A POLITE REQUEST FOR INDECENT DESIGN 

Ivana Dancova

This is a request for indecent design. The request is borne by a chair—Freak Chair—made by my hand. The chair supports that which is taboo; its inflated, latex-like skin squeezes outwards the transgression of its user’s inhibitions (restraints that confine and entrap). It is furniture that not only takes up but penetrates space.[1] Let me explain. 


Much has been written on the interaction of ‘taboo’ and ‘architecture.’ In a Perspecta volume of the same name, Erika Naginski quotes Robin Evans on the way in which architecture resists messiness and indecency: 


[Architecture] by its very nature limits the horizon of experience—reducing noise-transmission, differentiating movement patterns, suppressing smells…impeding the spread of disease, closeting indecency and abolishing the unnecessary; incidentally reducing life to a shadow play.[2]


Likewise, Western society has boxed the taboo impulses of desire into places like strip-bars and lounges, dark rooms that conceal and blur identities, politics and sobriety. Our bedrooms, on the other hand, have become white and pure from any suggested indecency, irrespective of the actions that take place. They are cute and safe. Safe is sterile. Safe is not a violent clash of emotions and safe is not conducive to dreams. By negation, Freak Chair is unsafe, Freak Chair is dreamy, Freak Chair is playful, Freak Chair is ergonomically pleasing yet ideologically unsettling. It does not sit passively within a space; it cannot occupy a room without ‘menacing’ the ambience.


Neurotic/Erotic
Our neurotic need for control permeates every pore and every plasterboard panel of the standardised Australian Dream. This neurosis precludes the activation of an erotic potential latent within many spaces. Bernard Tschumi describes architecture becoming erotic at the point at which it negates itself—when a building transgresses beyond the sanitised form that society expects of it.[3] An exemplar of this liminal phase according to Tschumi is a decaying, Corbusian Villa Savoye.[4] Here, the intersection of life and death becomes the ultimate pleasure point; there is a residue of cognition and neurosis in tension with pure flesh and fabric. 


Freak Chair—bulging, swollen out of proportion and stained black—is realised within this liminal space of rotting/erotica. Through Freak Chair, I disrupt the sanitised, enclosed (hermetically-sealed) space of the domestic realm. When there is order, there is a limit, and where there is a limit, there exists transgression. This logic holds the potential to charge many conventional spaces with eroticism. However, for this potential to be realised with any kind of meaning or significance, one must be open to the collision. Chris Jencks describes this kind of conscious encounter: “Limit finds meaning through the utter fragility of its having been exposed, and transgression finds meaning through the revelation of its imminent exhaustion… an orgasmic juxtaposition.”[5] 


Cognisant collision with Freak Chair may be polite, orgasmic and anything near and far between. The choice between neurotica or erotica is ultimately yours, dear user. 

[1] Renata Hejduk (2007) Death Becomes Her: transgression, decay, and eROTicism in Bernard Tschumi's early writings and projects, The Journal of Architecture, 12:4, 396.

[2] Erika Naginski, Architecture at the Threshold, Perspecta, 2010, Vol. 43, TABOO (2010), 206.

[3] Jonathan Mosley and Rachel Sara, Architecture and Transgression An Interview With Bernard Tschumi, Architectural Design Volume 8, Issue 6, Special Issue, 35.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Chris Jenks, Transgression The Concept, Architectural Design Volume 8, Issue 6, Special Issue, 23.