Chairs, having existed since the beginning of civilization, have taken on different forms as society and technology evolved. And for Joyce Lin, an American-born Taiwanese artist and designer, chairs are much more than inanimate objects for people to rest their buttocks on – they’re iconic, familiar, and possess anthropomorphic qualities that parallel the human form. “I think that furniture objects are powerful because whether they’re practical or not, they evoke a type of environment that is accessible to most everyone,” Lin explains of her fascination. “To me, furniture represents reality. So when I use it in my work, I see myself manipulating or altering that reality.”
As a recent graduate with a double major in both biology and furniture design – two seemingly unrelated fields – the 23-year-old designer realized that she can take concepts from the former and integrate it into the latter. “Biology and geology have given me a lot of insight into understanding internal structures and systems on a broad scale,” Lin shares. “They tell us where we, and everything in our environment, come from, how they have evolved over time, and how they are evolving now. It challenges my assumptions about how and why things work – how parts come together or fall apart – which translates to how I work in the studio. Learning about science keeps me interested and makes me love and care about the world in a way that I hope is expressed in my work.”
For Exploded Chair, one of Lin’s most well-received project, she dissects a wooden spindle chair, encasing its dismembered parts within transparent acrylic containers. Each individual piece that makes the chair whole is isolated and shifts freely in their respective containers. While most people naturally believe that these disembodied pieces of wood are what makes the chair a chair, Lin’s reimagining of the traditional chair challenges this concept. This project plays off of the audience’s expectations and is her way of making viewers question the function of a chair and contemplate the role of different materials as well as the meaning of permanence.
In an older project, titled Used Chair, Lin manipulates the anthropomorphic elements that she’s observed in the seating furniture with the idea of creating a “subservient” chair. The final creation bends the traditional wooden legs into human-like limbs, positioned to almost look as if the chair was groveling on its knees. Lin intended for this project to be a statement piece on the relationship dynamic between people and objects. In a separate project, titled Fused Chair, Lin salvaged parts from five discarded chairs. The bottom part of the final creation is formed of distinctively identifiable parts from the original chairs. Moving up, they begin to disintegrate into generic cubic shapes before finally forming into a smooth seating surface and back support. Presenting the chair’s evolution in three different stages, this piece is meant to display the gradual process of change and visualize how materials transform into a final product.
在此前的一个项目《Used Chair》（二手椅）中，Joyce重新设计她在椅子上观察到的那些拟人化元素，打造出一张“顺从”的椅子。她将传统的椅子木腿被弯曲成像人一样的四肢，看起来，这把椅子几乎就像跪在了地上。在另外的项目《Fused Chair》设计中，Joyce的目的是探讨人与物之间的关系动态。这件作品是Joyce从五把椅子上取出零件，最终组装而成的。在椅子的底部，她所使用的5张椅子的不同部件还清晰可辨。这些部件开始分解成一般意义的立方形状，一步步往上堆叠，直到最终融合成一个光滑的椅座和椅背部。这一设计呈现出椅子演变的三个不同阶段，用来表达变化的渐进过程。
Viewing Lin’s work, the often hard-to-discern line between art and design might feel even blurrier. But she shares her understanding of the key differences between the two, explaining that she sees art as being more about expression, research, and communication while design is about applying research towards a practical goal. “Of course, you can do both at once,” she adds. “Most things hold multiple functions. At the core, both are embodiments of an idea or philosophy regarding our lived experience. I’d say that my goals are more about expression and communication, but honestly, I’ll do anything that excites me. As long my work affects people in an exciting and meaningful way, I don’t care what form it takes.”