If you enjoy the plasticy smell of fresh cut PVC in the morning and iconic chair design, you’ll love the new butt hugging iteration from Kenneth Smythe. You’ve seen the asymmetric permutations of his designs before – open-source designs based on musical variation. But where those use materials that are more difficult to work with, the Retrograde Avant Garde chair uses one of the most common materials available and puts it to beautiful use.
Retrograde Avant Garde
The Retrograde Avant Garde is a two-tone juxtaposition of PVC and leather creating a rhythmic composition of class and style. The chairs use Schedule 40 PVC fittings, Schedule 80 PVC pipe and 8oz black Latigo leather – Items you can pick up at your local home and hobby store. Yet, underneath the common materials is a deeper subject matter. As Kenneth tells it,
“This design is elemental, primordial and expresses an existential utilitarian gravitas. The seating is virtual the same for all PVC chairs. The chair function is not being redesigned. The support structure is redesigned for each chair. What I have created is a visual passacaglia with the function acting as a ground base as in Bach’s Goldberg Variations.”
Kenneth’s use of Bach’s Goldberg variations describes how one design can take on multiple variations, keeping the function of the seating intact and modifying, or rather, progressing the form around it like musical notes in song. How brilliantly esoteric is that?
Kenneth has produced five chair designs, the SIM Quartet:
SECULAR IDOLATRY MODALITY, set alfa
PARADIGM VECTOR CHANGE chairs, set beta
PROVISIONAL VISIONS CONJOINED chairs, set gamma
RETROGRADE AVANT GARDE chairs, set delta
TRANSUBSTANTIATION OF TIME chairs
“The SIM in SIM quartet is an acronym for SECULAR IDOLATRY MODALITY. The sets alfa, beta, gamma and delta differentiate the sets by how the seat and back side rails connect to the frame that takes the seating to the floor. Set alfa, PVC’ would be connections (AA), set beta, PVC” is (BA), set gamma, RAG is (AB) and set delta, TOT is (BB).”
In this ‘Quartet’, there are 52 designs, 13 in each set and he has many more designs to come. His hope is to work with a collector, dealer or manufacturer to bring the chairs to life. The renderings you see below are by Rob Rodriguez of Axis CAD Solutions LLC.