曾經訪問倫敦家具品牌PINCH的設計師Russell Pinch，他認為椅子很重要，因為坐下來代表著稍作停留、放鬆和思考的片刻。假如細心觀察，我們的生活裡總是充斥著大大小小、各式各樣的椅子，好像是街道上殘舊卻放置整齊的椅子，它們被丟棄又被重新拾回，等待著人們的不期而遇，坐下來聊天、休息或是等待，連繫著社區、鄰里的關係。獨立雜誌《Islander島民》 亦以椅子作為主軸，解構坪洲的公共空間與島民的關係，細說人與椅子的關係。
如果梵高畫《高更的椅子》時，心想表達高更離去後的孤獨寂寞，那麼家具設計師會以怎樣的心情去設計椅子呢？椅子雖平凡，卻是一種不可或缺的存在，每一張椅子都有它自己的故事，有些經典的設計更被視為珍貴的藝術收藏品。例如是1929年Ludwig Mies van der Rohe為西班牙國王和王后而設計的Barcelona Chair，皮革與不鏽鋼的結合是實用與優雅的體現、Verner Panton於1960年設計的Panton Chairs則以單一的材質和模具生產，如人體曲線般優美的線條帶來視覺的衝擊，還有1930的Standard Chair、1945年的Eames Plywood Elephant和1970年的Bocca紅唇椅子等都是時代的見證。椅子的藝術，同時代表著坐的藝術；若椅子失去「坐」的功能又代表著甚麼呢？
作為家具設計界的代表品牌Vitra，從50年代至今出品了不少經典的椅子，早前便聯同本地生活時尚精品店Kapok於中環置地廣場設立香港首間Vitra期間限定店，除了帶來重新生產的經典椅子，更把Vitra Design Museum裡的經典椅子以微縮模型的方式重現眼前。當中The Miniatures系列更是包含了整個家具設計工業的歷史——從歷史主義和新藝術運動到巴浩斯和新實用主義，由激進設計、後現代主義等藝術風格一直走到今天。這些迷你椅子是原型的六分之一，按真實比例縮小的同時，亦精確地呈現出原型的結構、物料和顏色，甚至連木材上的自然紋理、螺絲和複雜的手工藝都能高度地還原出來。這使The Miniatures成為受歡迎的收藏品，也是給大學、設計學校和建築師等作為理想的教學或是說明用的工具，讓椅子超越了「坐」這實際的功能，體現另一種「坐的藝術」。此外，期間限定店亦引入不少家居飾品和小型家具來迎合生活空間較小的香港，包括限量版的Eames radio收音機、Artek 124°鏡子和可拆式的Vases Decoupage花瓶等等。即使身處在有限的空間裡，精巧的家具也能擴闊我們對空間、歷史與藝術的想像。
Russell Pinch from the London based furniture company, PINCH, values the importance of chairs. He believes that sitting down allows people to pause and to take a moment to relax and reflect. Take a moment to look around, you will notice that chairs are indeed everywhere. For example, there are these old chairs that were once treasured by their owners but eventually found a new life on the street. They sit neatly under the sun to await for the passersby to sit down to chat, rest and wait. They play a role in connecting people and community. The independent magazine Islander is one among the many others that notice the significance of chairs in public space. In their publications, you can read about how islanders connect and interact in public spaces of Peng Chau where chairs are present.
If sadness and loneliness was the inspiration of Van Gogh’s Gauguin’s Chair, I wonder what inspired a furniture designer to design a chair? Chairs might be seen as an ordinary household item, but they are indispensable. Each chair has its own story and value. Some classic designs are so highly regarded that they are curated as art pieces. For example, the durable and elegant Barcelona Chair designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and made with leather and stainless for the King and Queen of Spain in 1929, the single-form injection-moulded plastic Panton Chairs by Verner Panton in 1960 that echoes the curved outline of a seated human body, and not to mention the Standard Chair from 1930, the Eames Plywood Elephant from 1945, and the Bocca Red Lip Chair from 1970, they are all milestones of chair design.
When you think about chairs, you’d probably think of the act of sitting. But what if a chair fails to serve the “sitting” function? As a major brand in the furniture design industry, Vitra has presented to the world numerous iconic chair designs since the 1950s. Recently, the brand collaborated with Kapok, a local lifestyle boutique, to set up a pop-up store at Landmark in Central. In addition to the showcase of various Vitra classics, the pop-up store also features the Miniatures Collection — a collection of miniature replicas of milestones in furniture design that are also exhibited in the Vitra Design Museum. The collection itself can be described as a summary of the history of industrial furniture design as it covers historicism, art nouveau, new objectivity of Bauhaus, radical design, postmodernism, and all the way up until the present day. The replicas from the collection are all one sixth of the size of the originals. Though true to scale, they replicate the originals to the smallest details possible in terms of construction, material, and colour in a way that the natural grain of the wood, reproduction of screws, and sophisticated craftsmanship involved are all taken into consideration during the reproduction process. The Miniatures Collection is a much sought-after item for collectors, and also an inspiration for design students and practitioners. Chairs no longer serve the sole purpose of “sitting” for they provide insights into history and culture. During the pop-up period, the shore also offers a selection of home accessories and small furniture that are ideal for Hong Kong’s smaller interior space. These include the limited edition Eames radio, Artek 124° mirror, and the detachable Vases Decoupage vase. Bringing a piece of well-curated home product into your household will inspire you to roam free in the vast imagination of space, history and art.
Vitra pop-up at Landmark
Shop B10, Basement, Landmark Atrium, Central, Hong Kong