Last week I was fortunate enough to visit the Victoria & Albert Museum and discover that there, too, permeates a fascination with storytelling.
Telling Tales: Fantasy and Fear in Contemporary Design explores recent trends among European designers that blur the boundaries between art and design, fantasy and parody.
The exhibit is beautiful and playful, but what struck me most was how much narrative and humor can be embedded in an inanimate object. It's intriguing to think about and reminds me again of the nascent potential that lies in infusing physical environments with the digital.
It's not that I don't love furniture that just sits still and still makes me giggle. Instead, these objects remind me that stories are not just for books and films, and that humor is difficult to achieve and lovely to experience.Here is a selection of some of my favorite furniture pieces.
Princess Chair by Tord Boontje
This fairy tale chair is sculpted around the fantasy of Cinderella at the ball: effervescent, elegant, light and fanciful.
Robber Baron cabinet by Studio Job
This polished bronze cabinet is inspired by a 17th century armoire by Andre-Charles Boulle and the twist comes in the shape of an explosive hole in the center.
Else Cow Bench by Julia Lohmann
To help us bridge the gap between living animals and materials, Lohmann created a hand-sculpted leather couch upholstered with a single cow hide in the shape of a cow.
Cinderella Table by Jeroen Verhoeven
Inspired by 17th and 18th century archetypal shapes of tables he found in the library of the Stedlijk Museum in Amsterdam, this piece of furniture was fabricated by a mass production CNC (computer numerically controlled) cutting machine, in combination with hand-finishing. This gives a new spin to crafts and human intervention.
Sculpt wardrobe by Maarten Baas
This seemingly melting wardrobe pretends to be carved from a single massive tree trunk but was, in fact, made from sheet steel that has been verneered.
And my favorite:
The Lathe Chairs by Sebastian Brajkovic
Brajkovic's fantastical twisted chairs are compositionally inspired by the Vortex Paintings of contemporary artist David Salle and formally mimic 17th century furniture. Corrupted by modern technology, they spin and distort while still maintaining their traditional feel.
Imagine now these things being brought to life and becoming kinetic...
When embedded into our physical world, the power of the digital can be so potent.
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