Konstantin Grcic is known for exploring hi-tech materials and industrial manufacturing process, unconventionally employing them to furniture products. His work can be described as functional, often expressing a technical approach to form, while still remaining sensitive to a certain design aesthetic.
In his latest collection ‘Man Machine,’ Grcic continues these investigations, focusing exclusively on glass as his medium.
Developed by Konstantin Grcic and a workshop in Frankfurt, ‘man machine’, which takes its namesake from the 1978 kraftwerk album, has been conceived as a series of furniture constructed from industrial float glass, similar to that which is used in architecture.
The transparent panels which form each piece: bookshelves, chair, large table, round table, single and double chests and a vertical cabinet, appear weightless, but are interjected by different components such as cranks, hinges, knobs and pistons, accompanied by black silicone, which define their purpose – each dynamic furniture object lending itself to human movements and mechanical strength.
Grcic collaborated with a traditional glass workshop in Frankfurt, Germany, to produce the collection comprising a chair, tables, chests, shelving and a vertical cabinet from the same float glass commonly used in architectural projects.
“Glass is not an obvious material for making furniture but it is a very intriguing material,” Grcic told during the interview. “It is an industrial material, which is an aspect that I like about it.”
Specially commissioned by galerie kreo, ‘man machine’ marks the relationship between lightness, durability, human mechanics and practicality. It is design stripped down to its most imperative elements that while existing as something of high, technical aesthetics, is relatable on a broader level, in which Grcic remains true to his own design beliefs and style.
The transparency of the glass contrasts with fittings made from the black silicone typically used to minimise damage to glass surfaces, and the furniture also employs industrial gas pistons to introduce movement and an element of interactivity.
“These gas pistons – which are another industrially pre-fabricated product – create movement in a very magical, soft way,” said Grcic. “I think it adds another quality to the furniture that makes it more human.”
In the example of the chair, the pistons are linked to a lever that can be used to alter the position of the backrest, while round tables incorporate a piston that makes it easy to fold the top down.
The designer, who is renowned for his industrially manufactured products for brands including Vitra, Magis and Emeco, said that projects such as this one and a previous collection of painted aluminium furniture he designed for Galerie Kreo offer an opportunity to experiment with ideas that might eventually filter into his commercial work.
The exhibition’s title, Man Machine, is borrowed from an album by German electronic band Kraftwerk, and Grcic claimed it was chosen to represent the meeting of “the human heart and the machine, the mechanical precision, the cogs, the cold industrial aesthetic with something that is softer, more poetic, more emotional.”