intended. What is usually merely background (and will be again in a few weeks) leaps out at me as I pass by — registered at 60 km/h as a series of electric yellow explosions in the air. All I can say each morning is “Wow.”

Though I’m drawn to strict minimalism, I’ve been craving design with that kind of immediate impact since the New Year began. I think it’s because of the gloom and doom we’re living through. Nothing cautious and careful for me right now, thank you very much: razzle-dazzle me, knock my socks off, cheer me up.

Baccarat’s Crystal Candy Set, by hot Spanish designer Jaime Hayn, certainly did the trick (see “Eye candy,” my Last Word, on page 38). This exuberant collection of crystal-and-ceramic objet d’art stopped me in my tracks at the Maison & Objet show in Paris in January. So too — among many arresting introductions — did Confluences, Phillippe Nigro’s colourful assortment of puzzle-like seating (see my M&O report, “Look on the bright side,” on page 29).

A few weeks later, at the Interior Design Show in Toronto, a snazzy, sculptural seat gave me a thrill. The perforated-plastic Warp Lounge Chair, which graces our cover, is a prototype by Atelier Jacob (shown at Studio North); varying distortions of the circular perforations give each chair its own vivid design (see managing editor Erin Donnelly’s IDS report, “Show time,” on page 34).

Elsewhere in this issue, we feature three “ordinary” spaces made extraordinary by an unconventional approach. Each includes a surprising element. For instance in NuVision’s Lasik clinic in New York (“An eye for an eye,” page 16), it’s a cool interior room with a blue glass chandelier and a sprightly stencilled wall.

Here’s to design that wows. CI

Michael Totzke [email protected]