Founded by Maxim Scherbakov, Supaform is a Russian-based studio that focuses on the interplay between product and spatial design. Working mainly with interiors and custom-made furniture, the studio’s purpose is to think between the disciplines, combining sculpture and painting with design and architecture to produce visionary pieces that can liven up any situation – particularly in the office.
The studio’s latest release, the Apart chair, which was created specifically for the New York design show Sight Unseen Offsite this May, falls into this category. Visually, it is reminiscent of the Russian avant-garde of the early 20th century, a movement which was stopped by the Soviet regime in the early 1920s, causing many modern artists to leave their native country.
Echoing this, the inspiration for its design lies in expressing feelings for foreign lands. “That is why the chair is called ‘Apart’,” explains Scherbakov. “But it also sounds like ‘apartment chair’” – its more literal approach.
These allusions are inspired by the designer’s individual perception of reality, as he aims to “catch the feeling” of certain combinations of form and composition. “Shapes and textures are everywhere around us. So I’m looking for the references in the moment, or a second when something strange comes to my eyes or my imagination,” he explains. “The main inspiration behind the Apart chair was thus the feeling of the piece which is located in the foreign land.”
In this sense, the Apart chair’s design stemmed purely from a conceptual idea. But Scherbakov explains how this is the case with his entire creative process: “My favourite technique is to draw before design, and then it grows into 3D imaginary spaces. Some of my pieces were made from imaginary interiors.”
He describes the Apart chair as “a story”, explaining that it is “not just a regular and ergonomic chair”. This is because of the way in which the user interacts with it, and the specific manner in which you sit, he says.
“The history of the chair is complemented by the fact that its design and structural components were formulated by taking into account that it should fit into a usual suitcase, and then move to New York,” he explains.
The awareness of space is fully integrated into the design of the chair, both physically and conceptually. Not only could you imagine its colourful counterparts broken down, placed into a luggage carrier and shipped overseas, but it’s also poetically referencing the notion of moving from space to space – the feeling of belonging and location.
Scherbakov concludes: “The Apart chair points to my previous methods of creation and ways of thinking, but its process and the result should be captivating and spectacular.”
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Seating Special: The Russian avant-garde curves of Supaform’s Apart chair tell a story of art and exile, says designer Maxim Scherbakov