The exhibition in Aotu Studio presented a series of new experiments in materiality based on the same chair design. Through this exercise Max Gerthel pushes his practice into a phase of research and experimentation, a search for new materials and expressions within the framework of a given form. This chair is also designed as an open frame that can be filled with different content, from the most mundane to the most advanced, limited only by imagination.
A chair is perhaps the most crucial object for a furniture designer, providing a basic function closely linked to the human body. Despite the difficulty of fulfilling all the requirements of comfort, aesthetics, durability and sustainability, the variety of chair designs offered in the world remains virtually limitless, with new ones added every year.
In this project, not only do we present possible interpretations of the Untitled Chair, but we invite the visitors to make their own interpretation. The exhibition poster doubles as a 1:1 drawing of the chair frame, making it possible to have it made by your local carpenter or blacksmith, and then cover it with your own material of choice.
The original version of the [Untitled] Chair was designed in 2013 for a private home in Beijing. It was my ambition to design a simple chair with a wooden frame and woven seat and back that had the soft comfort as an upholstered chair, but with less material and more elegance. This typology has a history in early 20th century Scandinavian design, with Axel Larsson, Bruno Mathsson and Alvar Aalto as pioneer promoters of light, organic furniture of laminated wood structure with woven straps of flax or hemp. At the same time, the [Untitled] Chair has two legs in 1960's American Minimalist Art, mainly borrowing from Donald Judd and Sol Lewitt. The frame is made with a square profile with the same dimension throughout, apart from where the legs meet the ground, where they are tapered to give an impression of lightness. The seat and back is woven into the frame in using a simple set of rules which allow for natural variations, thus making the pattern on every chair unique.
For this exhibition I wanted to present a broader spectrum of ideas related to open-source, customised, democratic design. However, instead than trying to democratise design by offering practical objects at throw-away prices, the [Untitled] series is a way of introducing a framework, a basic structure with a logic that allows it to be reincarnated in endless variation. Here, I present a small selection of feasible possibilities offered by this simple design, but also some that teeters the boundaries of design and art. An exercise in materiality rather than form, The [Untitled] Chair serves both as a resource and constraint when for the process of experimentation and speculation that we have embarked on.