When design is inspired by the cosmos

“There was a time in the 1960s when people were idealistic, funny and utopian, asserts designer Victoria Magnificent, nostalgic for this golden age of carefree tuning fork of an unbridled imagination. The questions today are of the order of “how are we going to recycle the waste?”, which is unfortunately not very cheerful, does she regret. I believe it is important to learn to dream again if we want to find solutions to current problems.” Applying this principle to her own creations, Victoria, helped by Anthony Authié, the founder of Zyva Studio, recently presented her collection of furniture to the public via interposed prints where consoles, benches and stools were as if planted in tangy extraterrestrial decorations. Follower of this space age 2.0, the genius of 3D was not at its first attempt. With l’artist Charlotte Taylorhe thus relocated the famous Chemosphere House by John Lautner looking like a spaceship, not perched on the heights of the Hollywood Hills in Los Angeles, where it usually defies the laws of gravity, but on top of arid sugar-coated mountains, in front of a disproportionate red Moon.

Photo: Chemosphere House by John Lautner revisited by Anthony Authié and Charlotte Taylor

In the same vein, the creator Andrés Reisinger, who operates at the crossroads of the worlds between physical and digital creations, gives life to images where inflatable, glossy or even downright chimerical furniture fits into anything but earthy plains and interiors disconnected from our reality. “I want those who observe my work to feel a sense of familiarity with what they are experiencing, while at the same time recognizing a strange quirkiness that takes them away from it,” explains the Barcelona-based artist, a great admirer of the sculptor, theoretician and visionary poet Gyula Kosice, to whom we owe in particular “La Ville hydrospatiale”.

When sixties design imagined the future

Artists, architects and designers, imbued with this spatial imagery, have always fantasized about an interstellar future. From the 1950s, at a time when automobiles were adorned with fins and borrowed their features from jet planes, the Googie, Doo-Wop or Jet Age – thearchitecture inspired by the conquest of space – redraws the landscape of the United States of UFO-buildings, including the flying saucer-shaped Theme Building at Los Angeles airport inaugurated in 1961, and a year later, far north in Seattle, the famous Space Needle, literally “needle of space”, which has become the futuristic emblem of the city.

Photo: “Djinn” armchair by Olivier Mourgue

In the sixties, the rise of plastic materials making their ambitions possible, furniture designers freed themselves from the prerequisites and revolutionized shapes, which they preferred generous and curvaceous. Because if, on Earth, everything is linear, the space populated by planets is the realm of the sphere. “However, we must not forget that these curves are born of constraints linked to the demoulding of this material, tempers Xavier Gellier, founder of XXO, a specialist in vintage and contemporary furniture rental. At the time, we did not know how to make angles without breaking the mould, which becomes costly and problematic when we are in a series production logic!” Thus, Maurice Burke’s tulip chairs conquer the “USS Enterprise” from “Star Trek”, and the “Djinn” seats by Olivier Mourguethem, the immaculate vessel of “2001, a Space Odyssey” by Stanley Kubrick. “These designers have finally anchored their furniture in a given, short, and perfectly identifiable period”analyzes Xavier Gellier.

The cosmos, an aesthetic still relevant

Sixty years later, many works are still imbued with this aesthetic. “The representation that we have of space and of life elsewhere than on Earth is still very much rooted in the 60s futurism”, observes Andrés Reisinger. Witness the furniture of the time, from the “Ball Chair” by Eero Aarnio to the “Ovalia Egg Chair” by Henrik Thor-Larsenwhich we find half a century later in the films of science fiction, from “Mars Attacks!” to “Men in Black”. However, it was not by watching Will Smith on a loop in full confinement that Gabrielle Thomassian, the founder of the Villa Arev brand, fed her obsession with nebulae, black holes, comets and other galactic discoveries. Hypnotized by the photographs posted on NASA’s Instagram, she immersed herself in Arte documentaries and in the fantasies of space conveyed by the Space Age. The result ? Spacetrip, its collection of cosmic lights ceramic. “I did a lot of research before offering pieces that belong to me. I have sorted and cataloged an impressive number of photographs, objects and illustrations, in particular of very sexualized space robot women, against the backdrop of lunar, desert landscapes and very charged skies, dotted with stars. and planets, which gave me the idea of ​​projecting pigments with a brush.”

Photo: Villa Arev’s Spacetrip Collection

The young design guard in osmosis with the cosmos

Like her, many designers follow, fascinated, this space race of the 21st century. They raise their eyes to the sky, soak up the magic of a solar system that seems more than ever within our reach. A night in the forest observing stars and planets? Anna Lindgren and Sofia Lagerkvist of the Front studio design the “Starfall” lamp (Moooi), an overturned chandelier that gives the impression of being under a starry sky. An evening spent spotting the constellations in a Bordeaux cottage? Lee Broom imagines his “Crescent” lamps, globes split in their center reminiscent of the crescent moon. “I had never thought of it before this evening but everything I do has to do with light, shining like the sun and the stars. Today, unlike the 1960s, it is less about inventing the future than imagining a more classic and modernist interpretation of space.” Seduced by this spatial aesthetic, Lee Broom had fun, five years ago, staging his “Crescent” in a window of the Bergdorf Goodman store, alongside a tourist in shorts and a diving suit installed on his “ Hanging Hoop” in brass, a tribute to the “Ball Chair” and the Space Age, in a lunar decor on the ground as cottony as cotton candy. The following year, at the Milan Design Week, he stages his “Orion” modular chandeliers, which allow everyone to form their own constellations, during his “Observatory” exhibition, 100% inspired by the solar system. As amazed as children creating their milky way on the ceiling of their rooms with phosphorescent stickers, the designers see further, higher, stronger. Aim for the moon ? It doesn’t scare them.

Photo: “tangled, the Shipping” by 3D designer Andrés Reisinger

Photo: Marco Ghilarducci’s “TX1” lamps for Martinelli Luce

Photo: For Flos, Manuel Carvalho and Nazara Lazaro imagine Patricia Urquiola as an astronaut on her “Almendra” light

Report published in n°539 – February 2023 of Marie Claire Maison

When design is inspired by the cosmos