Friday, December 7, 2007

Products Schmoducts

Here's another company I really truly love, called CITIZEN:Citizen out of San Francisco.  To this day it's some of the smartest work I've seen.

I featured them in my first coverage of the International Contemporary Furniture Fair in @home seattle, and they liked so much what I said, they mentioned me on their blog, saying I "gave a really intelligent review" and that they "wish there was more intelligent critique out there."

Please don't take this to mean I'm bragging, although I do think I know my business.  More than that, because I truly respect this group of designers, I was extremely, sincerely flattered that they liked so much what I wrote.  I was really happy with the article, too.

Here's what I said:

            San Francisco’s CITIZEN:Citizen is a fascinating group of designers whose work may more closely resemble conceptual art or art objects than conventional furniture or housewares. In proper context their pieces could be amazing conversation openers. In other cases, they’re ridiculous extravagances that serve only to make a thoughtful or humorous statement about consumerism, consumption, and product value.



Take their coffee tables as an example. Unit #3 Monochrome is a glass box that looks like a paint bomb exploded inside it. The duality here is probably between the sloppy mess on the inside and the smooth, clean, glossy surface of the glass on the outside. Unit #3 White is the same glass table, but filled with down. Here we seem to be talking about a soft, natural, warm material encased uselessly inside a cold, hard synthetic one. And the last one, Unit Ice, is the same table, but made out of ice, which they sell in a limited edition for $3,000. I think it’s hilarious. And it did occur to me that if your private ski lodge has an outdoor hot tub, you could use this one safely for at least several months or so out on the back deck. Just don’t put your coffee cup on it. This one has to be set up by C:C on a custom, case-by-case basis.


            Then there are the equally amusing and thought-provoking housewares. Rug #1 is glossy black urethane but is intended to look like the one thing you’d least like to see on your floor: a big puddle of crude oil. It’s true, too: I wouldn’t even know how to begin cleaning that up. Another rug, The Lovers, is also urethane. This one is sort of romantic, but very morbid at the same time. Each of the two halves of it is made of 4.8 liters of red urethane, the exact volume of blood contained in the average human body.  And a dozen roses? How sweet!

            Their Aalto Doorstop is cast inside one of the pinnacles of 20th-Century design, the Savoy vase by Alvar Aalto. Unfortunately, in order to remove the cast cement from the vase, the vase has to be completely destroyed. Something tells me they’re not using original vases from 1936, but even replicas of them go for around $110. The irony of paying homage to a master by destroying his work I think is delicious.


Making a similar statement about consumption and value are their candles. It’s a classic candlestick and candle, all made of wax but sold for $72. The manufacture of these pieces is somewhat intensive, but the price makes this interesting. If it were the price of a regular candle, say, $15 or so, you could say, “Cool, a candlestick candle!” But at over four times that price, it’s more like you’re buying a fairly nice candlestick only to burn it down—consume it—with the candle it’s holding.


[Here was a paragraph about their totally Surrealist and awesome vases, which needed to be edited out for page space.  You can see them on their website.  Also check out their coke spoons: they're hilariously Pop, but I didn't think the readership would appreciate them, particularly.]


[The Ballastic Rose corsage is made of bulletproof textile, so you give it to your lover to wear over his/her heart, in case s/he gets shot at.  LOL]   Just one more thing for the lovers that I truly thought was so romantic. Hidden Eternity is a gold ring with a single .75 karat diamond hidden on the inside. Only you and your significant other will know how much the ring is really worth.


©2006, Ryan Witte

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