Thursday, October 9, 2008

ghost chair featured in new york apartment

The Ghost Chair in its living room setting, plan view (above) and perspective (below).

In his latest makeover project for The Oprah Winfrey Show, designer Nate Berkus specified a Phillipe Starck Ghost Chair for the New York apartment of Rosalyn and James Schneider, on Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park. The Schneiders, she a corporate attorney, he a certified public accountant, entertain in the apartment each weekend and the living room space is the focal point for that activity. Berkus placed the Ghost Chair in front of the streaming light of the window to celebrate its translucency all the while tying the historic lines of the chair to the eclectic interior he pulled together from the Schneider’s collection and a few, key new pieces. The floating quality of the Ghost Chair stands as a foil for the grounded club chairs and heavier furniture in the room. Following the Schneiders interest in twentieth-century design, Berkus also placed an Eames Wire-Base Table (ca. 1950) at the end of a Bantam Sofa (2004). The Eames table shows Ray and Charles Eames’ fascination with all "fantastic things being made of wire," which led them to develop a mass-production technique for simultaneously welding wire rods. Their work yielded many other breakthrough products--including wire chairs, storage units, and elliptical tables. ( The sofa borrows on the machine-based Modernism that emerged in the 1930s, linking this style to Art Deco motifs. In all, Berkus’ efforts reflect one current trend of contemporary design for a nostalgic re-mix of design styles from before and including the early twentieth century.

As a result, the Ghost Chair occupies an important function in the room in bridging the eighteenth century to the twentieth, harkening back yet looking forward. The medium is plastic, a new material that speaks to consumer behavior of the later twentieth century and the twenty-first where people increasingly desire home furnishings that fit comfortably into mixed environments stylistically. The plastic is as much about transparency in troubling times politically…with this chair there is no question about how it is made. As a result, its honesty in craft and its clean lines remind one of the Bauhaus where there was significant experimentation with new materials and technologies spurred on by the machine. Also linking to the Bauhaus ideal of “good design for all,” the Ghost Chair remains in an affordable range ($410) over its much higher priced upholstered, wood counterpart. The notable difference in a comparison with the Bauhaus is that Phillipe Starck is making a tongue-in-cheek political remark about the state of world politics…we borrow from the past but we do it in a slick and stream lined way to remind us that we are related to the past but not part of it.

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