‘Pixélisée’ armchair, 2008
THIS CHAIR, WITH its juddering visual references to photography offset by its palpable interest in materials, is as intriguing today as when it was first created in 2008. That year, the Dutch designer Jurgen Bey, born in 1965, filled the entire Brussels gallery of Pierre Bergé & Associés with his project ‘Witness Flat’, of which this armchair is one element. All the pieces of furniture were constructed from offcuts of white wood stapled back together in the shape of traditional pieces of furniture, then minimally upholstered with felt and wool, in ironic, diagrammatic homage to a classic form and the elaborate craft of furniture construction. Bey called the process, “poor couture”, in teasing reference to Pierre Bergé’s role as co-founder of the Yves Saint Laurent couture house, and life-partner of the fashion designer. He said at the time, “This kind of assignment is totally new for all the partners that are involved.”
That being said, this was a project that amply reflected the ambition of Studio Makkink & Bey, cofounded by Bey and architect Rianne Makkink in 2002, to work between architecture, interior design and product design. Both Makkink and Bey – who studied at the Design Academy Eindhoven and was a member of the radical design collective Droog – share an interest in analysing the relationships between people and things in space. The apartment, transformed by the installation of the series of extraordinary objects, became a witness to their vision. The pixelated objects seem to have emerged from a process of hazy image retrieval, almost like ghosts, as if from a photographic archive of archetypal furniture. The title, ‘Witness Flat’, also made comic allusion to the flat pack culture of putting things together roughly out of cheap materials – although the extremity of the imagination involved in the pieces owed more to haute couture. Bey later reported of the impact of this very free and open collaboration with Pierre Bergé & Associés: “Where usually I have a very clear concept in mind, this time I was experiencing a new adventure. It was a discovery trip that only gradually revealed itself, slowly, while the project took shape.”
This chair is in the CTMP Design Auction, the contemporary collectible design auction by Cambi Casa d’Aste in collaboration with Milan-based creative agency Mr. Lawrence. The sale will take place on Tuesday 14th September, in Milan.
‘Pixélisée’ armchair, 2008, is lot No 70 (estimate €5,000 – €6,500) in the CTMP Design Auction.
A selection of the 160 objects from the sale will be on view at the Cambi headquarters in via San Marco 22, open to the public from the 5th to the 18th of September 2021 as part of Milan Design Week and Art Week.