Soft Baroque, ‘Bench, New Surface Strategies’, 2015, Etage Projects
Soft Baroque, ‘Bench, New Surface Strategies’, 2015, Etage Projects

Renderings are becoming more diabolic and sophisticated, representations of reality are appearing in higher resolution. Meanwhile in the real world thin skins wrap cheap composites to imply value, these imitations, often of the natural, are functional fictions. New Surface Strategies is a visual system that examines infinite digital capacity versus the real world. Flexibility of digital imaging allows surface references to fade in and out, without the burden and expense of manual labour. Out of the blue, the digital skin enables the surface to absorb different material identities.

The southern yellow pine planks of a uniform dimension are flocked chroma blue to make a pre-finished material, which is cut and assembled together. This type of construction is a reference to Gerrit Rietveld, Enzo Mari and other lo-fi plank wizards, but it is soft and plush, padding out modernism’s sharp corners. By keying out the blue colour, the surface of the furniture can be digitally substituted for another surface input. A live camera feed displays the chairs with altered surface textures applied to deceive the eye. Surface exists indifferently from the physical material and can be more finely tuned to commercial feedback loops.

New Surface Strategies was exhibited during Design Week in Milan 2015.

About Soft Baroque

Working at the intersection of art and design, Soft Baroque is the collaborative practice of Nicholas Gardner and Saša Štucin, both of whom graduated from the Royal College of Art in 2013. The refined, simplified forms of their works reflect principles of midcentury design, but the pieces also veer toward conceptual territory by evoking the malleability of how objects are seen and mediated today. For the visual system titled New Surface Strategies, the London-based duo produces blue textiles and modernist-style furniture, the latter of which is made of simple plywood forms. The blue functions less as a fixed color and more as a skin on which different textures and patterns can be projected, suggesting that the object is both physical and digital.