Dutch designer Maarten Baas will present his latest furniture collection, Carapace, at an exhibition opening this week at Carpenters Workshop Gallery in New York.
All of the designs were inspired by “carapace”, which is the scientific term for protective shells found on animals such as beetles and turtles. The notion of creating a hard skin to protect a soft body was the key inspiration behind Baas’ newest line.
“I feel it’s important to have a hard layer under which something good and fruitful can bloom up,” said Baas, whose studio is located on a former farm near Eindhoven. “The works explore the feeling of vulnerability up against the desire for development in the environment.”
Each piece features a patchwork of bronze plating that is dot-welded to form the furniture’s skin. The style draws from a prior collection developed by Baas and his production partner Bas den Herder, in which they covered furniture pieces with coloured car parts.
“Now we have taken it a step further by making it in bronze and steel plates, and using some patina to finish it off,” explained Baas. “It’s a lot of work to make one piece, because every little plate needs to be bent and welded by hand.”
The plump armchair features a cushion upholstered with alpaca wool, while the interior of the cupboard is lined with walnut.
The desk is composed of a blobby cube on one side and a spindly leg on the other. It is topped with leather and features sunken areas for office utensils and equipment.
The show also contains a piece titled Grand Father Clock Self Portrait, which riffs on an earlier work by Baas: the Grandmother Clock, which featured a video of an elderly woman drawing the hands of a clock on a transparent panel. Every minute for 12 hours, she wrote and then erased the time.
The piece evolved into a series called Real Time. For the Carapace exhibition, Baas has created an iteration that features his self portrait on the face of the clock.
Baas graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven in 2002. His breakout pieces were the Smoke chair, which was created by singeing a used piece of furniture with a blowtorch. It evolved into a full collection titled Where There’s Smoke.
Later pieces include the Empty Chair created for Amnesty International, balloon-shaped pendants for Lasvit and a circus-inspired installation meant to serve as a critique of Milan’s design week.
“With each collection, the designer pushes the boundaries of functional sculpture to its absolute limit, fully transcending the borders of art and design,” said the gallery.
His work has been shown at galleries, shows and museums worldwide, including the V&A museum in London, Milan’s Salone del Mobile and the now-shuttered Moss Galley in New York.
Founded in 2006 by childhood friends Julien Lombrail and Loïc Le Gaillard, Carpenters Workshop Gallery showcases work by leading contemporary designers such as Studio Job, Robert Stadler and many others.
The company has two galleries in London and one in Paris, along with a research centre in Roissy, a Parisian suburb.