When I saw that designer Igor Chak was born in 1984, I wondered how he'd gotten the pop-culture education that would explain his Space Invader Couch. The name refers to a video game that reached its apex of popularity in the early 80s. And for those of you of in Chak's generation, it may mean nothing more than an historical footnote as an ancient ancestor of contemporary favorites like Grand Theft Auto and World of Warcraft. What I didn't know is that Space Invaders is ranked as the most popular game of all time; that its technology is considered a crucial antecedent to today's hyper-real modes of video recreation; and that the game's creator was Japanese (Tomohiro Nishikado, who released the game in 1978).
Space Invader Couch. Designed by Igor Chak.
All of that is a longish bit of conjecture for Chak's interest in this cool, contemporary re-contextualization. The designer had a globetrotting youth. Born in Vladivostok, moved to Tokyo at age 5, back to Vladivostok at 10, and finally to Seattle at age 13, where he eventually attended the Art Institute. Chak currently lives in L.A., where he continues to pursue a consuming passion for motorcycle design. So somewhere among all that moving around the designer picked up on the iconic/retro status of the classic video game, which I can happily say has been cleverly translated into a slightly whimsical, certainly amiable, and definitely comfortable couch. The piece is all leather with two glass surfaces and a generous profusion of memory foam. Chak assures us that the couch's straight lines and hard-looking edges belie its actual functionality: "Although it might look uncomfortable it's actually really soft, mainly lined and made with memory foam."
The Space Invader Couch works because it takes a potent historical and cultural symbol and transforms it into a modern looking furnishing with broad appeal. On the one hand, it reminds me of recent efforts at sublime futurism like HGW and RaphaÃ«l Hoesli's O-Thirteen, and on the other, of work invested in a certain Seeusian whimsy like Victor Barrish's Disaster Bookshelf and Javier Mariscal's Los Muebles Amorosos. It also strikes a personal chord for me, since from a distance it appears to have been assembled from another icon of my youth-Lego Building Blocks.
Space Invader is currently in the prototype stage, but Chak says he'd very much like to join forces with someone to put it into limited production. The designer characterizes the piece as "an old friend that kept trying to take over earth but retired and became a couch." With a genial teaser like that, children of the 80s may find Space Invader hard to resist.