Maarten De Ceulaer’s ‘Mutation’ Furniture Bubbles Up in Milan

(Photos: Nico Neefs)

Bound for the Milan Furniture Fair yet short on time? Focus on the work of designers named Maarten! That will keep you plenty busy. Start at Ventura Lambrate, where Maarten Baas will have a bunch of new projects on display beginning tomorrow. Among them are spidery clay stools that Louise Bourgeois would have loved, a massive tablecloth woven—in a typeface called “Font of the Loom”—with the names of the inhabitants of Amsterdam (all 780,559 of them), and a still-under-wraps “kinetic object” for Laikingland. Also on view will be his Martin Puryear-esque “Empty Chair,” a 16-foot tall ladder-back seat created for Amnesty International in honor of Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo.

The other Eindhoven-educated must-see Maarten is Maarten De Ceulaer, who’ll be exhibiting at three locations during the Salone del Mobile. Head to Rossana Orlandi and the Triennale di Milano to be charmed by his “Mutations” series (pictured). “The pieces in this series look like they weren’t made by hands, but have grown to their present form organically,” says the Brussels-based designer. “They might be the result of a mutation in cells, or the result of a chemical or nuclear reaction. Perhaps it’s a virus or bacteria that has grown dramatically out of scale.” In fact, De Ceulaer created the molecularly marvelous seating, a kind of deep-buttoned upholstery run amok, by carefully composing patterns with sections of foam spheres that are then applied to a structure. The final step is coating the entire piece in a rubbery or velvet-like finish. “It is largely impossible to ever recreate such a specific pattern,” he says, “so every piece is completely unique.”