In 2010 David Adjaye was invited to collaborate with the renowned design and furniture company, Knoll International, to create a furniture collection, realised over a period of three years. The furniture explores a number of themes – such as monumentality, materiality and history – which are also evident in the practice’s architectural projects. The collaboration was an opportunity to investigate materials, silhouettes and forms and required an engagement in a fascinating production process with Knoll’s technical team.

The collection includes two cantileverd chairs – the Washington Skin and Washington Skeleton. The primary idea behind the design was to mimic the form of a seated person in elevation, so that the chair almost disappears when in use. The ribbing pattern is then a drawing of the forces required to brace this shape - like an exo-skeleton. The Skeleton and Skin chairs are a positive and negative version of this same shape. Both metal and plastic each developed differently as the stress analysis revealed distinct structural needs (for example with the rib number and sizes) and to address issues with the casting process.

The Washington Corona coffee table, is an investigation into the relationship between inside and outside, public and private, exposing and concealing – ideas which feed into the work of the practice more generally. The exterior is exposed in its raw, sandcast state and the interior is mirror polished. The contrast in the finish also highlights the two sides of the single, structural surfaces. The legs serve to fix the surfaces together and to support the glass so the form makes the structure. It is a surface that can receive things – but on its own has a visual power.

The Washington Collection for Knoll

Project Description