If you ever happen to visit the stunning Seattle Public Library or the brilliant new Wily Theater in Dallas, you might love the architecture—but you'll be sitting your butt on furniture designed by Belgian firm Quinze and Milan. They're a favorite among architects, because they create furniture that looks like it could actually be buildings. But they make mass-produced furniture as well, and they've sent Fast Company a preview of the pieces they'll be showing off in next week's Milan Furniture Fair.
Above: What might be the most intriguing piece in the collection: Atoll, a multi-person lounge, designed by French architects Jakob+Marfarlane. The piece has two separate threads of inspiration: First, it's meant to be a miniature riff on a building they just completed in Lyon, which features "hollowed out" sections. And second, it resembles topological maps. It's the first in a series of pieces that will create a modular "landscape" of furniture. (How's it feel? The piece is actually made of Q&M's trademark foam, which holds its shape over time but its quite comfy to the touch.)
Below: You might have already seen the uber-goofy sofa they designed as a promo for Eastpak, a backpack company that's lately been itchy to amp up its hipster bona fides.
Below, the One Leg Down stool by Søren Rose, which was inspired by chopping blocks. Rose wanted to add the maximum amount of visual interest with the least amount of material waste—hence the single sliver or corian and the funky sloped bottom, which makes the piece more interesting in the round:
Here, the Shrub Table by Chinese designer Zhili Liu. The branching of the legs actually allows weight on the tabletop to be distributed more uniformly—thus allowing the legs themselves to be far thinner:
The first furniture piece produced by KiBiSi—a Danish group co-founded by Bjarke Ingels and Jens Martin Skibsted. The Tripart chair was inspired by a conversation with Chris Bangle, a BMW designer who speculated that one day, cars might use folding rather than bolting and welding to save energy, materials, and fabrication costs. The Tripart was an attempt to make a chair out of the fewest parts possible:
American designers don't often get asked to design for hip European firms like Quinze and Milan, but an exception is Marc Thorpe, who designed the Embrace bench, which allows multiple people to sit facing either way, without the bulk of your usual monolithic design: The BWI sofa, designed by Büro Wehberg, has a bottom cushion that can be swapped out for different colors, and an extended arm that serves as an end table: