Inspired by the invective writings of Adolf Loos and his concerns for the economic and moral detriments of ornamentation, Adieu is a set of eight porcelain furniture legs from bygone eras. Cast from actual wooden chair components, they are to be placed in gas or conventional fireplaces; for the ardent modernist, these “logs” offer a torrid farewell to our stylistic pasts.
While their placement in the fireplace symbolizes their rejection and destruction, they themselves are of durable ceramic; they resist and persist. They are a tricky form of contemporary ornamentation–one that scorns ornamentation itself, or at least previous promulgations. Acknowledging the complexity of aesthetics and cultures of taste, Adieu embraces its own irony in serving as the modernist's anti-decoration decoration.
Adieu is intended to adorn the gas- or wood-fireplace that is never used, or perhaps it is installed during the off-seasons. While it might be nice to see them aflame, these porcelain pieces are not to come in contact with heat or flame. They are, criminally, for ornament only.
• Each of Adieu's 8 pieces is carefully hand cast and fired by American ceramicist, Heath Bultman in his Seattle studio.
• Each piece is comprised of unglazed porcelain, having a sensuous matte finish.
• Each piece is durable, and feels solid; wall thicknesses of approximately 3/8".
• Adieu is a set of 8 individual pieces–they are not joined together.
• The 8 separate pieces can be configured as the customer sees fit (see "Install" tab).
• Adieu is for decoration only; it is not to contact heat or flame.
• Five of the legs are approximately 16" long, with the smaller three being approximately 5", 7" and 8" in length.
The furniture styles represented are:
– Queen Anne (Ogee bracket foot & Bandy leg)
• The pieces are safely shipped in foam sleeves, each within their own box, which are then packed in a larger box.
• The pieces may be cleaned with soap and water; pernicious marks may be sanded out with fine-grit sandpaper.
Adieu was first conceived of in 2007 while developing a series of discursive designs. After sitting a while in a materious sketchbook, later with the help of Greg Bethel, then graduate design student at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (SAIC) where Bruce was teaching at the time, research was completed and casting positives were prepared for the porcelain molding process. With the assistance of ceramicist Natalie Pfister, then graduate of SAIC's ceramics program, the molds were made in early 2009. At the very last moment, on their way to the airport to the Milan furniture fair, the first successful prototypes were removed from the cooling racks (though still warm).
While exhibited in Milan, Adieu gained a great deal of attention. Its greatest accolade was selection by the Los Angeles Times as one of the 32 most noteworthy designs, featured alongside the work of the most prominent international designers, e.g., Phillipe Starck, Karim Rashid, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Patricia Urquiola, Jasper Morrison, Jaime Hayon, Richard Hutten, and Jurgen Bey.
Back in Chicago, we explored the possibility of licensing the idea to gas-fireplace log manufacturers with the assistance of Chicago-based designer, Lynn Lim. Given the high concept and relatively low potential market size, the estimated return on investment proved too difficult to overcome. One reason for this is the high cost of certification testing--around $30,000--that is necessary to go to market. This hurdle is a prime reason that Adieu is not intended for use with heat or flame.
When we decided to self-produce Adieu, we knew that we needed to refine the production and create new molds. Through a design colleague, Craighton Berman, we were introduced to Seattle ceramicist, Heath Bultman. Through several rounds of prototypes, experimenting with glazing and other finishes, we have arrived at the final design.
We are continuing testing with a black version--one where the color is not a glaze, as we prefer the soft texture of unglazed porcelain.