More than 30 artists, designers and architects have reworked one of the most recognizable chairs in the world for reDesign 2011 – an auction fundraiser in support of the Textile Museum of Canada (auction details below). Here are five approaches executed in original and ingenious ways by 13 participants.
1. Blonde Wood and Felt
Bookhou’s light ash chair replaces upholstery with steambent wood, but keeps the scuffs, staple holes and carving that gave the original Louis XVI chair its personality. The Brothers Dressler’s chair reconfigures a beech frame, incorporating beech slats from an old conveyor belt and recycled industrial felt. Kathryn Walter of FELT studio leaves only the legs of the original chair exposed, enclosing the top half in a boxy cushion of heavy felt.
Forsaking the seating function entirely, furniture designer Peter Fleming set his chair ablaze and used the charred remnants to frame three photos of the de-fabrication process. Taking it a step further, Levitt Goodman Architects disassembled the chair into its component parts, then shipped them all – wood frame, cotton upholstery, and stuffing – to a mill in Montreal to be chipped, boiled, beaten, pulped, and ultimately reborn as 15 pounds of paper. For artist Georgia Dickie’s deconstruction, she split her chair into disembodied limbs and strung them necklace-style on a cord, suitable for hanging.
3. Bold Patterns
Textile artist Amanda McCavour drew her inspiration from age-old friendship bracelets, weaving upholstery that recreates the accessory’s traditional chevron and diamond patterns in larger bias tape. Virginia Johnson contrasted the old French style of Louis XVI with a new(er) French style by selecting a dynamic Parisian deco-inspired print. For their upholstery job, Shaun Moore and Julie Nicholson of MADE selected buffalo plaid, evoking the uniform of hunters and lumberjacks, embellishing it with a pair of custom patches to complete their Canadiana-themed seat.
4. The Dark Side
Fashion designer Jeremy Laing knit a nubbly grey sweater to keep his chair warm, recasting its stately form in a playful way. Creative Matters, taking a cue from the chair’s original orange-and-black palette, painted the chair with a gradation of deep grey and punchy neon pink and created a matching rug for a seamless effect. Artist Bruno Billio went all-black – but not minimal. Embroidered on the seat’s back support is a hopeful message: “I love and support the Textile Museum of Canada so much that I paid $5,000 for this chair designed by Bruno Billio.”
5. The Unexpected
Artist Thrush Holmes serves up some real eye candy. Severed at the waist and positioned on a park bench in the style of the old sawing-a-person-in-half magic trick, the final touch (Holmes’s signature move) is a pair of graffiti-like neon lines added to the seat and back.
The reDesign live auction takes place at the Gladstone Hotel, 1214 Queen St. W. at 6:30pm on November 3. Tickets are $100. Details for absentee bids are available online at textilemuseum.ca. You can also buy tickets at redesign2011.eventbrite.com