At Salone: Ondine Bench

To designer Michael Bihain, experimentation is second nature and conformity is an alien concept. His works are frequently featured in international exhibitions (this week at Salone) and one can also view his permanent collection in the Design Museum of Seoul.

Ondine Bench. Designed by Michael Bihain and C©dric Callewaert.

Laying emphasis on modern aesthetics, the Ondine park bench is one of Bihain’s most celebrated creations that was deigned in conjunction with Belgian architect C©dric Callewaert. At first glance, the Ondine bench left me flummoxed since no conventional label can be applied to it. A sculpture, a bench, or a UFO are only some of the images that popped up into my head. However further exploration makes it clear, that like art, the Ondine is open to interpretation. It also illustrates how Bihain is not averse to pushing design boundaries that yield a more futuristic result.

At Salone: Ondine Bench

If the first tenet of the Ondine bench is interpretation, then the second has to be adaptation. The bench can easily blend in with any urban environment and hence has been divided into three identical modules. This division allows the bench to reposition incessantly and adds both a longitudinal and circular sitting element.

The outer shell of the Ondine has been constructed from 8mm sheets of chromatised, powder-coated lacquered steel to emphasize resilience and sustainability. Measuring H.17>57 Dia.245 cm, the bench is available in a whole surfeit of shades including white, gray, red, green, orange and black.

Ondine strives to be “alive, supple and inherently mysterious,” and for me, it’s the surprise factor combined with a design autonomy that makes this product so noteworthy. Bihain’s creative foresight necessitates working towards the ‘no furniture’ concept where perception and convergence usurp the humdrum rhythm of urban life.

The eight line couplet by Bihain himself describes Ondine perfectly:

* Ondine is adaptable to every urban environment
* Ondine in the city
* Ondine under a tree
* Ondine on the grass

* Ondine by the water
* Ondine under the sun
* Ondine in the garden
* Ondine at home

Be sure to visit Michael Bihain at SaloneSatellite this weekend.

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