make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend

make your fridays matter

Nostalgic designs that celebrated and reimagined classics in 2023

Nostalgic designs that celebrated and reimagined classics in 2023

STIRred 2023: STIR enlists collaborations and interventions that envisioned iconic silhouettes in a contemporary and renewed form.

by Anushka Sharma
Published on : Dec 20, 2023

2023 was a year of the new and the NEXT; the idea of novelty and innovation pervaded across different realms of creation and subsequently in everyday life. Even so, in tandem with the materialisation of original and unfamiliar pieces, the year was interspersed with the celebration of many classic ones. As iconic pieces crossed milestones in age, their creators dove into a celebration—but with a creative vein. Models that took the world by storm when first introduced were brought back to life in unseen avatars, greeting the viewers with a wave of nostalgia and surprise.

STIR looks back at a year filled with tributes to creative prowess that stood the test of time—from the Louis Vuitton travel trunk to Alvar Aalto’s ‘Stool 60.’

1. Astro lava lamps by Mathmos

If one thinks of the classics from the 1960s, lava lamps—with their timeless charm—are amongst the most recognisable. British inventor Edward Craven Walker conceptualised these lamp designs made of a translucent, liquid-filled tank that holds blobs of wax, which dance around and transform when illuminated. England-based brand Mathmos, founded by Walker, and a guardian of the original lava lamp concept, celebrated the icon’s 60th anniversary with nostalgic yet novel limited edition Astro lava lamps. These reinterpretations took form in collaboration with multidisciplinary designers including French designer Camille Walala, Belgian designer and contemporary artist Job Smeets, Dutch designer and artist Sabine Marcelis, British photographer, publisher, and film director Rankin, as well as worldwide music icons, Duran Duran.

2. Toys and Play by The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity

From toy trains and spinning tops to decorative kites, this exciting paraphernalia is a glimpse into the playful interests of seminal design duo Charles and Ray Eames. Hosted by The Eames Institute of Infinite Curiosity, the web-based platform responsible for showcasing the pair’s remarkable body of work, Toys and Play was a dive into the toys and items they amassed over the years. The online exhibition laid bare toy collectables from the Eames Collection as well as archival vignettes from the pair’s life showing their elaborate interests in play and whimsy. Spinning tops, a circus mirror, tricycles, kites, and a barrel organ are among the product designs ( that were staged in the show.

3. Hackability of the Stool exhibition at the Vitra Tramshed

On the occasion of its 90th anniversary, Alvar Aalto’s modernist classic, the ‘Stool 60,’ was hacked in this intriguing design exhibition. Tokyo-based architect Daisuke Motogi presented a staggering 100 ideas altering the iconic furniture design in the Hackability of the Stool hosted at the Vitra Tramshed in London, UK. Defined by L-shaped bent legs which Aalto described as ‘little sister columns of architecture,’ the stool design garnered attention for its simplicity and flexible framework. Motogi’s interpretations of the stool retained a state of incompleteness and explored its potential as a ‘field’—an in-between state of something—that creates freedom in choosing new functions.

4. Nytillverkad collection by IKEA

IKEA, the Swedish multinational conglomerate, scoured its archives to render its seminal designs anew for its 80th anniversary. Conforming to the surging popularity of the passé, the brand pays homage to some of its icons—this time reimagined in joyful colours and new materials. The ensemble, encompassing furnishings, table designs, textile designs and accessories, aims to make a statement with a blend of simplicity, functionality and play. “The Nytillverkad products have a simple, well-thought-out design. They look good and work well,” explains Johan Ejdemo, design manager, IKEA of Sweden.

5. Cabinet of Curiosities by Marc Newson

When thinking of travel and anticipatory sojourns, how can the classic flat-top trunk not cross our minds? Although functionally obsolete in contemporary times, this trunk donned a new avatar, courtesy of acclaimed Australian designer Marc Newson. Building on his long series of collaborations with Louis Vuitton, Newson transformed the Louis Vuitton travel trunk into an elegant display case. His latest creative endeavour—added to an oeuvre comprising furniture design, product design and architectural commissions—injects a contemporary interior in a vintage shell, meshing unique expression and craftsmanship.

6. Don’t Ya Tell Henri by Ron Arad

Opera Gallery, New York, staged Ron Arad’s solo exhibition that explored the duality between structure and absence within the material world. Dubbed Don’t Ya Tell Henri, the design exhibition captures the essence of movement and energy while delving into the juxtaposition of beauty and utility. The show featured new crystalline resin pieces alongside new iterations of Arad’s iconic Big Easy and Little Albert chairs, Tube sofa, and Two Legs and a Table tables.

7. Asymmetry by Pierre Yovanovitch

The Asymmetry chair, an iconic chair design born from an idea of French designer Pierre Yovanovitch, turned 10 in 2023. The celebrations came not just with the lauding of the furniture designer’s genius, but also with a renewed anniversary collection. In cahoots with his long-time friend and French artist Claire Tabouret, Yovanovitch breathed life into a limited edition series that paid tribute to a decade of design excellence. The ensemble takes cues from kites—when gazing at the chair, the artist observed the armchair’s resemblance to origami, with its intricate folds and apparent lines. The chair’s form, embracive and light in tandem, furthered her creative spark.

8. Twingo by Sabine Marcelis

A play of light and transparency revamps the classic silhouette of Renault Twingo, originally launched in 1993. Dutch designer and contemporary artist Sabine Marcelis stepped into the world of automobile design with a collaboration with French car brand Renault. Marking the 30-year milestone of Twingo, Marcelis unveiled an electric vehicle model with an artistic flair—her distinctive colour palette of pastels expressed in resin. “It was very insightful to rethink Twingo's iconic details in a new light. I wanted to preserve the Twingo’s iconic elements but present them in a new unexpected way through the use of materiality,” Marcelis shares.

10. DiaStar Original models by Alfredo Häberli

Presented at the India Art Fair this year, the three new 60th anniversary editions of DiaStar Original were defined by subtle yet notable changes in the world’s first scratch-proof watch. Rado, together with Swiss Argentinian product designer Alfredo Häberli, contrived a facelift for the iconic product, garbed in the brand’s preferred material—Ceramos™. “In my work as a designer I am always trying to combine tradition and innovation with joy and energy, and the anniversary edition is no exception. In essence, the point was to take features of the original DiaStar and give them a contemporary form,” shares Häberli.

What’s NEXT?

Reimagination and reinterpretation calls for creativity and artistic intervention similar to moulding something from scratch—even more so, given the efforts to preserve a defining identity. This brings us vis a vis an intersection where the process of creation is ensconced and ideas emanate from what is and what can be—but equally from what was.

STIRred 2023 wraps up the year with compilations of the best in architecture, art, and design from STIR. Did your favourites make the list? Tell us in the comments!

What do you think?

Comments Added Successfully!