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Stunning Modern Totems Strive To Be “Ultimate Object”

If Man Ray and Ettore Sottsass had collaborated on an oversize chess set, the pieces would probably resemble Axel Brechensbauer’s sculptures: abstract geometric shapes done up in bright colors and garnished with a little whimsy.

But Brechensbauer’s pieces aren’t a game — despite what a banana on wheels might lead you to think. In fact, they stem from some deep thought: “I’m influenced by our relation with nature and our obsession to be different from her,” the Barcelona-based artist says. “All my pieces are about how we believe that our intellect is better than evolution.” How can you improve nature’s perfectly portable fruit? By putting it on wheels.

Brechensbauer builds the structures according to exacting blueprints and drawings, often spending “endless hours” crafting the shapes by hand from a mixture of wood, steel, and resin. Some parts are then sent to a bronze foundry to be cast. It’s a stark departure from Brechensbauer’s former career as a product designer working on everything from sunglasses to astronaut equipment. “At some point, I realized how technology or physical function is dictating the surface of everything that is designed,” Brechensbauer says. “This is how I took the step into pure shapes, aiming for the ultimate object.”