Latvian artist Janis Straupe carves intricate and detailed wooden creations that experiment with functionality and design. Working in wood for over thirty years, he builds wooden sculptures as well as highly unique wood furniture. Although built from the very traditional material wood, his works are incredibly contemporary and creative in design, like his cabinet that resembles a giant beetle. The two side cabinet doors open up as wings or the shell of the beetle, while the top drawer is part of the head. There are so many little compartments that are located in every nook and cranny of the cabinet. This beetle-cabinet exhibits incredible design while still remaining practical and functional.
Janis Straupe’s work displays incredible craftsmanship, as his beetle cabinet is hand made. Insects being a theme that often comes up in Straupe’s work, he also has a series of enormous, larger than life spiders. The artist constructed several large, wooden spiders that stand up on all eight legs, towering over your head. One even has its legs sprawled out against the wall, as if to climb up to begin a web. Humungous insects carved out of wood are Janis Straupe’s specialty. (via Bored Panda)
Artist Maximo Reira fuses wild creatures with furniture in his series called Animal Chairs. The hulking, sculpted figures have a realistic styling to them, and beings like octopi, rhinos, whales, all have a place for someone to sit. Their backs have large notches cut into them, and they’re so regal looking they transcend ordinary chairs and are thrones.
Reira’s designs have textures that mimic the real epidermises of these creatures. There are tiny, intricate folds that look like dry, rough skin, and he’s covered them in a natural color palette. From a certain angle, they look as though they could be real. The artist has also kept their defining features, like long tentacles and massive horns. It’s an elegant, unique take on industrial design. (Via Hi Fructose)
Feeling tired? How about a nice rest on some blobby furniture that looks and feels like real human flesh, such as “a chair meant to mimic a squishy roll of fat and footstools that resemble deformed testes”? UK artist Gigi Barker of studio 9191 has created a furniture collection called “A Body of Skin” that not only feels and looks like realistic skin, but also smells like a human body – Barker impregnated the silicon skin with the pheromones and after shave of models she used during the construction of the pieces. To design her work, she first studies the body, drawing abstracted shapes inspired by its form. Barker then sculpts a clay model before casting a life-size version in silicon. After the silicon is infused with human smell, Barker lays moulding leather on the form, completing the imitation. She tells Wired, “I have my own personal relationship with it which is based on my own personal history. Just as someone else will…I think this project is more about the people and the bodies rather than the skin itself. That being said as a project it’s interesting how reactionary it is given it’s essentially silicone and leather shapes, which shouldn’t inherently be. This speaks a lot therefore to the emotional associations attached to the work.”
Barker also notes that children have been especially taken with her work: “Without any of the hang ups we later develop, they are free to truly explore and interact with the work. Work regarding the human body is very personal and we all have a very immediate reaction to it so the reactions have reflected this.”
Barker’s fleshy furniture challenges our perceptions of the bodies of ourselves and others – her interactive sculptures are both discomfiting and comfortably familiar. (via wired and new york magazine)
Jiang Pengyi‘s latest series, Everything Illuminates, sees the artist mixing fluorescent powders with liquid wax, and applying it to various, commonly-found objects. Pengyi then documents these applications, capturing in a time a brief moments where the objects were not just illuminated, but focused on for consideration through art. According to the Hunan-Province-born artist’s statement, these images “suggest the artist’s changing focus back to original form and shape, at the same time reflect his current state of mind.”
Pengyi was recently selected to participate in Artshare.com’s group showing of note-worthy Chinese artists born between 1977 and 1987, called Another Light. The show’s catalogue references the artist’s past works, which focused on the rapidly-evolving city and industrial spaces in China, and a slowing down in focus for his newer works, where each object becomes precious and unique. “In Jiang’s Everything Illuminates series, the mystique of autonomous objects is revealed in delicate depiction…Through the passage of time, these objects slowly take on their new forms on film and emit individual signals from their uncommon glow, as they emerge in a bewitching existence.” (via skumar and mymodernmet)
Designer Armin Blasbichler‘s work is often jarring. His series ORSON, I’m Home strikes a special chord, though. The series is composed of three “dining sculptures” created primarily from the bodies of various farm animals. While we may be more accustomed to farm animals adorning plates on the furniture, seeing them as taxidermy furniture makes for a surreal juxtaposition. The furniture confronts its users with the consumption it usually facilitates. Interestingly, for the series Blasbichler features a quote from professor and writer Don Slater: “In talking of modern society as a consumer culture, people are not referring simply to a particular pattern of needs and objects […] but to a culture of consumption.”
“I started as a furniture-maker, but eventually felt limited by conventional notions about what furniture was supposed to look like and how it should be built. I now approach my work fundamentally as sculpture, but likewise have resisted passing over the line into pure or nonfunctional form.” – Michael Coffey
According to Michael Coffey, design is not just about art. It’s also a form of “problem solving.” He sees commissions as creative collaboration– loving most when patrons desire something entirely new, more different than his previous work.
As far as process is concerned, Coffey begins with a small wooden model, then develops a design on paper with set dimensions. First cuts generally begin with the buzz of a chainsaw, followed by the use of smaller, more refined, cutters and discs. Part of the fun is figuring out which tools will service the work best. Click on the video after the jump to see more of his work and philosophy.
Bae Sehwa’s steamed bentwood furniture ripples in airy and sinewy ways to curve around the human body. The precision in each piece is not accidental. It’s acutely planned. Sehwa digitally renders and manipulates geometric forms then returns to the actual physical form, steaming and bending the wood into a mold under a tight watch. The result is functional, organically smooth, and flawless.
According to R Gallery, “Bae Sehwa’s work is derived from the Korean concept of baesanimsu, meaning the back of the mountain and front of the water and he draws heavily from the profound connection to nature in traditional Korean theories of divination. The steam bent wooden frame of this lounge offers a narrative that includes both the tranquil, meditative qualities of flowing water and the strong, comforting silhouette of a mountain.”
Critical Objects is a personal initiative of Berlin-based graphic design firm, HelloMe. The project began as a series of explorations that thrive on not having any particular goal. The project consists of a series of objects that transcend a blurry line between artistic sculpture and functional furniture. The beauty of the project is that it remains unknown to the user if these things should really every be used, touched, sat on, or turned on… We have a small collection featured here, so be sure to check out the full series at Critical Objects.