Spring loaded

The thriving Spectrum this year plays host to work from 55 exhibitors, including new lighting from Ingo Maurer. Nicky Churchill points out some of the stunners

1Spectrum invites designers to make the annual pilgrimage to the Royal College of Art next week to see a mixture of product offerings from 55 exhibitors. Each year brings a few new entrants, and inevitably a few fall by the wayside, but Spectrum continues to thrive, providing the (mainly) London specifier with a good selection of top-end products.

British design is well represented this year, with public seating much in evidence. UKII introduces Paul Heritage’s Wide Boy bench aimed at lobby areas, museums and galleries, while Wales & Wales gives us Smart Alex, a curved bench system initially designed for a retail mall in Rotterdam. SCP returns with developments of Terence Woodgate’s Public Seating System, including upholstered and beech slatted benches. And Zoeftig and Co shows the latest versions of its Zenky range along with the new Zuro beam seating system, which has been developed to provide a further option for airport and station environments.

Office furniture is also much in evidence, with many of the new designs launched at Orgatec in Cologne last October now making their debuts here. Vitra continues with the design partnership of Antonio Citterio and Glen Oliver Lw showing the Axess office chair and the Quattro “demountable” visitors chair. Both use materials that can be recycled. But if you were hoping to see the new Alberto Meda chair, you’ll be disappointed. Vitra is saving it for later in the year.

You will, however, be able to see the M2 office range from Bulo which, as the name might suggest, is based on a meter-square module. As computer workstations go, this is a flexible design with integral pedestal and footrest and optional third level for the monitor. Occasional tables of the same size are also available within the range. And the latest addition to Bulo’s Carte Blanche project will also be on show. Table Blanche by fashion designer Ann Demeulemeester is just that – a white table covered with a white painting canvas attached with a number of tiny spikes. Can’t wait. This Belgian company appears to be going from strength to strength and the UK operation is rewarded next week with the opening of a new London showroom at Butlers Wharf.

Jorge Pensi continues to find new ways to sit, and his latest chair designs will be found on the Kusch + Co stand. Hola and Capa are aimed at conference applications and as such are stackable and linkable, but they are very different in terms of materials and price. Hola is aimed at the middle market with its shapely polypropylene form and lightweight tubular steel frame making it a serious competitor for cafeteria applications. But Capa has attracted the most interest in the UK, with its cast aluminium base immediately putting it into a different class.

Soft seating can be seen on the Wittmann stand with a new range, Ever, designed by Hannes Wettstein. Chairs, stools, sofas and a corner setting made from individual elements are included within the range, which is available in a wide selection of leather colours and fabrics. You will be able to admire it in springtime yellow, as shown here, accompanied by Ponti, a two-tier nest of tables by the same designer.

Fritz Hansen celebrates its 125th anniversary with the launch of PK 0, a sculptural (and amazingly comfortable) chair designed by Poul Kjærholm in 1952. This limited edition chair will only be manufactured during 1997, each will be specially numbered and carry a price tag approaching 1500. More within budget is

VicoDuo, a new chair and table range by Vico Magistretti. In terms of materials, finishes and stackability, VicoDuo is a highly adaptable range for the cafeteria or conference room.

Away from furniture, HB Sign Company has acquired the agency for Mabeg of Germany, and will preview the Profile 1 sign system designed by Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners. Aimed at the office environment, it has been designed to be a kit of parts which can be easily customised to form part of the corporate scheme.

FSB will be launching a new programme of door furniture by Danish designer Erik Magnussen which uses folded flat strips of stainless steel to form lever and pull handles for doors and windows. Specifiers will also have another chance to see last year’s Design for Berlin collection by Nicholas Grimshaw and Partners, Richard Rogers Partnership and Josef P Kleihues.

And for the first time in the UK, a range of witty and theatrical designs from German lighting maestro Ingo Maurer will be launched on the Catalytico stand – the new Mozzkito task light is shown here. These original fittings will sit alongside colourful lighting designs from Italian company Foscarini and recessed and surface- mounted fittings from Luceplan.

Spectrum is being held at the Royal College of Art, Kensington Gore, London SW7 from 17 – 20 March. Mon-Wed 11-9pm; Thurs 11-6pm.

The Royal College of Art will be showing an exhibition to commemorate the work of students under the 12-year reign of Floris van den Broecke, who this year stands down as head of furniture.

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