Yu Chair

Famed for his achievements in Industrial Design, expat Frenchman Pascal Bardel seems to think of himself as a pragmatist first and foremost. To wit, “with a strong sense of market trend, a good knowledge of manufacturing process and financial constraints, I put my skills and expertise at your service, to bring you innovative and relevant solutions in product design.”

Yu Chair. Designed by Pascal Bardel. Manufactured by Sequoia Studios.

This orientation toward service and solution is a bit rare in our terrain, but it might be just what the doctor ordered, since “solution” might be a kind of generalized code for all manner of streamlining-in manufacturing, materials, and functionality. All this is a long way of saying that the products made by Bardel from his Hong Kong-based Sequoia Studios combine the best of both worlds: technology and art, industry and imagination, the geek and the formal visionary.

Yu Chair

Lately known for his “Gelule” clock radio, which is a playful daily reminder that you not only must wake but also take your vitamins, other of his industrial solutions include a nifty seven inch digital photo frame and a pocket-sized DVD player. With his recent “Yu Chair,” he expands his portfolio into larger toys while staying true to an aesthetic that synthesizes French artfulness and Hong Kong tech-saavy. An outdoor/indoor chair made of cast one piece white polyethylene, its cushion is simple rigid foam with a washable cotton cover (available in four colors). The design is austere yet engaging, minimalist yet distinctive, a combination that befits the name: of Chinese origin, “Yu” refers to jade, but actually translates as “rain” and “the most beautiful stone.” Though most Westerners don’t consider jade a “precious gem” like gold or silver, it “was invaluable to the Chinese people of ancient times… an integral part of commercial, religious and ceremonial life, although the finest jade was used in Imperial courts, the use of jade in everyday life crossed all socioeconomic boundaries.” Apart from the Yu Chair’s color scheme and tactile polish, then, Bardel seems to have chosen jade for its symbolic resonance as well. By suggesting that its multiple uses add to its aesthetic appeal, Bardel’s armchair becomes an homage to the idea that beauty is interwoven with cultural functionality.

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