The love for weaponry is re-emerging, and with the proliferation of reality shows, documentaries, and other forms of mainstream media regarding blacksmithing and weapon forging, it is not difficult to imagine that a lot of us have turned into knife geeks overnight. Well, we have just found knife heaven, and it is not in the US. It’s actually in a small, idyllic town in France called Thiers. It was in this town that the iconic knife “Le Thiers” was created, designed way back in 1993 by the Brotherhood of the Thiers Knife. The guild’s French name even sounds cooler: “Confrerie du Couteau Le Thiers”. So what is Le Thiers? And what sets Thiers’ knives apart from others?
Le Thiers is a foldable knife with a simple yet classic design and dependable functionality—a knife truly designed to stand the test of time. It reminds us of the equally classic knife from the Philippines, the Balisong, only that it’s generally smaller in size, and is made with only one solid handle instead of two.It’s also a testament, a culmination of Thiers’ knife making tradition that heralds back to as far as the thirteenth century. In fact, culmination is a wrong term because their practice is far from over. Their industry is far from slowing down with more than 200 coutelleries (that’s what they call family-owned knife shops), in a town with a population of less than twelve thousand.Some of these workshops have been passed down to entire generations of knife makers for hundreds of years, such is their tradition of knife making. But did you know that you don’t have to be born in Thiers to be a coutelier? In fact, one of the most well-loved makers by knife connoisseurs, Roland Lannier hails from Paris. He only found his way to Thiers through his love for medieval weaponry in role-playing games.
Now, he leads his own workshop with two other knife makers: Agathe (a 23-year-old badass female knife maker with a degree on graphics decoration) and Guillame (a 27-year-old medieval fencer). If you ever do decide to visit Thiers, don’t forget to bring some tissues and be prepared to drool.
References: bbc.com, rolandlannier.com
Dragons have always been fascinating creatures of myths and legends. They appear across all cultures, from the winged wonders of the West, to the benevolent protectors of the East. Hence, it is no wonder that they frequently make an appearance on mankind’s great works of art from visual arts to literature. Such is the case of The Great Pagoda at Kew Garden, where eighty dragons have recently made a reappearance as part of the pagoda’s restoration.
The Great Pagoda, designed by Sir William Chambers in 1762, was the first significant Chinese-influenced structure in Europe. It was made as a gift to Princess Augusta the founder of Kew’s botanical gardens. The octagonal tower which stood ten storeys high was so unusual at the time it was built that people did not believe it will stand the test of time, only that it offered the best bird’s eye view of London.But it did stand the test of time. Two hundred fifty six years this year, to be exact. What didn’t stand history’s wear and tear, though, were the eighty dragons perched on its roofs, guarding the pagoda silently as their gold-gilded wood slowly rotted away.Thanks to the restoration project, however, the dragons have been reborn. Clad in their brilliant colors, they have reclaimed their perches as guardians of The Great Pagoda and a secret—that 72 of their dragon brothers are 3D printed, and that only eight of them (those perched at the lowest roof) were hand carved from cedar wood. Apparently, eighty hand-carved wooden dragons would be too heavy for the existing structure, and doing so would have required conservators to reinforce the existing structure with steel rods. While some people might find these new dragons looking quite kitsch, conservators assure us that the design was very true to its history. This is really how chinoiserie dragons looked like back in the 18th century, and how Chambers would have wanted them to look like. With the installation of these dragons, the £5m restoration project which took two years is now complete and The Great Pagoda will be open to the public again. Visitors can now book tickets starting July 13.
References: theguardian.com kew.org theartnewspaper.com
When you think about furniture, it’s difficult not to think of Ikea. That’s how iconic the brand is when it comes to furniture design. And why wouldn’t it be? This furniture giant from Sweden has been influencing the world of design for 75 years now! Yes, that’s right. This year marks Ikea’s 75th anniversary, and they are releasing an anniversary collection made up of their most iconic pieces. Aptly named “Gratulera” (which is Swedish for congratulate), their collection will have three separate launches, or sub-collections: 1950s to 1960s, 1970s to 1980s, and 1990s to 2000s. The first one, 50s to 60s, is set to be released this August. The next one will be around October. And of course, the final collection will be released in December along with the holiday season. So be sure to mark those calendars!Gratulera will not only include their most iconic furniture, but will also feature lighting and tableware collections. One such piece is the LÖVET table (now known as LÖVBACKEN), which is the company’s first knock back product. This collapsible concept was apparently brought into life when one of their employees dismantled the LÖVET’s legs to fit it into his small car. Fast forward to today, almost all of Ikea’s pieces are flat-packed and can simply be assembled at home for convenience. This very concept, catapulted Ikea to furniture design fame, making it almost impossible to imagine that this giant furniture company started by just being a small post order business ran by a teenager. The 70s to 80s collection will be just exciting as the company will relaunch the original Klippan sofa, which we have seen grow and adapt throughout the years, along with other Retro-inspired items.Finally, the 90s to 00s collection will include Thomas Sandell’s sculptural furniture, such as the iconic small bench with wheels, which was another game player in the world of furniture design. Ikea announced that each design will be released in limited edition, so be sure to plan your purchases wisely.
References: en.wikipedia.org hikeamuseum.com www.ikea.com www.apartmenttherapy.com www.dezeen.com/