words Anna Bates
The inside of a calf was cast to make The Lasting Void, a stool created by London-based designer Julia Lohmann (icon 041). After experimenting on some chickens from the supermarket, Lohmann went to an abattoir to “cast the negative space” of a cow that had died of natural causes.
This involved removing the internal organs, hanging the animal by its hind legs and pouring plaster into it. “I’ve always been interested in the transition of an animal to the product,” says Lohmann. “The transition point is not the killing, or when you take the organs out – we still have emotions for the animal then. It’s only when it’s cut up that it becomes steak and we feel detached. I wanted to capture this moment of transformation.”
Lohmann made a mould of the plaster cast using fibreglass. She then poured ground slate and resin into it and left it to set, before removing it, polishing it and presenting it as a seat. Despite taking care to keep the shape as close as possible to the inside of a cow, on first view it has the appearance of an abstract form. “You have this organic feeling straight away,” says the German-born designer. “Then you see the shape of the rib cage and you have an inkling. It’s a distinctive animal shape that we aren’t familiar with. Stools are funny objects – they’re the last one to be sat on at a party. You have to engage with this one to know what it’s about.” Lohmann’s previous work includes the Flock chandelier and Ruminant Bloom lamp made from preserved sheep stomachs.
The Lasting Void was commissioned by Galerie Kreo in Paris as part of the Tabourets (Stools) exhibition opening in September. Twelve stools will be made from the mould – all in black to represent the void from which they are cast.
The show features the work of 25 designers including Alessandro Mendini, Andrée Putman and Martin Szekely.