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Factory

Chen Chen and Kai Williams' Brazilian debut unveils a collection of melded jewelry and furniture

by Phuong-Cac Nguyen in Design on 12 April 2012

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Like the results of mineralization—when organic sources meet and meld with other substances that then embody the form of the original—artists Chen Chen and Kai Williams' cross-sectioned pieces interpret what happens when the mountains of forgotten excess and scrap material linger so long that they become fused. These pieces—along with a few others especially created for their Brazilian debut—just opened at São Paulo's Coletivo Amor de Madre in an exhibition dubbed "Factory".

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Brought to the metropolis by a partnership between the design store and BoomSPDesign (which hosts the annual BoomSP Design Festival), Chen and Williams had only three days to produce all the works in the show, which includes two stools, several necklaces and a table with matching seats. The melded pieces also function as drink coasters for those who don't feel queasy when looking at something that resembles a slice of ham hock or the inside of a cell.

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The table's shiny surface is thick with resin and embedded with plastic sheeting. A spot pattern also decorates the surface—the result of contact between resin and the paint that was sprayed onto the tabletop. However, with little time and no access to the typical material that the duo was used to back at their home base in New York, they had to get a bit inventive, which for them, isn't difficult.

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"We have an overarching theme of experimentation with materials. Everything we make starts from playing around with materials and allowing those experiments to speak to us," they explain. "The idea of making our wrapped, resin-soaked fabric compositions wasn't possible because we couldn't get the same kinds of resin in São Paulo. We used a plastic tarp as a mold. The tarps were also something we noticed in Brazilian hardware stores. In the US, they don't sell it like fabric, on rolls that you can buy by the meter."

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As a design studio, they're relatively fresh to the scene. The pair, who met while at Brooklyn's Pratt Institute, officially cemented their studio partnership last year, though they both brought experience to the union. Chen, for instance, worked as Moss Bureau's display director in 2010, and Williams had his own manufacturing company, working with designers and artists to produce their pieces.

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"Factory" is on view through 12 May 2012.

Coletivo Amor de Madre
Rua Estados Unidos, 2186
Jardins, São Paulo
11 3061.9384

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