When Christopher Stuart, the product designer behind the studio LUUR, was invited to exhibit at the Sight Unseen Offsite during NYCxDesign last year, he wasn’t sure which of his products to show–so he ended up bringing almost all of them. His geometric steel U Bench turned out to be the hit. After being picked up by New York gallery The Future Perfect, Stuart says the $8,000 piece has sold “incredibly well” for his studio over the last year.
When he sat down this year to work on new pieces that picked up where the U Bench left off, he ran into familiar problems with his rendering software. “I came across these glitches that had always been there and I’d always been annoyed by,” Stuart says. But instead of working around the small errors, he decided to expose them. Working within these mistakes became the concept for his new series, Constructs & Glitches, that debuted during 2016 NYCxDesign last week.
The collection is composed of two “Glitch” pieces–a space age-y blackened steel desk and a more abstract copper piece–and a “Constructs” series of two sculptural tables and a bench. In the “Constructs” series, the two Chamfer tables are heavy, geometric, and metal, while the Zig Zag bench is sleek, cool, and mirrored. All of the pieces are more artistic than functional, each its own gorgeous distortion of the typical furniture form.
To design the collection, Stuart began by experimenting with the glitches in his Rhino software to develop new forms. For example, he might start out with the shape of a cube and then assign the design a fillet–an engineering term that refers to the rounding of an interior or exterior corner–on each side. Unable to make make the geometry perfect, the program produces a tiny, barely recognizable flat spot, or glitch. (Stuart says there is engineering software that wouldn’t create this glitch but their design capabilities aren’t as good.) Instead of correcting it, Stuart “peels away at the layers,” leaving it more exposed. Once he has the look he wants, he edits the pieces for functionality.
Once a source of perpetual annoyance, glitches have opened up an entirely new way to design and think about furniture for Stuart. He says manipulating the software errors has even become common practice for him–more systematic than experimental. “I’m noticing it’s starting to become a little more of a tool for me,” he says. And just like any other aspect of furniture, “people are going to request a glitch in a certain size.”