Designers are generally a dissatisfied lot.
When they use an object, they want to change it, redesign it, make it better, or make it more closely fit their idea of what the thing should be. When the question arises, “Does the world really need another sofa, table, or shelf?”, their answer is a resounding “Yes.” They are optimistic with just enough ego to say, “Not only do we require new versions of what we already have, but I am the person to make this product more functional, versatile, beautiful, unexpected, or elegant…” And they are also opportunistic, finding myriad ways to more fully utilize, exploit, subvert, or reinvent materials, manufacturing processes, technical innovations, and production techniques.
Furniture designers may love or revile the computer, but if they don’t use it themselves, they work closely with someone who does. In this day and age, a designer needs to make friends with technology. They are process-oriented, paying so much attention to each phase of the design continuum that the final product sometimes seems an incidental result. It is not so much that they are risk takers or rebels (although they may be), but they just don’t notice the conventions attached to accepted wisdom. Their creativity often springs directly from this inability to see the limitations that others take for granted. But, the very best designers also respect the constraints placed upon them by clients, the needs of the human body, or the physical laws of the universe. These restrictions are a welcome challenge that forces them to think around, through, or above and beyond, to find a more inventive solution.
It is the work of these designers that we profile in the following pages. Their furniture may offer a place to rest, but that is only one dimension of the object. A table may also be a piece of sculpture; a wall divider unfolds like a paper party lantern; laser beams give a chair an otherworldly shape; a shelving unit expresses a frozen moment in time and space; a daybed tells a story from childhood; a night bed recalls a spectacular winter vacation; an outdoor seating system enhances social interactions.
It may be true that in most cases, for so many of us, a chair is just a chair; but not in this book.