5 Platonic Objects by Christian Wassmann

New York

28 February 2013

"There's a purity in shape," says Christian Wassmann, the New York-based Swiss architect and designer. "But in our daily lives we distort that purity to make functional design or architecture. In this project I wanted to look for something ideal."

Wassman's project is 5 Platonic Objects, a furniture collection based around the shapes of the five Platonic solids: a series of regular three-dimensional structures known about since antiquity. In the collection are a tetrahedron pillow, a hexahedron lounge chair, an octahedron table, a dodecahedron light and an icosahedron flower vase.

"The project arose from play," says Wassman. "Which is unfortunate, as that's a phrase that is hugely overused in our industry. But it's not as if I had a problem I needed to solve. I was just playing with paper models of shapes and wanted to see if I could turn them into functional furniture items."

The collection will go on display at New York's R 20th Century design gallery next week. The aim of the project was to create a stark, geometric living room that could nonetheless fulfil a person's basic needs.

While some of the pieces are simple - the soft tetrahedron pillow and heavy clay vase - others are more complex. The collection's lounge chair unfolds out from a foam upholstered cube, while the carbon steel base of the octahedron table is topped off with a slice of a 97-year-old walnut tree, sourced from Wassman's hometown of Zurich.

The collection's dodecahedron light was created surface by surface over a period 12 days: each lenticular side forged by dipping the light into a two litre pool of resin.

The 5 Platonic Objects are an extension of previous work from Wassman, an architect and designer whose work is informed by mathematical principles and rigid geometries. The 2009 installation Excess is More was a structure based around the rhombi Le Corbusier used to create the roof of his Heidi Weber Pavilion (1965), while the architecture he created for the 2013 New York Independent art fair was inspired by the number three.

Wassman's Platonic Objects will be produced in edition and sold through R 20th Century.

"My heroes in the world of design are Charles and Ray Eames, and Achille Castiglioni; people who made products for the masses," says Wassman. "I would love to do that too, but in a larger edition pieces tend to lose some of their starkness. That worries me. There's a beauty in starkness that is important to my work."