“Michael’s design is both simple and sophisticated and combined with his devotion to quality this relates very well to the Danish cabinetmaking tradition of timeless design and superb craftsmanship”, Ole Høstbo explains.
Michael Anastassiades liked the idea from the beginning: “I share a lot of values with Dansk Møbelkunst Gallery. It has been an incredible challenge to work within the context of their historical pieces. I’m normally a lighting designer – that is what people know me for. But I think my approach is very similar, not only in terms of the aesthetics but also in terms of the qualities and the values that I look for when designing a piece. The quality of timelessness is what I aim for and I think this is a key point in the Danish design tradition as well. That is also why I think this collaboration seemed quite obvious,” he says.
The design – Halfway Round
Exclusively for Dansk Møbelkunst, Michael Anastassiades has designed a group of furniture, consisting of a table, a stool and a screen, collectively titled Halfway Round.
The three elements are all made in Oregon Pine and share an idiom, characterized by refined simplicity and beautiful contrasting interplays between soft, rounded curves and sharp, disciplined lines. “I have tried to avoid a nostalgic approach in bringing a contemporary quality to the project”, he says.
“Each piece is an independent work and they are sold individually, yet there is an obvious conversation going on between the three elements. They are very much related, not only in material quality but also in their formal language”, Anastassiades explains.
“The screen consists of three generous curves, connected by two canvas hinges. I see it as a translation of the modular screen with reference to Alvar Aalto, Poul Kjærholm and Charles and Ray Eames. I wanted to abstract their modular approach into a more generous curve, which I then multiplied that curve into three elements, looking almost like a column detail, which you can then position in whatever geometry you would like. You can position them in parallel and use the screen as a room divider – that is why, it is a relatively low screen – or you can fold the curves towards themselves and then and use it as a changing cubicle in your bedroom. I like that it has a broad function,” he says.
The stool mimes the curvature of the screen, but also has a cut-through look, evoking the natural character of the material. “I think of it as a log of wood cut in half”, Anastassiades explains and points out the interdependency of the pieces: “The geometry of the stool relates directly to the screen and makes it possible to place it within one of the half curves of the screen.”
The interplay between soft and straight cut lines reoccurs in the table. “It is a very monolithic piece, made of one material, yet composed of contrary elements. The large, rectangular table top contrasts the two simple, structural bases that are softer and rounded to increase comfort where a person’s legs are. Once again you see, that the curvature of the stool relates to the geometry of the base, just as you could imagine the stool as a seat for the table. I like to think of the stool as the key element acting like a link between the pieces and bringing it all together.”
Materials and craftsmanship
The London-based Cypriot designer describes the choice of material as an essential starting point. He is a strong advocate for honest materials; materials that show themselves for what they are and age beautifully over the course of time: “I believe in the inherent quality of materials and the selection of one solid timber to be used in the construction of these pieces was a very conscious choice. It was important to me to choose one wood type and then try to bring out the quality of that wood in the construction.”
Anastassiades chose Oregon Pine. “I like the quality of pine, its honesty,” he says. “We used it in a kind of solid state and aimed for a very linear result in the texture of the wood. Pine is obviously not as art-associated as wood types like mahogany, or even elm and oak, but that is what I like about it – to take a material and transform it into something else. I also very much like the beautiful pieces which Axel Einar Hjorth did in pine, these are very monumental, solid furniture pieces. There is an interesting reference there.”
Working on this project, Anastassiades also resumed one of the most distinctive features of Danish furniture making; the close collaboration between designers and cabinetmakers:
“I wanted to bring the qualities and knowledge of the cabinetmaker into the process of designing the pieces – this profound sense of the material and its possibilities. So our conversation happened quite early on. It was not so, that I designed the pieces and then passed the drawings on to the cabinetmaker, asking him to do it. It was very much a conversation that happened throughout the process”, he says.
“Timelessness is also about materials and how you use them – you need to use them with honesty and care”, he says. “It is the continuous interaction with time that makes a design timeless.”
Anastassiades’ furniture for Dansk Møbelkunst is made as a limited edition.
Michael Anastassiades launched his studio in 1994 to explore contemporary notions of culture and aesthetics through a combination of product, furniture and environmental design. Positioned between fine art and design, his work aims to provoke dialogue, participation and interaction. He creates objects that are minimal, utilitarian and almost mundane, yet full of vitality one might not expect. Anastassiades’ work is featured in the permanent collections at MOMA in New York, Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the Craft Council in London, FRAC Centre in Orléans, and MAK in Vienna.