konstantin grcic discusses the extension of his ‘mingx’ collection in wood for driade
the extension of the ‘mingx’ collection for driade is completed in wood
designboom (DB): can you tell us briefly about the work you’re presenting for driade at salone del mobile?
konstantin grcic (KG): I’m presenting a very small project, which is a wooden table that belongs to the set of chairs we launched last year. I like that project from last year — a kind of reinterpretation of a chinese chair. a wooden chair, in china, is the typology of the chair. it includes a lot of interesting, structural details that are transformed into decorative elements. I was always fascinated by that for many years. some of the historic masterpieces are so good that I feel you are not allowed to touch them, because you would only make a fool of yourself.
the wooden variation has been presented at salone del mobile 2017
KG (continued): the transformation of the original wooden construction into a metal construction allowed a kind of interpretation. we changed it completely, but kept some of the structural logic of the original chair. I think you can have a picture in your mind of a traditional chinese chair — the very beautifully crafted chair, one that you can hardly industrialize, because it’s so complex. but with a tubular style and laser cut sheet metal, it becomes a totally industrialized process. I think for me, that was the key conception of the chair. we did a table last year to match the chair with a metal structure, but we realized it was a bit hard. that’s why, now adding the wooden table to the metal chairs creates an interesting contrast.
the series was first envisioned as a series of seats, stools and tables made in a thin, tubular metal framework
KG (continued): it balances it in a nice way, especially if you haven’t tried the chair — please do try it, because it’s very comfortable…more comfortable than you think it is! we had a problem with the arm chair: when you pushed it against the table, the arms would always hit the hard metal edge of the table. you could say a real ‘design fault’ that we had to solve. I think the wood solves it in a very easy way because the wood has a soft edge, so when it hits the arms, it’s not a problem any more.
the pieces draw from ancient chinese culture and furniture techniques
DB: this is a continued experimentation then?
KG: yes — design, in a way, is never finished. you make something, and you learn from mistakes, it’s part of the process. mistakes are not bad. I think second and third chances are really important. that’s what we did here.
DB: was there a lot of experimentation in terms of shape, and how they were drawn from the chinese culture?
KG: yes. whenever there are projects like that — where there is a strong reference — we have to approach it in a very respectful way. I think it’s only if I truly understand what the original is, why it is so good, can I make an interventional change to it. I think it’s like people who play music — people who do interpretations of classical music have to be able to understand the original, then you can improvise over it. it’s a similar thing here. the new interpretation has to make sure that the original is not questioned in any way. we still hold it up on a pedestal.
DB: can you tell us about the important design details you incorporated into the table?
KG: if you look at the leg and the corner there — the corner is the critical element of the table, because you’re joining the vertical leg into the horizontal plane or the frame. making the leg bigger at that point gives you more meat or material to make a strong joint. I think that’s exactly what the chinese understood, and making that enlargement is actually part of the form. now imagine the same table without that thicker part at the top — it’s a very generic table. it’s also a nice table, but that structural detail gives it its character and form, and I think that’s why its successful.
KG (continued): the leg construction — there’s also another element to it. we have made this table in a way that you can dismantle the legs for flat packaging and shipment, which I think is a real issue of today. it’s about an economy of space in the warehouse, and the ecology of shipping something. I think this is a huge issue that we have to address as designers and find a solution that makes that possible without showing it. you don’t want this table to look like you can detach the legs, but it’s hidden in there in the strong joint of the leg. it makes that possible, but without shouting it aloud.
DB: what kind of space would you love to see this table in?
KG: for me it’s a very modern space. just because this takes reference from the chinese doesn’t mean we have to put chinese decoration around it. for me, it goes into a really modern, minimalist environment. it could be a dining table, it could be an interesting table in an office, or a desk for working on. that’s how I see it.