Milan: Droog 05.05.09

words Justin McGuirk

The Droog show was a little bit out of the way this year but what we lost in shoe leather we gained in the enjoyment of Studio Makkink & Bey's ply furniture. After a 20-minute walk from Garibaldi metro station we finally happened across the Dutch company's new collection of work, which is mainly by youngsters. The list included Chris Kabel, Nacho Carbonell and FormaFantasma. The outstanding pieces, however, were by Dutch veterans Jurgen Bey and Rianne Makkink.

top image House of Furniture by Studio Makkink and Bey

image House of Furniture by Studio Makkink and Bey


Their idea was presented as a house of thick laminated plywood whose walls were CNC-cut so that in theory you can extract the furniture parts you need. It was a nice conceit, but the real pleasure was in the pre-assembled furniture itself, which had a hefty, homespun quality - only it was far too precisely cut and engineered to feel anything like DIY. It was more like traditional joinery except with modern materials and quirky rhomboid shapes.

image Sofie Lachaert and Luc d’Hanis’ Anamorphosis series


There were a few other lovely pieces, notably Sofie Lachaert and Luc d'Hanis' Anamorphosis series. These silver vessels were reminiscent of Giorgio Morandi's bottle and vase paintings and were absolutely beautiful. This being a Droog show, though, they came with a slightly gimmicky twist. The vessels sat on porcelain platters with anamorphic paintings of birds that are only legible as birds when reflected in the polished silver. Very clever, and somehow just on the wrong side of clever-clever.

Chris Kabel showed new developments in his hollow-sack stools and benches - still an ingenious system. FormaFantasma exhibited a series of matryoshka-style nested furniture made of heavily lacquered chipboard. And Next Architects showed a Readymade bookshelf complete with a fake library of every book you're supposed to have read. It turns out these are just a facade of slots into which you insert your actual books.

image Sofie Lachaert and Luc d’Hanis’ Anamorphosis series

image Hidden Inlays Clock by Forma Fantasma

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