Tools Magazine and the art of folding

Tools Magazine 3

A close look at one of the simplest yet most elegant of gestures. An excursion into the concept of folding as applied to extremely disparate fields, from craftsmanship all the way to the design industry’s most innovative manufacturing techniques

“Folds find their way into the hollows of our skin, the corners of our eyes, the movements of the earth… In crafts and industry, too, folds are the basis of many technical maneuvers: bending, pleating, twisting, forming, bowing, etc. Fans, parachutes, tents, napkins, chairs… objects are unfolded and folded back up. All the time”. 

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Thus opens the editorial in the latest edition of Tools Magazine by its editor-in-chief Clémentine Berry, with a homage to the concept of folding. As the name suggests, Tools takes an in-depth look at instruments, while also delving deep into techniques and production processes applied cross cuttingly in the fields of design, interior design, architecture and art. Tools is an inventory that explores design techniques, weaving past and present together, diving into centuries’ old processes and paying homage to the men and women who invented them, putting the spotlight on the ingenuity of human beings.  

The third edition of Tools, hot off the press, alternates vertical information and themed photo shoots,  with meticulous graphic design by Twice, the Paris-based creative studio founded by  Clémentine Berry. With set design by Mathilde Vallantin Dulac and photos by Charly Gosp, the first focus is on bed skirts, or valences, with their sinuous lines,  brightly-coloured patterns and age-old pleating. Moreover, as the author  Claire Kail explains:  “From an unmade bed, to the rigor of folded paper to the free-flowing undulations of ancient drapery, to the folds of the earth: the fold is everywhere.”

Simon Bauchet analyses the concept of folding in the design industry, where artisans have always worked and modelled flexible materials such as paper, leather, fibres and metals. Folding and bending have been used in an industrial context since the early nineteenth century, in the form of ribbing, embossing and curving. The text is fleshed out with plenty of images of pieces such as the 606 Universal Shelving System designed in 1960 by Dieter Rams for Vitsoe and the A'dammer wardrobe designed by Aldo van den Nieuwelaar for Pastoe in 1978. There’s no shortage of everyday items either: coatracks, umbrellas, pushchairs, clothes pegs, hangers, hooks and tins. Not to mention chairs such as the famous 41 Armchair, designed by Alvar Aalto for Artek in 1932 and Marcel Beuer’s Cantilever chair, produced by the German company Thonet and lamps such as Parentesi, designed by Achille Castiglioni and Pio Manzù for Flos in 1971. 

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One of the many objects that celebrates the art of folding is the parachute. An essay by Vivien Brenière explores this discipline for the bravest. So, how does a parachute fold up after being deployed? The author explores the technique in detail, backed up by archive images, illustrations and technical designs, explaining that the process takes twenty or so minutes, but that an expert parachutist can do it in just five minutes. The  photoshoot by Anaïck Lejart & Marine Armandin, on the other hand, celebrates the  art of folding as related to napkins, in shapes and coloured patterns that set off their elegance. On the subject of elegance, the archive project dedicated to fans transports the reader into a distant world of feathers, optical motifs and bold textures.  

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After parachutes and napkins come tents. There’s something for everyone: single or double,  hut-shaped tents, blow-up tents, igloo-shaped tents and tents for glamping. For fans of this pursuit, there’s an unmissable interview with the designer and developer Abderrahman El Elaammari, part of the 2005 Decathlon team that patented the famous 2 Seconds tent, which can be erected in just two seconds. The edition closes with a selection of items chosen by the editorial team: an accordion, a hook, a glass table and much more besides.  

tools magazine, publishing, salonemilano
17 November 2023