The story of Chair begins with an exhibition. ABC Klubhuis, art space and an artist run initiative located in the city of Antwerp, was organizing a group show involving as many as 40 artists, where the idea was for each artist to create a functional object. The result would be a living room/bar setting in which events would happen over the course of the exhibition, fittingly called ABC Lounge Klub. To decide which object an artist would make, they did a raffle. One jar containing an artist’s name, one jar containing an object. As follows, Benny Van den Meulengracht-Vrancx was given the assignment to make a chair.
Having never made a chair before, he started out researching what kind of chair he would like to make by first looking at other chairs, drawing them in order to understand them, before designing his own. The second step was distilling his artistic practice into a recognizable shape, which could then be applied to the chair. Many drawings and maquettes later, the first technical sketch was made, featuring a distinct shape which can be seen again in Van den Meulengracht-Vrancx’s ceramic sculptures. The final ceramic maquette of the chair was used to make promotional images for the exhibition, featuring a figma figurine from the manga Gantz. The copy would be something like: “Wanna see the real thing? Visit the show!”.
The chair was produced and stood in the exhibition. During the show, the idea came to bundle some of the documents created to make the chair into an artists book and from that, the idea to recreate the promotional images of the maquette in life size. The artist approached design bureau Vrints-Kolsteren to, together with him, give shape to the book. To recreate the shoot, Van den Meulengracht-Vrancx asked photographer Stig De Block to take the pictures and he borrowed a latex suit from designer Kjell De Meersman, then in his final year at the Royal Fashion Academy of Antwerp, fitted on model Karina Zharmukhambetova, coincidentally resembling the Gantz figurine, with the set design done by the artist himself. Together with pack shots and close ups of the chair, all of these images would comprise the book.
It was Vrints-Kolsteren’s idea to work with different types of print. As such, the book is filled with seperate sheets of riso prints, silkscreens and offset prints, with the cover being debossed. A custom typography based on the chair’s shape was made by Christophe Synak, who was an intern at the time, in collaboration with Vrints-Kolsteren. The book is bound by an elastic band with the idea that each print can be seen as an autonomous piece to be taken out of the book or changed in its order. The final result is an artistic publication about a chair, but more importantly, the book brought together different artists from different disciplines.
100 copies of Chair were produced and hand signed by the artist.
Words from bennyvandenmeulengracht-vrancx.be
Drawings and Chair: Benny Van den Meulengracht-Vrancx
Book Design: Vrints-Kolsteren, Christophe Synak
Photography: Stig De Block
Latex Suit: Kjell Demeersman
Model: Karina Zharmukhambetova
Dimensions: 230 × 330 mm / 9 × 12.9”
Publisher: Benny Van den Meulengracht-Vrancx