EXPLORATIONS INTO THE MONOBLOC (2) - JERSZY SEYMOUR'S NEW ORDER (FOR ALL)
Following our earlier piece on the monobloc chair, we publish the text which we wrote on New Order, up till now Jerszy Seymour's most radical rethinking of the ubiquitous plastic chair. The text was written for the catalogue of Vitra Edition exhibition at the Campus of the Vitra design museum in 2007, where the chair was first shown, before traveling worldwide.
„Two years ago (in 2005, mb) Jerszy Seymour visited Vitra to show an ordinary plastic garden chair that had been cut and reconstructed with a cushion and bicycle elastic. It was the start of a research to create the new order of chair. A first result is the limited edition of an experimental and unique seating object that is part of the Vitra Edition 2007 project, but in the future it might also lead to an industrially produced chair. The limited edition bears the name 'New Order', a key notion in the philosophy of Seymour, his main strategy being the return to the zero degree of design, the primeval soup and beginning of everything, from where a new alphabet and language can be created that allows him to reconsider materials and shapes, the way the industry is affecting the value of things, and how all this fits in a social structure.
The word Scum, that has become his hallmark, does not only refer to this global strategy, but also to the material that became his favorite: the polyurethane foam that, despite being the furniture industry's most used material, mostly remains hidden and unnoticed, but regains its full force – crude like lava, and in apocalyptic colours- in his projects, sprayed onto walls, furniture, lampshades and clothes, or as building material for a half-pipe or the giant Atomic Brain he built at designbrussels.
With his love of found objects, the ordinary and omnipresent plastic garden chair was a choice that fitted in the same logic while developing 'New Order', a chair for the masses with the basic ergonomic movement of a high-class office chair. 'It is the most efficient chair ever produced, and by default the chair that has succeeded, „ says Seymour. It represents the pinnacle of an evolution. In some way it is totally devoid of design, but it also stands for and pre-empts a Zero Degree. It is the last of the old static chairs. The new dynamic chair that will push you back and forward was simply created by cutting the armrests of this plastic chair and linking them with a bicycle elastic around the back, giving it the basic movement of an office chair.' Metal reinforcement was added where necessary, while free formed polyurethane foam was used for padding the arm, headrests and seat. The new order is also in the choice of low-class materials, a visible, dilettante and almost autistic re-ordered construction and a philosophy that all seek to revitalize design by stripping away its 'bourgeois' and commodity exterior whilst allowing the beauty of the simple, crude materials to shine through. 'The idea may be sophisticated, but I thought it important to stick to a raw aesthetic, ' says Seymour. Liberate has always been his watchword. It involves a struggle in which his inspiration comes as much from Che Guevara as from Peter Sellers. While combining a radical and critical approach with a careful understanding of the fundamentals of design, and tempered by humour and a great sense of self-irony, 'New Order', in its effort to offer more comfortable seating for all, and to make the world less static, is only a next step in the battle.“ (mb)
(First published in 2007)