March 1, 2009
Alexander Pelikan updates a DIY concept with high-tech methods and high-end materials.
In 1934 the department store Metz & Co. introduced the Crate line of furniture, designed by the Dutch Modernist Gerrit Rietveld. Made of raw packing-crate wood, the economical furnishings arrived flat-packed and could be easily assembled at home—an idea that predated Ikea by 20 years (and Jasper Morrison’s high-end Crate series for Established & Sons by more than 70). Now Alexander Pelikan, an Eindhoven grad, has brought Rietveld’s DIY concept into the digital era. His Clicfurniture collection is made from interlocking CNC-milled pieces that snap together—no screws required. The young designer envisions a future in which shoppers customize their furniture online and then pick up the finished pieces at their local milling factory. “The basic idea is to put the Modernist idea of easy production into our age,” he says.
But for this limited-edition version of the Cliclounge, which was shown last December at Design Miami, Pelikan emphasizes craftsmanship over mass production. Rather than using a single common material such as plywood or bamboo, he fashioned the chair out of an unusual combination of European cherrywood and ultraclear glass. “I say it’s a cyber craft,” he says, “because it combines the possibilities that modern machinery gives with old craft spirit.” Here Pelikan introduces the latest member of the Clicfurniture family, available through the Priveekollektie gallery (www.priveekollektie.com).
The pieces click together like a backpack buckle—that was the inspiration for the whole thing.
I use extraclear Pilkington glass. It has very little iron content, so the glass is much clearer, not greenish. It is superfine and gives the impression of the wooden planks levitating in the air.
I’m only making eight sets of two chairs because they’re for a select market and very expensive to make. As a guy who cherishes precious and refined materials, this is really close to my heart.
It’s very uncommon to CNC-mill glass in this way. It requires completely different machinery than is used for wood. The milling bits are diamonds, and it’s very, very slow—it takes half a day to finish one side, and then you have to polish and harden it. It’s a lot of handwork. I went to the absolute limits of what is possible in terms of the thickness of the material. The guy who milled it said, “I would only go for six-millimeter thickness,” and I used nineteen millimeters.
The wood is layered European cherry, which radiates a certain warmth. I like working with old, classic woods—what you know from furniture history—in combination with new materials and technology.