Design – Practical, essential and humble. These are the values which were revered by Shakers’ culture since the 18th century. Design Within Reach’s Soho store in New York hosts the Furnishing Utopia design collective’s exhibition updating the proto-Modernist design imprint conceived by the nearly extinct religious sect to contemporary habits.
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Ladies & Gentlemen, Norm Architects, Bertjan Pot, Vera & Kyte, Anderssen & Voll and many more international designers reinterpreted the Shakers’ minimalist design approach which took shape long before Ikea, Gio Ponti or George Nakashima were born.
“Since their beginning in 1774, the American Shakers were considered as radical innovators. Credited as the first minimalists, the American Shakers and their furniture have inspired countless modernist and contemporary designers the world over.” Explain at Furnishing Utopia.
Ladies & Gentlemen‘s mobile secretary-style station features a simple fold-down lid concealing a compartmentalized interior optimized for cord, paper, and supply management.
“Inspired by the meticulously organized workstations of the Shakers, we imaged a modern day version considering the versatility and functionality required for a contemporary creative workspace” Explain at L&G.
The One Thing Clock by Ladies & Gentlemen seeks to subtly reframe how time is measured and perceived. A small, repositionable cut-out provides a clear window to a one hour/ ten minute period. This invites people to take that period to do the one thing that’s most important to them personally.
With an aim at elevating the idea of accuracy and precision, the Shaker Measuring tools are inspired by the Shaker’s many handmade implements for making. L&G’s series is intended to display proudly on a modern desk and features intersecting planes of etched aluminum and tinted lucite to find angles, map square lines, and draft circles. The pieces also compact to allow for easy, minimal transport.
“Inspired by the playful multi-color patterns on Shaker chair seats, our stool seeks to celebrate the inherent beauty of this basic technique by isolating it as a central design element”. By extending the pattern to adjacent faces, new color combinations emerged as a welcomed by-product that enhanced the effect of the pattern and colors.
Fold Utensils are handmade from a simple sheet of metal creased at the handle, which can double as a funnel if turned the other way. The utensils can also easily nest amongst themselves for easy storage. The simple forms are optimized for sheet cutting with little waste and can be proportioned endlessly to create tools for various uses from desert spoons to dust pans.
Furnishing Utopia is a collective that hosts workshops, stewards design projects, and exhibitions aiming to engage a dialogue on how Shaker values and craft inform and enrich contemporary design.
All images: courtesy of Ladies & Gentlemen.
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