Brodie Neill is an Australian furniture designer whose pedigree is truly international: initial studies at the University of Tasmania; postgraduate at the Rhode Island School of Design and a number of years working from top NYC-based brands before opening his own design studio in London’s design-heavy east end.
Chances are that even if you don’t recognize Brodie’s name, you would recognize his work – his design for the @ Chair was included in Time magazine’s list of most influential designs- and his reputation amongst the world’s influential tastemakers is second to none, amongst them the late Alexander McQueen with whom he collaborated on projects.
Modernity might be simplistically divided into design aesthetics that favour the geometric and boxy and those that favour the curvy and organic. It would also be fair to say that Brodie Neil’s work is most definitely in the latter category, drawing on the curvaceous lines of the 1950’s and the streamlining that preempted it, the aspirations towards the organic that proved popular with the more individual designers of the 1980’s and the inspiration of CGI computer technologies and advances in materials that emerged in the 1990’s to make what had previously only been dreamed of viable as furniture. All of these histories and influences come together in Brodie Neil’s designs that are at once unapologetically abstract whilst never losing functionality; simultaneously beautiful in the way that the natural world offers beautiful organic form and yet all the time somehow futuristic.
This last aspect is particularly evident in some of his most recent designs for chairs. For example, the Reverb Chair consists of a continuous uninterrupted surface that is reminiscent of anything from the internal form of a flower to the human eardrum. But, somehow, its highly reflective mirrored surface that reformulates any environment into which it is inserted transforms it from the natural world into something space-age and alien, fit for some super-intelligent race that has no need for showing the boring details of how something manages its job of holding a human body off the ground. By contrast, the Remix Chaise Lounge feels less like it has fallen out of a passing UFO, but is nonetheless seductively intriguing with its stratified stripes of manmade materials –including, it turns out, some of the wood- and reclaimed materials. If its wood grain gives it something of an earthiness that makes it feel more of this world, its uncompromising abstracted organic shape certainly removes it from the quotidian conceptualization of domestic furniture.
And, for those that want a chaise as an even more purist form of abstraction, Brodie’s most recent design for a chaise that was premiered at London’s Superdesign boutique design fair during the art fair season was entitled Glacier. It was made entirely out of glass.