Three chairs, so similar in Three chairs, so similar in appearance, yet worldviews apart. The project of juxtaposing works by today’s leading designers may, initially, feel like a purely visual exercise. Certainly, in the case of this trio, the formal resemblance is striking. Each chair is a nearly Platonic solid, block and back and little more. Observe, though, how each of these seemingly simple forms has been made articulate, speaking volumes about its designer’s individual perspective. Philippe Malouin’s is closest to pure geometry, a single monolithic form made from cast, tinted rubber. The thinner section of the upright back allows the material’s red color to show through, producing the illusion of a joint.
This integral volume contrasts sharply with the intersecting stone slabs of Konstantin Grcic’s chair, from the designer’s Hieronymous series — which was inspired by the strange architectural structure in Antonello da Messina’s depiction of St. Jerome in his Study (National Gallery of London, c. 1475; Hieronymous is the Latin name of the saint).
It’s a rarefied Renaissance-era reference, which would seem, once again, to contrast with the streetwise immediacy of Virgil Abloh’s chair in graffiti-covered concrete. Yet he too reaches for esoteric terminology in naming his series: Efflorescence, the process by which salt migrates to the surface of masonry surfaces. Abloh has noted that this effect could in fact occur to his concrete furniture, were it to be left out in the elements. There may also be a suggestion, in his title, that graffiti itself is an organic bloom of sorts, a sign of life.