Ever wonder what goes on in that huge cylindrical steel mass beneath the visible floor of a jet? For that matter, ever wonder what goes in that huge cylindrical steel mass? Omitting the obvious (luggage, gallons and gallons of jet fuel), there remain many, many square meters of ostensibly unoccupied space. Being especially beholden to the bottom line these days, international carriers must try to make use of all that uncompensated territory. Thus, the “chamfered” shipping container—special packaging with rounded edges that conform to the unique contours of the fuselage. Designers Rich Brilliant Willing—ever the improvisors and provocateurs (see Bright Side)—find the shape fascinating, so much so that they’ve appropriated it as a series of ready made furnishings they call “Pro Forma.”
Pro Forma. Designed by Rich Brilliant Willing.
New Shapes Give New Context
The new collection, debuting at Chicago’s Volume Gallery and on display at same from March 18 – April 3, consists of a credenza, coffee table, bookshelf, side table, and bar cabinet. Each item has a distinctive appearance conferred upon it via RBW’s creative borrowing of the shipping container’s unusual contours. The perforated-style backing and consequent lightweight is also owed to same, though the interpretation is tempered by RBW’s addition of more traditional materials: brass, leather, lacquer, and American hardwoods.
Besides the obvious aesthetic advantages of this familiar palette, they also reinforce the theme of travel: “The rugged and deliberate shapes of commercial transport are tamed by the more lavish palette of home furnishing and antique luggage... steamer trunks in an age of global logistics.” The result is not only a handsome collection with a singular appearance (and an invitation to unorthodox placement), but also the beginning of a dialogue about the transient nature of our homes—and, inversely perhaps, about the permanence of the forms that have arisen from this transience.
While the Pro Forma collection may have begun as a conceptual exercise in form, the pieces do fine all on their own. Apart from this theorizing and intellectualizing (as fun as it is), Pro Forma makes a fine addition to RBW’s past line-up of found and appropriated and creatively-reinvented contemporary artifacts.