Tall Order

Furniture & Lighting

Amongst the many things we know about the great architects and designers who managed to make names like Womb and Wassily a part of our collective design consciousness is that they were very serious about reshaping—quite literally—old notions about what constitutes good furniture design. The enduring presence of Mid-Century Modern furniture in the glossy pages of shelter magazines (and in our homes) is due, in part, to the structured geometry and sculptural forms which render them both instantly recognizable and unfailingly photogenic.

All of which creates something of a dilemma for a photographer tasked with putting a novel visual spin on these overly familiar silhouettes. Making them look good is not the challenge—they always look good, don’t they?—but making us look at them anew, is.

The New York-based photographer Ilan Rubin, whose portfolio includes work for Knoll, has smartly used an architectural device—stacking—to create a series of vignettes that allows us to see some of our most revered pieces of modern furniture from a whole new set of angles. Whether literally piling Florence Knoll Benches atop each other or shooting down on a vertical arrangement of Saarinen Tulip Stools, Rubin takes familiar angles and curves in an upward direction—composing abstractions of color and shape, at once art, sculpture and architecture. Try doing that with a slouchy sofa.

Photos: Ilan Rubin

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