Re-loved

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As part of Sydney Design 2010, the Re-loved: Designer stories installation invited eight Sydney-based designers from varied backgrounds to ‘Tell us a story’ by using a ‘Preloved chair’ as their platform.

Curated by Sydney Design Producer Jane Latief, the installation included the work of: Adam Goodrum, Christina Waterson, Andrew Simpson, Chris Hardy, Paul Garbett, Cecilia Heffer, Chris Bosse and Liesl Hazelton.

Designers were given the task of taking a ‘preloved’ chair and transforming it through their everyday practices illustrating their ideas and creativity, looking beyond its symbolic and historical meaning.

The result was a vast array of chairs that expressed more than just their functionality; they became pieces of art.

Whilst on display the installation became a talking point for audiences provoking them to reflect on their own relationships with chairs and perhaps the stories they could tell.

Following the end of Re- Loved designers discussed their life and work in short interviews.

Adam Goodrum

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work
I am an Industrial Designer and I have my own studio in Sydney that focuses on furniture, product and interior design. I operate it on three levels; the first being self-initiated projects which I design in limited editions, the second is where I present ideas and produce works for commercial royalties and the third is when clients come in and ask me to design something.

What does a chair mean to you’
I love furniture as it’s something that is accessible to everyone. I find the history of chairs so interesting, as it defines a particular period in time, from its design through to its manufacturing techniques.

Why did you choose to work with this particular chair’
I actually chose this chair to make a statement. Verner Panton’s chair is an iconic design and was designed around 1959-60, however it was designer Poul Kjaerholm who created it first. He was a student of Panton’s and designed the Paper Mache chair in 1953, which I find much more beautiful! To reveal this story I used screen prints of Kjaerholm’s work for the Paper Mache.

Christina Waterson

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work
Because of my hybrid background my works start from a conceptual process or base and so intersect with art, design and architecture. Rather than starting with a particular object or function in mind, I start with small sculptural studies that, through testing and re-making at various scales and with different materials, begin to reveal possible scales and potentials. This is why many of my works are realized in series; they can be scaled to the city or the individual, but always respond to the nature of materials, process of making and essence of the original studies.

What does a chair mean to you’
I believe there are a lot of residual memories attached to objects that we use every day. They almost form part of our family and have a distinct life and character; almost akin to the way chairs allow us be seated through their form and function; to flop, sit tight, straddle, nestle, perch, etc.

Why did you choose to work with this particular chair’
I have very early memories as a child of making and experimenting with whatever was at hand. We spent years embellishing and decorating through school craft, fetes, and show-and-tell projects. I especially liked making pom-poms because the results would always be unexpected and surprising.

The ‘school chair’ I selected came from this time. It was one of the first distinctive chair types that was memorable; mainly because it was so utilitarian.

I wanted to graft/overlay or ‘dub’ the playful, unexpected and surprising nature of this time – epitomized by the pom-pom – onto and through the stacked school chairs.

Andrew Simpson

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work
I am an Industrial designer and founder of the creative industrial design house, Vert Design. We produce and manufacture some of our own work as well as work for other designers, creative agencies, businesses and entrepreneurs. Our aim is to produce the best quality product with a unique design aesthetic that is practical, functional and sustainable.

What does a chair mean to you’
I did an experiment once. I wanted to see what a house would feel like without furniture, how would you live’ What do you sit on’ How would you manoeuvre through a room’ It was extremely difficult. I find that good furniture makes better people and objects can change our behaviour. Sitting on a good chair is not only comfortable but it will help give purpose to what you are trying to achieve. I believe that objects and architecture can remind us to be better people.

Why did you choose to work with this particular chair’
I wanted to construct a chair that was made entirely from an abandoned piece of furniture that was left on the side of the street. The furniture I found had no consideration for longevity and I wanted to lengthen its life cycle by dissecting each material and turn it into something different. It is constructed using cheap vinyl, foam, glue and staples instead of joints. These making methods are not something I would choose, which is why I wanted to adapt my own approach to the materials and use them in a way that is more suitable to my style and aesthetic.

By choosing this chair I was able to conduct an experimental and practical life cycle analysis of the materials. From this I produced three stools that are aesthetically pleasing and come from a long history. People are more likely to keep something that looks too delicate to throw away, especially if they knew where it came from.

Chris Hardy

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work

I am an Industrial Designer currently lecturing and undertaking a PhD at the University of Canberra. I think that my work can be characterised by careful consideration for the various functions of a product (including its aesthetic function) and by simplicity.

What does a chair mean to you’
The aesthetic qualities of a chair, how it looks, feels, even sounds and smells are all very personal. The prescriptive nature of the ergonomics of a chair can be compared with the freer technical aspects of designing a chair. For instance the work that the Eames did with moulded laminated timber led to a new aesthetics and new means of constructing furniture.

