Strala is a fascinating design firm producing elegant, minimalist furniture that packs a graphic punch. Each piece is delicate yet forcefully present, almost sculptural in its own right. Designer Tom Strala has produced a portfolio that has become more playful and postmodern in its approach to object and furniture design over time.
He explains what that philosophy means to him: stripping away unnecessary elements without losing visual interest, specifically as it regards his leather and metal KALAHARIO chair.
“Values that are considered to be ‘good’ are newly defined by each generation. In the years ’10’ of this century the world of design agreed unanimously: everything had to look flush. There were only surfaces and edges. No bolting, no screws, no structural were allowed to be visible. Shapes and forms had to be as simple and clear as possible. ‘Flush’ was the declared goal, the universal remedy for a visual cleanse. In this context I dealt with the question of what simplicity actually means. In my observation I noticed that ‘Flush’ was often celebrated as simplicity without really being simple. KALAHARIO in contrast, is pragmatic in its spirit, but not in its appearance. Eight tubes , eight joints and a piece of leather – That’s it.”
Other chairs they have worked on show a creative but coherent revisitation of styles and designs of the past – balanced with a view toward contemporary trends and new materials.
Beyond chairs, Strala has begun material experimentations that take conventional products from atypical sources – such as concrete and rebar normally used in construction – and reapplied them in unconventional and curious ways.
“The concrete table BARTOK uncovers what we want to hide.The iron grid reinforcement of a building is always hidden and nobody values it. What keeps a building together – in its core – is nevertheless the visible concrete as well as the unseen iron grid. BARTOK intentionally shows off this iron thereby challenging our view on the material and changing our perception on what is beautiful.”
“Conventional pipes cover the electric cabling of POMPIDU and at the same time give it a firm shape. It is a reduction to what is absolutely necessary. A lighting object in which the supporting structure, electric current and visual appearance interact in a subtle and poetic way.”
About the designer:
“From an early stage in his career, the Swiss designer Tom Strala has worked in an experimental mode, avoiding both industrial and mass production. Design for him is both an art and a way of interpreting thoughts and ideas. Rather than responding to economic need or the general zeitgeist, he looks for radical design solutions that express his world view and that are often based on contradictions, such as roughness and fragility.”