BLAST Chair by Explosion (Guy Mishaly)
From the curators: Unless we’re talking about the abstract and colorful joy inspired by celebratory firework displays, explosives are often perceived as a destructive force that is used to violently wrench things, and people, apart. Working in a context where he has termed this design tool “almost a local ‘raw material’,” Guy Mishaly, an Israeli industrial designer, subverts these assumptions with his project BLAST. After creating simple shapes like cylinders and cubes out of sheet steel, Mishaly lines electric cables filled with explosives in very specific locations on the metal objects. Upon detonation, the sheet metal rips and folds itself into the shape of a stool. Although the process of creation for each piece is the same, the outcomes are anything but predictable—each stool has its own idiosyncratic design. Like Chinese artist Cai Guo-Qiang, whose work often includes the use of gunpowder (most memorably, to extend the Great Wall of China), Mishaly corrals explosive energy into a visual signifier of both creation and decimation.
Sheet-steel has precise material characteristics. A bomb is inexact by nature. The child of this split-second marriage of the obdurate and the explosive is a Mishaly Blast stool. No two are ever quite alike.
It takes skill to form a stool through a detonation. Too little violence, and the steel is merely scorched and dented; too much, and it’s steel shrapnel. Mishaly achieved his feat through the time-honored industrial-design method of experiment and observation. He blew up a lot of steel until he found the knack for it.
The scorched and dusty steel stools receive a glossy electrochemical coating. Then they’re fit for daily use and a civilized display. Blast stools are dramatically shaped and yet stolidly peaceable, with a somewhat awkward, objet trouvé appearance. They look oddly like driftwood chairs, which are made from wood subjected to the violence of the seas.
Mind you, a Blast stool is not some existent metal chair that’s been blown up through sabotage. The “BLAST” is the blast itself, a blast frozen in warped steel, a demonstrated, visible blast you can sit on, no more, no less.
Our world today is so bedeviled with violently murderous blasts—from the skies, and from the streets—that to sit on one may seem like hubris. But Guy Mishaly, who happens to be an Israeli, takes pains to say that it’s not his intent to make political comments about bombing. Violent blasts number among mankind’s creative resources. Explosions are how we mine metal, make dams, and drill tunnels. Violent explosions are also natural phenomena: we can see them when we contemplate the craters of the Moon.
In conclusion, it remains to be asked: what’s the ideal setting for a Mishaly Blast stool? They are rather far from cozy, and there will always be something disquieting about their shape and substance.
So they might be the ideal work-stools for those who run the risk of becoming thoughtless with violent power at their command. Let’s say: nuclear power-plant technicians, diplomatic negotiators, and software coders for the stock market. We’d all rest easier if these folk were a little less easy. Sit down: blow up