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Best of CH 2011: Five Conceptually Driven Designs

Numeric shelves, refrigerator chairs and shape-shifting vases among our look back at 2011 conceptual design

From ICFF to Art Basel, 2011 delivered a flurry of design objects for the home that while highly creative and concept-driven, didn’t compromise their utilitarian duties. From recycled plastic chairs to roman numeral inspired book shelves, the following are five of our favorite pieces of sculptural design that could just as easily pass as pure art objects.

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As a brilliant example of unconventional thinking, Dirk van der Kooij turns discarded refrigerators into chairs by way of a 3D printing robot. Each Endless Chair is constructed entirely of one continuous string of precisely placed recycled plastic. This striking mix of conceptual design and sustainable production leaves us marveling over the depths of van der Kooij’s creativity.

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Designed in collaboration between Italy’s Le Fablier and Paolo Ulian, this sculptural series of pieces for the home are made using the historical medium of marble. The humble material is artfully formed into book shelves and tables that would seem a natural fit for a living room or museum. The highlight of the sustainably produced collection is the roman numeral inspired “Numerica” bookshelf, balancing form and function rather perfectly.


In similar fashion to Ulian’s marble, Max Lamb’s collection of polished sandstone home furnishings are beautiful whether treated as furniture or not. The British designer sourced the material from Sydney’s Gosford Quarry to achieve the perfect grain and hue for a look reminiscent of colonial period pedestals.


Brooklyn-based designer Paul Lobach’s wide range of furniture collections vary so significantly it’s hard to imagine there’s only one mind behind it all. Wading through his designs we were immediately drawn to the Watson Table—named for the American scientist who discovered human DNA’s helical shape. The unconventional use of carbon fiber and wood displays Lobach’s interest in blending artistry with technology.


Lara Knutson’s attractive “Soft Chemistry” vessels are so bizarre it’s hard to define just what they are. The combination of reflective glass, fabric and mohair gives the pieces a distinctive sheen unlike any other material we’ve seen used in this form.


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