Bent plywood and QR codes

by Matt Bushey, June 28, 2011

When we were at the NeoCon trade show earlier this month in Chicago, we noticed a number of recurring themes emerging at many of the furniture showrooms.
Furniture designs were geared more toward casual interactions and ad-hoc group collaboration.  Fabrics were especially plush, with a lot of felt used for seating and upholstery.  There was an emphasis on efficiency of materials, with a broad use of bent plywood and thin structural frames.  And new and innovative forms were being developed in seating for both aesthetics and ergonomics.
The most notable example of many of these themes – the piece that best seemed to have its finger on the pulse of furniture design today – was the Ginkgo chair by Davis Furniture.
The designers of the Ginkgo sought to create an iconic chair with an instantly recognizable form.  It is influenced by the classic Series 7 Chair by Arne Jacobsen.  (You may remember this video we shared with you in February that tells the story of its graceful construction.)  But the Gingko provides a very new form, with a provocative silhouette that differentiates it from other plywood shell chairs.
Another recurring theme in the product presentations this year was the use of technology.  From free iPad offers to customized smartphone apps, everyone seemed to be trotting out the latest hi-tech gadgets.  And of all these technology trends, the biggest one by far was the use of QR codes, those little bar codes that you now see with more and more frequency in magazine ads, on real estate signs, and even on bags of potato chips.  NeoCon verified for me that the ubiquitous little bar code has now found its place into the world of Interior Design as well.
For those who still need a little tutoring, one showroom offered this primer on what these codes are and how to use them:
When any piece of new technology rises so rapidly, it’s almost inevitable that it makes its way into some very unrelated facets of our cultural life.  Here, for example, is some QR-code “art” that found a prominent place on the wall of one showroom:
Look closely: in the bottom-right corner of each piece of QR-code-art is: a QR code.  You can presumably scan the artwork for more information.
The QR code was evident throughout NeoCon on much of the tradeshow literature, painted onto the sides of the furniture delivery trucks parked out front, and integrated into the furniture itself.  This brings us back to the bent plywood:  one company, FurnitureLab, was showcasing these chairs with a large QR code imprinted right onto the back.
The idea is that customers can scan their seat before taking their seat to get valuable info from their school or hotel.  Here’s the card that explains the concept:
But what happens when the technology changes – as it will surely do – and is replaced with the next big thing?  Then I suppose you will be left with a room full of chairs adorned with yesterday’s brand. 
You can always call it art.

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