Pili Wu’s Plastic Classic
It’s an adaptation of popular ‘lowbrow’ furniture: the case of a cultural artifact gaining recognition for its universal appeal. Cheap plastic stools are the street-side standard in Asia (Taiwan in particular) – and Industrial Design student Pili Wu’s Plastic Classic aims to both recognize and redefine them. Wu’s chair fits the anonymous-yet-ubiquitous stool with a traditional Chinese loop chair back. “Plastic Classic is a chair that has two personalities in one body.” explains the designer.
Plastic Classic. Designed by Pili Wu.
“Taiwan used to be a plastic production kingdom, plastic chairs and stools have been present for a very long time, yet interestingly nobody knows about the designer or inventor of plastic stools, but it’s cheap price, simple structure and fast production has enabled its popularity, so popular that it has turned into a “classic” design that nobody has every really noticed.” Pili Wu explains. The cheap, mass-produced plastic stool inhabits streets and alleys, by street food stalls or ban dou (traditional Taiwanese outdoor banquet) – and of course small noodle shops. Conversely, the loop chair is a classic of traditional Chinese furniture, representing a higher social status with its elegant and reliable structure. Plastic Classic becomes a chair of contradiction: cheap and expensive design; street culture and traditional Chinese furnishings.
Looking back into design history, the ‘industrial’ stool fitted with a more traditional, curved back gained worlwide appeal with Xavier Pauchard’s Marais A Chair (1934). It is the epitome of French café life, yet it’s rumored that the chair was created for use in the weather forecasting room on a battleship. Plastic Classic is similar in concept to Pauchard’s design, but with different materiality and a Chinese/Taiwanese aesthetic slant. It won’t replace the cheap plastic stool street-side since it’s bound to be more costly – and comfortable too, defeating the “eat fast-and-go” philosophy of small Taiwanese shops. But it will provide that Taiwanese classic with a bit more recognition.