Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Really Big Chairs

Students from the School of Visual Art greet visitors at ICFF last week from the perch of their oversized chair.

Last week the International Contemporary Furniture Fair descended on New York city, bringing nearly 900 exhibitors from around the world to the Javitz Center and a rash of design-related parties to warehouses across the city. Chairs are always a big part of New York Design Week, and this year Konstantin Grcic earned the most attention for his cantilevered Myto chair:

But something else caught my eye: really big chairs. More specifically, really big, plain and simple chairs. The students from the School of Visual Art designed a booth at ICFF around the use of plain, wooden, IKEA chairs. A giant chair centered their exhibit. The normal-sized versions were redesigned as a part of the school's 2008 Chair Project. Students were asked to take a basic chair and transform it into something new. Kristina Critchlow called her design Superstitious:

Steven Smith's chair is called Horny:

Kimiyo Nakatsui asks her chair to be more. "The ambitious chair aspires to something far beyond its present condition as a simple, utilitarian item of furniture," she writes on the project's Web site. "As it climbs skyward, forced perspective emphasizes its height. The simple white finish reflects an interpretation of ambition as a pure, very personal desire for something more."

Last week also saw the opening of Robert Therrien's exhibit at the Gagosian (through June 14). Included is a work that features enormous metal folding chairs, some as big as 8' tall.

Robert Therrien, No Title9 folding table + chairs, dark brown, 2008. Painted metal and fabric. Table: 96 x 120 x 120 inches, 4 chairs each: 104x64x72 inches.

These mammoth monuments to quotidian furniture feel particularly interesting at a time when the most luxurious, highly-crafted, and pristine pieces are on display throughout the city. The effect is to remind us that while Grcic's $450 chair gets the attention, most of us live daily with the $12.99 version.