The New York outpost of contemporary design gallery The Future Perfect has an entire exhibition dedicated to one of the most indispensable and pragmatic members of the furniture family: The Chair. Representing the sacred meeting of form and function, the humble chair is synonymous with support, and is yet in perpetual reinvention mode.
The history of chairs echoes each period of our evolutionary zeitgeist, from Napoleonic thrones to simple plastic school chairs. The Future Perfect asked an international roster of esteemed artist and designers to reimagine the chair, justifying the challenge with a quote from the late David Bowie, “Why bother choosing a certain chair? Because that chair says something about you.”
Artists, industrial designers, ceramicists, sculptors and interior designers submitted one-of-a-kind interpretations that embody who they are as a creative and maker. As one might expect, they range drastically from the ascetic to the audacious, taking full advantage of the endless diversity offered by chairs.
Kelly Wearstler’s Oberon chair could be displayed as a sculpture. A handcrafted piece of burnished brass bends and breaks through a solid cube of Julian Jade. The resulting appearance is that of effortless fluidity, challenging conventional thinking on materiality by combining two materials known for their strength and rigidity into one elegant form. Apparently, the compact piece weighs in at around 160kg.
Brooklyn-based designer Chris Wolston travelled to the Colombian Amazon to harvest Mimbre Wicker for his Nalgona chair, which is soft yet still maintains a strong materiality. The design embodies a human-like form, with the wicker material woven into a human form that riffs on the iconic shape of the plastic Remax Chair, ubiquitous through Colombia, and the playful humanoid quality found in pre-Columbian ceramics.
Seoul-based artist Seungjin Yang submitted an armchair addition to his ‘Blowing’ series, where he transforms balloons into functional furniture by stabilizing them with eight coats of epoxy. In some cases, ergonomics went out the window. For Charlap Hyman & Herrero’s Leora and Deli Rose chairs, a palm frond from the floor of their LA office garden, and a single rose purchased from a deli near their NYC office, form the backs of the chairs. The plants emerge from the hollow back legs of the chair, as if in a vase.
The 47 chairs featured are available to purchase. The exhibition ends on June 1.