Leave it to a toddler to see a white couch and decide it would look much better with some hand-scrawled ornamentation in the way of finger paints or permanent marker on it. Adults might react with horror, but there’s an innocent creative gesture behind this act, and maybe it can teach us a thing or two about personal expression. After all, the impulse to customize our furniture doesn’t have to manifest itself as something that looks like a child’s drawing or an amateur craft project. Most furniture is designed to be used as-is, but this trio of objects from Stoft Studio actively encourages your inner artist and invites you to give them your own individual touch.
The Swedish design studio presents “Canvas Chair,” “Blank Table,” and “Dear Disaster,” a group of furnishings that you can customize in various ways. The seat of the Canvas Chair functions as an embroidery hoop, so you can cover the cushion with the fabric of your choice, weave something special for it, or maybe add some cross-stitching. The Blank Table features two sheets of tempered glass in a light ash wood frame, allowing you to highlight works of art, press some flowers, or paint directly on its surface.
“Blank is a kind of homage to the time in a production process, a compromise in the form of a product where both worlds are possible,” says Stoft. “Like a blank paper ready to be filled, allowing for the unique.”
The third object, Dear Disaster, is a set of two birch wood cabinets containing more than 800 wooden parts that can be individually flipped to reveal a colorfully-painted backside. Flip as many or as few as you like in whatever patterns you can come up with for a painterly look. The point, says Stoft, is to “give an outlet through which the user can express his emotions and on which he can leave his own individual imprint.”
The Canvas Chair is available in three variations: a textured canvas model by textile design duo Butler/Lindgård entitled “Goosebumps,” a leather hide one by the Tärnsjö tannery, and a woven surface one by the Klässbols Linen Weaving Mill (all based in Sweden). All of these designs aim to put the unique qualities of their textiles on display within the embroidery hoop frame, leaving the chair’s raw edges visible. Of course, you could always just insert the fabric of your choice.
“A few decades ago, textile craft was the woman’s area of expertise and a lot of effort was being put into making durable products for the family,” says Stoft of the Canvas Chair. “Focus lied in making textiles that would last through time, but they were often also very beautifully decorated. Today a lot of knowledge of different craft techniques has been forgotten and most people don’t know how to value the time-consuming art of making a textile weave or a natural tanned leather hide. Canvas is a tribute to the slow and to the handmade. By using the upholstery in a respectful yet playful way, we want to show the authenticity of the material and the craft that lies behind.”