Jan-Carlos Kucharek, editor of Products in Practice, considers skewed economics and the right on route to MIPIM
… read about lycra-clad construction consultants on their charity bike ride to Cannes, destination MIPIM, I can’t help feeling the road to hell’s paved with good intentions. The booze-fuelled property event, where Europe’s local authorities sidle up to global big money to sell off tracts of cities to regenerate – usually for profitable housing – is no longer an industry secret but a politically hot potato. Cue last year’s inaugural MIPIM UK which, a day after a Guardian exposé, was shut down by protesters before a shampoo cork had even been popped. But bank tax evasion scandals, spiralling house prices, and the popularity of Piketty’s ‘Capital in the 21st Century’ point to society genning up on how the economic market works and the impotence of the individual. Admittedly, we recently saw Camden planners turn down a Qatari royal request to knock through a Nash Terrace to create a mini-palace, and East London’s New Era Estate win a high profile victory over a US landlord threatening to double the rents. But these are drops in the ocean. Critic Martin Pawley put his finger on it a decade ago when he said the time would come when the houses we live in earn more than we do; yet in that aspiration, as a nation, we’re all addictively complicit. I might not have donned the cycle lycra yet – but I’m happily sporting a pair of horns.
... And here are three of this issue’s out-takes to enjoy
IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH
Treatment bed and chair manufacturer Plinth 2000 hasn’t been sitting on its laurels, if its PR is to be believed. The Suffolk firm’s had a 15% annual increase in revenues, with its ‘largest ever equipment order for 130 couches’ – meaning 19½ more of its beds cluttering up the casualty corridor this year. MD Niall Dyer is nonetheless ‘always available for interview’; presumably so he can tell us about its range of bariatric, gynae couches and phlebotomy chairs plus the new one for ‘an innovative leg ulcer package’. It’s just as well it’s adopted ‘advanced AutoCAD and 3D mechanical design to design parts and assemblies’ – that’s a whole lot of BIM for your bum.
UP IN SMOKE
Getting high in Amsterdam may recall giggly caffeine-themed teenage shenanigans so it’s good to see department store De Bijenkorf trying to restore some seriousness with its ‘Room on the Roof’. The initiative involves bunging an artist in its bell tower, overlooking the cycling-mad city to the Rijksmuseum, which is riding pillion by funding it. First to take up residence in Belle Epoque splendour is hot-shot designer Maarten Baas, who made a name with his graduation show ‘Smoke’, in which he singed period furniture black with a blowtorch. Given his pyromaniac penchant, De Bijenkorf will hope he doesn’t decide to spark up its joint while he’s there.
ADAM’N’ EVE IT
It’s all about ‘seduction, beauty and temptation’ runs French crystal company Daum’s press release on its new ‘Eden’ chandelier, a huge pendant of pale green glass ‘leaves’ with a red crystal apple hanging off the side of it. It even comes with a gold serpent slithering down from the ceiling in a delicate evocation of original sin. Of course, there are more literal ways for designers to seduce and tempt, as a recent court case testifies. A now-suspended associate director architect is doing 200 hours community service for inadvertently funding two brothels in York run by his wife. In the day-to-day grind of running the second oldest profession, it seems not everyone’s forgotten about the first.