Kevin Chou’s Sofa of Woven Bamboo Balls

I love how objects so often take me back to formidable moments in my life. Navigating the upper echelons of A&D as frequently as I do, this happens more than one might think. In fact, every week I encounter an object that I can connect (meaningfully, I’d argue—though some might think differently) with my past. Today the object in question happens to be this hand woven bamboo ball sofa by designerKevin Chou. One of the many products appearing at this year’s Triennele di Milano (April 12-17) under the aegis of Yii’s Street Life Collection, Chou’s Sofa resembles many things—and it likely speaks quite differently to denizens of Taiwan, the locale of its creation—yet to me it suggests the dubious pastime called “wiffleball.”

Hand woven bamboo ball sofa. Designed by Kevin Chou.

The Merger of Street Life and High Design

In deference to the work, I’ll merely say that the spherical components of Chou’s sofa remind me of the airy plastic balls of this sometime sport, which can be a great substitute for baseball in a pinch (and if under the constraints of a small yard and a perilously high quantity of surrounding windows). As I suggested earlier, however, the meaning for Yii is more resonant. The object is part of an ongoing project initiated by the Taiwan Craft Research Institute to “stimulate creative dialogue between Taiwanese craftsmen and designers.” Gijs Baker, co-founder of Droog, was invited to lead the project, and after a brief immersion in the local culture, he became determined to eschew Western influence in favor of local talent.


Though perhaps that overstates the case, since many, if not all, of Yii’s designers are more than a little bit familiar with international design. The short of it is that more than 40 objects were created in an effort to explore the synergy between revered craft and contemporary design: “The designers, merely educated on Western principles, discovered a complicated and established world of their homeland’s crafts. For the craft artists, deeply rooted in the centuries-old traditions, it was a mind-opening experience of stepping out of their protected shells towards modernity, experiment and different thinking.”

In the case of Chou’s sofa, the effort manifests as a harmonizing of contrasts: linearity and sphericality, airiness and solidity, negative space and bulk. The woven bamboo balls also possess an unprecedented textural appeal that, would one were up close and personal with the sofa, would likely intimate much more about the Yii collection than this brief gloss—while it may be true that a picture is worth a thousand words, sometimes a touch is worth a million.

Via DesignBoom.

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