The Symbiotic Objects collection are designed to encourage users to rethink the relationship they have with the objects that surround them.
It includes a desk and chair that can’t stand without support, and a lamp that only turns on when worn as a hat.
Guan sees the project as a reaction against today’s consumer culture. His intention was to dissuade people from seeing everyday objects “simply as tools and slaves”, because this means they are less likely to worry about disposing of them after use.
“As designers, we should use design to lead, and tell people to think more about the daily objects around them, not just throw them away” he told Dezeen. “It has a huge effect in achieving a sustainable world.”
Guan’s desk and chair both only have two legs. But they also have leather-covered metal supports that allow them top attach to a person – for the table, these hook over the shoulders, while for the chair they sit over a lap.
According to the designer, these attachments encourage better posture.
The accompanying lamp is worn like a hat, with its helmet-shaped base slipping over the head. It only lights up once attached to a person.
“My purpose when designing this furniture was not to make it easy to use, but to indicate the interaction between people and objects,” explained Guan.
“For example when you are not seated on the chair, it will fall to the ground, but when you want to use it you need to bend down to hold it up and be part of the chair,” he continued. “This kind of interaction shows people and objects having mutual respect in a symbiotic relationship.”
When not in use, each of the three objects can be slotted into one another, thanks to the addition of holes.
Guan created the pieces for the Industrial Design masters programme at Central Saint Martins in London.
He presented them at the school’s degree show, where he claimed visitors found the furniture “much more comfortable to use than they expected”. The designer said that, although the pieces take some practice to get used to, visitors to the show quickly became used to it, even “feeling part of it”.
Other furniture unveiled at this year’s graduate shows includes a system designed of interchangeable pieces, created to reduce waste, and a rattan chair intended to question how conventional office chairs should look and feel.
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