Michigan-based designer Susan (Yating) Qiu is exploring the frontier of minimal furniture design with work that features unexpected materials and natural inspirations. They may not catch your eye for being the most practical pieces, but they sure are fun.
Her first series, "Adret & Ubac" may come off as a defective rug (which is partly true, according to the designer), but it's actually a snooze-worthy seating option for those looking to catch-up with a friend or on their sleep.
It's essentially a rug on the floor that elevates at the center to function as a backrest. The form defines dual spaces for both conversation and self retreat. Different tones used on two sides of the ridge signify the adret and ubac of the mountain, the binary nature of the piece, as active catalyst for social interaction as well as for passive repose.
In a world of open office layouts and temporary workspaces, this would fit in perfectly at one of those progressive nap-friendly employers.
Generally, we try to keep foam hidden underneath various fabric slipcovers—or, better yet, avoid most foam altogether. If it happens to sneak out through a tear or rip, we'll throw a pillow over it to keep it from the view of discriminating houseguests. Qiu's second series, "Foam Cut Furniture" pulls the material into plain view with a furniture design that shows off its decorative potential (and looks incredibly comfortable).
The marks made from scraping away excess foam gives this series a statuesque stone-like texture. "In traditional upholstery, foam is functional but seldom used as decoration," Qiu says. "In this project, the beauty aspect of foam is discovered. Foam is comfortable, but at the same time it can be a good ornament."
In reality, actually using the furniture might feel a little reminiscent of the years you spent sleeping on a foam mattress pad throughout college. But depending on how much density the designs have, they might hold up to the task. It even seems like a pretty plausible (and inexpensive) DIY project, if you're into that kind of thing.