Co.Design

A Regal But Wacky Throne, Made From Discarded Plastic Trash

Suitcases, bowls, and detergent bottles form an altar to mass-produced objects.

"Innovation, invention, and beauty can emerge from anywhere, even the most familiar, ordinary and everyday," says Jay Sae Jung Oh, the young designer behind Savage Chair—though "chair" is a bit of a misnomer. "Throne" may be more accurate.

Savage Chair is a cobbled together collection of mass-produced objects wrapped in a precisely woven layer of jute string, woven from plant fiber. Teapots, rocking chairs, and utensils are frozen in a flurry of motion around a plastic lawn chair, which is the sole functional element of the sculpture. "The concept came from a desire to transform industrial, mass produced objects into new hand-made, high-value entities," Oh explains. "These discarded items represent industrial society, and a conflict arises when they’re wrapped in the natural fibers of jute." It’s as though a tornado has barreled through the home furnishing section at Target, and the artist has captured the mess in perpetual motion.

"It’s about creating allure from waste," Oh tells Co.Design. The South Korea-born artist is a 2011 MFA graduate of Detroit’s Cranbrook Academy of Art, a school with a reputation for producing artists who are sharply critical of consumer culture. Oh is fascinated by the transformation of industrial objects into ornament. One piece, Satin Bunch Tray, is made from voluminous folds of resin that look like discarded packaging. In a recent sculpture series, she uses bronze plumbing piping to affect the shape of a rose. The idea, she says, is to "reconsider the ordinary and find value in these products reborn."

"This conflict is the comment," adds Oh, sounding like a long lost cousin to Marshall McLuhan. Savage Chair has been added to Cranbrook’s permanent collection. More work from Oh can be found on her website.

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