Disappearing Act: NY Designer Creates Invisible Furniture

Monday, July 15th, 2013
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Invisible Chair
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A New York designer has taken the light reflecting ability of mirrored furniture a step further – by making it invisible.

Takeshi Miyakawa of Brooklyn has created a series of furniture pieces dubbed the Visible/Invisible line that appear in form, only to vanish away into their surroundings depending on where they are viewed.

Compared to a chameleon, illumination plays the largest role in Miyakawa’s Visible/Invisible concept where light directs the furniture pieces to remain or fade away into a floor or wall.

A chair and dining table/desk were showcased as part of the collection at Salon 94 during New York Design Week.

The furniture is constructed from a series of solid micro-clad acrylic panels that feature a mirrored finish. Miyakawa then heat-melted the acrylic to bend and distort the panels to include textured cracks on the surface. The panels were then fused together without any visible joinery or connections.

Miyakawa’s aspiration was to challenge the properties acrylic demonstrates by defying the material’s physical design limitations.

Invisible Chair

Visible/Invisible by Takeshi Miyakawa

The 50-year-old Miyakawa was born in Japan and moved to New York to work with Rafael Viñoly, with whom he has continued to work with for over 20 years. Visible/Invisible, however, is a project directly from Miyakawa’s own design firm which he established in 2001.

The project is somewhat reminiscent of Robert Morris’ minimalist mirrored sculptures from an installation in 1965.

Morris constructed four acrylic mirrored cubes to demonstrate the visual extension of space depending on the placement of the cubes and their surroundings.

The concept used in Visible/Invisible is not new, but Miyakawa’s method to distort the materials has taken this concept to a new level.

While not generally mirrored, other versions of invisible furniture have been explored over the last decade and have generally been used the materials themselves to create an optical illusion for viewers.

The Magic Chair

Davide Conti – The Magic Chair

In 2010, Italian designer Davide Conti designed The Magic Chair.

From a certain angle, the chair appears to float, standing on one foot, with just is three straight lines either in black or white visible. The chair does have a bottom structure which is made of a transparent material and is quite durable.

Also in 2010, Japanese designer Tokujin Yoshioka created an installation called The Invisibles in a design collaboration for Kartell.

The Invisibles Collection

“The Invisibles” Collection

Working with the opacity achieved from acrylic, tables and chairs appear invisible depending on neighbouring light sources blending seamlessly into the surroundings.

“I was attracted by things that have no form, but produces an emotional effect on people,” Yoshioka said. “I think such a project take on a momentum due success, because the idea quite innovative. And just beautiful.”

Yoshioka added a “solid” version of the pieces to the collection late last year.

Kartell is now renowned for invisible furniture thanks to its first design collaboration with Philippe Starck in 2012.

Phillipe Starck Louis Ghost Chair

Phillipe Starck Louis Ghost Chair

Starke is most famous for pioneering the “transparent” trend with the creation of his Louis Ghost Chair.

Rumoured to be one the most widely sold chairs since its creation, the chair is not constructed from acrylic but from a durable polycarbonate.

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