Story Presents: Creativity

The concept shop briefly turns into a design sanctuary, highlighting inventions from the Lexus Design Award alongside local innovations

New York concept retailer Story undergoes a head-to-toe transformation every four to eight weeks to offer a unique, editorialized shopping experiences—and their latest theme “Creativity” launches today for a month-long look at innovative design from emerging creators. The 10th Avenue store partnered with Lexus to highlight eight notable entries from the Lexus Design Award program, such as a lamp that evokes a soap bubble to notebooks that make retaining information easier.

These inventions, in turn, establish thematic pillars within the store, which has been organized into four sections: material-driven, light-driven, color-driven and idea-driven. The separate merchandise complementing the Lexus Design Award inventions was carefully selected by Story for their creative approach and ability to inspire, whether it be the world’s most energy-efficient lightbulb (lasting around 27.5 years) from Nanoleaf or zig-zag cutting boards from Brooklyn-based Pat Kim. We took a closer look at some of the Lexus Design Award inventions to bring to light their intricate creative processes.

German designer and 2014 LDA Winner Sebastian Scherer captured the ephemeral and preserved it in pendant form with his iridescent lamp, Iris—which hangs from the ceiling at Story. The idea came from observing children blowing soap bubbles, watching the delicate spheres shimmer and float for a few seconds, until they burst. Wanting to capture this ephemeral moment of wonder and its spectrum of colors into a more permanent object, Scherer spent two years overcoming technical limitations to create Iris, as dichroic coating (which gives glass a multi-colored appearance) could only be applied to flat surfaces, or surfaces bent into a single direction. To bring this coat onto a handblown glass sphere, Scherer had to modify it in a laboratory using a technique called dichroic lamination—and the results are akin to a beautiful crystal ball, with every angle revealing a different color. Scherer continues this “symbiosis between traditional craftsmanship and modern technology,” as he describes it, through his furniture line NEO/CRAFT. “Through NEO/CRAFT I want to create products which are functional and finely crafted as well as modern and innovative,” he says.

Reinventing the notebook is Singapore-based designer and 2015 LDA Finalist Benjamin Xue, whose Mnemonic Note (Mnote for short) swaps out the traditional horizontal lines for three unique canvases that tap into our senses and perception—which are interconnected with memory. “Mnote works by adding another layer of visual cues for our mind to associate the information with,” Xue tells CH, “Effectively increasing the mental pathway the note-taking task has to take, and thus making it easier to recall the information when required.” Each canvas has its strength—the Kinetic canvas, for example, has bent lines intended to surprise the note taker to keep the hands and mind alert—perfect for the college student in class.

For Story’s color-driven section, Manhattan-based designer and 2015 LDA participant Haley Newman has glitchy knitwear apparel on show. The idea for “#Pixelateme” grew from Newman’s frustration in learning to knit as someone who came from a graphic design foundation. “Needless to say, it did not come naturally to me as I was so accustomed to working quickly in the two dimensional digital platform (unfortunately, you can’t ctrl+z or ctrl+c and ctrl+v when knitting),” Newman tells CH. “The process taught me to appreciate the handcrafts as well as patience.” Unusually, she was drawn to her knitting mistakes. “I remember during some late creative nights, taking my impaired swatches and draping them on the dress form, stretching them to fit the bodice, seeing the glitch motif unfold and come to life as the textile pattern became even more distorted, yet completely fitted to the figure.”

As an interesting contrast to Newman’s digitally-based concept was her choice to use natural, plant-based bamboo and flax fibers; the yarns were sourced locally in NY and spun and dyed without harsh chemicals. “In this day and age it has always seemed ethically relevant to approach the design process in a way that is a solution to contemporary societal and environmental issues,” notes Newman.

As with any Story edition, expect to discover new objects that need more than a price tag to tell their stories. Also worth a visit alone is the Crafted for Lexus collection, featuring collaborations with Japanese artisans and designers that breathes of modernity; think solar-powered flashlights from Sphelar Power and a ceramic coffee dripper glazed with local volcanic ash from One Kiln. “Creativity” opens at Story today, 22 June 2015, and will run until 26 July. Story is located at 144 Tenth Avenue, NYC.

Iris lamp image courtesy of Neocraft and Tobias Wirth, Mnote image courtesy of Benjamin Xue, #Pixelateme image courtesy of Haley Newman, store interior images courtesy of Drew Innis