You don’t have to stare at Thomas Feichtner’s work for very long to detect a theme — facets and folds everywhere, on desk lamps, chairs, teapots, even a set of futuristic cutlery. Rather than imparting severity, though, the lines are a more artful alternative to minimalism: “I think things should work properly,” says the Austrian designer, “but do they really need to look like it?” To create his leather-upholstered Public armchair, for example, which is shaped like a canted square with an open back, Feichtner began with freeform sketches and then limited himself to manipulating it using only points and lines; for him, this design method represents a quiet subversion — using unfamiliar or out-of-context forms, like a hexagonal spoon, to suggest that our preconceptions of how objects “should” look are often needlessly limiting.
For his current “Linz Hocker” installation (hocker means “stool” in German), Feichtner flooded Austria’s State Gallery Linz with more than 1,000 grey plastic stools that take a traditional form — a flipped-over milk crate — and radically update it into something resembling a spaceship part. With the backing of Vitra and the help of a local factory, he was able to manufacture the stool quickly and inexpensively enough to allow for museumgoers to take one home with them, which has been gradually dismounting the show over its three-month duration. “The focus is not on giving something away but on the idea of the artificial democratization of design,” Feichtner writes in his artist’s statement. “Over the years this product may become a unique Linz specimen: Stools will appear again and again in apartments, shops, or studios. Some will change hands at the Linz flea markets. In the course of time the stool may not only circulate in Linz, but also become a messenger for design from Linz.” Here’s how he did it.
When Emily Hermans started her own clothing line in 2004, she did something kind of genius: She found a local knitwear factory in Eindhoven that would let her produce her own textile designs on its knitting machines, and then slowly convinced its owner to take her on as a partner. He would get equity in her line — MLY — and she could crank out prints to her heart’s content without paying a premium. There was only one catch.
Once or twice a year, Brooklyn furniture designer Paul Loebach gets out his straw hat and bandana, ties on a pair of crappy old sneakers, drags out his huge canvas tote, and drives up to Massachussetts, where dealers from all over the Northeast gather every spring, summer, and fall for the Brimfield Antique Show.