To celebrate the Red Hook outpost's first birthday, we challenged four local artists to make over iconic pieces from the Swedish brand.
Tue Jul 7 2009
This multi-talented designer is best known for turning common trash-bound objects (old retainers, used chewing gum) into gold-plated charms.
Inspiration: “A lot of my pieces are based on St. Sebastian, a martyr who was shot with arrows because he was trying to spread the word of God,” Mead says of his signature furniture (two versions of his coatracks will soon be available at Urban Outfitters). This chair follows a similar style—shot with arrows and wrapped in red yarn to look like blood. “When someone sits in the chair, it looks like they’ve been shot at,” explains Mead. “And when it’s empty, it just looks like the chair is the martyr—it works both ways.”
Step by step: Mead keeps the powder-coated metal arrows on hand in his shop, so finding materials was easy. “The arrows are made in two pieces—the pointed end and the feathered end—so we drilled a few holes, filled them with epoxy and assembled the arrows,” says Mead. To top it off, Mead twisted yarn from the Yarn Tree (347 Bedford Ave between South 3rd and 4th Sts, Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-384-8030, theyarntree.com) around the chair in varying directions.
Ikea sentiment: “I had a roommate back in the day—before I even knew what Ikea was— who had this chair and it was the most coveted thing in the apartment,” says Mead. “This is the quintessential Ikea item. A dozen designers could make over this chair and each would be wildly different, but you’d still be able to tell it’s an Ikea chair.” See more of his work at kielmead.com.
Founder of an eponymous design studio, Loebach works as a consultant and specializes in emerging manufacturing technologies with wood, metal and glass.
Inspiration: “The original object was cool because it had flowing curves. I wanted to take that moving form and push it a little further,” says Loebach, who points out that this project is representative of the work he normally does. “I’m all about taking simple materials and using new manufacturing technologies to transform them into something unexpected.”
Step by step: Loebach traced the mirror onto a piece of paper and hung the paper on his wall. Over the next two days he worked with colored pencils to draw a new shape over the existing one. He scanned the final design into his computer and sent it to Kammetal (60 Seabring St between Richards and Van Brunt Sts, Red Hook, Brooklyn; 718 722 9991, kammetal.com), where the glass was cut to Loebach’s specifications.
Ikea sentiment: Loebach stopped by Ikea for lunch while the factory worked on his mirror. “I had the salmon salad and french fries and my girlfriend had meatballs and mashed potatoes. I strongly recommend the grocery section near the exit. The herring, rye crackers and cloudberry jam are delicious.” See more of his work at paulloebach.com.
Rich Brilliant Willing
This design trio (Theo Richardson, Charles Brill and Alex Williams) breathes new life into preexisting materials and objects.
Inspiration: “Our stuff isn’t necessarily modern, but there’s not a lot of smoke and mirrors to it,” explains Brill. In keeping with their pared-down style, they began by simply removing materials from the lamp.
Step by step: The team dismantled the lamp’s original base, removing the circular wood veneer cover to reveal a substantial cast-iron disk. They turned it upside down so the text in the metal was visible (“It has such beautiful texture, we didn’t think it should be hidden”) and reattached it after shortening the main pole (“to make the light source more dynamic”). To add a splash of color, they coated a few inches of the pole and the three-pronged plastic arm that holds up the shade with blue rubber spray.
Ikea sentiment: “Our project was funny because Ikea products are already so minimalistic, but we still managed to find things we could take away,” laughs Brill. See more of their work at richbrilliantwilling.com.
Abby Clawson Low
A former senior art director for Kate Spade and Jack Spade; she now operates her own design company HI + LOW.
Inspiration: “I love to buy books, and my husband loves to read them,” says Low. “Naturally, all of our tables are stacked with books.” For that reason, Low married the two ideas in her project, and cited a hodgepodge of other influences on its design including the Museum of Natural History, a Brooklyn stoop sale and the works of artist Joseph Cornell.
Step by step: With a piece of paper cut to the size of the tabletop, Low set out for the $1 book carts at the Strand Bookstore (828 Broadway at 12th St; 212-473-1452, strandbooks.com) in search of various books that would fit the size of the table’s surface. She commissioned the folks at Mega Glass & Sashes Co (51 Fifth Ave between Bergen St and St. Marks Pl, Park Slope, Brooklyn; 718-638-7511) to cut a quarter-inch-thick piece of glass to fit the tabletop. Armed with dark-chocolate book cloth from New York Central Art Supply (130 E 12th St between Third and Fourth Aves; 212-477-0400, nycentralart.com), she covered each of the parts of the unassembled table. Once put together, she “stacked the books into an eye-pleasing arrangement at an equal height. I also threw in some colorful pencils to help level one of the books because I thought they’d look interesting.” She then topped it off with the glass to resemble a display case.
Ikea sentiment: “Almost everyone—rich, poor, good taste, bad taste—owns something from Ikea,” Low points out. “And in this age of DIY, it provides a great blank canvas.” Low suggests displaying her finished work in a contemporary setting as a functional piece of furniture and a curious design object. See more of her work at abbyclawsonlow.com.
VIEW THESE ITEMS IN PERSON They’ll be on display from July 13 through the 19 at the Red Hook Ikea (1 Beard St at Otsego St, Red Hook, Brooklyn; 718-246-4532, ikea.com).