Washington Collection by David Adjaye 15.05.14

  • The aluminium Skeleton Chair

  • Adjaye chose the colour palette of the Skin chair

  • Adjaye chose the colour palette of the Skin chair

  • Adjaye chose the colour palette of the Skin chair

Architect David Adjaye has designed his first furniture range for American manufacturer Knoll

David Adjaye has had numerous invitations by the very best brands to design furniture. He shares a studio with Yves Behar in New York, and a few years ago in Milan, at the launch of his friend’s Sayl Chair for Herman Miller, he admitted to being tempted.

“You’ll see these chairs absolutely everywhere in a few years,’ he said admiringly of Behar’s creation. “You’ll be so sick of them.” Adjaye has designed bespoke pieces of furniture in the past – including an integrated concrete sofa for a domestic project and exterior seating for Waddesdon Manor – and thinks of furniture design as “a testing ground for architecture”.

But the Washington Collection, designed for American furniture manufacturer Knoll, and intended for the home and office, represents his first foray into the mass market. “The Washington Collection is an investigation into form, materials, balance and weight,” he says.

“I wanted to create furniture that is both playful and beautiful – appearing light yet also expressing monumentality … Sometimes what you think will work as the final product becomes an investigation – a kind of experiment. You know instantly that
it ultimately won’t work, but it is part of the story and I have a real delight in the samples, the mock-ups and the sketches. It is an amazing luxury to be able to manipulate and sculpt – at full scale – as you go along. This is something you can’t do with buildings.”

The Washington Collection consists of a club chair, an ottoman, a side and coffee table, and two cantilevered chairs with distinctive forked legs. The Skeleton chair is constructed from die-cast aluminium and the Skin chair in injection-moulded nylon. The former features a lattice pattern not dissimilar to the Bouroullec’s 2008 Vegetal Chair; the latter’s solid, swishing plastic profile is reminiscent of Verner Panton’s famous 1960 S-shaped chair. Adjaye has recently completed two libraries in Washington and his National Museum of African American History and Culture broke ground in February 2012. 

“For me, the context [of my furniture designs] was the work I am currently doing in Washington,” he says. “The connections are not linear – but there is a narrative about skin, form and structure that is manifested in the collection. It has been very important to respond faithfully to this moment, this current focus in my career. I strongly believe that architecture or design should have integrity within the context of its own time. This is what gives it an enduring relevance.” 

 

Words

Giuseppe Trentino

quotes story

It is an amazing luxury to be able to manipulate and sculpt – at full scale – as you go along. This is something you can’t do with buildings

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