Neale Whitaker: On the best ways to pull up a seat
LEADING CREATIVES REIMAGINE A DESIGN CLASSIC FOR CHARITY
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. The Chairity Project’s online auction closes at 9pm (AEDT) on Nov 27; cultdesign.com.au. Neale Whitaker is editor-in-chief of Vogue Living.