A Delicate Imbalance

GamFratesi’s Cartoon chair combines Scandinavian rigor with childlike whimsy.


The Danish-Italian duo GamFratesi delight in what Freud called the uncanny—the notion that something can be both familiar and unfamiliar at the same time. For their Cartoon chair, for instance, the designers offset the telltale signs of a well-constructed Scandinavian chair—high-quality craftsmanship, precise detailing, and natural materials—with an immensely oversize backrest, which itself is decorated with four irregularly sized buttons. “It fascinates us just to be balancing between the tradition and the surprising, whether it is in the dimensions or a very small detail,” says Stine Gam.

For Cartoon, she and her partner, Enrico Fratesi, took inspiration from the out-of-whack proportions and anthropomorphic elements of children’s drawings. “The backrest with the four embedded buttons immediately recalls a kind of face,” Gam says. “Then, after recognizing a face, you might start to look for the body and the arms and the legs, and the structure becomes a part of the human characteristic in a way.” Here the designer analyzes her uncanny chair, available through Swedese and on view this month at the Dansk Design Center, in Copenhagen.

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