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The Intractable Illusion of Grupo Bondi’s M Bench

If you’re at this month’s 100% Design London and happen by the product launch of an Argentinean company called Grupo Bondi, be tempted neither by the ostensibly plush texture of the M Bench, nor the seemingly soft surface of the M Pillow, however inviting the surroundings, whatever the degree of bodily comfort promised. For in spite of the Capitonné style, the exquisite embroidered embellishments, M is as hard as any hillside rock. Bondi explains, “bored out of its aristocratic life it turned into stone in order to endure the unmerciful weather, live outside, sleep under the stars and be connected to life.”

M Bench. Designed by Grupo Bondi.

M is not constructed of foam or cotton batting, of touchable-textiles, but rather of concrete, pvc, and aluminum. Bondi makes the piece by forming it in their patented flexible moulds: “this technique allows us to achieve great finished surfaces, fluid shapes and back-flows, successfully enabled by going beyond traditional rigid-mould systems.” The technology is impressive but the particular attraction for me is the invented narrative, especially since the story smacks of great fables, compelling mythologies of castings-out and wanderings-hence.

In fact, I’m tempted to align M with grand tales of exile—Shakespeare’s Lear or Sophocles’ Oedipus Rex. Of course, these stories are sublimely tragic, rife with greater woes than pillows of rock or beds of scratchy straw. Perhaps more in the spirit are the Master’s lighter romps, epiphanic pastorals like A Midsummer Night’s Dream or As You Like It. These so called “Green Plays” parallel the journey forecast for M, as courtly types must endure life among the frivolous and fickle bounty of nature.

But whereas Shakespeare’s characters typically return to their creature comforts, M’s alteration is permanent and irreversible, and that’s the coolest thing about it. Bondi has taken the complementary notions of relaxation, bodily ease, and the constructed environment and turned it out-of-doors, in the process creating an au natural adornment that not only challenges the senses but also parallels the permanence of the trees, the sun, the stars.
Posted September 13th, 2010 by Joseph Starr


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