Studio Visit: Chen Chen and Kai Williams

City Modern

As part of the City Modern Open Studio tour, designers Chen Chen and Kai Williams opened the door to their Greenpoint, Brooklyn studio to show where their quirky and unique home products are created.
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On a block of industrial style buildings near the waterfront in Greenpoint, the two graduates of Pratt's industrial design program combine their love for unusual materials and experimentation to great effect.
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Though they met as students, they did not begin working together until after gaining experience separately post graduation: Chen at Moss and Williams for artist Tom Sachs.
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Working together, the two create furniture such as the Borer Stool seen in the first image above, made of emerald ash with abalone inlays.
The proportions of the stool are very common in Asia but unusual in the west. It looks too narrow and anemic but it can support two people comfortably. It's made of ash and the attachments are capped with abalone shell. The inlaying technique references traditional, ornate Asian furniture but is used in a Bauhaus manner to highlight the construction of the piece. The object came to us after hearing a radio program about the emerald ash borer, this beautiful beetle that is decimating the ash population. The story gave us a mental image of a iridescent green dot on a piece of ash.
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The designers also create items such as jewelry, coasters, bookends and other home accessories. Their work can be found in New York at Moss, Phillips de Pury, The Future Perfect, and Matter, in Miami at Inventory Objects, in Sao Paulo at Collectivo Amor de Madre, and in the Wunderkammer pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale.

For more information on the designers and their work, visit Chen Chen & Kai Williams.

For more information on the events, tours and exhibition, visit City Modern.

(Images: Liana Walker)

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