Dual functionality is an emerging trend in many facets of the design industry. The conceptual process of designing an aesthetic product that can serve multiple needs is not an easy one. There are a number of designers out there that are attempting to take on this challenge and market higher quality products that can be used for multiple functions or made to look different with a simple transformation.
One such designer is Peter Vardai. His transforming carbon armchair is a great example of a product that can be used in more than one way. The chair serves as both a rocking and still chair and features a very contemporary, ergonomic look. The seat is an unattached piece that sits in the transformable base. When the user is ready to switch from still to rocking chair, the seat is lifted and the frame need only be turned upside-down and the seat replaced. This transformation is not only a great change in functionality, but is simple to use. Without any fancy mechanisms to switch the functionality, I think that Vardai has created a highly marketable product. The aesthetics of the chair are my only critique of the piece. While it has a modern look with sleek lines that I find appealing, the carbon frame and hot red seat are a bit harsh for me. The colors remind me very much of a gaming chair for a little boy. I would like to have seen it done in wood or even just painted with softer colors for in home or patio use.
Another designer that strives to create pieces that can be transformed for multiple uses is clothing designer Laura Miller. Every facet of Laura's work is carefully considered from the way it looks, the way it moves, the materials utilized, even to the number of ways it can be worn. I was fortunate enough to meet Laura Miller earlier this year at the Fashion Incubator in downtown Chicago. Her pieces were not only fabulous, but she was such a delightful, inspiring young woman. She shared her path to this career and how her values and convictions have led her to creating her own business.
Now, about the clothes! Laura's pieces are designed in such a way that you can turn them upside-down, inside-out or fasten them in a way that creates an entirely new aesthetic. From a long knitted sweater into a short cowl neck sweater, from a strapless slinky dress to a halter top - the versatility to her clothes is never ending. For functionality and look Laura's work gets an A+. the only drawback to her pieces is the extreme price point. There are a number of reason why the clothes are so expensive. Firstly, every piece is made from hand loomed, recycled or organic fibers. Sustainability is a very important factor in Miller's work. Secondly, the clothes are all hand made and the multiple functionality of these pieces make it more than one item of clothing. The expense of her products have made it more difficult for her business to take off. In a culture that is obsessed with quantity and often overlooks quality, it can be difficult to market such a pricey product. However, the manufacturing process and the versatility of the clothes makes these articles of clothing completely worth owning. It is my hope that I can be the lucky owner of a Miller piece someday.
click here to see Laura's website and clothing collections!