Kepler 186f Messaging Chair

Art Design Award Winner.
Awarded Silver for Good Arts, Crafts and Ready-Made Design.

Kepler 186f Messaging Chair
by Alexandr Strepetov

  • Awarded April 15, 2019
  • CLIENT: Alexandr Strepetov
  • 903

Structural basis of Kepler-186f arm-chair is a griddle, soldered from a steel wire to which the elements carved from the oak are fastened with the help of brass sleeves. Various options of armature use combine in harmony with wooden carving and jewelers elements. This art-object represents an experiment in which different aesthetic principles are combined. It could be described as "Barbaric or New Baroque" in which the rough and the exquisite forms are combined. As a result of improvisation, the Kepler became multilayered, enveloped with the subtexts and new details.

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Kepler 186f Messaging Chair

Good Design

Great Design by Alexandr Strepetov

Kepler 186f Messaging Chair

Great Design by Alexandr Strepetov

Inspirational Messaging Chair Design

Kepler 186f Messaging Chair

Inspirational Messaging Chair Design

Kepler 186f Messaging Chair Image

Kepler 186f Messaging Chair

Kepler 186f Messaging Chair Image

Kepler 186f Messaging Chair

Alexandr Strepetov

Designer of Kepler 186f Messaging Chair


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Interview with Alexandr Strepetov on Kepler 186f Messaging Chair

