More than two dozen Kartell Masters Chairs were recently reimagined by a roster of international creatives to help raise money for two French charities—and the results ranged from the playful to the ethereal to the downright puzzling.
A 2009 design by Philippe Starck and Eugeni Quitllet, the Masters Chair has become a contemporary furniture best-seller. Created as an homage to 3 famous Mid Century modern chairs—Arne Jacobsen's Series 7 Chair, Charles & Ray Eames' Eiffel Chair, and Eero Saarinen's Tulip Chair—the Kartell Masters Chair ingeniously merged the outlines of the three design icons into one linear profile. The irony of a design reinterpretation itself being reinterpreted was, no doubt, Kartell's incentive to lend this particular design from their extensive catalogue to the cause, and the chosen designers—Starck and Quitllet included—put their marks on the original design, with abandon. The one-of-a-kind Masters Chairs were auctioned on Feb 9 in Montpellier, France, to raise money for two local charities—Guilhem Fund and AMPA Association—devoted to pediatric health initiatives and Alzheimer's research, respectively.
Befitting the broad creative disciplines represented by the participating artists—architecture, illustration, industrial design, sculpture, and more—these customized Masters Chairs were disparate in their final results, with some artists choosing to leave the chair's original form fully recognizable, while others opted to obliterate it entirely. French architect Jean Nouvel chose the later, completely covering his Drapée chair in a voluminous yellow and black fabric, creating, he explained, "...a tribute to the drape...a large cover that fits and transforms its physiognomy, it envelops the body and invites you to sit down." Christophe Pillet, no stranger to the art of contemporary chair design, created a predictably refined version, choosing to paint his Beetle chair a gleaming, iridescent blue, presumably to mimic the rich coloring of a beetle.