“All that is solid melts into air,” wrote Karl Marx in The Communist Manifesto. Almost two centuries later, the sentiment continues to resound — even more so as an increasingly surreal political climate appears to dissolve the long-held structures while the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic result in further lockdowns across the world, disrupting our perceptions of time itself. During the early months of international closures, the team at Bower Studios found this metaphor of melting to be apt for the strange temporal condition of quarantine. In turn, the idea inspired an entire new line of furniture and accessories.
For its 14-piece Melt collection, the largest and most comprehensive to date, the New York-based multidisciplinary practice combines wood, metal, stone and glass in a cohort of objects that explore “reality vs. perception” through “material and form.” What’s more, the designers have also opted to develop an entire fictional world for the products — one that similarly draws from the uncanny experiences of the pandemic.
According to Bower Studios, “[we] decided to create a world that is a surreal manifestation of the past few months much of the world has been experiencing; a sort of ruin of a past life… eerily isolated and lonesome.” In this imagined environ, the new line — which includes everything from lounge chairs and tables to a suite of mirrors for which the studio is known — finds a home among a picturesque landscape of overgrown and long-abandoned residences. “As time has passed and nature has started taking back the land,” the studio adds of these palatial ruins, a nod to the suspension of human activity that has reduced air pollution in many urban centres since March, “there is a calm sense of meditation and introspection in the air.”
Hung on monolithic stone walls and reflecting the murky waters of forgotten pools, four typologies of mirrors are defined by a shared solid wood dowel (available in walnut or white oak) in which a tubular clear mirror with a softened profile almost literally melts over.
In Mirror I and Mirror II, the reflective surface hangs on a single disc while Mirror III and Mirror IV feature two supports that result in a more dynamic composition.
Riffing on these geometries, the Melt lounge chair features an extruded upholstered cushion — available in five standard colourways as well as customizable options — draped over a turned solid walnut or white oak frame. An identical approach appears in the design of daybed and dining chair, which both feature plush padding “melting” over a wood support.
For the side and coffee table designs, however, the bulbous element is replaced with a carved wood surface that droops on top, along and down a customizable metal base (where it appears to pool).
A similar technique is applied in the series’ console and dining tables. Here, the collection’s defining form is made from solid travertine and folds across rectilinear walnut bases, resulting in a kind of resilient table cloth over each.
Rounding out the collection, Bower has also conceived a pair of accessories that continue the line’s formal exploration. The sagging bookend and table mirror, carved from green Guatemalan marble, appear “frozen in time as they slide down their slick,” according to the designers.
Together, its an ambitious launch in an equally ambitious setting that is intended to evoke the backdrop of a typical campaign. “This is where you can witness the metamorphoses of how the collection comes to be,” the studio adds. “[And] how the pieces melt into their final forms.” It’s far cry from reality. But, so is 2020.
Inspired by the experience of quarantine, the New York outfit has crafted a sprawling furniture and accessories line inhabiting a fictional landscape of architectural ruins.