the stories behind the products

Chen Chen and Kai Williams on the development of the Stone Fruit Bowls for Areaware.

The Stone Fruit bowls came about as an experiment with slip casting porcelain and an offshoot from our Stone Fruit Planter series. The concept of these products is emphasizing the interesting textures of the surfaces by making the forms a matte monochrome. This heightens the way the light hits the surfaces and the shadows that are created. Our cement planters are cast in soft, flexible silicone molds. We thought about making the porcelain bowls almost as an afterthought, almost sure that the rigid plaster mold wouldn't release such a textured surface.

Cantaloupe was the first fruit we played with because we liked the subtle difference in texture from one fruit to the next. It also had a simple hemisphere silhouette which was borderline abstract which made you look more at the texture.

The original Cantelope Stone Fruit Planter.

When trying to replicate an object with slip casting, it's impossible to copy the same size because the clay shrinks as it dries. We originally produced 2 other shapes, an orange which shrank to the size of a clementine, and a grapefruit that shrank to the size of an orange. However, by shrinking, it also creates a more intricate surface and helps turn these bowls into a hyper-real version of the original fruit.

The bowls we produced were incredibly detailed and delicate objects. While we had a kiln in the studio, because we weren't a production ceramic shop we didn't have the right environmental controls and producing them ourselves presented a variety of challenges which caused very few pieces to meet the high standards we were looking for. Either the greenware would break, the glaze would crackle or the whole piece would completely explode in the kiln.

Chen Chen & Kai Williams is a New York-based design studio working in furniture, products, interiors and mixed materials.

The company was first established as an experimental design space in 2011 by Pratt graduates Chen Chen and Kai Williams - their work backgrounds undoubtedly contributing to their playful, yet functional products (Chen through his time at the former New York concept store Moss and Williams with his experience at Tom Sachs’ studio).

Currently operating in the commercial and art/design markets, Chen Chen & Kai Williams encourages new ways of design thinking. Illustrated through their real fruit-molded, Stone Fruit Planters and utilitarian Third Eye Vessels to one of a kind Resin Benches and towering Warp Core floor lights.

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