This week we spotted objects and installations poised for a big reveal. At first look, their structure was familiar, elements not particularly out of place. But with a quick visual adjustment or test of expectations, something altogether different—a trompe l'oeil—appears.
Even though our furniture often serves several functions, the art on our walls typically exists just for our eyes. But during Milan's SaloneSatellite exhibition for emerging designers, Japan's YOY Design Studio packed more features into the frame. YOY's canvases, made of wood, aluminum, and elastic fabric, and then screen-printed with images of couches and chairs, actually support sitting. The secondary use is startling, so it might require a little explanation before asking that guests take a seat.
Last month, the Swiss artist Felice Varini adorned the exterior of the Grand Palais in Paris with a work made from a very specific point of view. From the street, the vibrant orange stretched triangles look haphazardly splashed against the building. But observe them from the hall, and the applied scraps of color align, creating something that looks more like a projection than a perfectly planned effect.
Varini is not the only artist enlivening the streets of France with trompe l'oeil effects. Pierre Delavie has created similar public installations, manipulating the exteriors of buildings by throwing up an uncannily similar image, but one laced with some notable alterations. His installation at the Place Joseph Frantz right outside of Paris makes a tunnel where a wall remains.
If you're looking for something a little less mind-blowing for your home or office, check out the Fanion Rugs by the design collaborative BKS, founded by a trio of 2010 graduates of the Swiss art and design university ECAL. The CNC-milled felt rugs have a fringe that creates a simple 3-D illusion. It's enough to cause guests to do a double take, but not so distracting that you'll spend all day staring at the floor in amazement.
Rachel Swaby is a freelance writer and editor. She's written for Wired, Afar, O, the Oprah Magazine, Gizmodo, and others. Out in the wild she enjoys magazines, urban night hikes, games (both board & video), fiction, and facts.