The Walker Art Center launches
In Situ: Contemporary Design at the Walker
, a series of installations in collaboration with renowned designers and design-conscious manufacturers showcasing new furniture and interior furnishings. Inaugurating the series is
In Situ: Blu Dot at the Walker
featuring Blu Dot’s Buttercup lounge chair and its newly issued Couchoid seating. The installations in the Walker’s Cargill Lounge and Bazinet Garden Lobby remain on view through October 2007. The In Situ series creates compelling environments for visitors and showcases the best in contemporary design by selecting companies, manufacturers, and designers whose work reflects the innovative nature of modern and contemporary design that the Walker promotes. Andrew Blauvelt, design director and curator of the new installations, explains: “By making the work on display ‘interactive’ —allowing visitors to experience the furniture by actually using it—we hope to reinvent a unique period of our own history.” During the 1940s the Walker, through its Everyday Art Gallery, united people interested in modern design with the purveyors of those goods. In Situ installations will provide information about the works on view, the creative process, and the design philosophy of the participants.
Blu Dot was a natural choice for the Walker since both organizations share a commitment to modern design and have previously collaborated on the redesign of the Andersen Window Gallery—an area of the Walker’s collection galleries that offered in-depth views of a particular artwork, movement, or artistic practice—and the installation design for The Un-Private House (2000), a traveling exhibition organized by the Museum of Modern Art, New York.
Blu Dot was cofounded by Maurice Blanks, John Christakos, and Charles Lazor, three college friends with backgrounds in architecture and art. Based on the premise that good design should be more affordable, the partners chose furniture as a subject of mutual interest and, in 1996, Minneapolis as a location for their studio and base of operations. Blu Dot’s award-winning line of furnishings has garnered significant critical recognition, and in 2002 the company was selected as a finalist for a National Design Award from the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum. Its clients include GAP, Target, and Crate & Barrel.
Today, the Blu Dot collection numbers more than 40 pieces, all of which share a modern formal vocabulary and an unambiguous functionality often imbued with a sense of humor. The simplicity embodied in the studio’s work can be seen in such early pieces as the Chicago series of bookcases and desks, which consists of simple wooden boxes pierced by round metal tubes that serve as legs. Ingenuity and playfulness are evident in the 2D:3D line of perforated-steel office accessories, which are packaged flat and folded by the user to create the appropriate three-dimensional object: letter tray, coatrack, or tabletop CD holder. Blu Dot’s work carries forward the optimism and vitality of modern design in postwar America epitomized in the work and lives of Charles and Ray Eames—but with a distinct contemporary sensibility.
Couchoid, on view in the Cargill Lounge, represents the company’s first collection of upholstered furniture. A refined silhouette belies the simplicity of its blocklike foam forms, which are sheathed in “cow-friendly, flesh-free” synthetic leather. To create the conversation pits featured at the Walker, Couchoid’s normal array of lounge chairs and short and long sofas has been augmented by a square ottoman-style piece that transforms individual pieces into a modular system.
Buttercup, on view in the Bazinet Garden Lobby, is Blu Dot’s first ergonomic lounge chair. Its curvilinear forms cradle the body in a molded plywood shell reminiscent of the famous lounge chair designed by Charles and Ray Eames in the 1940s. Available with a pedestal base or with a rocker option, Buttercup’s “passive ergonomics” position the body in a slight angle of recline.
In addition to the Cargill Lounge and Bazinet Garden Lobby installations, the Walker Shop currently features various pieces from Blu Dot’s extensive collection and can assist customers with selections, specifications, and purchases from the line. For more information about Blu Dot and its line of furnishings, visit www.bludot.com or the Walker Shop at shop.walkerart.org.
This exhibition is presented in cooperation with Blu Dot.