The recurring theme of the intermingling of art and design goes back at least to Duchamp and Warhol, who elevated prosaic objects and product design to the status of high art. Over time, the blurred lines between the two disciplines (as well as the debate surrounding them) seem only to have intensified. Today many designers and artists alike see themselves more and more free from the traditional structures, as they dance easily and comfortably between conceptual frameworks, material experimentation, and unbridled creativity.
While mega-artists like Ai Weiwei are making art that draws on the history of furniture design, many of the most exciting contemporary designers are turning their critical and artisanal capacities towards poetic reflections on the world around them, far beyond the walls of interior design. Here, we bring you five examples that have blossomed in the fertile ground at the intersection of design and art.
Calm Sideboard by Agnes Morguet
German designer Agnes Morguet created a one-of-a-kind artwork with elaborate inlays pigmented with hard wax oil color gradients that just so happen to be used as doors on this chic Calm Sideboard. The delicate wash of color evoking a coastal landscape could just as easily be a painting as the front of a piece of storage furniture.
Magic Bean by Kevin Oyen
Belgian artist-designer Kevin Oyen is a master of metal who works across genres while creating finely crafted decorative objects, lighting, and furniture. His Magic Bean is equal parts sculpture and lounge chair, meticulously hand constructed in mirror polished stainless steel.
Carry Artids Collection by Nigel Coates
Legendary architect Nigel Coates blurs the lines between art history and contemporary design in his outstanding Carry Artids Collection of hand-blown glass vessels. Strikingly au courant in their elegant minimalism, the vessels draw inspiration from caryatids—sculpted female forms used as support pillars in ancient Greek architecture—clearly embodying echoes of classical marble sculpture.
Skin Collection by Pepe Heykoop
Each piece in Skin Collection by Dutch designer Pepe Heykoop is unique, involving a painstaking process of hand-crafting a new “skin” for a curated selection of found objects and furniture pieces. Critically addressing the significant materials wastage in the furniture industry (often as high as 25-30%), the objects are given a new lease on life using leather offcuts from manufacturing processes. Lyrical, sculptural works of (functional) art, Skin Dressing Doll Lamp and Skin Dressing Mirror are as attractive as they are unsettling, just like the best works of art.
Crystallized Chair by Isaac Monté
The archetypal example of blending the two disciplines, Isaac Monté’s Artist’s Proof Crystallized Mid-Century Chair takes a classic Belgian, midcentury chair and renders it unusable (and completely enchanting) by covering it in crystals. Monté pays tribute to the history of timeless design, whilst also deftly smashing the barriers between design and art.
More to Love
Carry Artids Bucket Vase by Nigel Coates
Carry Artids Bottle Vase by Nigel Coates
Carry Artids Goldfish Bowl by Nigel Coates
Skin Dressing Doll with Lamp by Pepe Heykoop
Skin Leaning Wall Lamp by Pepe Heykoop
Chinese Stools – Made in China, Copied by the Dutch 2007, Red from Studio Wieki Somers, Set of 5
Filter Factory Bird House from Cigarette Filters by Isaac Monté
Wake Up Call Table Lamp with Emerald Beryl by Richard Yasmine
Meat Lamp 1 by Isaac Monté, 2016
White Joujou Floor Lamp by Agnes Morguet, 2013
Crystallized Mid-Century Chair by Isaac Monté, 2018
Out of the Cage (Red 2) by Gala Fernandez
Out of the Cage (Turquoise Pagoda) by Gala Fernández
High Tea Pot from Studio Wieki Somers, 2003
Green No 03 Assembled Stool by Studio Wieki Somers
Recollected N06A Tray by Unfold, 2016
Apilar Low Console by Noa Razer
Brass Cross II Light Sculpture from early light
Grey Hide Blanket by Nienke Hoogvliet for TextielMuseum Tilburg
Jellyfish Table Lamp by Marzio Rusconi Clerici for Fragile Edizioni