Deceptive Design: Experiments in Furniture

Deceptive Design_LogoLast year around this time, I was swayed by a poster to go to the Chicago Cultural Center. It was fall break, I had never been there before, and it was free. What did I have to lose? Turns out, I loved every minute of my visit. From the Tiffany glass dome to the Halloween decorations, to the exhibits, everything was compelling (I really mean everything, I spent hours there).

The display I remember the most was called Deceptive Design [Oct. 10th, 2008 – Jan. 4th, 2009]. It featured novel furnishings whose purpose was to alter our standard perceptions of furniture around us. There was something “deceptive” about each piece whether it was in the mechanics, materials, or visual presentation. I will introduce three of my favorites.

Riveli by Mark Kinsley

Definitely a piece I would have on my wall is Riveli, a shelving component designed by Mark Kinsley. I find it clever, practical, and versatile. Combining artwork with shelving, Riveli adapts to the user’s needs. Parts flip down to hold your possessions and the sections that are not needed remain up to display custom art. I wonder if the artwork is put on panels that can be changed as well? Either way it’s brilliant. Mark Kinsley is an industrial designer living in Chicago that works not only with furniture, but with lighting as well.

Coil Lamp

What drew me to this next piece was the beguiling construction and the simplicity of the materials. It is made from a really long extension cord, Plexiglas, and a light bulb. Coil Lamp ComponentsSimple? Yes. Boorish? Not even close. The Coil Lamp designed by Craighton Berman “elevates the status of the humble, everyday extension cord to the realm of high design.”

This lamp is actually now available for purchase. You can buy the limited edition Handmade Coil Lamp that comes fully assembled or you can get the Do-It-Yourself Kit in which you purchase the extension cord and the bulb.

As a matter of fact, that’s what I thought when I first saw it, “I can make this.” Of course that was when I had access to a laser cutter. Kudos to Craighton Berman for creating such an innovation. He is an industrial designer, professor, and creative director based in Chicago.

Deceptive GardenLast, but not least, is the Deceptive Garden by Chris Brandel. The goal is to make the most out of the small outdoor space that is the typical Chicago balcony. It stylishly provides the means for the user to grow various plants like flowers and herbs, and provides storage for supplies. It then can be converted into a handy work table or a mellow dining area for two. Perfect for the city dweller with a green thumb.

As for the creator, Chris Brandel is a product developer and designer and is currently the president at the Chicago Furniture Designers Association.

What do you think? Check out the other designs and tell me which ones you like.

At The Art Institute – Carlo Bugatti

Chair, from the Snail Room c.1902

Chair, from the Snail Room c.1902

I went to the Art Institute of Chicago this past weekend and explored a bit. Just to note, if you have a Chicago Public Library Card then you have access to Museum Passes that grant you and three other people free admission into Chicago museums. There’s a lot to see at the Art Institute, but I’m giving attention to the pieces that instantly caught my eye and drew me in for a closer look. So consider this post the first in a series in which I share what I admired and talk a little about the artist.

Carlo Bugatti (1856 – 1940) was a prominent furniture designer and an intrinsic part of the Bugatti Dynasty, now widely known for their high-end vehicles. Born in Milan, Carlo studied at both the Brera Academy in Milan and the Académie des Beaux Arts in Paris. His style was distinct, inspired by exotic cultures, namely Japanese and Islam, his work differed from the European furniture traditions of that time. Carlo built his pieces using  a combination of wood, copper, vellum, mother-of-pearl, or silk and he hand-painted animal and plant designs. His work was exhibited in Milan, Paris, and London and he developed an international following.

Image Taken by Man of Steel

Bugatti Frame & Table - Image Taken by Man of Steel

The pieces that left me in awe were the Bugatti Frame and Table. The frame is a vellum-covered inlaid wood mirror inset with pewter, but I am unsure about the table. Bugatti pieces have an estimated value in the thousands. I would love to own one of his works, maybe in the distant future.

Read more about Carlo Bugatti or take a look at more of his furniture.

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