Design, for all its problem solving and world changing, can be a bit heady sometimes. When form and function align it’s a beautiful thing, but is it fun? Funny? Should it be? The Bangkok-based trio behind 56th Studio—Napawan, Saran Yen, and Atirotj—bring quirk to their work in heaping helpings, and their latest collection explores the connection between illustration and design, featuring TV’s most famous fictional family. "We are trying to prove that it’s not just about grabbing a pen to draw; it can also be something very much in between," Saran tells Co.Design. "Humor and the foolishness of pop culture seem to be a perfect subject to communicate."
The "luxurious and elegant" silhouettes of the Simpsons clan become seats in Caricature as…Furniture, but Saran—whose Cheap Ass Elites series was shown at the Spazio Rossana Orlandi during Milan’s Design Week—actually sites Grace Jones as more of an inspiration than the long-running show, which he cops to not actually watching too often. "We would like to believe that our approach to objects is as daring as Grace herself to the world of music, performance art, and entertainment," he says. "We want to be the most unique Bond girl in the design world—speaking metaphorically, of course." (They’ve paid tribute to their muse with a knitted pillow, which you can purchase in their webshop if you are similarly enchanted.)
Though it might seem that there’s not much room in the market for such high levels of whimsy, spontaneity accounts for a lot when it comes to spending money on unconventional items. "We discovered that, most of the time, people purchase things impulsively and on a whim, especially when it comes to decorative products. The reason behind it is that they feel connected somehow with the products or objects they are buying and they feel that the products belong to them. We want to produce objects of affection that people ‘get.’"
Covering such a niche means attracting fans drawn to their seriously playful take on products, which has set them up for some unique commissions. "One of our clients from NYC is asking us to design a caricature chair of his grandma as a present for her 80th birthday," he says. "Of course we are more than happy to, and it is going to be much cooler than going to Times Square to have the portrait painted."