12-19-2011 15:52
Nature meets science in Laarman¡¯s furniture

Joris Laarman¡¯s ¡°Forest Table¡± / Courtesy of the artist and Kukje Gallery

By Kwon Mee-yoo

Chairs resembling the shape of bones, a bridge-shaped table and tables with tree-shaped legs; these are all created by Joris Laarman, 32, a young designer from the Netherlands.

Twenty-three pieces of Laarman¡¯s representative and new works are being exhibited at Kukje Gallery in Sagan-dong, Seoul, for his first solo exhibition here.

Fluid yet complicated lines of his furniture might conjure up images of science fiction movies, but Laarman¡¯s futuristic design is practical for its original purpose as well. Each artwork might look similar, but they all have different lines and shapes.

¡°Bone Chair,¡± which was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Arts¡¯s (MoMA) ¡°Design and the Elastic Mind¡± in 2008, is not made from bones. However, it is a result of watching the growing process of bones combined with state-of-the-art technology.

The Dutch designer calls his studio a ¡°lab.¡± The Joris Laarman Lab, with seven engineers and 3D technicians, is the home of such digitally crafted works.

Laarman uses computer programs to create an algorithm based on the original ratio of the growth of a bone or tree, which was originally used in the German auto-making industry. ¡°Bone grows by absorbing organic matter and I reflect such material in my works,¡± the artist said.

He created a computer program that could design ideal furniture by inputting the size of each part and weight of the user. In this way, the program will make a chair with optimized allocation of material and maximum stability with a minimum process. There is no weld line in Laarman¡¯s works as each piece is made by a single mold.

He also showed interest in developing new materials for his works. ¡°Bridge Table¡± is made from aluminum and tungsten carbide, while ¡°Bone Chaise¡± is made from a polyurethane-based resin, with the shape changing slightly depending on the body temperature of the person sitting on it.

More tables are exhibited on the second floor. ¡°Leaf Table¡± is a circular table with a hole in the center. Laarman said he used another type of software to re-create the pattern of leaves.

¡°Though the furniture seems organic, it follows the algorithm I created,¡± he said.

For the ¡°Forest Table¡± series, each table top has slightly different patterns. ¡°The algorithm used for this table is based on cell division and resulted in different shapes.¡± The legs of ¡°Forest Table¡± resemble trunks and branches of trees.

Though his works are closely related to nature, he said it was not intended. ¡°If a chair or table comes out from nature of its own accord, it might look like this. In other words, it¡¯s evolution,¡± Laarman said.

He believes in the possibility of creating a hybrid model combining high technology and artisanship.

¡°If scientists utilize artists¡¯ creativity and free will and artists make good use of scientific rules and technology, it will result in excellence,¡± Laarman said.

Laarman graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven with a cum laude and his work can be found in major collections including MoMA in New York, Centre Pompidou in Paris and Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam.

The interesting works of Laarman are on display at the gallery through Jan. 20.

For more information, visit www.kukjegallery.com or call (02) 735-8449.