Andy Kem’s Breakplane Furniture

Andy Kem’s Breakplane Furniture reminds me of one of those flat, “assemble-it-yourself” pieces of cardboard they hand to you at the post office, in which (provided you succeed in putting it together) you can send anything, anywhere (provided it fits) for a certain low low price. The difference is that Kem’s “cutouts”—in CNC cut Birch Plywood, no less—are not so much a strictly utilitarian object as a conceptual tour de force: they evoke the early stages of design on paper, in which the soon-to-be product makes the first leap from glimmer in the eye of the mind to a 2-D representation.

Breakplane Furniture. Designed by Andy Kem.

Of course, Kem’s clever table and chair are alive and manifest in full 3-Dimensional glory. The illusion of collapsibility is just that, for these pieces are fixed and permanent and weight-bearing and functional, even though, from a certain perspective, it appears that certain structural linchpins could simply be released, thus facilitating an easy flattening, folding, and stowing away—much in the manner of James Dieter’s flatpack Origami chair. Kem hails from Detroit, or resides there at present, having relocated some time back to pursue a career in automotive design. Though he doesn’t specifically elaborate on the apparent detour in his career path, one speculates that the experience may have directed him towards the greener pastures of A & D: “through my education and beyond, I find myself reveling in the critical thinking design requires, and how history, technology and materials can inspire the process.”




This does sound a bit like one enamored of the great history of materials science epitomized in the automotive industry: the intersections between math, modeling, and mass production are certainly on display in much of his work. Thankfully, however, for us design aficionados, Kem seems to have used the Motor City not as a jumping off point for further exodus into the art of transportation, but as an auspicious ingress into the science of design.

Leave a Reply