As someone who has not occupied a single apartment for more than 2 years in the last decade, I lament to say that I’ve never had a meaningful relationship with a piece of furniture. This may be an indictment of my own capriciousness, but it is likely not a unique condition for the university student, young professional, nomadic millennial, etc. Mobility appears to be the condition of many professionals today, which can lead to unsavory furnishing practices, namely the impulsive purchasing and disposing of products that are of low build and materials quality (had I dollar for every IKEA floor lamp I’ve seen amid New York trash heaps…). In consideration of ecological crisis, and an ill-devised recycling infrastructure, the relationship between an individual and the material of their living space is in desperate need of reexamination.
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Loose Parts wants users to both consider the needs of their space, and to play with the material that fills their home. Loose Parts is a modular assemblage system that offers people furniture for the home that lives, grows, and changes, as they do. The product comes as both fully constructed furniture, as well as deconstructed parts of a self-assembly kit. The Loose Parts system avoids unnecessary material complexity by using only wood, recyclable aluminum. Yet its modular design invites the addition of found parts and objects. What is perhaps most compelling about the Loose Parts design is that it expects its users to be unique individuals. It doesn’t seek to impose itself upon one’s living space, but empowers the user to assemble it to fit their needs.
Asking how we assemble objects to fulfill our needs, is how Jennifer June, designer of Loose Parts, began to develop the system. In June’s studies at Parsons School of Design in New York, the city itself invited her to consider ad hoc moments of design. “From the street vendor to the subway busker ordinary acts of re-purpose, appropriation and re-imagining call into question assumptions about how objects and space should be used.” says June. Loose Parts provides a creative space between the user and the designed object, one that is rarely found in furniture design for the home. This fluidity of Loose Parts constructions can ease the process of seeking affordable yet well-designed furniture for the home.
This past week, Loose Parts hosted a workshop at their pop-up store in Manhattan, where people could come and build their one furniture using the Loose Parts and found objects.
This process can have a wide-reaching impact when one considers the material we cycle through to arrive at the perfect furnishings. The system’s “Parts” are deliberately fashioned for flexibility in the living space. The wood rails are FSC-certified, are sourced from regional suppliers and come in 5 different lengths: 72, 30, 24, 18, and 12 inches. The lengths were determined by June’s research of “historical furniture design, ergonomics and architectural norms,” so that the user can get the most out of the material given to them, “better materials mean a longer life both of the product and natural resources of the environment.” says June. It is with these durable and lasting materials that the parts can be constantly rearranged and reused.