You're probably aware of the computer program that allows people to create and print their own furniture by sending their design to a laser printer, which in turn, cuts flat-pack pieces. But at this year's Milan Furniture Fair, Belgian designer Maarten De Ceulaer is going one step further and speculating how one day furniture might be grown rather than made, and presenting his vision of what this might look like. He says that his aptly named Mutations collection - which comprises organically shaped yet slightly alien-looking sofas and chairs - will hopefully make us "look at furniture in a different way."
"The pieces in this series look like they weren’t made by hands, but have grown to their present form organically,” says De Ceulaer, musing on how a piece of furniture like this might form autonomously. “They might be the result of a mutation in cells, or the result of a chemical or nuclear reaction. Perhaps it’s a virus or bacteria that has grown dramatically out of scale.”
De Ceulaer imagines a future where we could grow and manipulate organic furniture: “Maybe one day we would be able to grow a piece of furniture like we breed or clone an animal, and manipulate it’s shape like a bonsai tree."
Despite not having the science to grow furniture just yet, De Ceaulaer’s Mutations do harness an unconventional construction - instead of upholstering springs and foam with leather or textile, the pieces in this series are created by carefully composing patterns with cut-offs of foam spheres of various sizes, and applying them onto a structure. In the end the entire piece gets coated, with a durable rubber or tactile velvet-like finish. It is near impossible to recreate such a specific pattern, so every piece is completely unique, as if were organic.
De Ceulaer is exhibiting at three locations during the Salone del Mobile in Milan with his Mutations series on display Rossana Orlandi and the Triennale di Milano. If you're in Milan for the fair, make sure to go along to the launch of the Bouroullec Brothers' book Works tomorrow morning with the designers, author Anniina Koivu and Emilia Terragni, Editorial Director of Phaidon Press in attendance.
The Bouroullec Brothers: Works
56 Via Savona, Milan 20144