Ania Jaworska designs surreal but functional versions of everyday furniture

Blacker than Black

Ania Jaworska designs surreal but functional versions of everyday furniture

Open through December 30th, Chicago-based Architect Ania Jaworska’s SET, at Chicago’s Volume Gallery, is a meditation on form and material. A collection of eight furniture units, SET plays with familiar domestic shapes and textures. Each of the black lacquered units shares a resemblance to the others through color, material, scale, and form.

Each unit in the show challenges the typical use of the piece of furniture it is based on. The dining table unit, with its overly exaggerated legs, only allows for four diners to sit at it at once. Slightly thinner than a normal dining table, diners sit closer together. Seating positions force all serving dishes to be pushed to the ends of the table, rather than the middle. The result is an enforced intimacy through design.

Ania Jaworska's SET at Volume Gallery (Courtesy Volume Gallery)
The thrown-like armchair from Ania Jaworska’s SET at Volume Gallery (Courtesy Volume Gallery)

The coffee and end table units are covered in cylindrical posts that are reminiscent of their own legs. These posts provide an ambiguous experience with the user. At first, one questions how the tables might be used. Jaworska’s answer is, “It can be used any way you would like.” From standing large format books on end between the posts, showing off cover and spine at the same time, or resting drinks on the individual ends, it is quickly clear that they are still functional, just not in a typical way.

The bulbous arm chairs are grander than a La-Z-Boy. Despite their seemingly odd proportions, they are comfortable. Finished in the same high-gloss lacquer as the other pieces, softness comes from their interchangeable pads, one of which can wrap the sitter like a blanket.

SET is not Jaworska’s first foray into furniture and object design. Notably, she designed the library shelving for the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts in Chicago. Her objects designs have also been shown at the Chicago Cultural Center, in a solo show at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, and at the 13th Venice Biennale. Ania Jaworska was also recently named to the shortlist of participants for the 2017 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program (YAP).

SET runs from November 11th through December 30th at Volume Gallery, 845 W. Washington Blvd, Chicago, IL 60607.