furniture design [lecture 5 + reading]
feb 24 09
having never had the opportunity yet to design a furniture project, my perspective of furniture design was that it was an offshoot of architecture, and having a chair design named for them after achieving architectural fame was one of those ultimate, prestige-seeking, indicative-of-my-career-success type of goal for all architects. but after seeing the sketches, concepts, and inspirations for many danish furniture designers, i see that furniture design is well in a category of its own. i am most allured by the anthropomorphic studies of Kaare Klint, and the overall direct bodily connection and humanistic sense that is characteristic of danish design.
since the danish cooperative movement FDB opened a furniture store in copenhagen in 1944, and its main goal to create furniture with purpose, and to meet demands of the public. ‘furniture for the whole world’ seemed to be such a lovely, utopian concept, but where has it gone? at several hundred to a thousand dollars each, an arne jacobsen chair seems hardly appropriate for 90% of the world.
the tradition of craft and high-quality control by furniture producers in denmark is noteworthy on an international level, and it was handed down by Kaare Klint, Hans Wegner, Arne Jacobsen, Finn Juhl, Poul Henningsen, and other greats. but it does not answer the ongoing critique: has danish design moved forward since the 60s?
(side note: while biking down norrebrogade last night, i peered into the McDonald’s on my way home and noticed an entire seating area filled with red egg chairs. with its metallic sans serif sign font as well, it was probably the classiest McDonald’s i have ever witnessed.)
in other words, “is danish design an old chair?”
“the major reason is that the truly dramatic developments within the world of design are not taking place within design of furniture and clothes. A wide variety of new disciplines within design, many of them closely related to technology, are developing rapidly. A parallel development is taking place within immaterial design, e.g. design of information processes. And in these areas Danish design and designers have not managed to establish a strong position.” –from Copenhagen Exclusive
i feel that it is true – it is difficult to continually reinvent something as staple as the chair, and at the same time, our consumer consciences are being so ubiquitously saturated with provocative new designs. with so much shouting going on, i wonder if people will ever be able to hear, or will be even interested in hearing the consistent whispers.