Dwell 24: Malcolm Majer



Baltimore’s Malcolm Majer’s chairs are difficult to categorize and highly expressive—all jutting angles and shifting colors.

Chair 2 by Malcolm Majer

For Majer‚ 36‚ function rates relatively low on the list of design priorities. Instead‚ the Rhode Island School of Design graduate is driven by a desire to explore a range of other‚ more compelling‚ qualities. “There is such an intimate relationship between users and their furniture,” he says. 

“If a piece is oddly hard‚ cold‚ and heavy when touched‚ that becomes more interesting to me than its being comfortable.”

Majer treats his practice as an outlet that lets him upend the constraints of his day job‚ architectural metal fabrication. “In fabrication‚ I have to plan and draw before making‚” he says. “In my designs‚ I allow the form of the piece to unfold as it’s being made.”

Chair 2 by Malcolm Majer

Chair 2 by Malcolm Majer 

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Majer

Read about Majer’s early memories of two Wassily chairs at his mom’s office in Chicago, and his other responses to our Q&A, below.

Hometown: Baltimore, Maryland

Describe what you make in 140 characters. Creator of minimalist, sculptural furniture in metals or wood and unique seating in bright, shifting colors.

What’s the last thing you designed? A multi-functional chair/table/bench in steel and white oak. It played with the different interactions between steel and wood. It also included a heavy bent plate I achieved with a new tool in addition to my usual giant, blended welds. 

Do you have a daily creative ritual? I spend some time every day staring at materials in my shop and imagining how I can transform them from their current state while maintaining strict geometries and a minimalist composition.

How do you procrastinate? By cleaning and organizing instead of making things

What everyday object would you like to redesign? Why? I focus on seating design in my practice, so pushing this idea further, I would also love to redesign the toilet. A goal with my seating work is to surprise myself by playing with form and color but still use simple, refined geometric components. It would make me happy to use this approach and create a surprising toilet design.

Who are your heroes (in design, in life, or in both)? My heroes in design are largely predictable (any Bauhaus, De Stijl, or Memphis designer), but I recently discovered the work of Eileen Gray and found that it really spoke to me. In life, my heroes are my partner, Phaan, and our friends because of the tireless dedication they show toward their art. Seeing their dedication helps me prioritize my own practice and reminds me there is a never-ending amount of work to building a quality studio.I suppose it’s the (painful) joy of the process.

Chair 3 by Malcolm Majer

Chair 3 by Malcolm Majer

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Majer

What skill would you most like to learn? To sew really well, so I could use the skill for upholstery projects and to fix clothing.

What is your most treasured possession? All of my treasured possessions are tools and therefore, replaceable. Embarrassingly, if I had to identify one thing, it would be a Miele vacuum I purchased used for a really good deal.

What’s your earliest memory of an encounter with design? I remember my mom working in a nicely designed but small film studio in Chicago during the early 90s. There were two Wassily chairs in the office, and I loved how they looked but was disappointed in their comfort. I was only eight years old, but the idea that a piece of furniture could be being visually compelling but uncomfortable stuck with me. 

What contemporary design trend do you despise? In a previous job and during undergraduate studies many years ago, I worked a lot using the “reclaimed” aesthetic. Now, I really dislike how the “reclaimed” look is being used as a kind of fake authenticity, which leads me to despise it both visually and conceptually.

Are you left-handed or right-handed? Right

Rank the following: (1) Fun, (2) Form, and (3) Function

Choose one: Less is More, Just Enough is Enough, or More is More? Just Enough is Enough

Choose one: Past, Present, or Future? Future

Chair 4 by Malcolm Majer

Chair 4 by Malcolm Majer

Photo courtesy of Malcolm Majer

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