modular furniture system

It might not be much to look at, but that is a trade-off of sorts for the fact that it is super simple to build. “It” might be a bit misleading, actually, since there are no real limits to (or instructions for) what you can and cannot create from this kit of parts. Colin Schaelli made this modular furniture system with the proverbial “everyman” clearly in mind – like IKEA, but even easier. The thin, faux-posh veneer is stripped away too … a humble honesty shows through in the exposed pieces of rather raw-looking plywood.

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modular furniture system variations

Tables, shelves, desks are all obvious, but structurally the formations are strong enough to hold a person, too, making seats and benches possibilities as well. The gridded Tatami-based Japanese system is flexible and references a rich historic design heritage.

modular furniture system console

Interlocking cross-braces stabilize vertical and horizontal planes, and most configurations lock even more tightly into place once weight is applied – the load effectively reinforces the overall design, and becomes legible through construction.

modular furniture system vertical bookcase

One complaint, though: these are sold as pre-finished pieces ready to be assembled, not as individual building blocks. And they are not cheap. In a sense, these aspects are self-defeating given the otherwise direct, inexpensive and straightforward approach of the design itself. A consumer would (rightly) expect to find that the cheaper manufacturing process would result in a less pricey product.

modular furniture system table

About the designer

“Biography: Colin Schälli, born in 1980, grew up in Chur, Switzerland. He is a self-taught art director who learned that craft from Peter Zumthor, Markus & Daniel Freitag and Ralph Steinbrüchel. Furthermore, he learned photography from Noë Flum. Colin Schälli completed his design studies at the University of Art and Design in Zurich. After that he lived in Mendrisio, Tokyo and Paris until he moved home to Zurich, where he currently lives and works.”

“From sketch to picture: Colin’s work has specialized in generating content, stories and storyboards and having them photographed either by professionals or by himself. He creates all content and storyboards himself that are required for the projects. In addition, there is the planning, casting and production of the shootings, which he organizes and directs himself.”