What if Phillippe Starck’s Ghost Chair was made of steel? Realistically, it would change the chair’s nature entirely – a steel Ghost Chair is really not a Ghost Chair at all. Material and texture play such a defining role in the aesthetic, and often, the behaviour of an object – especially in a design context. We were curious to explore how different designers approach different materials, how this shapes the look and feel of their end-product or how the intended look influences their choices of material and texture.
These four pieces from four different furniture designers represent the wonderful diversity in the world of design, highlighting the importance of material and texture, as well as an encouraging absence of the rule book when it comes to the make-up of an object.
The Fonteyn Chair by Brooksbank & Collins
Brooksbank & Collins' Fonteyn Chair is named in honour of the celebrated ballet dancer Dame Margot Fonteyn, who together with dance partner, Rudolf Khametovich Nureyev, mesmerised audiences around the world with their performances of extraordinary grace and athleticism.
The chair explores the relationship between two separate but interdependent bodies. The marble seat of the Fonteyn Chair is resolutely athletic; its weight shifted and in motion, it holds its wooden back panel partner in a daring but perfect lift, the two bodies dancing in dynamic equilibrium. The athleticism of the seat is achieved through the use of a single block of Verde Guatemala marble giving it weight and strength. Book-matched burr oak veneer is used to construct the back panel; the flamboyant display of burring completes the performance.
The two ‘bodies’ of The Fonteyn Chair cover very different, but equally great epochs in time; the Verde Guatemala marble formed millions of years ago in India, while the oak tree from which the veneer originates, grew in a cattle pasture on a large English estate in the Cotswold Hills. The tree lived for at least 825 years, growing as a sapling around the year 1250. Combined, the two materials span geological time and great changes in our civilization.
Lathe Gold by Sebastian Brajkovic
Simultaneously sculptural and functional, the Lathe Gold looks like the drawing room at Versailles had a digital glitch. Traditional techniques of woodcarving, bronze casting and embroidery have been used to create both the structure and the upholstery, which are then integrated with new digital technologies to further advance its realisation. Using 3D modelling, Brajkovic visually distorts the imagery, and physically stretches out the seat’s surface; the embroidered upholstery owes its intricate precision to digital completion.
‘‘My objects are sculptures, but at the same time they are perfectly functional in their design. In painting, I’m drawn to the ‘blurred effect’ and distortion, twisting, rather like Francis Bacon, who creates and then dismantles his subjects.” – Sebastian Brajkovic
In a digital era where we are becoming slightly used to the futuristic warping capabilities of 3D printing, its juxtaposition with the ‘Rococo-esque’ in this case makes it once again, unexpected and stand-out. The textural and material combinations of the Lathe Gold are of utmost importance to the intended (and acheived) user / viewer experience.
FoiLED again by Marcus Tremonto
Part of a series titled IFOS (It’s Full Of Stars) simplicity is key when it comes to this smart lighting design. Each of these handmade works is nearly as thin as a sheet of paper, where essentially the design comprises a sheaf of copper foil embedded with a smattering of micro LED lights. Tremonto’s choice to work with copper, aside from its pliable nature, was influenced by the beautiful warm AND cool light that it produces when reflecting the LEDs. There is also an added ethereal quality implied by the fragility of the material.
The foiLED again light comes flat packed, allowing for its user to form it into countless configurations; each different form dictates the direction and intensity of the light. Here, the characteristics of the copper provide the necessary component for the desired element of interactivity, and in turn, infinite light and shape possibilities.
Concreto Console by Daniele Ragazzo
The aim of this console table is to make the impossible, possible. Made from fibre-reinforced concrete, coloured glass, amber mirror and brass, it instils an initial feeling of alarm, followed by that of curiosity.
“The idea came from looking at the dividing walls that are frequently found in the hinterland of Liguria, which are finished off with fragments of glass in cement. Looking at them, I remembered the poem by Eugenio Montale in which these become the metaphor of life, defined as ‘a wall topped with sharp bits of glass from broken bottles’, because beyond marking a precise limit, they recall all the difficulties and asperity of existence.” – Daniele Ragazzo
In realising his idea, Ragazzo took to overturning the materials and by doing so, highlighting a conceptual inversion: sometimes what is frail by nature CAN sustain what is much more solid. What is less likely to bear the weight of a concrete slab more than glass shards? Certainly not a lot comes to mind. In addition to the striking aesthetic effect of the contrasting textures and shapes – reflective vs matte, regular vs irregular – the materials have clearly been carefully considered to add unique value to the table.
Brooksbank & Collins: brooksbankcollins.com
Sebastian Brajkovic: sebastianbrajkovic.com
Marcus Temonto: treluce.com
Daniele Ragazzo: danieleragazzo.com