Thursday, August 26, 2010

Very Varied

I'd noticed Studio JSPR some years ago because of their Plastic Fantastic line. Since then, I've come to be most impressed with how diverse their talents are. In other words, their different projects are individually very cool but also brilliant in very different ways from one another.

Plastic Fantastic is this stuff:

They're traditional looking pieces of furniture, no doubt replicas of antiques. But JSPR has coated them entirely in polyurethane rubber, so in addition to the vibrant, even shocking colors, they're perfectly fine outdoors. I absolutely love this idea. There's something almost surreal about the vision of that antique sofa, bright white, sitting outside on your lawn as a piece of outdoor furniture. Unlike plastic, the rubber allows them to be soft under your behind, unlike metal they won't rust, and unlike fabric mesh they won't be a haven for mildew.

I wanted to go the opposite direction, as well. I imagined the pieces in wholly realistic colors: brown hardware like wood and cushions painted to look like upholstery. I love the idea of seeing an ordinary chair out in the backyard, especially if guests can see it in a rainstorm and think it's being ruined, when it's actually made of rubber and completely fine.

Evidently the first rubber coat is fibrous, so it won't work with stencils. The last colored layer can take stencils. In fact, JSPR has used such a technique to add logos to pieces for hotels and situations like that. They pointed out, though, that with these pieces I've shown, because of the shapes, stenciling is very time consuming and difficult and works far better on their more modern Minimal line, which has more flat surfaces. Nonetheless, I'd assume it would be just as easy to give one of them a custom paint job as it would with any other piece of furniture.

The next project I found very cool is their Cover Tiles. It's a series of ceramic tiles that expose the plumbing in your bathroom.

This idea is just so awesome. I actually do have an exposed pipe in my bathroom, but it happens to be for the steam heat. We've all seen those old bathrooms with the exposed plumbing, though. To me, this is just the perfect, most elegant solution to that. It makes something we're normally inclined to want to hide into a design gesture, perhaps even a hindrance into an asset.

A matte black bathroom could be very chic. It might also be a little depressing or maybe just a bit too 1980s for my taste. These tiles are also offered in white, which I fear might look a bit utilitarian. I may be at risk of sounding like a broken record, but I'd love to see these in more traditional colors and patterns, even something that hints at being Victorian, for instance. I guess that's just my own aesthetic, but I definitely think it could emphasize the unorthodox, informal quality of the tiles if, in contrast, it appeared they were trying to be very formal, indeed. An upcoming post will give me additional opportunity to force my opinions on tile down your throat.

I also wish they were a bit more accommodating to using one's own plumbing fixtures.

Not only can the choice of fixtures be a significant design element in a bathroom, where the location of water sources is pretty much the most important feature of the room, but people also tend to be very picky about their water flow. Some insist on saving water, others want needles of water to scour themselves, yet others want a hand-held shower head for those hard-to-reach body parts.

This year at the ICFF, they unveiled something as different from these last two items as they are from each other. It's a number of steel and glass cases for all your treasured belongings.

Now that's interesting enough, mostly as a result of the giant glass dome on top. When they group a bunch of cases together, though, it becomes something really remarkable.

They look like some dusty old British natural history museum in the 1870s, but like you're looking at it through a kaleidoscope. Really wonderful. As in some of their press shots, the cases seem to be begging for fossilized or taxidermied animals to display. But that's what makes this so perfect for a collection of something else, whatever your passion might be.

Let's imagine something really, really awful, how about?

After you've recovered from all the violent Cute-induced vomiting, the cases would make you stop and think, "Wait a there something special about this horrifying Precious Moments figurine that I should be seeing? Why is it displayed so beautifully? Was it a one-off piece now worth hundreds of thousands of dollars? Was it painted by Francesco Clemente working his way through college? What's going on here?" And for a collection of less sickening art objects, even better. I'd also like to see these cases not free-standing on the floor, but custom built into a wall, with different shapes projecting out of it and exquisitely lit by sharp points of halogen light. I'm not sure if JSPR does custom work like that, but I'm sure if you lived in the Netherlands, they'd consider it for the right price.

©2010, Ryan Witte

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