Michael Wolfson’s Modern Concepts
Michael Wolfson is breaking the rules. He confessed his innovation to us at the ART PARIS exhibition: ‘I am doing both extremes …. I was told a number of years ago you could not do that. I can do function, and I can do art. I enjoy doing both.’
The American-born furniture designer has always, throughout his career, made a conscientious effort to make his pieces functional from a design point of view. This created the YingYang vases, vibrantly perfect pieces which are now produced commercially in Japan by popular demand.
Wolfson embraces functionality and art, and appreciates their singular and dual qualities. The successful collaboration between the seemingly contradictory characteristics of dynamism in a static form stands Wolfson’s work out from the crowd of other furniture designers. A unique component of this is that he is breaking the rules of the ‘ideal’. Museums and galleries have a rooted tendency to separate fine art, sculpture and products. Wolfson flies the flag for all three, proving that versatility in art can be achieved.
At the exhibition, Wolfson displayed his world renowned Origami chair, one of the first works he created now recognised by design enthusiasts as a ‘classic’. Influenced by land, contours, and the inevitable folds of origami, famous museums worldwide are now trying to get their hands on this outstanding piece.
He also exhibited his ‘Coffee Bench’, created in 2007, and the Low Lounger, created in 2008. Both illustrate a low-standing, asymmetrical form enhanced by soft curves and black sheen. These works are classic examples of Wolfson’s line series collection. The idea of the line series form stems from the movement of a line in space. The line becomes the driving force of rhythm and dynamism, creating an outcome of a natural sense of sinuosity and movement- a fairly relative concept to that of Futurism. ‘They all start with a scribble or sketch, and then they morph into something bigger,’ he told us.
Wolfson’s inspiration is a detail which fascinates even the inartistic. We watched his eyes light up as he spoke of his interest in the umbrella of early modernism, the perfection of Russian constructivism and the fluidity of Italian Futurism. Wolfson is fascinated by the innovative ways the Italians looked at movement and motion, ‘playing with objects in space.’
For ten years Wolfson worked with renowned architect Zaha Hadid, running her design studio in the years following his graduation from Cornell University and the Architectural Association in London. With such a track record it is unsurprising that Wolfson’s outstanding talent is recognised by so many. His Twisted X desk won the prestigious Good Design Award given by the Chicago Athenaeum in 2012. He was a finalist in a design and sculpture competition in Canada. LVMH chose him to create two sculptural pieces for the launch of Glenmorangie whisky in Taiwan and China, representing sound waves of liquid poured into a crystal glass.
Creator of the Tsukumogami series, Wolfson enlightened us about these sculptural fabrications. A truly fascinating aspect of his work, the Tsukumogami series are sculptures made from discarded household objects and covered in concrete canvas, giving them ‘a life of their own’. The sculptures are accurately named after the Japanese spirit Tsukumogami, a household object which comes alive after 99 years. For the near approaching summer, Wolfson is hoping to create two more Tsukumogami series pieces to add to his superlative collection.
Wolfson’s thoughts on the creation of sculptural design are refreshingly unique. He is clearly not bound by artistic rules or regulations. He stands to craft and create freely, granting him vast success and admiration. His talent, we think, is simply remarkable.
by Eliza Horton
Image by Sophia Mariano