the white hotel is probably the coolest hotel in belgium. and cool goes clear through their philosophy. not only do they support belgian art & design by filling their hotel with it, they also let you take some of it home. well, buy some of it anyway. what would I want to take home? plenty, starting with the peyman nadirzadeh-designed b-up shelves, made by belgian manufacturer colect. they are slender, well-mannered, and original. wouldn't we all like to be?
second-hand ladderax units continue to pull in big money at auction, so i've often wondered why no-one has re-issued the simple, obviously desirable line. well, it looks like london-based case commissioned matthew hilton to do just that. only they claim it for their own as the casefile system.
the february issue of world of interiors carries a nice little feature on library ladders. among my favorites shown (for those of us without a rail for a rolling ladder) are these three. the putnam no. 70 (top) folds ingeniously from side to side for easy storage in a corner. the folding stepstool (middle) from summerill & bishop is simplicity itself. for a light, modern and affordable ladder, ikea's inreda ladder is tough to beat.
early on in this blog's history, i did a very small post about the dieter rams-designed 606 universal shelving system, but i've long felt the system deserved a bigger posting, so here it is. designed in 1960 with the help of neils vitsoe, professor rams' system is an incredibly beautiful bit of design thinking. when it was introduced it must must have looked shockingly clean and industrial. the main idea wasn't so new; pole and wall mounted shelving systems with optional cabinets and desks abounded in the '40s and '50s (omni, cado, ladderax, etc., etc.), but those systems were mostly made of wood, sometimes with gold accents. they were almost earthy in comparison to the white powder coated steel shelves and starkly silver hardware of the 606. rams' shelving was like a pure idea of storage come to life. it still is. it's difficult to imagine a system more stripped to its essence, but if material innovations make that possible, i feel certain that vitsoe will make it happen. they continue to work directly with dieter rams to make improvements to the system, keeping a design classic from becoming merely design history. in fact, the relationship between vitsoe and the 606 is so close that they seem one and same (the 606 is often referred to as "vitsoe shelving"). so why wont you find the above pictures on vitsoe's website? are they from moss's website (after all, they claim to be the "exclusive distributor of the 606 Universal Shelving System in North America")? no. because vitsoe, it just so happens, isn't the only one to make the 606. italian furniture company de padova also make the system, albeit only in aluminum. that means you can also buy the 606 from a de padova dealer, as well as from vitsoe themselves. no matter who you get it from, if you have the means to acquire a bit of this lovely stuff, you'll hold on to it. 606 shelving rarely pops up in the secondary market; a nice tribute to the design in its own right. (below: images from vitsoe's site)