WE ASKED CURATORS OF LEADING TWENTIETH-CENTURY AND CONTEMPORARY DESIGN COLLECTIONS TO DISCUSS ONE OBJECT THAT THEY FEEL IS PARTICULARLY NOTEWORTHY. HERE IS A GALLERY OF THEIR CHOICES.
IN HONOR OF DESIGN MUSEUM HOLON’S fifth anniversary, I invited visitors to experience the birth of a design idea—a stool by Yaacov Kaufman. A senior designer and former lecturer at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, as well as a known and appreciated international product designer, Kaufman is probably the most creative designer working in Israel today. The immense importance of his work springs from an extraordinary ability to expand the boundaries of formal design research.
The Tribe of Stools is his latest research project—475 1:1 scale stools created in his studio in Jaffa over eight years. All of them are shown here in the center of the gallery, a huge circle of stool evolution. At first glance they seem like duplicates or mutations—a fast-scrolling animation. A second look reveals slow and intricate systems of checks and hierarchy. No beginning or ending, no edges or margins—they are evolving endlessly. They offer the viewer a firsthand design lesson without any editing—a kind of three-dimensional exemplification of automatic writing. Though the stool is probably the smartest unsexy form in furniture, it is at the heart of Kaufman’s complex process: dismantling, processing and reasoning, questioning and expanding the results as they develop. At any given time he could have stopped. But he decided to continue to take apart, test, assemble, stretch, shrink, cut, paste, insert, sand, round, bend, connect, bind, perforate, and fill.
The visual and conceptual pleasure of experiencing this design process is usually reserved for professionals. Kaufman’s series offers an experience that does not require being versed in the language of design or trade. The Tribe of Stools is like a large extended family: they share a family name exactly like we do, and are likewise similar yet unique.
Design Museum Holon