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Zaha Hadid table

Art versus furniture

23. 02. 16   :   The Epistle

‘Eventually everything connects’
––Charles Eames––

It was during the 20th century that the line between art and design began to blur, with hugely influential contributions to both architecture and furniture design by such greats as Frank Lloyd Wright, Frank Gehry and Charles and Ray Eames.

Artists, fashion designers and architects continue to turn their hand to furniture and lighting design today, with gallery owners representing these products in much the same way they would a piece of art or a sculpture. A growing number of collectors are investing in furniture as an art form, looking for bold designs that will stand the test of time and recognising the merits of exceptional craftsmanship and high-quality, durable materials.

From Pietro Chiesa’s pieces for FontanaArte in the 1930s to Zaha Hadid’s limited-edition furniture collections, there are some fabulous examples of the coming together of form and function.

Pear wood and mirrored glass cabinet from 1938
Pear Wood and Mirrored Glass Cabinet by Pietro Chiesa for FontanaArte, c.1938

Born into a family of artists, Chiesa trained as a glassmaker before being offered an artistic role at FontanaArte that saw him designing over 1,000 different objects, from furniture and tables to lamps and objets d’art. Some of these pieces are still produced by FontanaArte today – testiment to the modernity and innovation of Chiesa’s designs.

Rosanna coffee table, Erwan Boullaud On his website [http://www.erwanboulloud.com/collection/produits/mobilier], designer and sculptor Boullaud specifies that ‘each piece of furniture was first conceived as a sculpture, then as a utilitarian object.’
Rosanna coffee table, Erwan Boullaud
On his website, designer and sculptor Boullaud specifies that ‘each piece of furniture was first conceived as a sculpture, then as a utilitarian object.’

Sculptural bench by Wendell Castle
Temptation, Wendell Castle; photos courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Wendell Castle’s work is the perfect example of how design pieces can become true sculptures. ‘Temptation’ is currently exhibited at the MAD Museum in New York.

Stools that resemble chess pieces, made from brass-plated cold rolled steel
Original Chess Stools, Anna Karlin

Anna Karlin’s ethos centres around the fact that she works across many different disciplines, from print and digital to interiors and set design.

Two chairs by Rick Owens - one black, made from petrified wood; the other white, made from alabaster
Half Box in petrified wood (left) and Curial in alabaster, Rick Owens; photos courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Rick Owens is one of many fashion designers who have explored the world of furniture. His minimalist monochromatic pieces, made from materials such as marble, alabaster, petrified wood and ox bones, are highly collectible.

Slatted-wood cabinet
Wave cabinet, Sebastian ErraZuriz

New York-based artist ErraZuriz calls this slatted cabinet that unfurls in waves a ‘functional sculpture’ that embodies ‘his translation of craftsmanship and mastery of materials into fine art.’

Buffet in bronze by Ingrid Donat
Buffet Cisco in bronze, Ingrid Donat; photos courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Ingrid Donat creates sculptural furniture, working predominantly with bronze to create her intricately patterned pieces.

Curule Chair, Tristan Auer [http://www.tristanauer.com]; Photo by Frédéric de Gasquet This interior architect specialises in high-end residences, boutique hotels and retail as well as bespoke furniture.
Curule Chair, Tristan Auer; photo by Frédéric de Gasquet
This interior architect specialises in high-end residences, boutique hotels and retail as well as bespoke furniture.

Muller van Severen [http://www.mullervanseveren.be] Muller and Severen are both artists, so ‘it’s natural that the collection sits somewhere between design and art – it’s obviously “furniture” but the emphasis is not completely concentrated on function and suggests different ways of living and use of space.’
Furniture by Muller van Severen
Muller and Severen are both artists, so ‘it’s natural that the collection sits somewhere between design and art – it’s obviously “furniture” but the emphasis is not completely concentrated on function and suggests different ways of living and use of space.’

Square Sebastian side table, Celia collection, Francis Sultana
Square Sebastian side table, Celia collection, Francis Sultana

Furniture and interior designer Francis Sultana’s work combines classic lines and materials with a sophisticated, contemporary vision.

Tree 6b, Andrea Branzi; photo courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery
Tree 6b, Andrea Branzi; photo courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Andrea Branzi is an architect and designer who works in fields as diverse as industrial and research design, architecture, urban planning, education and cultural promotion.

Liquid Glacial Table, Zaha Hadid [http://www.zaha-hadid.com/architecture/liquid-glacial-table/] Renowned international architect Hadid’s collection of furniture for London’s David Gill Gallery [http://www.davidgillgallery.com/zaha-hadid/] includes this incredible acrylic table that mimics the ripples of water below its surface.
Liquid Glacial Table, Zaha Hadid
Renowned international architect Hadid’s collection of furniture for London’s David Gill Gallery includes this incredible acrylic table that mimics the ripples of water below its surface.