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Functional art, or artful furniture? 8 sculptural creations

In a wide variety of shapes and lines, yet equal in their supreme craftsmanship, we look at eight pieces of sculptural furniture that turn your living and working spaces into an art gallery.

Functional art, or artful furniture? 8 sculptural creations

Hortensia Armchair from Moooi.

Furniture can be an array of things, practical to sublime, generic or unique. But the true eye-catchers lie within those that take a sculptural form, filled with evocative imagination. Sculptural furniture blurs the lines between art and function, coalescing into what can be known as functional art.

From the extravagant showcases of the 2022 Salone Del Mobile to compelling Australian creations, we’ve curated eight sculptural furniture pieces that serve your spaces in practical, iridescent and sometimes bizarrely beautiful ways. 

1. Dislocation Coffee Table by Remodern

Remodern’s Buzao Dislocation coffee table in Menes Gold, photography courtesy of Remodern.

A modernisation of marble is one way to describe Remodern’s Buzao Dislocation Collection. From a square side table, a round side table, and a coffee table, Dislocation challenges the concepts and expectations of what marble should do.

By inserting a single synthetic colour element, Dislocation challenges the luxurious expectations of what marble can be. It is a collection of contrasts; rounded, prolific marble in Menes Gold and Black Marquina, yet the sharp blue element circles in the marble. While conflicting, it instead presents a stunning amalgamation of organic and synthetic styles. 

2. Hortensia Armchair by Moooi

Hortensia Armchair, photography courtesy of Moooi.

Blooming into the collective consciousness with its unique process is the Hortensia armchair by Andrés Reisinger and Júlia Esqué. The laser-cut fabric has been pieced together in such a way that the chair appears to flutter, while the form beneath offers a supportive and well-cushioned base.  

Andres Reisinger says, “I created the texture as a digital thing. It had absolutely nothing to do with the physical. So we had to define it; what was the texture and sensory feeling we wanted in real life? We did it with words at first and described how it looked like a flower that probably would be fuzzy.”

3. Pratone Forever from Living Edge

Pratone Forever, at EDITION exhibition, Sydney Contemporary 2022, photography by Sebastian Photography.

While it may not look like it, this eye-catching piece by Pratone (celebrating its 50th year) is a chair! Being a symbol of ‘anti-design’, the chair recalls the outside world with its long green stalks, and soft fabrics. And with unlimited dimesons of seating possibilities, the chair subverts all the expectations in lounging, comfort, art and furniture.

The fact that Pratone Forever works as a statement piece, as well as a functional chair, is a remarkable design success. Check out Living Edge’s recent exhibition featuring Pratone Forever at Sydney Contemporary.

4. Waffle by Furnished Forever

Waffle by Furnished Forever, photography by Haydn Cattach.

Effectively a grid within a grid, Furnished Forever’s latest design reveals repeated structural elements that deliver a rectilinear sculptural form. Here, the straight, smooth timber lines are met with the softly curved profile within the grid of upholstery.

Defining the style with clean lines, crisp geometry and a restricted colour palette, Bastianon’s focus is on hand skills and material exploration. At the same time, Linssen’s industrial design background leans towards production and commercial viability.

These complementing skillsets have merged into a furniture collection that floats between commercial application and crafted detailing.

5. Big Friendly by Doweljones

Big Friendly by CJ Anderson.

Never has there been a name more suited to a sofa. Big Friendly, designed by Queenslander, CJ Anderson, has a comic playfulness that engages both the eye in humorous quirks yet unmatched comfort for such a sofa. 

Its bold shapes and rich colours beautifully enrich the surrounding environment and, with oversized proportions, invites you to take a seat with a smile. And an exposed seam running down the back breaks the form into distinct sections – the colour combinations and bulbous properties are certainly niche but one of the most aesthetically amusing pieces around. 

6. Zappa by Barbera

Zappa table, photography by Paul Barbera.

Zappa is a stark contrast to the global trend toward inexpensive, flat pack and ubiquitous homewares and furnishings.

It’s a low table for interior/exterior use made from dichroic glass and sand-cast bronze. It responds to a growing desire for play and expression, and at its core, Zappa is a bold statement born of small batch production and the willingness to experiment.

The table, shortlisted for INDE.Awards’ The Object, unifies these two materials in a departure from an established design language, signalling a deep-rooted attachment to bronze and its ancient history, an affinity for modernity and a dash of fun.

7. New Wave Collection by Studio Cober

A rarity in all forms, from materiality to aesthetics, comes Studio Cober’s New Wave Collection. The collection includes a new resin coffee table, an impressively large dining table made using black fibreglass, a large sculptural wall fixture, a dining chair, and fibreglass wall shelves.

Made on request, each piece is individually built and hand-shaped by Lukas Cober. With every bespoke piece, Cober remains open to the possibility of new details which might reveal themselves as part of the process.

After combining the shapes and removing material for smooth transitions and organic contours, the layers of fibreglass unfold in rhythmic lines, and the shapes reveal themselves like silhouettes against the surface.

8. Nyotaimori (Reclining Nude) by Sanné Mestrom, at Sullivan + Strumpf

Nyotaimori (Reclining Nude) by Sanné Mestrom, 2021, photography by Mark Pokorny.

Taking the term sculptural furniture to the next level is Sanné Mestrom’s Nyotaimori (Reclining Nude), a centrepiece of Mestrom’s exhibition Body as Verb. Abstract and curved forms that imply an outspread of a body, the brutalist concrete surface acts as a sculpture and a dining table. Its evocative design is almost as conceptual as Mestrom’s process.

At the Salone del Mobile, Mestrom says about the process of Nyotaimori: “I was working on this body of work for about a year and a half, and I felt like I was moving through a fog; things were slowly coming into view as I was forming them. I had to let go of certain pieces I was working on and pick up others. 

“I didn’t know where I was going, but I would feel my way through, and that’s when I knew I was moving in the right direction, even though I didn’t know what the outcome would be. It was walking through a labyrinth in the fog and slowly finding my way.” 

Exhibition view of Sanné Mestrom, Body as Verb, 2021, Sullivan+Strumpf, photography by Mark Pokorny.

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