Pull up a seat


Sunday Herald Sun - Stellar - - Living - The Chair­ity Project’s online auc­tion closes at 9pm (AEDT) on Nov 27; cult­de­sign.com.au. Neale Whi­taker is edi­tor-in-chief of

Ceci n’est pas une pipe,” wrote artist René Magritte be­neath his fa­mous paint­ing of a smoker’s pipe. He was right, of course. It wasn’t a pipe, it was a paint­ing. And with­out go­ing all sur­re­al­ist on you, the same might be said of a chair that be­comes an art­work. Or, to put it an­other way, when is a chair not a chair?

The ques­tion doesn’t faze Richard Mu­nao, founder of fur­ni­ture re­tailer Cult, who launched the third an­nual Chair­ity Project this week. “It’s a brief with­out lim­its,” he says. “Giv­ing back to the com­mu­nity is im­por­tant to Cult, so we came up with an an­nual ini­tia­tive that al­lows us to do it in a creative way.”

Six­teen Aus­tralian de­sign­ers have been in­vited to rein­ter­pret an ex­ist­ing de­sign to raise funds for a char­ity of their choice. And this year, in­stead of choos­ing a mid-cen­tury clas­sic, the Cult team chose what Mu­nao de­scribes as a “fu­ture clas­sic” – the Of­fic­ina chair, de­signed in 2014 by the revered French Bouroul­lec broth­ers for Ital­ian man­u­fac­turer Magis.

“The Of­fic­ina has all the hall­marks of an icon,” ex­plains Mu­nao. “It’s time­less and univer­sal.” Hard to rein­ter­pret you might think, but then the creative types ris­ing to that chal­lenge read like a roll­call of our top de­sign brass. There are Mel­bourne stars like Fiona Lynch, Miriam Fan­ning, Christo­pher Boots and Adam Cor­nish. Team Syd­ney in­cludes Adam Goodrum, Henry Wil­son, Arent&pyke, Tracey Deep, Bassike, and Louise Olsen and Stephen Or­mandy of Di­nosaur De­signs.

To date, Chair­ity (which in­vites the pub­lic to bid on the chairs via an online auc­tion) has raised more than $75,000 for the de­sign­ers’ nom­i­nated char­i­ties. This year’s ben­e­fi­cia­ries in­clude Be­yond Blue, Na­tional Breast Can­cer Foun­da­tion, RUOK, Sur­faid, World Wildlife Fund and the Asy­lum Seeker Re­source Cen­tre.

Each of the 16 de­signs is ex­cep­tional, but I can’t go past Goodrum’s minia­ture ver­sions of the Of­fic­ina chair, which is 3D-printed in ster­ling sil­ver to cre­ate a bracelet and ear­rings. Syd­ney de­sign stu­dio We Are Tri­ibe has ir­re­sistibly re­worked the chair in wood and rat­tan, while the Mel­bourne sis­ters of Stu­dio Twocan have reimag­ined it as a twoseater with a kan­ga­roo-leather back­rest.

“Our cre­atives re­sponded well to this year’s curve­ball,” says Mu­nao, “de­spite the added stress that the Bouroul­lecs are very likely to see the re­sults!”

No pres­sure, then.

SIT­TING PRETTY Chair de­signs from (clock­wise from above) We Are Tri­ibe’s Jes­sica Ste­wart (left) and Christina Symes; Bassike; Mika Ut­zon Popov; and Adam Goodrum.

1. BASSIKE throw, $420, bassike.com 2. MUUTO cof­fee maker, $175, livingedge.com.au 3. BRUMBY by Nick Leary, $70, all ma­jor book­stores

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