ACHICA Living, Spring 2013 - Katie Treggiden Skip to content

ACHICA Living, Spring 2013

This article was written 9 years ago.

In the Spring of 2013, I wrote a six page feature called The Style Stories for ACHICA Living magazine, digging into the history of four big design names…
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We celebrate the stories of four design brands which have made the world around us a little more functional and a little more beautiful…

Diamantini & Domeniconi

It all began when… Diamantini & Domeniconi was founded in 1965 and specialised in the production of traditional clocks, especially cuckoo clocks, all of which were made in its factory in Fossombrone, in the Marche region of Italy. The company quickly became well established and Italy and beyond, with distributors in China, Japan, America and Canada.

Momentum gathered… In 2003 father and son Antonio and Gianluca Domeniconi bought out the company and thoroughly modernised the brand. They brought in laser-cutting technology and started working with a host of established and new designers, artists, architects and stylists. In 2005 they launched the Cucu’ clock, followed a year later by the Butterfly clock. Two design classics in two years put Diamantini & Domeniconi firmly on the map as a contemporary design force to be reckoned with.

The mood of the moment… The Cucu’, inspired by the old German Cuckoo clock and memories of Gianluca’s Grandparents, is still a best seller. Sadly, it’s much copied, but Dan Domeniconi (Antonio’s nephew and Diamantini & Domeniconi’s UK representative) says: “Having people copying your design is an honour for Diamantini & Domeniconi and recognition that we are doing the right thing. It just pushes us to work harder to design another classic.”

More than a label, it’s a way of life… Every single Diamantini & Domeniconi clock is still made in the same factory in Italy. Clock faces are screen-printed, clocks are assembled by hand and each laser-cut butterfly is individually painted. And Diamantini & Domeniconi clocks adorn walls and keep time in homes all over the world. Dan Domeniconi says: “Every single person buying a Diamantini & Domeniconi clock is special. The Cucu’ and Butterfly clock are classic home accessories everybody loves.”

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Anglepoise

It all began when… Automotive engineer George Carwardine designed a lamp for industrial use in 1932. The lamp used a new type of spring and a system that mimicked the constant tension in human limbs. It remained perfectly in place after it had been moved, ensuring the accuracy required for photography studios, dentist surgeries, garages and operating theatres.

Momentum gathered… In 1935 the iconic Anglepoise Original1227 was launched as a desk lamp version of the original for use in homes and offices and was an immediate hit.

Various models were introduced throughout the decades that followed, but in 1992, the Original1227 was voted “the favourite light of all time” by the top 25 designers of the time.

In 2003, looking for a way to reinvigorate the brand, Anglepoise directors looked through their archives and found an interview with design guru Kenneth Grange, in which he cited the Anglepoise as his favourite product of all time, describing it as “a minor miracle of balance”.

Anglepoise invited Kenneth Grange to become the brand’s new Design Director, and he was responsible for instant classics; the Type 3, the Type 75 and the Type 1228.

The mood of the moment… Today, examples of the Anglepoise, a quintessentially British product, can be seen in London’s Design Museum, V&A and Science Museum.
To celebrate its 75th anniversary, in 2009 the Anglepoise Original1227 was featured on a Royal Mail stamp, alongside such British design Icons as the Concorde, the Routemaster bus and the Mini.
Anglepoise lamps have also featured in many James Bond films, most recently in the dramatic set for the MI6 underground HQ in Skyfall.
Anglepoise is still a family company and continues to work closely with Kenneth Grange.
More than a label, it’s a way of life… It’s not just its design credentials that have landed the Anglepoise lamp on the desk of every self-respecting creative in the land; there is something almost human about those little lights, best captured by Pixar.

The Anglepoise lamp in the Pixar films is called Luxo Jnr (after the American trade name) and was inspired by the lamp on founder John Lasseter’s desk. It appeared in the very first Pixar film, a short made in 1986.

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Rice

It all began when… In 1998 Charlotte Hedeman Gueniau had a baby – and her husband Philippe brought her a bag back from a business trip to Madagascar. Those two things combined to bring about Rice.

After 15 years of living in Paris and a very long lunch in the French countryside talking about what they wanted out of life, Charlotte and Philippe decided to relocate to Charlotte’s native Denmark, buy lots of the Madagascan bags, and see if they could start a business selling them. And so just a few months after baby Max was born, Rice was born too.

Momentum gathered… They took the bags to their very first trade show, Formland in Denmark, and despite being surrounded be beige, they were a hit! Charlotte says: “I still love this bag; it’s funky and functional and made from natural materials. You can use it for so many things; shopping, storage, beach, sports… and it suits my daughter just as well as my Mother.” With the mission to “colour people happy” Charlotte added melamine products to the range, and knew Rice made it when she had to ration the amount of products each customer was buying so there would be enough to go around.

The mood of the moment… What Charlotte is most proud of is
Rice’s “big heart and strong social ethics”. It is the first Scandinavian company certified by the SA8000 standard. “It is just a part of our DNA – we just never wanted to abuse of anyone and we wanted naturally to treat people right. When the whole rice team is gathered from all over the world and everybody is happy – and when I am in Madagascar and I see how many people we keep busy weaving beautiful baskets – that makes me proud.”

More than a label, it’s a way of life… Now counting Danish royalty among her customers, Charlotte hasn’t looked back. Her customers tell her that Rice products make them happy; providing “small everyday magic moments.” Charlotte says: “Our designs are inspired by the good old days and are very down to earth. We hope to ‘colour you happy’ when you are washing, cleaning, baking and relaxing in your home.”

Taschen

It all began when… In 1980, an entrepreneurial 18 year old named Benedikt Taschen opened a comic book shop in a 23m2 space in Cologne, Germany, to sell his massive collection of comics. In 1984 he bought the last 40,000 copies of a René Magritte book with English text and resold them for twice what he paid, but a fraction of their original price. He wanted to democratise the art publishing world and this bold move got him noticed.

Momentum gathered… He began reprinting books under his own name and selling them at low prices and soon published his first original art book, Picasso. By the late 90s Taschen was a household name. Vanity Fair’s Matt Tyrnauer described him as “one of the few people in business who has the courage to do exactly what he wants whenever he wants to.”

As if to prove him right, Taschen’s next book Helmut Newton’s SUMO was the largest bound book of the 20th century, followed by GOAT – Greatest of All Time, a tribute to Muhammad Ali, which weighed over five stone, and at 20″ x 20″ contained nearly 800 pages of photographs, graphic artwork and articles and essays. Even Helmut Newton described him as a “mad man.”

The mood of the moment… Taschen is now so much a part of popular culture that even Springfield has a Taschen shop. In The Simpsons episode “The Day The Earth Stood Cool” Springfield’s comic shop gets turned into a shiny new Taschen shop, under the influence of Homer’s new ‘hipster’ neighbours from Portland, Oregon.

More than a label, it’s a way of life… Taschen’s mission was and still is “to publish fabulous and innovative books and to make them available at low prices to everyone around the world.” They democratised art publishing by printing things no one else would and then making them accessible; leading the way to a “diverse, tolerant, and enlightened future.” And in between the titles that court controversy, they also publish simple good quality art and design titles like 100 Interiors Around the World, New York Interiors and Interiors Now.

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