Bodybuilding—and the extreme forms of body modification that go with it—is a perplexing subculture to many of us. For Dutch designer Rutger de Regt, it provided the conceptual framework for a series of amorphous chairs that walk the line between performance art and design.
To create Happy Misfits, de Regt straps a balloon full of styrofoam pebbles to a platform. Then, he manipulates the shape of the rubbery orb by altering it with industrial-strength winches. As he divides and subdivides each subsequent blob, we start to see a form emerge—a stool, say, or an armchair. Finally, he cauterizes the contents of the balloon and removes the straps. In one video, he demonstrates the process in front of a video of bodybuilders—a dramatic touch that drives the comparison home with flair.
The project won honors as de Regt’s graduation project at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in the Hague. He writes that the series mimics "people who manipulate their body, in search for symmetry, mass, and definition." Though really, the end results remind us more of people who come by those traits falsely, with fake six-pack tans and contraptions like this.
De Regt joins a number of other Dutch designers working with aleatoric processes—meaning that chance, or randomness, play a role in their work. For example, Jólan van der Wiel’s chairs are made by manipulating iron shards with a strong magnet. And Maarten Baas, one of the jurists who nominated de Regt for graduation honors, is known for torching pieces of wooden furniture and coating the results in a clear epoxy.
Check out more of de Regt’s work on his website.