Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Galerie Kreo


Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Gallerie Kreo

Industrial designer Konstantin Grcic presents these tables painted to look like Formula 1 cars at Galerie Kreo in Paris. Update: this project is included in Dezeen Book of Ideas, which is on sale now for £12.

Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Gallerie Kreo

Called Champions, the aluminium trestle tables are lacquered with graphics inspired by sports equipment.

Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Gallerie Kreo

Each has a round or rectangular glass top.

Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Gallerie Kreo

The exhibition continues until 23 July.

Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Gallerie Kreo

Watch an interview with Konstantin Grcic on our movie site Dezeen Screen »

Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Gallerie Kreo

More about Konstantin Grcic on Dezeen »

Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Gallerie Kreo

Photography is by Fabrice Gousset, courtesy of Galérie kreo.

The following details are from Galerie Kreo:


“I want the tables to appear like they are Formula 1 cars lined up on the starting grid of a race track,” Konstantin Grcic says, standing in his studio space in Munich on a spring morning in 2011, a time we’ve set aside to discuss six new tables produced for his exhibition, ‘‘Champions’’, at Galerie kreo in Paris.

Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Gallerie Kreo

We are flicking through a thick dossier of print-outs of computer renderings of the new table bases - aluminium trestle-like constructions with either circular or rectangular glass surfaces. The dossier details the various stages of the rigorous research and design process: the structural designs, the graphic logos, the colours, and the numerous fonts that have all been tried out.

Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Gallerie Kreo

As we continue our conversation, Grcic’s eyes move to a sleek black ski pole propped up against a bookshelf; he reaches out for it. Lettering runs up and down the stick: the larger lettering reads ‘Salomon’, while the smaller insists this is ‘High Performance’ equipment. “After all, it’s not such a leap between these two things,” Grcic remarks, holding the black ski stick next to the leg of the table, a black version of table_ONE (2005). “What I particularly like is how the graphics on sports equipment refers to performance,” Grcic continues. “They create the illusion that the object with them is faster or more powerful than the one without. The graphics on the six tables are fake – totally made up.”

Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Gallerie Kreo

Cutting across these two references from the world of sport, comes Grcic’s memory of a 1994 Jean Prouvé exhibition at the Galerie Jousse Seguin in Paris. Turning the pages of a Prouve monograph, Grcic stops at an archive image of the exhibition and elaborates on how the table tops were hung flat against the walls with the table legs protruding out into the narrow room.

Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Gallerie Kreo

Grcic’s designs for the new tables are loosely derived from the juxtaposition of these two disparate sources: the world of Formula 1 racing cars and sports equipment on the one side and that of Prouvé on the other. By staging the disjunction that exists between the anonymous designs of the sports world and a signature design by Prouvé, Grcic reshuffles the otherwise static relationship between the high and low in the product design world.

Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Gallerie Kreo

One of the early problems encountered during the research and design process for the new tables was how to ensure the graphics didn’t feel extraneous to their design – i.e., to ensure that the three-dimensional and the two-dimensional vocabularies productively interrelated. This objective was achieved by rejecting the transfer foils that are routinely used in sports equipment and instead opting to collaborate with the highly revered lacquerer, Walter Maurer, who worked directly with Andy Warhol and Frank Stella in Germany on their art cars for BMW in the mid-1970s.

Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Gallerie Kreo

The way Maurer painstakingly builds a graphic language up by using many layers of paint is crucial. The graphic vocabulary seems as if it’s embedded into the aluminium tables, like a series of inlays. “The lacquerer technique is old school - I wanted to achieve the same level of quality found in an old lacquered Chinese box,” Grcic affirms.

Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Gallerie Kreo

Received wisdom has it that Grcic inherits the legacy of the product designers Marcel Breuer and Dieter Rams from the pre and post-war periods respectively. But this smooth lineage is too simplistic to really hold since it fails to take into account Grcic’s flexible way of responding to even the tightest briefs within the context of industrial product design. In fact, with these new tables, it’s as if Grcic sets out to deliberately refute the lineage pinned on him, introducing a playful graphic vocabulary thoroughly alien to the functionalist designs of Breuer and Rams.

Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Gallerie Kreo

By transferring the precision that derives from the research and design process from his industrial product designs to these new gallery bound tables, Grcic has been able to question these two genealogies central to the history of product design: of Prouve, Breuer and Rams with their strict principles and geometries on the one hand, and Studio Alchimia and Memphis, with their panoply of ersatz decorative signs and playfully Pop shapes on the other. Instead of just being a tautological game, this is nothing less than a speculative design process aimed at generating a vocabulary of product design for the future.

Champions by Konstantin Grcic at Gallerie Kreo

Exhibition: Galerie Kreo from June 11, 2011 to July 23, 2011
Opening: Saturday, June 11, 2011 from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm Opening Hours: from 11:00 am to 7:00 pm

  • Henk

    These are so strange, yet i like them. Like many of his designs, very odd but likable…

  • I often found F-1 merchandising (jackets, cups, keychains) a bit tacky.

    This is the exception to the rule.

  • i love the angle of the legs!

  • Andy

    I like the tables, but they look a lot like nascar paintings, not really like formula one ;)

  • clemente

    just awful. i can name endless reasons why (one word: raymond loewy's styled rocket pram, i think we can agree that this wasnt the finest piece of design)

    the only reason i like it is that it kicks your ass in a memphis kind of way.

    and yes, f1 merchandising is tacky per se, funny thing is that this isnt supposed to be merchandising, it comes from a theoretical background. and now the likers of puma ferrari shoes celebrate it as if it was one of their own.

  • madvillain

    no really, they're all very tacky. Its pretty unfortunate considering a master craftsmen was involved.

    While I see some interest in notions of juxtaposing high and low it rather comes off as a cynical project about consumption-they're couture tables with fake advertisement on them. There's tremendous irony in the project and it's not acknowledged at all. And it's connections to high tech sports equipment are very foggy too. "look at this ski, look at this table, right? High performance graphics, isn't that interesting?" I dont see the connection at all. I don't see how a table can be high performance anyhow? Strange and confusing indeed.

    Otherwise, im a big fan of his other work!

  • dan

    I wonder what would the comments be like if these were by some random designer

  • jeff K

    Grcic's work is really getting stranger and more unpredictable as time goes on. Which is really refreshing as so many big name designers would not dare to do something like this

  • this rocks. its totally unexpected to see this kind of work from grcic but it adds a great twist to his portfolio, i find.

  • Sergio

    Remember Gianni Piacentino's work

  • Xit

    Makes me think of Mr Seymours stool for Galerie Kreo

    But in a more adolesent version

  • finneyday

    interesting that it harnesses the 'recycled' aesthetic that you find in projects (interiors, ind design mostly) that involve architectural salvage, adaptive reuse, etc, but is instead quite the opposite — custom fabrication of high quality and value: a high price tag. it reminds me vaguely of the 'worn' band t-shirts and clothing that you can buy new now. though with grcic the level of craft will no doubt be superb, and the compositions refined, he seems to be moving away from his earlier work where the form was the aesthetic, rather than the form bearing an aesthetic.

  • finneyday

    also, whats up with the Eagles (NFL) logo?

  • Vincent#1

    I think I have to agree the paintjob is a bit odd, but after seeing all the pictures, I actually like it. It forms a unity with the table. Especially because underneath that paint is a very sleek and stylish table. It looks very well crafted.

    So why is Henks comment actually awarded with a [-3]. It wasn't offensive in any way.

  • edward44

    Sponsorship adverts on contemporary racing vehicles are an unfortunate necessity
    and clutters the otherwise purity of form. Why on earth celebrate this in furniture is an indication of a designer grasping for originality.

  • NickH

    Thing is, they aren't real sponsors, brands or logos – just suggestions thereof.

    I like the tables, and would particularly like to see them in context – replicating the starting grid but in the environment of a studio or similar. And i like the style of the graphics – reminds me of the Designers Republic work on the 'Wipeout' PlayStation game from years ago

    • finneyday

      Eagles logo (NFL)…

  • Vivian

    Like most of you I also find this very refreshing. Can't put my finger on it, but I like them!!

  • Freddy Garcia

    The settings are OK, the colours and graphics on the support pieces look as if they are selling you cheap paraphernalia.

    May be good for a teenager’s state of mind.