Pump­ing up the vol­umes

From fur­nish­ings with heft to beau­ti­fully blocky build­ings, over­sized forms and in­flated geom­e­try are driv­ing a ma­jor move­ment

Azure - - TREND REPORT - _E.P.

The di­rec­tive to “go big or go home” is usu­ally fol­lowed by an im­petu­ous leap of faith, an act in­volv­ing risk and even fail­ure. But the de­sign world’s bud­ding em­brace of mon­u­men­tal­ism is noth­ing if not thought­ful, re­flect­ing a de­sire to re-ex­plore pure vol­umes (cylin­ders, cubes, pyra­mids) to max­i­mum ef­fect and in ways that meet the needs of to­day. Take the 22 Dwellings Hous­ing Block de­signed in Barcelona not long ago by MAIO Ar­chi­tects, a home­grown firm. The ground floor is made up of mas­sive, multi-hued forms whose role is more than cer­e­mo­nial. Each out­sized slab, cylin­der and cir­cle has a func­tion – shel­ter­ing a door­way, fram­ing a stair­case – that its vo­lu­mi­nous­ness ad­dresses both boldly and ef­fec­tively. With 22 Dwellings, a project that com­bines artistry and do­mes­tic­ity with rare skill, the ar­chi­tects seem to be telling the world: “Go big and go home.” It’s a mes­sage that’s res­onat­ing. Among this year’s new fur­ni­ture re­leases, Agapecasa’s Loico shelv­ing (an­chored by sturdy mar­ble col­umns) and Egg Col­lec­tive’s Isla cof­fee ta­ble (as chunky as it is charm­ing) are chips off the new block­i­ness. GRT Ar­chi­tects’ Flutes & Reeds tile col­lec­tion for Hun­gary’s Kaza Con­crete, mean­while, plays with trompe l’oeil ef­fects by in­flat­ing and re­peat­ing lozenge mo­tifs to cre­ate wild cross-sec­tional mash-ups. The in­creas­ing ex­per­i­men­ta­tion with over­grown forms speaks, well, vol­umes about where de­sign is headed: The at­ten­tion to shape and scale goes hand in hand with a re­turn to hon­est ma­te­rial pal­ettes – stone, con­crete, steel – and with a re­fresh­ing aes­thetic ide­al­ism. Nowhere is this clearer than in the In­sta­gram ac­count of Cape Town dig­i­tal artist Alexis Christodoulou, who cre­ates imag­i­nary spa­ces com­posed of neo­clas­si­cal shapes in pas­tel hues. The tableaux feel time­less and dreamy yet ut­terly con­vinc­ing, like de Chirico paint­ings for our mod­ern mo­ment. When a trend goes meta in this way, it has cap­tured the zeit­geist as well as hearts and minds. This one will only grow larger.

ABOVE LEFT AND RIGHT: Egg Col­lec­tive’s Nutty magazine rack and Isla cof­fee ta­ble are part of the New York stu­dio’s lat­est fur­ni­ture ex­plo­rations.

LEFT: De­signed by Ál­varo Siza, the Capela do Monte chapel in Por­tu­gal’s Al­garve re­gion is a clean-lined ode to mon­u­men­tal­ism.

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