Furniture Design

Inspired Monday Morning: Guy de Rougemont by Raji Radhakrishnan

Great vintage originals have always been in vogue and are very often replicated. However, it's one thing to find vintage furnishings that look so right for today but an altogether different experience to find those that look like a perfectly made contemporary design but are in fact vintage. It is pure bliss and exactly how I feel about the French artist, Guy de Rougemont (born 1935). A prolific painter, sculptor who also designs furniture till date and tapped by the influential French designer Henri Samuel back in the 1970s. Guy de Rougemont's iconic Cloud Table designed in the 70s and in different variations is shockingly au courant and hard to believe he designed it nearly four decades ago! His Table Nouage Rouge (Red Cloud Table) from 1970 seen above is a good example.

One look at his work on canvas, murals, totems and sculptures can tell you how he uses abstract art to interpret his view of the world in a rather baroque and colorful way. It is said that Guy de Rougemont has thought of cities as jungles and has tried to create, through his interventions, ways to penetrate and resonate with his surroundings. Not limiting his art (or his thinking) to canvases, his work extends to sculpture, furniture, objects, rugs, stained-glass windows (of course!), porcelain, ceramics, stamps, posters and more recently wine labels. And the fact that he continues to create art and objects that are not only very much his style but always relevant and avant garde at the same time is not an easy feat. Neither is being always one step (or several steps) ahead of his time. I for one find that the causal and casual effect of having a piece of art made functional and amidst other "regular" furnishings, a delightful and unique experience and one that I would love to see adopted in more interiors!

- xo, Raji

Guy de Rougemont, 2011

Guy de Rougemont, 2011

Folding Screen by Guy de Rougemont

Folding Screen by Guy de Rougemont

Cloud Table by Guy de Rougemont

Cloud Table by Guy de Rougemont

Guy de Rougemont 1992; Photography by  Michel Baret

Guy de Rougemont 1992; Photography by Michel Baret

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