What is the main principle, idea and inspiration behind your design?
The main principle was the creation of this object working only with one drawing. The style of this drawing determines all possible developments and the elements of the object. Different parts, their styles have nothing in common but the drawing. The idea was to make furniture using the sculptural forms of the armature. I wanted to find a natural synthesis of the armature with wood, painting, clothes and brass… I wanted to create an unexpected, festive, magic object as if it arrived to the Earth from a different world. A half of the century ago the futurologists promised that the planets around the Earth would be populated and by now the flights in between of the stars would become a routine. As reality demonstrates those expectations were overoptimistic. Yet is there any chance for us to have a look into this promised fantastic future, to feel that wonderful different world? To answer this question I’ll tell you a small story. An artist from our workshop very colourfully and emotionally told me about his exhibition that took place very long time ago. In particular, he discussed one of his pictures, its composition, subject and all other details. After a long time he started making this picture anew. What was very interesting – after my colleague’s old emotional story I could imagine and discuss all details of his picture as if I had seen it myself at the exhibition. So in fact the colourful story of my friend just destroyed for me a border in between of reality and my imagination. Only when I tried “to remember” the small details of the picture I had several variants and could not exactly choose one of them. It reminded me that the exhibition happened before even I was born. Yet if a colleague had been discussed every detail I would have claimed that this picture is the one I had seen somewhere. The other words, in order to become, at least for a moment, a witness of inter-star space shuttles that we see in the films and books about the future, it can be enough just to have some details from that world: perhaps boots from the centre of our galaxy, a table sent from Jupiter by fax with a use of 3d printer or Kepler chair presented by the creatures from that planet to a space tourist.
What has been your main focus in designing this work? Especially what did you want to achieve?
I’ve been making experiments trying to combine various technics and forms. I was looking for new ways in my works. I wanted to present a special feeling of amazement and joy, to make a surprising memorable object as if delivered by a fantasy novel heroes from a different planet. Yet I was thinking not about a knick-knack or a souvenir but something practical and useful in our daily matters.
What are your future plans for this award winning design?
Kepler 186f is my improvisation. It can be varied; it has a certain indefinite character. It is possible, if someone is interested, to develop a more laconic and strict design based on Kepler 186f. One may find out more perfect forms of its parts, to better synchronize the rhythm of its armature or even to completely get rid of the armature. It is possible to develop the idea of Kepler with the other objects made in a more strict style adopted at the minimalist surroundings. However it is quite possible on the basis of Kepler to develop more fanciful objects, which would look more like pieces of art. They would less have in common with Kepler in style but more with new efficient and unique decisions.
Why did you design this particular concept? Was this design commissioned or did you decide to pursuit an inspiration?
When I was making a lamp for my friend’s desk I did not have any other commitments. I had spare time and was making experiments with various ideas. The idea of the Kepler armchair emerged just at that time. This idea overwhelmed me completely. I even stopped doing anything else before finishing up my Kepler.
Is your design being produced or used by another company, or do you plan to sell or lease the production rights or do you intent to produce your work yourself?
At the moment my design is not used in production by anyone. If I receive an offer I would be happy to sell it to a production company. I – individually or with a team - can also develop this design in various objects or products. Yet I will not make another exact copy of Kepler - 186f myself.
What made you design this particular type of work?
It has happened in a natural way. Once I was going to make a model of a small sculpture on the motifs of one of my almost abstract graphic work. I decided to make a wire frame. I did not even notice when this frame turned into a self-sufficient object. It would be sad to cover it with paper and plasticine. I felt that it was just producing new ideas. I played with its shadow and in half an hour I saw a future back of an armchair Kepler-186f. I could find a good angle, made a picture, used a Paint programme to draw a colourful back and something like wooden elbow-rests. The idea on the upper side of the chair emerged very quickly. When I started working on Kepler I just wanted to make its model 1x3. Yet in the end I’ve decided to make details bigger, in a natural size. I would like to add some words about the choice of wire. Several years ago I worked on various lamps making models from paper and drawing something. Yet when I started using wire for the models I felt as if I was on “American mountains”. It seemed that the material throws you to new ideas with a great power.
Where there any other designs and/or designers that helped the influence the design of your work?
I unfortunately cannot remember (and could not find in internet the objects and the authors) those who influenced my decisions while working on Kepler. I can only approximately tell what I recall. Several years ago I found an album on furniture design at a bookstore and noticed an interesting decision for a joint of loading platform with a table leg with a use of a brass module. The table was white and perhaps from a period of 1930s. It was made and is located in the US. It is likely that my choice of Kepler’s brass joints is connected with that memory. When I had modeled preliminary replicas of the carved legs of the Kepler armchair they had round-shaped extensions that were getting more narrow. And as a result at least one of the legs look like an anatomic model of a human heart. In order to avoid those unnecessary associations I recalled something from contemporary design of jewelries. It used the aesthetics of various simple castes including those of square forms with no inserted stones. A lady jeweler created this design most likely from the USA. The idea of the brass sphere just in the middle of the back of the armchair was inspired by the experiments with jewelries of my senior colleague in our workshop artist Andrei Efimov. The ancient Vikings’ styles Broa and Mammen affected one of the elbow-rests with interweave ornament.
Who is the target customer for his design?
