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Furniture vs architecture

20th Jan 2018

Domus Nova Blog Image

There is an undeniable confluence between architecture and furniture design. The border between the two has been traversed by many before (Starck, Hadid and Jacobsen, to name a few) and will continue to be crossed, its boundaries pushed. With so much talent in west London, we wanted to explore this by asking some of the area’s most prolific architects their views on the relationship… and challenged them to translate their thoughts into a sketch for us.

“In terms of architects taking to furniture design, I think it’s an idea that makes a lot of sense… that’s why we actually already have a prototype chair that we’ve designed! The idea of the chair was that architects’ offices are full of product samples being evaluated for possible use in new building projects. A typical sample would be part of an L-shape of metal frame from a window manufacturer, often with a small square of glass attached to show how it all fits together. We had a dream that one night two of these samples might have a secret liaison and become stuck together – in the process becoming a convenient place to sit. The Dutch modernist architect Gerrit Rietveld did several very asymmetric (and equally uncomfortable) chairs; they were an inspiration, though he worked in wood. Since doing the project, I’ve come across some sculptures by Sol LeWitt that explore some similar asymmetric themes.”
Instagram: @thomas__croft

David Tigg and Rachel Coll TIGG + COLL
“Much of what architects do involves a close consideration and appreciation of the context of space. Buildings can be filled with utilitarian or standardised furniture items that are not reactive to the spaces they inhabit, or they can complement the specifics of spaces in a more responsive way. Furniture – for us – is about designing for the end user in much the same way architecture is created. The two do not have to be independent of one another, and inclusively designing furniture into the building fabric should be synonymous with good design practice. Our sketch from a new country house imagines a stair wrapped around a fireplace which then transforms, and expresses a formed seating area – each element is not mutually exclusive from the other, and in the act of the furniture influencing the use of the space, the whole becomes greater than its parts.”
Twitter: @tiggcollarch
Instagram: @tigg_coll_architects

Erfan Azadi  
“Architecture is a cultural response to a structural problem, connecting with its context using form, scale and materiality. This reflects how we build, which also depends on the available technology of that era. Furniture has always provided a great testing ground for architects to experiment with materials and new technologies; the furniture design of Charles and Ray Eames, for example, says a lot about how their architecture is put together. So, I don’t think it is inherently good or bad for architects to design furniture, as long as it is a true representation of their ideas and is well designed! My studio recently designed a villa development in the British Virgin Islands that was built using robotics and on-site automation only. So, for my piece, I have taken the famous Alvar Aalto drinks trolley and updated it for the 21st century by adding a KUKA robotic arm that will both drive the trolley to me and mix me a Negroni on a Friday afternoon!”
Twitter: @duck_and_shed
Instagram: @erf_duck

Max De Rosee – DE ROSEE SA
“Furniture designed by architects is another medium to explore their personality; a medium that is quicker to take in than architecture. In my view, the most successful architects are those who express their character in their designs, be it Thomas Heatherwick, David Chipperfield, Edwin Lutyens or Sir John Soane. You don’t necessarily have to like what they do, but there is a personality that comes through. At De Rosee Sa, we consider furniture to have an important contribution in the creation of atmosphere so it is something we do regularly. I have designed furniture that relates to two things I enjoy: working and reading. I am more engaged in tasks if I stand. Sitting to read is my relaxing substitute.”
Twitter: @deroseesa
Instagram: @deroseesa

“There is a long and illustrious tradition of architects designing furniture throughout history. From the Arts and Crafts movement, championed by the likes of William Morris and Philip Webb, to the work of Bauhaus which embraced the idea of Gesamtkunstwerk, meaning ‘a total work of art’, and encouraged the design of the whole environment even down to the cutlery. When designing homes we have an opportunity to craft buildings and interiors specific to the needs of the client. Here I have extended the notion of furniture to include a bike stand, integrated into the floor finishes and discreetly hidden away when not in use. Between rides, the stand keeps the bike lifted off the underfloor heating to stop tyres bursting with changes in temperature, and acts as a way of displaying the bike.”

Twitter: @pitmantozer
Instagram: @pitmantozerarchitects