The Giannina Chair and Lamp by American Designer Ian Stell

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Kinetic Furniture Designer Ian Stell creates The Giannina Chair that Functions as a Lamp

Kinetic furniture by Ian Stell inspired by Latinx philosopher Giannina Braschi

When industrial designer Ian Stell announced his plans to design a chair that resembled a lamp, poet Giannina Braschi encouraged her friend to take his concept further. She said, “Make the chair function as a lamp.” This challenge was born of her philosophy that “things are beautiful when they work. Art is function.”

Stell rose to the challenge and built a kinetic device that morphs from a chair into a lamp and named it “Giannina.” He explained how the invention transforms from one functional object into another: “When in its chair mode, a wheel that’s shaped and positioned like a soup bowl rolling on its edge acts as a backrest. Out of the center of this wheel—at a perpendicular angle—an oversized saddle is mounted. The wheel spins around the central axis until the occupant leans back in the chair, acting as its brake. When the chair is unoccupied, the wheel can be flipped over to be a lampshade over the LEDs mounted beneath the saddle.”

In the spirit of Braschi’s literary hybrids, the designer explained that this namesake chair is also “attempting to exist between typologies, resistant to being categorized, but striving to have purpose.” Its purpose is beauty.

Excerpted from World Literature Today (O’Dwyer, Tess. “Popping Up in Pop Culture and Other Unlikely Spaces: Latinx Author Giannina Braschi Crosses Over.” World Literature Today 95.2 (2021): 19-21.)

Drawings of the Prototype of the Giannina Chair: It doubles as a spinning seat and a standing lamp

The Giannina Chair, a drawing by Ian Stell
The Giannina Chair in upright position as a chair
Giannina Chair by Ian Stell in lamp mode

In the spirit of Braschi’s literary hybrids, the designer explained that this namesake chair is also “attempting to exist between typologies, resistant to being categorized, but striving to have purpose.” Its purpose is beauty.

World Literature Today

About the Designer Ian Stell

For Ian Stell, material choice and fabrication process follow the conceptual intention. This tactic has led Stell to work with a broad array of media, at scales that range from miniature to monumental. His projects span furniture, lighting, accessories, interiors, sculpture, installation, and beyond. Stell continues to cultivate fluencies in both digital and handcraft techniques, celebrating the rich cross-pollination that results from a broad approach. The objects he makes are often kinetic or reconfigurable and require a high level of precision in their manufacture.

Stell’s work has been presented in a number of New York venues, including solo shows at Matter (2014, ’15) and group shows during New York’s Design Week (AmDC 2013, OFFSITE 2014, Wanted 2013, ’14). He has also exhibited at Triode³ in Paris (2014) and Salone del Mobile in Milan (2012, ’13, ’14). Stell’s first in a series of functional, intersecting staircases was installed in July 2015 on the banks of the Spree River in Berlin. This staircase, called Diagint, was fabricated near Torino by a factory that provides prototyping and limited production to some of Italy’s premier automotive companies. As of this writing, he is preparing work to be shown at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (2015) and the Swiss Institute (2015).

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