What do these objects say about you and your practice?
SET is a collection series of furniture that encompasses simplistic forms that are exaggerated in such a way as to achieve authoritative and imposing proportions. Individual units command the space around it and direct the body, making one conscious and aware of their form. The furniture in the collection sets the stage for specific actions, arranges behaviors and defines new attitudes. In my practice I use, challenge and reconfigure persistently known architectural (or design) elements, symbols, signs and simplistic geometric forms. I often use humor, and commentary, and bring conceptual and cultural references to my work. I like to think that my work is simultaneously simple and complex, familiar and unfamiliar, funny and serious.
How do you gauge the success of an object?
A lot of times a project is a result of a collaboration between a client or fabricator, a budget and my own interests and conceptual approach. The furniture in SET is composed of cylindrical forms made of wooden pegs, plywood tubes and molded fiberglass. All of the pieces are finished with a mirror lacquer surface, which required an intensive process. In SET, conceptual and spatial impact is achieved through a reductive and deliberate use of form, proportions, arrangements and surface. The conceptual, formal and materiality explorations I set for this body of work are represented exactly and their function and impact in space successfully engages the person and a room.
Why do you design in Chicago?
An advantage of living in Chicago is that it provides access to diverse architecture, design and art communities. I teach at UIC, where the architecture faculty is constantly exchanging ideas producing a stimulating environment that in return motivates me to produce more challenging work. I am also interested in developing a skillset and knowledge of materials and fabrication techniques, which informs the work I produce. I enjoy Chicago’s fabrication shops and people who are enthusiastic about challenging projects. Another important factor is the collaboration with clients/ institutions/professionals who seek unconventional ways of approaching design. Upon arriving in Chicago I was fortunate to be selected as a designer for a bookshop installation for Graham Foundation in Chicago. I recently had a solo exhibition, “BMO Harris Bank Chicago Works: Ania Jaworska” at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago and SET at Volume Gallery. Most recently, my practice received a recognition and I was a finalist for a 2017 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program. You can currently see an Entrance installation at the Chicago Architecture Biennial.
Unit 1 (Side Table)
Lacquered wood, 24″w x 24″d x 24″h
Unit 2A & 2B (Coffee Tables)
Lacquered wood, 30″w x 30″d x 18″h
Unit 3 (Side Credenza)
Lacquered wood, 24″w x 44″d x 69.5″h
Unit 4 (Dining Table for Four)
Lacquered wood, steel, 40″w x 85.5″d x 28.25″h
Unit 5 (Side Chair)
Lacquered wood, aluminum, 18″w x 26″d x 35″h
Unit 6 (Armchair)
Lacquered wood, fiberglass, padding, 44″w x 34″d x 28″h
SET is available for purchase at Volume Gallery in Chicago.
CREDITS: Design and fabrication by Ania Jaworska with fabrication assistance by Elnaz Rafati, Eugene Murphy, Julia DiCastri, June Gudoor, Michael Zimmer, Ariel Lynne, Lukasz Wojnicz, Zack Ostrowski, Ken Ostrowski, Travis Roozee, Thom Fredericks, UIC SOA Woodshop Staff, Orlandi Statuary, Active Alloys, Second Time Around, Eli Wyn Upholstery. Photo: Volume Gallery
Author: Rick Valicenti
Rick Valicenti has led the Thirst design studio since its founding in 1989 and has established himself as one of the most visionary designers in the country, winning the 2011 National Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.