OMA takes on furniture

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OMA and Knoll Unveil Furniture Worthy Of Dr. No – Rem Koolhaas’ architectural firm OMA has teamed with furniture maker Knoll to produce a line called Tools for Life.  Knoll is known for enlisting famous architects and designers for furniture ideas, and tapped Koolhaas as part of its 75th anniversary celebrations.

Here’s what Knoll says in its press release:

“Tools for Life” offers a contemporary interface between furniture and people, supporting the ebb and flow of work and social life, while adjusting to the different needs of both.  …

At the core of the collection is Koolhaas’s belief that furniture should be understood as a high-performance tool rather than a design statement.

“I want to talk about work and not the office—the distinction being that today people work everywhere,” added Benjamin Pardo, Knoll design director. “With that in mind, the OMA pieces are more kinetic than static: many are easily adjustable so that with changes in height, adjacency and degree of privacy, almost any space can be transformed to a place of work.”

Here’s part of the commentary by one of the great bloggers on Fast Company’s Co.Design, talking about

…the OMA-bred notion of “cake pan architecture,” where you throw a bunch of different programs and functions into a pan and see what shape they form. This is where OMA really shines: in taking incredibly complex systems and engineering them into big, powerful forms, as they did with CCTV in Beijing and the Seattle Public Library.

The problem with applying that ethos to furniture is simple: The body isn’t as spatially complex as the modern superstructure (or at least it isn’t in OMA’s conception of it). So instead of a marvel of engineering, we get interesting but simplistic ideas about kinesthesia–perhaps because there isn’t much complexity to dig into here.


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