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For One Young Grad, Design Is Child’s Play

Erik Stehman’s furniture is inspired by childhood toys–from stuffed animals to balloon animals.

erik stehmann

Erik Stehmann, a recent design-school graduate, thinks design takes itself too seriously–the fun has been sucked out of the room, but a bunch of stiff-limbed jerks in black. So instead, he creates objects using techniques inspired by kid’s toys.

Balloon animals are a particular fascination. For his Tube Chair, he experimented with them for months, looking for ways to recreate their shapes in other materials. Eventually, he hit upon the idea of wire coated in foam and upholstery. The chairs are made by bending and twisting, just like that creepy clown did at your sixth birthday:

erik stehmann

His Inflating Lights puff and breath like cuddly living things. Tiny photovoltaics are used to power ventillators; when you turn on the light, the shade puffs up with air. Turn it off, and it sags and deflates:

erik stehmann

This one looks a whole lot like telephones you made out of two cans and a string, or like those suction cups that Inspector Gadget used to scale buildings. But it’s actually a coat hanger–you just afix each suction cup to the wall.

erik stehmann

You know those beads that fill stuffed animals? Here, a lamp created by filling sealed cotton shapes with expanding foam–creating what looks like a cuddly kid’s toy:

erik stehmann-

For more pics and projects, check out Design Milk.

About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.



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