Why did you choose to work with this particular chair’
I chose to use Marcel Breuer’s Cesca chair, as it’s a design classic because of modernist attitudes to adopting new technologies in the early part of last century. Just like Breuer’s Cesca chair (one of the first cantilevered chairs brought about by the use of new fabrication techniques) this reinterpretation of the chair uses contemporary techniques such as generative form finding and rapid prototyping technologies as homage to modernism. The generative method used is Voronoi subdivision of a point cloud. This enabled further meaning to be built into the chair by using an image of the chair’s creator to influence the point cloud – Breuer becomes a ghost in the chair. The technology used to build the chair was selective laser sintering (Shapeways). This was used based on its strength characteristics and its ability to be formed quickly and easily based on the quite complex geometry.

Paul Garbett

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work
I run an independent graphic design studio based in Sydney called Naughtyfish Design, with a focus on identity design. I would describe my approach to work as thoughtful and playful. ‘Thoughtful’, because it is considered, strategic and idea-based; ‘playful’ because play and experimentation is an important part of the design process and of course it has an element of fun.

What does a chair mean to you’
I like chairs. They are places to sit when we work, meet, watch and relax. We have different chairs for different uses. The uses often determine the form of the chair. They are utilitarian objects which are capable of being really beautiful. I appreciate them when they are utterly simple and also when they are ornate and complex.

Why did you choose to work with this particular chair’
I actually chose the chairs for their names. I was concerned with the names we give chairs and how their form could be a better expression of those names. In all, I re-loved 3 chairs: ‘High chair’, which was combined with a ladder to express the idea of ‘High’ chair. ‘School Chair’ was chosen because it used to be a school chair – I painted it with chalk paint to express the idea of a ‘school chair’. The other chair, (which wasn’t on display) was ‘Lawn chair’, which was upholstered in Astroturf and painted green.

Cecilia Heffer

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work
I am a Senior Lecturer within the Fashion and Textiles program at the University of Technology, Sydney where I combine my teaching with research and art practice. I have my own practice which focuses on research and exhibition work, through innovative textile concepts and commissions that explore the integration of the handmade with emerging technologies.

What does a chair mean to you’
As I am quite tall a chair usually means a source of discomfort! Most chairs I come across after a while are difficult to sit on due to being tall. Consequently my personal brief for Pre-loved was to find a chair that would be a source of comfort for me.

Why did you choose to work with this particular chair’
I originally was going to work with an office chair, however when I approached Elio the upholsterer he refused to work with the chair as it was ‘too ugly.’

I managed to find an old chair in his warehouse that had ‘Good Bones.’ I tested it out and to my surprise and delight it engulfed me and provided beautiful comfort. A nest, a home was found.

Elio had many remnants of stunning interior fabrics from around the world, beautiful French weaves, Italian jacquards, Californian sun-drenched yellow fabrics and the result was to re-use these remnants and celebrate colour. On each side of the old chair I designed a fabric to go with it. The end result was a re-loved chair designed from reused Interior Design remnants that provides comfort and a place to recline in.

Chris Bosse

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work
I was born in Germany and am now based in Australia. I am the Asia Pacific Director of Laboratory for Visionary Architecture (LAVA), which I founded together with Tobias Wallisser and Alexander Rieck in 2007. My work is based on the computerized study of organic structures and resulting spatial conceptions. I aim to push the boundaries of the traditional understanding of structure and architecture by means of digital and experimental form finding.

What does a chair mean to you’
A chair is certainly more than a chair.
Chairs have always epitomised current trends in design, material technology and philosophy of the society that they were built in.

Why did you choose to work with this particular chair’
I chose the Panton chair as it’s a design classic that relates to current design and manufacturing techniques.

What made the Panton chair so spectacular when it came on the market and what makes it so interesting today in terms of design history is not only its shape, which is as extravagant as it is elegant, but also the fact that it was the first chair made out of one piece of plastic.

I chose to represent the chair’s shape as slices, similar to an MRI scan in order to make visible its complex three-dimensional content. The chair was carved out of a box and sliced and the negative box was also shown.

Liesl Hazelton

Tell us a bit about yourself and your work
I am a Jewellery Designer and I have been actively pursuing this career since graduation in 2006. My weapon of choice is discarded electrical waste. I hope through my chosen material inspiration and awareness can be raised.

What does a chair mean to you’
A chair means a moment’s pause in your active day.

Why did you choose to work with this particular chair’
The ‘Lovers Swing’ was rescued from my family home. Considering the state the piece was in (a seat and frame entangled in vines), it seemed right to bring it back to life. Without excessive nostalgia, I wanted to consider my personal connection with the swing in relation to issues surrounding my work.

With this as inspiration, it allowed me to consider growth, regeneration and death, disposal’ A fable derived from this cycle then developed about our society and behaviour.

From concept through to their final work, designers detailed their ideas, thoughts and creative process in a diary supplied by Corban and Blair.