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