Nearly every American municipality has some kind of regionalized “fun center.” You know the place: brightly decorated and lit; replete with delectables like cotton candy and gooey, dripping cheese pizza; and out-fitted wall to wall with all manner of childhood amusement. Speaking as a potential parent—should I ever be consigned to this perspective of said locale—I’d look for “Skeeball” and “mini basketball,” but children (especially tots) can’t seem to get enough of the contraption variously dubbed “ballcrawl” or “ballroom.”
Funature. Designed by Hugh Hayden.
If you know not of such a creature, it’s basically a glass-walled aquarium for kids, six feet or so-deep in multi-colored plastic balls. I allude to the dubious temptations of such an amusement because Hugh Hayden’s Funature—showing at this weekend’s BKLYN DESIGNS—resonates loud and clear with the strangeness a parent must feel as they watch their kid commit a kind of virtual drowning amid hordes of these garish globes. Hayden’s Funature collection includes chairs, piles, poufs, stools and tables—each made of a targeted assemblage of the re-claimed polyethylene innards of tennis balls and available in prescribed and custom color combinations.
The furnishings gain form and stability through Hayden’s patent-pending tension matrix, yet still retain a certain degree of give and bounce, remaining “flexible and adjustable, adapting to the user’s body and position much like the ball-pool.” “Much like” being the operative phrase here, since Funature is the best kind of homage, one that retains all the desirable qualities of the antecedent (in this case, a whimsical, evocative, and comfortable material with a unique look), while eschewing the repellent ones (hordes of screaming kids, gum-covered surfaces, and the rather frightening specter of a giant roving mouse).
Much in the tradition of Charlie Does Lamps or the Campana Brothers Micky, Minnie, and Pluto Chairs, Funature is like childhood for grown ups. Hayden’s clever re-configuration helps us remember the best and forget the worst; and let’s us lounge about in Seussian luxury to boot.