Gaetano Pesce Is As Radical As Ever

Nov 14, 2018 445

In 1984, at a Pratt Institute laboratory in Brooklyn, Italian designer Gaetano Pesce cast nine chairs using the same mold. For each, he changed the resin formula ever so slightly. The first, jiggly as Jell-O, collapsed immediately on the floor. The second stood up, but, with one touch, toppled over. The third, fourth, fifth, and so on, grew more and more sturdy, but the eighth and ninth were so rigid that they were uncomfortable for sitting. His point? The difference between art and design is merely a slight alteration in chemical formula.

It's a narrative that has been embedded in his design practice for decades, and one he revisits this month as he unveils 16 new Pratt chairs (cast with fresh-to-the-market, transparent resins) at Salon 94 Design. A few days before the opening, I caught up with the designer at his SoHo studio, surrounded by goopy, globby objects of every variety, to talk art versus design, the resin market, and—just a day before the wildly polarizing midterm elections—politics.

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