The article Kepler – 186f that I have presented for this competition can be interesting first of all for the collectors. Yet I clearly see that it is possible using the same methods as in the armchair Kepler to make another model with more simple, laconic and democratic design for both individual and public spaces. This more democratic version would likely be interesting for private persons and for institutions.
What sets this design apart from other similar or resembling concepts?
It is perhaps a natural combination of jeweler’s technics, of sophisticated carving, of painting and needle-work with the solid steel “architectural” fittings - all in one object.
How did you come up with the name for this design? What does it mean?
I could not find an appropriate name for quite a while. In the end the features of the armchairs’ design and my associations encouraged me to compare my object with Exoplanet Kepler-186f. Kepler-186f is the first identified planet of the same size as the Earth outside our Sun system. It is within the sphere of its’ own star where life is theoretically possible. From one side the Kepler armchair reflects the description of a remote planet or a drawing that an artist delivered to our world after his travel to a world unknown. Indeed the Kepler armchair is one of those objects, which image I took from my draft. From the other side the possibility of life on the Kepler planet reflects the “liveliness”, “presence of a living soul” in the armchair. This object is a result of improvisation.
What is the most unique aspect of your design?
If we talk about the chair Kepler – 186f then it is a hand made and very precise job in various aspects from the beginning till the end. I think that what is particularly important in the Kepler’s design is the logic of the making of the form in its greatest freedom. It presents an opportunity to model new forms again and again. It is like moist clay from which one can make many different objects. It is like a crossroad from which one can start his way to any direction that he likes. And still one can return to this crossroad to take a way very different.
Who did you collaborate with for this design? Did you work with people with technical / specialized skills?
Yes, I requested some help. First, I was helped to glue drafts of oak details for carving. In my workshop it would be difficult to reach a high quality in this joining. Then, according to my recommendations and using my drafts an artist on costumes Olga Teben’kova sewed a cover for a seat and a soft back of the armchair. However, an initial logic of the composition was slightly disturbed. Yet this minor inaccuracy suddenly introduced a certain graphic absurd in my job, a mad spirit of vanguard, as if a funny picture of a. dog or a crow in the mathematic formula.
Is your design influenced by data or analytical research in any way? What kind of research did you conduct for making this design?
No, while making Kepler I have not used any research or data. My work was rather influenced by my personal emotions and my own experience in making various objects of arts and design. When from a chaos of sketches and vague ideas you for the first time suddenly see the clear image of the future object you feel the same as Archimedes with his “Eureka!”, a certain internal admiration mixed with joy and amazement. If you succeed in incarnation of your image into a real object you have an opportunity to hear from the first observers as if an echo of your own original emotions. Yet in the world of arts it is naturally often more complicated for the depth and the spectrum of emotions are enormous. When outrage and anger are openly displayed in the object it can simply frighten and shock spectators. Sometimes when a weird stubbornness of an artist wins in my head a battle against a designer’s pragmatism I take strange, irrational decisions. When I work with small interesting details I often take them home where sometimes I feel a serious pressure from my family about the image and possible use of those details. Once while making a small table with human figures I took home a realistic smiling face created from a tusk of a mammoth. The face had emphatically stylish curling eyebrows. Those “frowning” eyebrows on originally nice, cheerful face made it somewhat frightening. My wife tried her best to persuade me to remove the eyebrows or at least to make them smaller. In the end I refused to completely get rid of them because of some unknown reasons. Yet this very small strange detail could effect the entire impression of the whole object. The Kepler chair had a different story. My senior colleague with whom a share our workshop noticed that the armature of the chair’s legs could not necessarily be entirely hidden within the brass stands. It could – just like a falling drop of water – make waves with a small conical rise in the middle. I found this idea rather interesting. Plus in the end of the cone I decided to make from wire a sphere of this “drop” in the form of a nightcap with a pompon. While soldering the sphere I thought that I could insert a smaller coloured glass bubble into this wire pompon. And when I deflected this cone with the bubble from the centre towards the leg it immediately became “alive” and a human figure emerged. I added several details and got a touching and very laconic sculpture. My wife and daughter liked it so much that they gave it a name. They still criticize me again and again that I have refused their numerous requests and according to my original plan inserted the sculpture into a leg where it is difficult even to notice it. In my view the sculpture was making the image of the leg somewhat confusing while a simple cone just improved the general impression and emphasized my idea. Perhaps my asinine stubbornness is a result of many visits of various “market experts” and “sales promoters” who were coming to my workshop trying to convince me that I was making nonsense at a time when the carved wooden state symbols or coloured birds on nice stands were in great demand.
What are some of the challenges you faced during the design/realization of your concept?
