‘Chair I’, 2021
“UNLIKE MANY OTHER materials I’m drawn to – like stone, wood, or plaster – clay can so easily be twisted and almost turned inside out to create shapes it would have been hard to envision, but that almost create themselves,” ceramicist Simone Bodmer-Turner reflects. “I would love to learn how to create similar shapes in other mediums, but clay does the thinking for you, purely based on its constitution.” The young Brooklyn-based artist has made waves in the past few years with her particular brand of biomorphism – especially with her ‘Bridge-Handled’, ‘Ros’ and ‘Stav’ vessels. Her latest venture has been to create chairs. Developed with New York-based design manufacturer and gallery Matter, ‘Chair I’ is the first in a series of furnishings she hopes to debut next year.
Although the type of expressive amoebic aesthetic the chair reflects has become increasingly popular, Bodmer-Turner’s output stands apart. Her intuitively formed, yet meticulously constructed, designs demonstrate a rigorous mastery of this malleable material and her fundamental understanding of architectonics. “When I first started making sculpture, I was largely inspired by organic architecture,” she reflects. “My first attempts centred on wrapping clay around three-dimensional forms rather than building the structures themselves.” Bodmer-Turner goes so far as to imagine these creations as miniature prototypes of buildings that could be activated by human activity, “tiny figures sliding down planes or [lounging] on ledges jutting out of the surfaces.”
“Transitioning to furniture was kind of zeroing in on these smaller moments and scaling them up to a form that a human could actually perch on,” she adds. “As I like to play with balance and asymmetry, stability is always a challenge.” ‘Chair I’, produced in white and black finishes, is indicative of Bodmer-Turner’s considered and distilled style but represents a departure in terms of her exploration of new applications.
“’Chair I’ is all about the unexpected delight of using an object and interacting with a material – especially one that reads as so hard and impenetrable,” the ceramicist concludes. “The collection is playful. It references crude toys and simple learning machines like abacuses. It conjures the small worlds of imaginary fairies and very real bugs I constructed with Fimo as a child. But it also comes from the vague and visceral memories I have of my first interactions with objects. Everything [in this collection] will be functional, but it’s more interactive than the way that contemporary design thinks of smoothly oiled functionality.”