What would domestic interiors be like if they were deprived of furniture? This and other intriguing questions are posed by award-winning Austrian designer Robert Stadler.
There’s nothing typical or ordinary about a Robert Stadler product. Every design is a surprise. Every installation makes you think twice, look again. And even after twenty years in the business, this award-winning creative genius shows no sign of reigning in the horses of his imagination.
Stadler was born in Vienna, Austria in 1966. He studied design in Milan and Paris following which he founded the RADI Designers group in 1992. The group was active until 2008. Since then, Stadler lives and works solo in Paris. His work is represented by various international brands including Dior, Maison Thierry Costes, Nissan and Thonet.
Stadler’s work encompasses very different fields ranging from art installations, product design, limited edition furniture and lighting. His furniture, for example, is perfectly functional, yet not out of place in a museum.
One of his early works, Do Cut (2000) takes the shape of an “abstract totem with no obvious purpose”. The product comes with a saw so that “the user can decide which object – a stool, a lampshade, or a vase – will appear when the hollow column is cut”. Do Cut gives a new meaning to DIY, for sure.
Part of the ‘Plate series, the Low Table and Cheese Plate (2001) is reminiscent of traditional pottery work. Stadler and his team “distorted, cut and stuck together pressed plates–standard pottery objects – before firing them. This is the origin of a family of containers that are hybrid in terms of the way they are made: they are both ‘handmade’ and ‘machine made’.
What would domestic interiors be like if they were deprived of furniture? The ‘Pools and Poufs’ series takes the traditional Chesterfield sofas and turns them into three dimensional furniture. Affixed to walls or free-standing, these pieces look like they’re melting, or ready to slide off.
They look like drops of water left after a thunder shower. Similarly, the Monochrome series plays with traditional shapes as well. In this case, quilting is used only where necessary, to help the leather mould itself to the shape of the furniture.
The Cut Paste series takes discarded marble and aluminium panels and creates usable furniture from them. The console tables, bookshelves and coffee tables are geometric beauties and you’d never guess that these are recycled.
The re-usability of a piece is also reflected in the Apart stool/table (2015) where the table can be transformed into a stool, using the wall as a backrest.
The Alquimista is cosy and makes you want to snuggle up under its warmth. Made by Coopa Roca, an association of seamstresses in Rocinha, (Rio de Janeiro), all the materials used come from suppliers who provide material for the Carnival parades. “The gold-coloured aluminium reflector produces a particularly soft light, creating a peaceful space below it.”
The EVAA lamp (2011) was created for low ceilings, in a bid to avoid in-built spotlights as they make a room look “anonymous”. EVAA is inspired by metal grilles traditionally seen in front of fluorescent lights. Think of street lights in India, for example. The twist, literally, is in the shape of the grill. The EVAA is convex, “giving extra volume to the spotlight and muting the light by minimising the direct angle of vision towards the light source.”
The PdT is another example of this reuse. “PdT stands for Pierre de taille (Ashlar) in French. It refers to a traditional way of making architecture following a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) process. Here blocks of stone left over from an imaginary building site seem to have worn down to new shapes on a domestic scale: melancholic traces of an architectural past. These limestone remnants are carved out by a digitally controlled milling machine.”
Stadler’s installations are also remarkable and full of little details. ‘Back in 5 min’ plays with the various time shifts and anachronisms of places which used to be full of life and are now frozen into a museum space.
Robert Stadler’s current philosophy is ‘Invasive Shifting Absurd Exercise’ where all his works are grouped within these four notions and appearing in different percentages. In an interview to design publication Artemest, Stadler explains, “A certain project can be 63% invasive, 11 % shifting and 36% absurd for example. This classification is an absurd exercise in itself, yet done with utmost seriousness. It’s my self-portrait.”
Absurd exercises can have some unusual results and one can almost guarantee that Robert Stadler’s new ‘self-portrait’ will be as intriguing and exciting as all his previous work has been.
Text By Chryselle D’Silva Dias
Photographs Courtesy The Designer