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New Icons of Radical Design: SuperGufram X Studio Job

A punchbag in an orange brick pattern. A cooking pot coffee table with its own steam. A moon cupboard. Polyurethane foam mixed with other materials was used to make each of these objects. They were designed by Studio Job for SuperGufram. Confused? Intrigued? Then read on…


Gufram describes itself as a ‘handcraft workshop’ representing Italian creativity. Producing design icons since 1966, Gufram’s furniture pieces have a unique history in design, and are typically housed in museum and private collections around the world. Its designs are the result of a cross-pollination of industrial design, craft and art: they’re described as ‘alert, subversive and desecrating domestic sculpture with a pop art soul.’ Gufram’s objects are imagined with elements of Anti-Design and represent the unorthodox views advanced by the Italian Radical Design movement.

The cactus coat stand was designed in 1972 by Guido Drocco and Franco Mello for Gufram. The first edition was a deep emerald shade; follow-up editions include biancocactus (white), rossocactus (red) and nerocactus (black). The 2010 rossocactus is pictured.
Nerocactus (2010).

Radical Design

Founded by a progressive group of Italian designers in Florence, Radical Design (also Anti-Design) was a movement that shaped Italian design in the 1960s (a politically turbulent decade for Italy). With its published manifestos, unconventional design vocabulary, anti-establishment outlook and utopian ideals, Radical Design offered a critique of the mainstream, including consumerism and society’s attitude to women. Moreover, the movement questioned the design status quo, making use of unusual materials such as foam and latex. It firmly opposed modernist notions of ‘good design’ and taste. Designs (as Radical Design) were often exceptional objects, made up of surprising proportions, playful shapes and bold colours.

The Globe cabinet by Studio Job.

Studio Job

For Gufram, the concept of a subtle form of irony is a constant part of its DNA. This is shared by design collaborators and enthusiasts, indeed anyone willing to engage with a nonconformist, surreal vision of the domestic landscape. Gufram teams up with designers and artists of international repute: those with the ability and willingness to question themselves and their varied creative approaches. One such collaborator is Amsterdam–Antwerp-based Studio Job. Founded in 2000 by soulmates Job Smeets and Nynke Tynagel, Studio Job has worked to transform common preconceived ideas on the discrete realms of art and design: its work occupies and redefines the space between these two domains. Studio Job’s body of work draws upon classical, popular and contemporary design and visual art.

Studio Job’s Nynke Tynagel and Job Smeets at Design Miami/Basel. Photo via Yellowtrace.

SuperGufram X Studio Job

SuperGufram X Studio Job collection.

At the recent edition of Design Miami/Basel (13–18 June 2017), Gufram presented SuperGufram, a brand spin-off created to investigate the boundaries between industrial design and applied art in the 21st century. For its inaugural event, SuperGufram showcased a series of limited edition objects created by Studio Job (only seven editions of each piece will be made). The objects uncover the virtually limitless potential of polyurethane foam mixed with other materials. Charley Vezza, Gufram’s Global Creative Orchestrator, explains: ‘[With] SuperGufram . . . we can be free from any possible restriction [and] designers can unleash their most visionary ideas . . . the collections are precious gemstones, shapes [that] will become the new icons of radical design.’

Gufram’s booth at Design Miami/Basel. Photo via Yellowtrace.
Punch a wall. A limited edition punchbag in an orange brick pattern.
Steam. A limited edition cooking pot coffee table with its own steam.
Fence. A limited edition fence wall divider whose elements reference tree bark.
Globe stand. A limited edition shiny globe stand.
Cactus. A limited edition version of the famous cactus coat stand (pictured above).
Moon. A limited edition moon cupboard, ‘inspired by the most romantic satellite’. Moon was created as an homage to Studio Job’s 2014 Globe cabinet for Gufram (pictured above).

All photos courtesy of Gufram (unless otherwise stated).

Gerard McGuickin

Gerard is a writer, a thinker and a modern-day gentleman living in a modish neighbourhood in south Belfast. Walnut Grey Design is his popular manifesto of good design. From Gerard’s discerning perspective, design should be aesthetic, smart, honest and gratifying. Moreover, it must be for keeps. A self-confessed urbanite, Gerard is enthralled b[...]

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