Recession Chair Pokes Designers For Living Under A Rock

Frank Tjepkema's Recession Chair makes a statement about design's obliviousness to the economic crisis.

In October 2011, designer Frank Tjepkema (a.k.a. Tjep) attended Dutch Design Week. "I was struck by how little the design world seems to react to the immanent economic crisis threatening Europe and the world," he says.

In an effort to make up for his colleagues’ deficiencies, Tjep created the Recession Chair. Starting with an Ikea chair—we think it’s a Lanni—Tjep took a sander to it, "sanding it to the finest possible version."

"The resulting object is barely functional as it most likely wont withstand the weight of the person it’s trying to support," says Tjep, "much like a society plagued by recession." The chair, in other words, is no longer a mass-produced cheap artifact, now it’s a one of a kind hand-sanded spindly objet-d’art, exquisitely non-functional except as a statement.

But as statements about design and excess go, I find myself more drawn to Ore.e Ref.'s call to stop designing chairs altogether.

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  • ber

    I like the idea that he took an IKEA chair - a very middle class brand if you will - to visualize the erosion of that class caused by the crisis. But the result is potentially sold in a gallery - and can become something of a luxury object only available to those at the top of the food chain. Which conceptually would fit as well.

    But is creating art the solution for designers? How effective in tackling issues have been posters about - let's say - poverty in Africa? I assume most designers are aware of the contradictions they live with. I wonder if creating just another artifact stating the (more or less) obvious solves that.

    PS: note to the fc-developers - the text input field cuts off some on the right side.

  • Otmar Fronondos

    It's not only Designers that are not responding to the banking crisis. It is more that designers do not stand up for the responsibility and power they have to make a real difference in this world. Whether through a statement, or a true functional renewable invention, most of the designers are still consumerist society enablers selling out talent and intellect for the persuasion of impule driven  consu-marionettes. Time for a change?...check Design Observer  John Tackara...

    United Nature.