Unintended Functions by Nick Allman


American designer Nick Allman has created an installation where a light appears to be ripped out of the wall at the Dean Johnson Gallery in Indianapolis.

Called Unintended Functions, the project also includes a shelf and drawer bursting out from under the plaster.

Photographs are by Polina Osherov Photography.

Here's some more text from Nick Allman:


As a studio furniture maker Allman strives to blur the line between furniture and art. By creating a narrative of destruction in the series Unintended Functions, Allman’s conceptual furniture forms question the boundaries of design and challenge the viewer’s notion of a functional, well- crafted object.

Like an improvised stool made from a tree stump, their utility is initially masked by their raw form.

At first glance they appear to be nothing more than destroyed walls, but with time their utility becomes apparent and they are assimilated into the space as furniture objects. This process of shock, acceptance, and eventual utilization as a furniture form questions the need for refinement in a functional object.

The materials and processes utilized to create these pieces flirt with question of what constitutes craft. Though it is clear to the viewer that the maker of these forms implemented traditional craft processes in their creation, the motivation is not clear. This ambiguity forces the viewer to consider the role of craft in the work and eventually raises the question; is it merely incidental?

Nick Allman is an Indianapolis based designer. He will complete his BFA in furniture design at Herron School of Art and Design in the spring of 2010.

Arco Lamp
EMT conduit, drywall, light

Entryway Table

Mahogany, walnut, maple, drywall
Edition of 4

Posted on Friday January 15th 2010 at 4:49 pm by . Copyright policy | Comments policy

  • n

    how does this pass inspection?

  • Zeem

    uh oh hmm.., er please explain me the significance of the background in the last pic?!
    There is potential in what he is trying to achieve , I appreciate that!

  • CP30

    It’s ART dude…

  • madvillain

    im sorry but that last picture is way distracting…. come on dezeen! I already get pda forced on me via facebook.

  • tiffany

    Really nice work! Fresh. Interesting daring shapes. Love it!

  • CH-85


  • Jon

    So does something that borders on not being art automatically make it “art” because of its questioning of what art really is?

    If so, I’ve seen a lot of “art” in areas that have just been hit by earthquakes, floods, tornadoes. I’ve seen those people using items that have been destroyed as everyday utilitarian pieces. Ex: A destroyed door now laying on its side becomes a table or a bench; A 2×4 slammed into a wall from a tornado becomes a clothesline; Broken window shards become knives for cutting; A bent lamp that somehow still gives off light is still used for its original purpose.

    I’m not saying that what this artist has created wasn’t creative, but just because it borders on whether or not it is “art” does not mean that it should automatically be deemed as some.

    Now that this piece has challenged me into speaking on this, I guess it proves a certain point. Art is meant to stimulate ideas, emotions, etc. So by looking at the last photo, I now have a whole other array of ideas – none having to do with what this article is truly about… so I guess making out in a picture should also be considered “art”.

  • Jackie

    Absolutely amazing

  • btplmr

    if u look at the photos u can c that there is a story. thats why there s that last photo. i like the the installation it s provoking.

  • Fresh. Amazing. Provoking… hate to ask what it provokes.

  • xtiaan


    hey jon
    so who died and made you head of the art police?
    we are in a post-postmodern age, catch up or get left behind.
    art is all about context (for the last 30 odd years or so anyway, and to a lesser degree back to the early 20th cent), in the 1940’s duchamp put a urinal in an exhibition, so this kind of art has a fine and well established pedigree, if you go have a look at N. Allmans website mabey it will help you to understand.
    Just because it isnt a painting of something you recognise in a shiny gold frame, or a figure carved from marble standing on a plinth, doesnt mean it isnt art. Many of the posts here at dezeen straddle the line between art and design and beyond.
    Surely pushing the envelope and exploration is what its all about… in life as well as art.

  • Morgan Pintarich

    Gimme a break! This exhibit looks like the inside of a rental house; shortly after its Meth cookin’ tenants have been evicted.

  • liminal

    A severe case of the emporer’s new clothes,
    If you like this you will also like Martin Creeds work:

  • Izminko

    (Topic pic) While this may be a very creative way to display light, it is very ineffective. It shows the artist’s lack of understanding in rudimentary architectural lighting principle. A designer would at least taken care of glare.

  • PL

    Best use of Plasterboard so far …

  • so what?
    Is design getting better when trying to approach it to art? And how is this influencing art? Do we attract more design fans and do we make more people art-lovers?

  • Zaedrus

    Nick – great job! What a fun project. Thanks also for getting Indy some international design cred!

    Polina’s photography is always exquisite! I’m always jealous of her models looking so glamorous! ROCK that kiss Nik and Chris!

  • bodkin

    if it was actually a light that had been ripped out of the plasterboard or a shelf that had actually been pushed through the board, with the attendant mess, rather than objects that appear to have been ripped out of the wall it would have had some sort of credibility and i think i would have liked it.

    and as for the patronising tone of the description ‘At first glance they appear to be nothing more than destroyed walls’????!!!! It’s in a gallery for christs sake and its obviously a light, shelf and drawer. please don’t insult our intelligence. if you can’t say anything sensible then don’t say anything at all

  • I think it’s a very fresh approach that balances the form and utilitarian aspects of the design. Sure it borders on art, but it’s a very interesting take on things that are normally concealed by the walls bursting from it.

  • Rodrigo

    This is good, lighting characteristics might not be too acurate but
    the intervention on forcing the wall limits gives a scence o power esthetics.

  • B.E.B.

    Hey its nicki, the red head (odlly enough nick's girlfriend they hate it when you call them the nicks!) in the back round!! I love this when i talk to nick about this he thinks that his work is bad when it s cery good!

  • bcalleia

    ''and we'll just put some people kissing in the background, that would do it''