‘Can a chair be a piece of art?‘ I hear a woman with pigtails and a fur coat ask the man next to her. He doesn’t seem to take notice. The chair seems to be the only thing that he can focus on, he seems so lost in it that for a moment I wonder if I am missing something. I look at him, then the chair, then back at him. There is a link, a tangible link of admiration that comes with personal taste, knowledge, and an inexplicable preference. The woman gets impatient, and with a swift movement moves on to the next stall, waking him up from his daze. ‘Yes, yes, I think it can be‘ he replies with a delay, and steals a last glance before moving on.
I remembered that moment as I was walking by a furniture store today. It happened when I went in Design Junction during the London Design Festival trying to track down a table for a photoshoot. I had some time to kill, so I decided to explore the three floors that were filled with design treasures.
I passed the sea of Gocci lights, stood in front of the light wall of Benjamin Hubert, and got lost in the light sculpture from LFZ. I loved the Baccarat Umbrella light, and the paradox in its construction: usually used to keep the sun at bay, the umbrella was taken as a symbol and was transformed in order to contain the light under it and shield it from the outside world. The result was just hypnotising, and I think I would have spent a bit more time staring at it if something else did not steal my attention.
A beautifully created space on the front corner seemed like a half-finished house. Inside it, various objects of beauty, scattered in an deliberately haphazard way. I made my way there, and was greeted with a warm hello and a leaflet on Maggie’s, the organisation that curated that space. Within minutes, I learned how the cancer caring centres commissioned the wold’s leading architects to design drop in centres reflecting a user-friendly atmosphere. For this piece, Maggie’s collaborated with a number of designers who donated key pieces from their body of work to be sold on behalf of Maggie’s, where all proceeds go towards upkeeping and constructing Maggie’s centres. The space was called Joy of Living, reflecting the latter part of the quote ‘the fear of dying should not steal from the joy of living‘.
Promising I will check the project online, I went and had a look at the stunning construction from the Design Exchange magazine, a room with mirrored surfaces and a podium with the magazine on. The result was something you would expect to see in the middle of a gallery instead of the corner of a design fair. A look around though, and the point was made clear; purists would frown upon me saying that, but I always thought design has an element of art embedded in its DNA. I grabbed a coffee on the go from the Design cafe, and snuck at the back of the second floor cinema to see people wearing glasses and black shirts talk about silhouettes, shapes and simplicity.
And I was reminded of all that as I glanced from the furniture shop window a couple trying on a sofa. They were both trying the leg-streching, pillow adjusting, TV watching positions that a sofa is tried and tested on. Carving details on the art of the everyday.