Chen Chen & Kai Williams / kinder MODERN / PULSE Miami Beach 2016
The great designers of the twentieth century bestowed upon the world much more than a simple compendium of beautiful furniture. Each designer’s forward-thinking and, indeed, radical work marked the history of design so strongly that contemporary designers often carry impressions of this work within them, manifesting in new and thrilling ways as designers of the twenty-first century strive to make their own imprint on design—historically, emotionally, and physically.
kinder MODERN, in a PULSE Prize nominated exhibition blending the lines of art and design, has commissioned dynamic design team Chen Chen & Kai Williams to investigate the lasting legacy of historical child design through their ingenious material-based contemporary lens. Using innovative manufacturing approaches, the duo explores the physical connection between the past and the present, examining and reinterpreting the joinery found in child design of the twentieth century. In these two contrasting collections of one-of-a-kind studio prototypes, Chen and Williams manipulate two completely different materials: hard, single sheet fiberglass and soft, multi-layered compressed homasote. Through these unique functional furniture series the intricate joinery is thrown into stark relief, inviting the viewer to more deeply investigate these often overlooked details and, most importantly, contemplate the future of child design. Chen and Williams have seamlessly melded iconic details and contemporary flair in these heirlooms for a new generation, asking us to consider art, design, history, influence, and pedagogy all while enjoying the functional and historical references in this series of chairs, shelving and storage. kinder MODERN is thrilled to engage, support, and motivate these illuminations in design for our youngest generation and the families who love them.
Chen Chen & Kai Williams for kinder MODERN
"Our starting point is always material. The materials in this project; homasote and fiberglass sheets, are not normally designed to be seen or touched. However, molded fiberglass chairs with steel frames were a mid century icon, so we decided to use the flat panels of fiberglass to create new forms. Additionally, we really wanted to channel some of original detailing of the pieces in the kinder MODERN collection. We accomplished this by casting our own shock mounts, using bronze braising instead of more typical welding, and machining our own hardware." - Chen Chen & Kai Williams
Chen Chen and Kai Williams are a New York-based designers pushing material limits in the development and creation of furniture, products, and materials. Their work has been featured at the Museum of Art and Design, Design Days Dubai, and the Venice Architecture Biennale. Chen and Williams produce a broad spectrum of unique studio pieces and are known for their extensive material exploration, range, and nonstandard production methods.
Chen Chen and Kai Williams for kinder MODERN was inspired by traditional modernist design education, which began in the post-kindergarten era, as avant-garde designers created new forms in furniture and toys, hoping to stimulate imaginations and create the society of the future by playing with line, plane, and volume. Additionally, their own formal training at the prestigious Pratt Institute, their daily studio experimentation practice, and Williams parents' original production of a homasote chair for a museum show on design for living all influenced the collection directly. With this experimental collection of their own, Chen and Williams expose and examine the original handcraft and distinct forms that have shaped the material world of today’s child.