by Louis Postel as seen in Showboats International, November 2016
The Modernism Moment looks here to stay for mega yacht design from hull to hardware. The clean lines born of Modernism’s form-is-function aesthetic just makes so much over-arching sense, especially at sea. Efficiency, elegance, and a low-key elitism continue to find inspiration in Le Corbusier’s Vers Un Architecture of 1923, and before that Greek Temples, high and heroic on the hill.
But for every action there’s a reaction, propelling M/Y’s through water, and design through culture. Along comes Postmodernism: an aesthetic embrace of the every day, the ironic, the messy, the vulgar, explosive, fragmentary, witty and pluralistic. For Postmodern champion and architect Robert Venturi, co-author of Learning from Las Vegas (1972), Modernism was at risk of becoming a phony kind of orthodoxy, ripe for a major mashup.
The good news is that designers today are becoming increasingly comfortable with both styles Modern and Postmodern, using one to reinforce the other. This tendency expresses itself most tellingly, perhaps, in furnishings. Here’s a look:
The Art of the Steel. When Bronze and steel sculptor Gary Magakis happened on the exclusive, high-ceilinged Todd Merrill Studio in Manhattan district one day in 2009, he wasn’t expecting his life to change. Merrill not only took him on as his exclusive representative, but he also pushed Magakis to create much larger pieces which now enjoy great success. Here in this cantilevered, subtly-tapered, layered and patinated console, Magakis’ jazzy riffs on mighty forms hover ever-so-lightly in postmodern space. 32″H x 89″W x 19″D, $28,000 http://toddmerrillstudio.com/
Prolonged Shelf Life. Dutch designer Marin Baas thumbed his nose at Modernist formality, launching his celebrated post-modern furniture assemblages titled “Hey, Chair, Be a Bookshelf” with a series of puns: A chair became a bookshelf, a lampshade became a vase, a violin became a coat rack, using parts salvaged from rubbish containers. Baas then strengthened these forlorn castoffs with polyurethane for lasting value. Photo: Indianapolis Museum of Art. Price on request. http://maartenbaas.com/
Planes and Fancy. Set as shown with two metal hooks on fixed to the bulkhead, Enrico Marone Cinzano’s “Geode Console” captures all the flash and clash of Las Vegas in miniature. Hand-brushed steely planes carom in chiseled celebration of our dynamic, fractious world, limned with LED’s for a floating effect, while simultaneously coddling our various odd and ends within its wood-lined interior. 362 cm long, $ 35,000 http://www.enricomaronecinzano.com/
What’s Wall to Wall But Found in No Mall? After finishing up at Istanbul Technical University Emre Bağdatoğlu (pronounced Ba-dat-olu) in 2010, established his design studio, and went for a master’s at the elite Rhode Island School of Design in the US. His “Wall-to-Wall” chair is a mashup of high and low, elegantly rolled and folded strips o
f commercial carpet bound with utility rope in a configuration spoofing traditional box spring construction. $2,800 http://emrebagdatoglu.com/
Beyond Bulkheads. A favorite of Milan Design Week 2014 and 2015, “Helix” challenges our modernist sensibilities defining space as up, down, and across. Designers Marcella Del Signore, Giuseppe Morando, Elena Del Signore of OSW (Open Space Workshop, Milan and New Orleans) used CNC wire-cutting techniques to carve out solid, recyclable modules from a corn-based polystyrene to wrap bulkheads and ceilings in such a way that Helix conforms to the specific space within the M/Y. 5-8,000 euros depending on dimensions and finish. http://www.opensourceworkshop.net/