February 3, 2012

Metamorphokit (1971): Build It Yourself Modular CalArts Dorm Furniture


Good googly moogly, all this work on DIY/modular/industrial/plywood/Bauhaus bedroom furniture and I'm only finding out about Metamorphokit NOW??


I am clearly doing it wrong:

Dubbed Metamorphokit by the designers [CalArts faculty member Peter de Bretteville and Toby Cowan], it was a kit of modular parts: a combination of chromed tubular steel structural elements, Formica-laminated panels and storage boxes of Finnish plywood, and standard plastic bins. The design had its roots in iconic Modernist furniture: the use of tubular steel quoted furniture designed by Mart Stam and Marcel Breuer at the Bauhaus in the late 1920s and later manufactured by Thonet; the plastic bins served as drawers when used in conjunction with the boxes, recalling Charlotte Perriand's modular case goods of the late 1940s in form, color and concept; and the Finnish plywood and industrial hardware were reminiscent of Charles and Ray Eames' storage units of 1950. The dimensions of the various parts were carefully planned to allow them to be assembled by the students in an infinite number of ways to suit any imaginable need. Assembly of the components would serve as the student artists' first creative challenge on their arrival at CalArts.


There is also a sketch for a bunkbed. Which, despite being made of canvas cots, looks approximately 100x safer than the bunkbed as actually built by this dude. Are those beds turned on end? Doesn't that concentrate an incredible force in the wrong direction on the crossbar supports? How many days before it fell down?


According to CalArts' blog, most of the dorm furniture is now "gone"; only the Metamorphokit work table thrives on campus. Fortunately, you can relive much of the excitement of the three-degrees-removed Bauhaus at Ikea; theTrofast storage system is a dead ringer for the Metamorphokit boxes. I will look more closely at these bunkbeds, though.

UPDATE: not totally gone, though, nor forgotten. Here's a dorm room photo from 2007 with a couple of beds and desk/box setups. And here's a mom's flashback photo to her c.1980 CalArts dorm room. I'd say not aging terribly well is a central feature of the Metamorphokit system.

Metamorphokit: you can make it anything you want [blog.calarts.edu via icaphila]
East of Borneo Seventies Flashback [icaphila.org]
[all images thoroughly ganked from blog.calarts.edu, except the top, assembled bed, via pdebarc]

1 Comment

woah. yes please....

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