nendo’s 50 Manga-Inspired Chairs Prepare to Descend Upon New York

This past April, Japanese design studio nendo debuted a series of 50 chairs in Milan, Italy. In September, the manga-inspired series crosses the Atlantic for its U.S. debut at Friedman Benda in New York.

Like distinctive chords in a song, the idiosyncratic chair sculptures range in tone from austere and somber to humorous and playful, each contributing to a complex, layered concerto. Many of the pieces possess life-like qualities that push the limits of furniture. One chair’s front legs bend, as if the piece is ambling away. Another piece has two armlike appendages that slouch down, drowsily, to touch the floor.

The series, made in editions of three, depicts a wide range of ideas about how functional and nonfunctional furniture can utilize space. Constructed from aluminum and treated with a high-polish finish, each chair is intensely reflective. Depending on the viewer’s vantage point, this sheen allows the line drawing–like sculptures to accentuate certain angles.

One chair lunges forward into space, held back only by a smaller version of itself. Some pieces recoil and turn inward, while others project outward in dramatic angles. Charming, eye-catching details abound: Curvy, cloudlike shapes crop up, as do cartoonish explosions that look a pow! drawn on a page.

“There are so many small ‘!’ moments hidden in our everyday,” nendo’s founder, Oki Sato, has said. With these bold, flashy forms, those exclamation-worthy moments take on lives of their own.


—Anna Furman


nendo: 50 Manga Chairs” is on view at Friedman Benda, New York, Sept. 8–Oct.15, 2016.

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