ICON - DONALD JUDD, CHAIR #84/5
Guglielmo Poletti

In reflecting on form on the base of a context, art can represent an important field of contamination for design, which might open up deeper insights. How does functionality influence the way we perceive a specific work? I have always been inspired by American artist Donald Judd, especially by the relation between his objects of art and the functional furniture. He once stated: 

'If a chair or a building is not functional, if it appears to be only art, it is ridiculous.’ 

Is functionality the only aspect which might distinguish design from art? In such cases, form is often a consequence of specific needs, while in Judd’s pieces it seems to originate mainly from his artistic vocabulary, his furniture being very close to his sculptures. 

Starting from these considerations, I played with one of Judd’s chairs, model #84/5, appropriating it in order to question the value of form and function through different variations. From a rougher functional construction to non-functional ones, like a cardboard version, re-thought by way of an opposite language for wich I found inspiration from the artist Thomas Hirschhorn. 

A steel outline recreates the original proportions but breaks the design’s rigidity by being very shaky. Finally I made an exact copy of the original plywood chair, and laid it horizontally on a base, thus recalling the similarities with Judd’s artworks. How does a small shift change our understanding of a straight forward object like a chair, meant to ‘just be what it is’, in comparison to works of art, generally characterized by a much more layered narrative? 


First year project, 2014-2015