Aluminum furniture is about to be everywhere
When designer Tom Dixon partnered with IKEA on a sofa bed a few years ago, the partnership not only resulted in a Delaktig collection, but also a seed for the future. As part of the collaboration, Dixon was introduced to Hydro, one of the world’s largest aluminum producers, which was, as Dixon put it, “eager to be innovative in materials and technology. “. The partnership earned the company a place in the designer’s professional Rolodex. This summer, the result of the duo’s second collaboration (this time for its eponymous firm), the Hydraulic chair, was unveiled among an industry-wide crop of aluminum furniture.
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In an age when manufacturers and consumers are hyper aware of the circular economy, metal offers many advantages: aluminum is light, durable, non-corrosive, applicable indoors and outdoors, and recyclable throughout. ‘infinite. (According to Aluminum association(nearly 75% of all aluminum produced is still in use today.) While the material has long been a staple for outdoor environments, this new wave of aluminum designs thinks indoors first.
Designers have their own reasons for researching the material. For Andre Herrero, of the AD100 Charlap Hyman & Herrero company, the ability of aluminum to take on different finishes was what aroused a first attraction. (The designer opted for a smooth, mirror-like chandelier in the company’s latest set of tables for Los Angeles gallery The Gilded Owl. And while the material isn’t entirely new to New York studio Green River Project (it constitutes the entirety of its Collection IV of 2018), aluminum remains a constant material muse for the founders Ben Bloomstein and Aaron Aujla.
“I think we’re drawn to the weight and tone of the material,” Aujla told AD PRO. Easy access also helps. The duo collaborate with Bloomstein’s brother, an airline mechanic turned metallurgist, who brings the designs of the Green River Project to life at his foundry based in upstate New York. Bloomstein Industrial. And Tom Dixon finds the intrigue in the fact that “it is a modern material with many new possibilities which are revealed all the time”.
Perhaps the latter is behind the recent proliferation of aluminum furniture, namely those that showcase the raw, slightly shiny finish of the metal instead of hiding it under a layer of powder coating. Herrero adds to the notion of innovation by noting its increasing accessibility. “We were happy to hear that smaller manufacturing studios can now use the material because the milling machines are smaller and more affordable,” he says. Then again, adds Hererro, “This could also be a reactionary response to the overuse of brass in millennial design in recent years.”
This is how the pendulum of design swings. The latest in aluminum is not just for cold and industrial interiors, but rather for those that are complex: on the market there are pieces that oxidize beautifully, developing natural characteristics over time, their giving the possibility to play well with various aesthetics. Browse the latest market launches highlighting metal and the innovative methods that now shape it below.