Victorinox loves a collaboration almost as much as we do. This year sees the Swiss army-knife specialist team up with international makers (perfumer Quentin Bisch, Michelin-starred chef Nenad Mlinarevic, artist Kyle Bean and Canadian furniture designer Stephen Kenn) on four projects that salute all things handmade.
One collaboration has particularly caught our eye. Stephen Kenn's range of multifunctional furniture is inspired by the penknives Victorinox is famed for, marrying the two brands in a truly innovative way.
Comprising a seat that doubles up as a step-ladder, a desk that transforms into a coffee table and a modular cabinet that spins into a full length mirror, these efficient designs are just the thing we've been craving for space-starved city-centre crash-pads.
Kenn, a self-proclaimed problem-solver, approached the Victorinox project 'with a series of questions', he explains. 'And the designs are the answers.' Victorinox gave him carte blanche, and within a month, he returned with finished products, having found food for thought at the Victorinox archive. The toothpicks that pull out of the swiss-army knife, for example, inspired the legs of the transformable table. 'I enjoyed the discreet placement of the toothpicks and tweezers and was looking for a way to make removable legs so the height of the table could be adjusted without using a typical telescoping method,' Kenn adds. 'The toothpick design provided a practical solution as well as a nice connection point for the collaboration.'
Despite their slick multi-functionality, there is a rustic edge to each piece; the chair's leather detailing is embellished with exposed stitching, and the casters on the cabinet add an industrial base note. 'I'm attracted to design solutions that aren't 100 per cent polished,' Kenn explains. 'I tend to start with intuition and aim for simplicity.' This chimes with the tenacious maker's homespun design background. Kenn, whose firm has been up and running since 2012, fell on design through a love of 'taking things apart. I would dismantle an old sofa, and turn it into something else.'
Both parties are thrilled by the collaboration. 'I don't believe there is any one way forward for the furniture industry, but I did enjoy the format of Victorinox commissioning this work. It challenged me to think about furniture design in a whole new way. It also reinforces the innovative history that Victorinox is famous for while encouraging a future generation of creatives [to] experiment.' All three pieces of furniture are available for purchase from Kenn's website.