Collectables

Inspired Monday Morning: Joris Laarman by Raji Radhakrishnan

What makes a furniture or object collectible? For me, it should first be absolutely divine in its creation - that means nothing like you've ever seen before but also something that makes you wonder how in the world they created it. The furniture is usually architectural or sculptural with considerable engineering, artistry and skills behind it. In the vintage collectibles category, so many great vintage designs are being copied easily today but when Jean Prouvé originally made his Compas table in the early 1950s it was no ordinary table for his time and the technology available then. If you could get your hands on an original Jean Prouvé piece, that is a collectible. In contemporary furniture design, there are a handful of product designers today whose works are highly coveted. Their work straddles functional furniture, technology, science, architecture and art. Those of Elizabeth Garouste & Matteo Bonetti, Marc Newson, Ron Arad, Zaha Hadid and Claude & Francois-Xavier Lalanne come to mind. In a way, a collectable also has something to do with demand and supply and unless it's a prototype, vintage or contemporary, mass production is not a collectible. Limited editions can be collectibles. But when a piece is truly extraordinary and innovative it is usually also one that is incredibly difficult to make. They are crafted meticulously with unusual or new materials, using complicated machinery and tools requiring highly skilled labor and in a very controlled environment like a lab. An engineering and technological feat almost every time it is made thus taking a serious amount of time to produce and hence very rarely available. In this sense, these pieces are a rare work of art.

Joris Laarman, a young Dutch designer is one of those contemporaries I very much admire as he defies what functional art is and can be - a true innovator in every sense of the word. Many of his creations are very much a collectible attested by the number of world class museums that have added his work to their permanent collections. Like many of his predecessors who have experimented with new materials and design and where some of their creations were translated from their original designs leading to mass productions (while others, often due to their complexity, remain limited custom creations), Laarman's experiments have led him to fantastical creations while constantly trying new possibilities, most recently, with 3-D printing. The thing to note though is that he is not only innovative in his design and his manufacturing process he is also creating the all important new "digital" material that will work through a 3-D printer to create his furniture. Of course some of his 3-D printed designs will eventually lead to mass production. But I can't help but think that, as we sit in the brink of a new generation of design, Laarman gives new meaning to the term "pushing the envelope". What can I say, Il est tout ma tasse de thé!

- xo Raji

Joris Laarman

Joris Laarman

Laarman's Bone Table custom created in his lab

Laarman's Bone Table custom created in his lab

Laarman's Gradient Chair created using a 3-D printer and bi-truncated cubic honeycomb shapes.

Laarman's Gradient Chair created using a 3-D printer and bi-truncated cubic honeycomb shapes.

Joris Laarman's Bone Chair custom created by his lab

Joris Laarman's Bone Chair custom created by his lab

Collections & Collectibles: Robert et Jean Cloutier by Raji Radhakrishnan

As designers we are exposed to many beautiful things in our daily life. When I'm shopping for our projects, traveling, dining, reading, visiting and browsing - I find that all these forays are an opportunity to hone the eye and learn something new. In this day and age we are not short of exposure, if anything it's overexposure and hence it is equally important to be able to glean through the millions and zero in on the things that are truly beautiful and make the cut. Quality, material, skilled workmanship, price, age, provenance and uniqueness are all important - some relatively more than others depending on who and what you are shopping for.

Decades ago I stumbled upon a ceramic box given to me as a gift which had a signature at the bottom. I loved the box for it's shape, the sweet birds painted on it and it's fragility. At that time, I had no idea who it was by or even what that signature meant. Many years later rummaging at Paris' Marché aux Puces I stumbled upon a ceramic vase. Vaguely familiar in it's colors and finish, turning it upside down I realized it was the same signature that was on my box. Determined to find out who the signature belonged to and what these wonderful ceramics are about, I talked to a few vendors I knew and soon embarked on a search for more pieces by the "Cloutier Freres". As I discovered more ceramics by these exceptional artists and twin brothers, Robert & Jean Cloutier, my love for their work increased exponentially. While I await the first book on these exceptional ceramicists' works, collecting these whimsical, puts-a-smile-on-your-face, beautifully made pieces est juste ma tasse de thé!

Image via  Pinterest

Image via Pinterest

Images via  Pinterest

Images via Pinterest

Images via  Pinterest

Images via Pinterest

Image on left via  maison et toi  and on right via  Pinterest

Image on left via maison et toi and on right via Pinterest

Raji RM & Associates | Interior Designer & Decorator

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