A digital exhibition responds to the coronavirus pandemic with furniture designed by independent makers

Design for an absurd future

While isolated within the confines of their home, soft-geometry co-founders Utharaa Zacharias and Palaash Chaudhary wanted to explore the relationship between furniture and people. The idea was born out of the confined feeling the design duo felt when the summer design fairs were canceled due to the Coronavirus pandemic. It began out of playing a game of “what if,” when moving their equipment from the studio to their apartment. Together, they decided during quarantine, “design could foster the need to exchange, share, and create together, despite social distancing.” Participating as both curators and exhibitors, they initiated Imagined, in uncertain times, a virtual exhibition featuring 11 independent design studios, now on view. 

Imagined, in uncertain times is a fantastical online gallery staged in a rocky water-facing abyss, featuring works by eleven independent studios. (Courtesy soft-geometry)

While the showcase is entirely digital, the virtual space takes place in an imagined mise en scène. Eleven furniture-like objects are set in a rocky abyss that fades into the reflections of the surrounding body of water. Zacharias and Chaudhary handpicked designers who they admired for their ability to push the boundaries of common forms. “We were looking to our favorite artists who skillfully traverse between real and fantasy,” they said. 

The lineup includes a diverse group of studios from around the world: Voukenas Petrides from New York; Ovuud from Philadelphia; Serban Ionescu from Brooklyn; Léa Mestres and Argot Studio from Paris; Laurids Gallée and Supertoys Supertoys from Rotterdam; VIDIVIXI from Mexico City; Yeon JinYoung from Seoul; SPOT Studio from Barcelona; and their own studio from San Jose, California. 

Mexico City-based studio VIDIVIXI came up with an upholstered bed frame called Docked en Rio, which, they paired with Argot Studio's vine-line floor lamp. (Courtesy soft-geometry)

Brooklynite designer Serban Ionescu devised "an object of unknown and mysterious function." (Courtesy soft-geometry)

Netherlands-based Supertoys Supertoys designed the soft pink Cosmic Flower Table. Meanwhile, Parisian designer Lea Mestres opted for a chrome bench. (Courtesy soft-geometry)

The initiative also includes a small section of submissions from other designers, including a chair inspired by a bead maze toy, a diorama-like display of “fantasy worlds” for furniture, and a music box inspired by an old Mexican ceremony known as concheros, among others.

Imagined, in uncertain times will remain on view through the summer, standing in the place of canceled summer design fairs. “The idea of the virtual exhibition was to ask or hope that we would think beyond the realities, to look beyond the creative possibilities, and, in doing so, amplify our reach by coming together as a collective,” Chaudhary and Zacharias said.

Header image: Korean artist Yeon JinYoung conjured a chair with surreal proportions to depict “contradictory beauty.” Made fo aluminum, the work is meant to portray “an image of ourselves held by criticism and abuse.”  JinYoung likens his design to how aluminum pipes are easily modified and how the changed shape cannot be bent back. “I wanted to talk about the ostentatious pain on the outside, but in the end, I couldn’t hide it,” he said. (Courtesy soft-geometry/Yeon JinYoung)