According to the late Steve Jobs, “Design is not just what it looks like and feels like. Design is how it works.”
I take those words to heart. Since I work in the furniture fabrication and design business, I always do my best to combine the form of high-end design with function for truly unique and captivating results. Each piece of custom-made furniture at my Brooklyn-based business, Upbeat Designs, is carefully handcrafted in our shop to meet both the design and function needs of our clients.
But I’ve wondered — when does design go too far where furniture is more like a piece of art to admire in a museum rather than a functional piece to use on your home?
Interestingly enough, I came across a Pinterest board called “Design and design fails” from Donald McLeman. Based in Scotland, Donald believes that design means to design for humans — it should look great and be usable at the same time. Although the board features beautiful pieces like this LED chandelier and this exquisite “floating” coffee table from BrickerAndBeam, there are some designs that are not very functional at all. Take a look below.
This wooden bow chair from ScandinavianDesign looks like it could perfectly fit into a quaint eclectic-chic living room. But with the armrests and backrest all rolled into one, it doesn’t seem like there’s space for arm movement. Along with the criss-cross design of the backrest, it doesn’t seem like it’s comfortable for your back either. Who would want to sit in this chair?
This Nest Chair by Porky Hefer Design Ph.D. creatively combines her love of nature with art and design. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Porky Hefer’s collection of sitting nook chairs exhibits human-sized nests made from woven plant stalks. Her wildly successful designs have been featured in Dezeen, and she even had a solo show at the R & Company art gallery in Manhattan. Though impressive that their pieces were on display at an art gallery, where do we draw the line between furniture for art and furniture for function?
This Ash and Cane Chair is undoubtedly confusing. Is this a chair that can be sat on? If possible, is it comfortable?
The Evita is an iconic Christopher Guy Harrison dining chair design with a slim, curved tapering backrest reminiscent of the female form. The chair features intricate hand-carved details and his signature Chris-X legs in the back. Fascinated with the elegance intrinsic to French design, Harrison continually redefines the aesthetics of design that’s at the forefront of the luxury furnishings market. But with this very slim backrest, is this a chair that you can imagine yourself dining comfortably in for several hours.
South-Korean sculptor Lila Jang designed this surrealistic sculptural set of drawers and chairs when she was an art student in Paris. Based on classic French designs, these furniture pieces worked well for Lila’s lifestyle since finding pretty furniture that fit her tiny apartment was a challenge. Although it’s a one-of-a-kind set, these designs aren’t suitable for everyone. What’s the purpose of the drawer that elegantly flows out of the desk like a river? Or the chairs with the backrests tilted at an odd angle?
Katie Walker’s Windsor Rocker is not your average rocking chair. Instead of the rocking element in the back of the chair, Walker chose to place it in the front. In fact, you can see the unique process with their video here! The design was on display at Decorex International 2012 in London, which is an annual showcase that displays a hand-picked selection of products for interiors. What is best described as the furniture equivalent of fashion haute couture shows, Decorex International is the ideal place to showcase furniture designs because it paves the way for designs for years to come. But looking at this exquisite chair, is it concerning that one will fall forward when using it?
Although I’m one who admires any and all types of furniture, sometimes I wonder why some furniture is created with its design at the forefront of the mind instead of its function. With Upbeat Designs, you don’t have to sacrifice art for furniture. From a custom wine rack that uses the often ignored space under the stairs to a multi-color desk that combines remnants of wood into a beautiful masterpiece, we love creating pieces that effortlessly and seamlessly blends art with form and function for a piece that will look stunning in your home.
Visit our website to see how you can get a beautiful custom-made piece of furniture in your home today.
Sim Fern is the founder of Upbeat Designs, a Brooklyn-based provider of custom furniture, upholstery, and millwork services for luxury residential and commercial spaces. Sim has always had a passion for furniture, as he’s been working in the business since he was a teenager. What started out as a side job turned into a career for Sim — he’s now transitioned from small projects for homeowners to a wide range of clientele with Upbeat Designs. You can connect with Sim Fern online.