Armchair is an improvisation. In the beginning I only had upper part of the chair in my mind. Therefore, I had to work on feet with chair being inverted, which initially seemed like an obstacle, but later it helped formed the end design. The improvisational nature lead me to experimentation, which besides setbacks, gave me breakthroughs both in design and manufacturing process. At times I felt weak, but inevitably a powerful solution presented itself. “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” As an example if the wire was welded together with brass bushings and nickel-plated, the sculpture would have been stronger and lighter, however I am not regretting finding alternate solution, since aesthetically it is also interesting, but on top of it its unique. Absence of access to welding, led me to seek structural rigidity in woven construction techniques, in wire crossing and wire ties, which eventually opened my eyes to the beauty, strength and awe-inspiring opportunities that arose from seemingly simplistic solutions. I work in a common workshop together with other artistsof different styles. If I had opened to them my plan about this chair, I would risk losing such necessary courage and inspiration, and start doubting under the pressure of their reasoning. The fact that I put aside another almost ready to sell commercial object for the sake of the tin soldering of wire could look like madness for my colleagues. So, it was necessary to keep focus, communicating only through artwork. A month later, one of the artists said that my contraptions might make an interesting furniture, I have opened up about the direction of my art. Initially, my idea seemed so mad, that it felt like launching a space craft and any little detail could have led to a disastrous crash.
How did you decide to submit your design to an international design competition?
I think my present environment has limits in the developments of artistic talents. I wanted to find some other opportunities and my participation in this competition is one of the steps in this way.
What did you learn or how did you improve yourself during the designing of this work?
Many different ideas and various information emerge when you take a good time working on something experimental and original, just not necessarily in design. I can tell about some ideas and actions that were produced when Kepler was being created. 1) I’ve got a new experience. Previously I was never making this kind of furniture from wire. So I think it is even an advantage that I had to create various details already during the process of making. Indeed only the first practical steps in building the project often tell what would be a further development. If you don’t have a serious experience you can’t predict those developments and have all details in your preliminary sketches. 2) I could not use wielding and had to find all durability in plaiting, in crossing units and in stitches. I gradually discovered certain rules and principals of steel wire constructions. I suddenly learned about a beauty and powerful striking opportunities in seemingly very simple decisions. 3) At some point during the work process I wanted to make the construction more stable. I decided to build connections between the legs as it often used in normal furniture but in a new and unusual form. Hence I’ve got an idea of interweaved knots of “wormholes” that run throw the legs and end up as a small sphere. I think it is a very productive idea for both design and arts. This kind of model can be a natural part of a construction as well as a form of sculpture. 4) I continuously cherished an idea of a wooden object with broken construction connected by metal knots. Making Kepler I realized that it is possible to use wire in this plan. 5) While improvising I’ve got interesting variants of sculptures with the use of wire, glass, beads and pieces of brass. One of those small figures with symbolic features is inserted into a back leg of the chair. The other one was too big for a leg and I’ve made a separate bigger funny object - an insect with wings and a smartphone in her paw sitting on a special stand. In the symbolic figure I tried a new method - brass pieces connecting as if it is a chessboard. It was one of the most eccentric and labour-consuming possible ways of making the Kepler chair. I had to refuse it for it was too much job to do alone. 6) One of the elbow-rests ends up on the back of the chair with a “sola prominence” where the wooden form splits throw brass bushes on the streams of armature. I had three variants for this composition and one of them – with the use of some other details of the chair – produced the following idea: I could rather realistically make transparent sculptures of reptiles and fishes with scales. A technology of soldered netting would be used. The square netting is needed for reptiles and for fish scales I would solder netting as diamonds. One may reach interesting effects of forms connecting parts of those sculptures with wire into units. It is easier to imagine as an impression on a wire net of the surface of water with a reptile partly sticking out. Those netted surfaces with animals sticking out might be inserted in furniture as well as in walls and windows of houses instead of gratings or fences. Those figures can stick out only a little but can be emerging almost entirely (for example, a figure of a lizard climbing on a net where only, say, two legs are under the net surface). Those sculptures can be made very realistically but also perhaps in a stylization way. Here an artist may use a wire of various thickness and in some places a glass and different metals. In the end it can be a human sculpture or even an abstraction. 7) If you turn Kepler upside down its legs look like armature columns ending up with asymmetrical monolithic capitals. I think that their transparency and plastic freedom can produce many unconventional ways of using them in architecture. Asymmetrical capitals can be easily used not only with the horizontal crossbeam but also with the inclined one. The plastic freedom of armature columns while preserving their functions opens many unconventional or even grotesque variants. For example, I see a column staying on one foundation but splitting above on two parts and having two or even three capitals. Or two columns stay on two foundations but merge above into one column with a capital where the pair of columns forms an arch. Or one column can split and make a circle (or any other geometrical figure) inside and then again merge into one column with a capital etc. It is important that transparent columns would not cover the view around or internal spaces and interiors. At the same time a monolithic capital would suggest a reference to the tradition of classicism. 8) I’ve got an interesting result – in various ways – in the form behind the wooden sit. What I produced is in fact a self-sufficient object somehow reminding a shaman’s tambourine. This idea can be developed in the field of contemporary arts. 9) I used the Kepler chair to express one of my deep convictions. In the nineteenth century in the remote cave in Altamira, Spain, the scholars discovered wonderful ancient drawings. Soon the idea that we can consider as belonging to the world of arts only those works that were purposely created for a broad audience became well spread. I think this idea produces rather outrageous conclusion that excludes from the arts broadly recognized masterpieces that were created, for example, for the funeral rites. In my arguments against those views I put inside the chair my spontaneously emerged works that have become practically unnoticeable. They symbolically tell about the idea that arts can still belong to the world of arts whatever the plan of the author or its access to the broad public.

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