A conversation about placemaking and furniture design with Ted Galante
Time Space Existence is a biennial exhibition that serves as a platform for international architecture practitioners, photographers and artists to showcase their work. Here, participants have the opportunity to explore and present their unique techniques and perspectives on the intersection of time, space, and existence.
Photo by: Matteo Iosurdo, Urban Fabric Series | Chair exhibit at the ECC Time Space Existence
Ted Galante, the brilliant mind behind the Galante Architecture Studio, redefines our connection to place with “The Urban Fabric Series”, now showcased in Palazzo Mora.
In an era where technology transcends time and space, Galante explores the shifting concept of place. As winter storms rage outside, virtual escapes to summer beaches challenge our sense of location. Discover the genesis of this groundbreaking series as Galante shares insights into merging placemaking concepts with contemporary furniture design.
Photos by TGAS, UFS | Chair - Venice in Maple, Natural and Harvard in Aluminum, Black
ECC Team: Can you tell us more about what inspired the design of the Urban Fabric Series that was exhibited at “Time Space Existence”?
Ted Galante: In response to the question, “Can a chair evoke a sense of place as strongly as a building does?”, I’d like to introduce the Urban Fabric Series | Chair. We incorporate distinctive maps into the chair’s design, drawing inspiration from the layers of the earth’s strata over significant periods of time to create a narrative. When we sit on these chairs, they embrace us; capturing the essence of history that spans across centuries for any city, any location, any time period that cartography data can be compiled to capture the ‘Urban Fabric’ of the place.
Photos by: Michael D. Spencer, UFS | Chair – Doha in Aluminum, Red Orange
ECC Team: The concept of placemaking is central to your work. How do you see the role of furniture in creating and defining a sense of place?
Ted Galante: The Urban Fabric Series | Chair is a bespoke statement piece that encapsulates the narrative of a place through the layering of historical maps that speak to foundational events or momentous points of time that are meaningful and perhaps, transformative to the city, the place, and the totality of the time period depicted. The narrative may cover the span of centuries or a specific lifetime. It may incorporate one location and its evolution or chronicle the history of an institution, a family, or a person.
ECC Team: You mentioned studying the history of a place and its corresponding maps as a starting point for your design process. Could you elaborate on how this historical research influences the physical and conceptual layers in your furniture designs?
Ted Galante: We study the history of a place to seek representation emblematic of its evolution; significant or marked changes in its infrastructure that signal development, usually capturing a meaningful point in time that has influenced the location’s historical narrative. When these important times are identified, we capture cartography of the location, beginning with a map of its distant past through to the present, in four chronological layers to create the “urban fabric” that is then affixed to the specialized chair frame, creating the surface areas of the chair design. In almost every case, this layering of history starts with the early stages of city engineering that become more dense in its roadways and land development as its population and city landscape change over time.
Photos by: Michael D. Spencer, UFS | Chair - Paris in Aluminum, Reseda Green
ECC Team: The idea of “layers over time” is intriguing. Could you explain how this concept is translated into the physical construction of the prototype chairs in the Urban Fabric Series? What materials, elements, or historical references are incorporated into these layers?
Ted Galante:The design, in its essential elements, can be customized to represent any place and time period that research can garner the data to produce each chair’s unique story. The user can be as involved in this part of the process as they feel vested in the capturing of its history; the narrative of the place. Four layers of maps serve as a physical representation of the past as well as inspiration for the future. They are researched and converted into CAD files, then custom laser-cut and affixed to the chair frames by our production team. Finishes in 20% pre-catalyst lacquer (for wood chairs) and green technology powder coating (for aluminum chairs) are applied as the final step in production.
When seated in an Urban Fabric Series | Chair, one might consider the significance of the past and present that they sit upon, contemplating their own presence within that very narrative.
ECC Team: Could you share any specific challenges you encountered while hand-building these prototype chairs? How did you bridge the gap between traditional craftsmanship and modern design concepts in this process?
Ted Galante: Great care and deliberation has been taken to protect our proprietary production process and will remain as such while we continue to develop our prototype designs and prepare to go to market. Traditional craftsmanship, while essential to the design and hands-on fabrication of both chairs, is coupled with state-of-the-art CNC and laser cutting technologies to ensure the beauty and functionality of the UFS chairs are also structurally innovative.
ECC Team: As a studio known for your architectural work, how does your approach to designing furniture differ from your approach to designing buildings, and how do these two areas of expertise complement each other in your philosophy?
Ted Galante: While both architectural and furniture design incorporate the idea of gravity, building design considers environmental impact restraints like seismic reinforcement and wind shear calculations from a fixed location and with multiple, simultaneous human interactions. The building’s purpose may change over time and its interior, even its exterior design, remodeled to serve different activities.
Although both design practices address functionality and human interaction, there’s a tactile sort of sensibility in the process of designing furniture through a different perspective and scale. A chair design, for example, serves a primary function to provide a place for rest, regardless of its creative development, or it ceases to be a chair by its very definition. It must bare the weight of a seated person and must withstand reasonable usage with sometimes unbalanced weight distribution, at times leaning at odd angles, and sustain movement, relocation, scratches, and dings while in transport or simply during everyday use.
How does one design a chair to overcome the hazards of mobility over time or design a building to endure the elements while presenting a design intention that also endures?
In this way, architects and furniture designers exist in complementary disciplines. They both strive to resolve these human and environmental interaction challenges through creative and resourceful design.
Check The Galante Architecture Studio profile here.
Photos by: Michael D. Spencer of the Urban Fabric Series | Chair, Seoul in Walnut, Natural