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Ian Stell, King of Kinetic Furniture, Has a New Trick — Staying Still

Over the past few years, Ian Stell has made a name for himself with a collection of fascinatingly kinetic furniture. But in a new body of work, which debuted at Patrick Parrish Gallery last week, Stell seems more preoccupied with the moment before motion begins — or, to put it in design terms, the cantilever. Called CLIFF HANG, CLIFF DWELL, the show’s most interesting works are three cantilevered chairs, whose forms recall everything from ladders to a Pac-Man. “I’ve long been fascinated with this typology, which for me is among the purest expressions of Weimar design zeitgeist: a gravity-defying, death-cheating, streamlined catapult,” says Stell. Stell likens 3RDFL, a purplish, powder-coated steel chair, to a tree trunk that “triples in girth at each transition point, as the form descends from top tier to base.” A three-tiered, cagelike seat was inspired by traditional Chinese cricket pagodas, built to house prized pet insects. And RollBottom is a hybrid piece whose leather tambour slides on tracks from end to end, alternately creating a chair or a desk. The pieces are like nothing we’ve ever seen before, which makes us all the more interested to see what comes next.

PHOTOS BY CLEMENS KOIS

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3RDFL 4G5A5037

21 Steps4G5A4597

Cricket Cage XB2W8081

Mirror 3XB2W4439

RollBottom4G5A4959

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Gordian KnotXB2W8754

Controlled Crush4G5A5089 4G5A4889

3-Legged Wheel4G5A4681 4G5A4593 4G5A4984