“When you go into design shops everything can be so uniform and standardised,” says Kristian Sonorre Andersen, a former employee of the Danish Ministry of the Environment with a penchant for contemporary design that veers from the ordinary. Keen to showcase a diverse selection of creative talent, Andersen teamed up with designer Martin Clausen and produced Adorno, a digital platform that sets browsers on a voyage of discovery, uncovering new names alongside more established ones recommended by a network of curators in “key design destinations”.
The site launched last year with collections based initially around three destinations: São Paulo, Istanbul and the pair’s hometown of Copenhagen, where curator Pil Bredahl’s local highlights range from contemporary-classic vases in glass (€141) and marble (from €379) by design duo Orthodox to the beautifully spare and minimal Nobu rocking chair (€2,150) by Rasmus Warberg. Finds from São Paulo, meanwhile, include Carol Gay’s striking CaramBola table lamp (€1,270), combining blown neon-yellow glass with brass, copper and marble, and the cool colour-block Greta cabinet (€7,123) by lawyer-turned-designer Leo Di Caprio.
This intriguing design map has now been redrawn to include Amsterdam, Barcelona (one of the more popular site destinations), Berlin, Brussels, London, Mexico City, Madrid, Milan and, most recently, Beirut, where the unique Unearthly collections of handcrafted and hand-glazed ceramic objets (from €1,670) by Zeina Aboul Hosn and Marianne Sargi are particularly desirable. “It is a central principle of Adorno that the curation is done by local experts, who know their design community better than anyone else,” says Clausen. His own personal picks can also be browsed online and feature the ultra-sleek, iridescent iron Cétoine table (€2,009) by Barcelona design studio Kiwi Bravo and the daring concrete Meteorite sound system (€8,470) by Madrid-based Lucas Muñoza – a pumpkin-like form punctuated with a warren of tunnels that promise to create a superior sound.
As well as browsing by city, more focused users can search by design type – seating, storage, tableware and so on – and there are a handful of magazine-style features too. Andersen and Clausen plan to expand the site’s global reach to 18 cultural hubs by the end of 2018, including Reykjavik and Helsinki. They are also making moves into the offline design sphere, popping up at events such as Dubai Design Week in November, presenting leading designers from the UAE curated by DDW founder Cyril Zammit.