“Marcel Breuer seeing a pair of bicycle handle-bars decided to make chairs using the same industrial process”, notes Jasper Morrison in his text, The Poet will not Polish, “the new world constructor seeing a pair of bicycle handle-bars decides to use them as they are and save himself the trouble and expense of bending the tube.”*
On seeing an aluminium tube, Eindhoven based studio OS ∆ OOS followed, in many respects, a similar logic. The result is the Tunnel collection.
Our first introduction to the work of OS ∆ OOS a.k.a. Sophie Mensen and Oskar Peet was through their 2013 project Keystone, a project which absolutely terrified us. Less directly and more because in its curves, material mix and discontinuity we thought we could see the rapidly developing mycelium of a Post-Modern revival.
Not that we are apportioning any blame for the situation to OS ∆ OOS, far from it, all they did was intelligently and methodically deconstruct a typical Roman bridge, abstract it, and reassemble it as a chair. We were the ones panicking.
Thankfully 2014 saw Sophie and Oskar develop the genuinely charming and ever engaging Mono-Light, a fully flexible, customisable, essentially non-existent, it’s just a silicone tube, lighting system. Following on from recent projects, including developing their Syzygy Lamp into the Helical Lamp for FontanaArte and creating an upholstered version of Keystone for Danish brand Please Wait to be Seated, at Dutch design Week 2017 OS ∆ OOS presented two new projects, Matrix which launched at the VDMA building in downtown Eindhoven and Tunnel which they showcased in their studio at Strijp T.
Tunnel has its origins in considerations on the classic sawhorse, that exaggerated cross into which one lays a length of tree before sawing it into smaller pieces; an invitation to participate in the exhibition Morphosis at Schloss Hollenegg, near Graz, in May 2017 providing the impetus to translate the idea into something tangible.
Crafted from aluminium tubing, the Tunnel Stool, as with its longer relative the Tunnel Bench, is based around a well considered and intelligently realised construction system, one which utilises the characteristics of the material and possibilities of contemporary production technology to eliminate the need for screws, welding or other immobile joins, and which thus allows for objects which posses an inherent ease and lightness. Both visual and physical.
Formally, the aluminium tube can be considered the tree trunk, and thereby that most intuitive of seating solutions, while the sawhorse itself is referenced in the crossing of the legs, whereby particularly appealing is the decision to have crossed legs at one end, and a single leg at the other, an abstraction which brings with it the formal tension necessary to allow the work to assume its individual character and self-confidence.
According to Sophie part of the thinking behind the Tunnel Stool was as a stop-gap sitting option, for example in a hallway when taking off/putting on shoes, and for that it certainly appears very well suited; if not necessarily for longer sitting, for while not uncomfortable it would, we imagine, increasingly become so over an extended period. Or put another way, it’s not an object for sitting on to watch The Hobbit. Far less to read The Hobbit. Does however invite you to stop briefly while, for example, telephoning your mother, enjoying a quick espresso or fly fag on the balcony/terrace, or indeed to take off/put on your shoes. And yes, we’d definitely be in favour of a slightly higher version. To allow for perching. Perching is important.
From the original Tunnel Stool and Bench Sophie and Oskar have developed, and are continuing to develop, a collection of furniture objects, from which the current high point for us is the side tables. Presented at Dutch Design Week in two versions there is something very satisfying, when not stupidly logical, about the way both the glass table top slides into, and is thus supported by, the metal tubes, but also how the glass “continues” inside the metal tubes to create a second smaller, secret, table top. Even if part of us did and does want a solution that allows for the integration of small plant pots into the tube openings.Equally satisfying and logical is the construction principle of the sideboard, a majestic though reserved, respectful piece.
Since visiting OS ∆ OOS our thoughts have however been less on the sawhorse and more on the clothes horse, an object onto and over which one is invited to throw your clothes when their job is done for the day: if you will a more civilised replacement for the chair you currently use. Yes you do!
While the Tunnel Clotheshorse is a very appealing solution, we are coming, on reflection, ever more to the conclusion that the horizontal tube should have a smaller diameter. For us there is something about the scale and/or proportions which don’t quite add up, make it a little too dominating and therefore too loud visually. Or put another way, and to keep with the equine theme, as presented in Eindhoven it looked like you could place a saddle on it, for us it should be more something you tie a horse to. And we’re not entirely convinced by the supporting legs, feel there is a much more satisfying solution waiting to be discovered. Otherwise from idea and material, certainly a very interesting proposal.
The combination of metal and glass which, in many respects, defines the Tunnel collection did mean we were a bit concerned our Art Deco alarm would kick-in and spoil the pastoral idyll of Strijp T; however, arising as they do from considerations on material properties and construction processes the objects carry within them a very natural, unforced, grace and elegance, while the simplicity of the objects combined with their informal formality, bequeaths them a universal accessibility that stops them drifting towards the dangers of Art Deco.
And keeps them aeons from Post-Modernism.
Full details on the Tunnel collection, and studio OS ∆ OOS, can be found at www.osandoos.com