Designers are prone to spending inordinate amounts of time shaving a millimetre of a surface thickness. Or trying to increase the distance between two points by a couple of millimetres. Occupations which to the uninitiated can appear just a tick obsessive. In how far however relatively small changes of scale, differences of a few millimetres, can alter not only the physical appearance of a product, but the very character of a product, was elegantly explained by Danish manufacturer Houe at spoga+gafa Cologne 2017.
And that such changes can also have an aural impact, a Click becoming a Clip.
Established in 2007 in Ry, near Aarhus, the Houe portfolio includes both indoor and outdoor furniture, whereby a central position is that occupied by the Click outdoor seating collection by Henrik Pedersen. Featuring plastic lamellae which “Click” onto a series of filigree metal frames to create a family of chairs, Click allows for the creation of contemporary objects which have an easy accessibility and universal applicability. In addition to Click’s functional and formal charms come the practical and pragmatic: should you wish to change the colour of your chair(s), or should one/more lamellae become damaged, simply exchange them. Click. Click.
At spoga+gafa 2017 Houe presented, when not an evolution of Click, then certainly an abstraction: rather than Click, it’s Clip.
Through extending the diameter of the steel tubes used for the frame and increasing the thickness and breadth of the lamellae, Henrik Pedersen has realised with Clips much chunkier objects, objects with a more robust character than the Clicks. Which isn’t to say Click is a more reduced system, it’s not, thanks to the intelligently worked proportions Clips also carries itself with a very pleasing visual lightness, has however just a touch more presence and authority.
In our opinion.
And as ever, we’re not Oracles with definitive answers, but at best subjective fools to be regarded with extreme caution.
For us the highlight of the new Clips collection is without question the rocking chair.
Presenting itself as a very pleasing, naturally flowing aluminium frame onto which are clipped the plastic lamellae, the Clips rocking chair features rubber strips under the rockers and thus, should, in principle, rock silently on even the hardest of surfaces. We can’t confirm that, only that it rocked silently on the carpeted floors of Cologne Trade Fair. But we see no reason to doubt Houe’s claims.
Although, logically, rocking chairs are about rocking, who, apart from someone with a sleeping child in their arms, or a clichéd grandmother/father on an American porch, actually continually rocks?
Even the Shakers, creators of, arguably, the archetype of the contemporary rocking chair got their name from their worshipping practices and not their sitting habits.
Rocking chairs are much more about a freedom of movement, a tacit permission to do that most taboo of actions and lean back in your chair. Or forward, should the situation and mood demand: and sitting in the Clips rocking chair one feels stable and secure when leaning both back and forward, while the transition between the two is smooth. We obviously did also test the rocking action, which was very satisfying and readily variable from gentle to manic and back to gentle. Not that we imagine we would ever really do such. Or at least not until we retire and move to a fantasy, idealised, America. Which is arguably just where that nation is heading
Beyond the Clips rocking chair, the new Clips side chairs are equally pleasing, comfortable, and for all phenomenally light; the latter taking you very much by surprise when you first pick them up. As with the rocking chairs the Clips side chair is available with plastic or wooden armrests and in a range of frame colours. And as with Click the lamellae of the Clips collection can be changed as/if/when need be. And both systems, for us, as are just as applicable in domestic as in hospitality or commercial contexts.
In addition to Clips Houe also used spoga+gafa Cologne 2017 to launch the new Four table collection, also by Henrik Pedersen, and the Edge side table by Israeli designer Roee Magdassi. An indoor/outdoor table Edge features an integrated carrying handle which also serves as a semi-circular “edge”; thus providing not only a simple transport solution but a little more security to the table top, while through its incompleteness it brings the necessary visual tension into the composition. But perhaps more pleasingly is that the team from Houe saw Edge at the 2016 spoga+gafa unique youngstars competition exhibition and signed it up. It may not have won a prize, did win some influential admirers. And thus stands as a very nice confirmation that manufacturers do pay attention to such young designer competitions.
Full details on Houe can be found at www.houe.com