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Soft Baroque’s New Furniture Series is the Ultimate Trompe L’Oeil

In our Saturday column tomorrow, we’ll be featuring an armchair digest of our favorites from this past week’s Art Basel and Design Miami/Basel, but before then we had to call out one of the most delightful projects on view this week: Soft/Hard, an installation by Soft Baroque commissioned by the Copenhagen gallery Étage Projects, presented a series of trompe l’oeil domestic objects that paired materials like granite, OSB and bublinga wood with their digital simulacra printed onto soft silk textiles. A wall hanging with a hard OSB frame and a soft OSB-printed interior, a sling bench with a hard granite frame and a soft granite-printed seat, and a futon covered in the likeness of rotary-cut bublinga wood were just a few of the objects on view.

This is the second high-profile project by Soft Baroque examining the perception and mutability of surfaces, but in this case, say founders Nicholas Gardner and Saša Štucin,”We saw a vast discrepancy in the market between the quality of design, and the monetary value of objects. Laminate timber floors, for example, have a micron thin layer of ink applied to them to resemble wood grain. Although, quantifiably, this is the thinnest ingredient in a diabolical sandwich of cheap materials, it is the most important in terms of the product’s desirability. The symbolism of the wood grain surface imbues it with material heritage and assimilates it into a cultural archive, though maintaining only a tenuous physical connection to what it represents. Surface can be as fine as a layer of ink, but critical to the production of value.”

As for the choice of materials, the two report: “The materials had to have a strong graphic presence. Granite is solid and durable, nature’s white noise, and represents a kind of pre-digital place-holder. The wood veneer is a luxury material, and conjures images of rosewood-lined corporate boardrooms. The wood is a rotary-cut bublinga, which has a natural uniform wavy grain, an aesthetic that appears computer-generated in a kind of distortion of the exotic veneer image. The third material, OSB, is one of the cheapest structural materials available in any given hardware store. It has an incredibly tough agglomeration of fibers derived from its manufacturing process of pulverization and reanimation of a natural element.”

Check out some of our favorite images from the booth below, and stay tuned for more picks from the fair!

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