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.


Electrolux Design Lab Competition Winner 2009

CocoonAs promised from an earlier post, Electrolux Design Lab – Flatshare Fridge, I’m updating you on the winner of this year’s Electrolux Design Lab Competition. Rickard Hederstierna from the Lund Institute of Technology in Sweden stole the show with his “Cocoon.” It’s a device that cooks genetically engineered and pre-packaged meat and fish meals by heating muscle cells. Rickard also received the 5,000 Euro prize and a six month internship at one of the Electrolux Global Design Centers. I am intrigued by the science behind Cocoon, but I wouldn’t necessarily want to eat the food it produces. A scene comes to mind from the futuristic movie, The Fifth Element, where the main character places a bowl with pellets into what looks like a microwave and out comes a whole chicken one second later. Feel free to tell me what you think about any of the devices shown here.

Finalist of Electrolux Design Lab 2009:
Cocoon by Rickard Hederstierna, Lund Institute of Technology, Sweden
Utilizing science to create food, Cocoon is a sustainable response to the worlds growing population and its desire to eat meat and fish.

Second Place went to part beach ball part hummingbird “Water Catcher” designed by Penghao Shan from Zheijiang Sci-tech University, China.

Water Catcher by Penghao Shan, Zhejiang Sci-tech University, China
The “Water Catcher” is an automated device that dispatches small flying balls in the air to catch raindrops and then purifies the water for drinking.

Receiving third place was “Renew” a smart steamer created by Louis Filosa from Purdue University, USA.

Renew by Louis Filosa, Purdue University, USA
Renew is a smart steamer that refreshes and cleans clothes.

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