Hem reveals design process behind Soft Baroque's Puffy Brick counter

Hem reveals design process behind Soft Baroque's Puffy Brick counter

Dezeen promotion: Swedish furniture brand Hem has revealed the creative processes that went into Soft Baroque studio's Puffy Brick counter, which is made from jesmonite-injected balloons.

Commissioned by Hem, the Puffy Brick counter is comprised of amorphous blocks made using an innovative moulding technique from jesmonite.

Founders of London-based studio Soft Baroque, Nicholas Gardner and Saša Štucin, were asked to create the first pink version of the counter for Hem's 2018 pop-up store in London.

Hem reveals design process behind Soft Baroque's Puffy Brick counter
Soft Baroque explained how they created the Puffy Brick counter

As the duo explain, they were drawn to the "experimental nature" of the commission. "It was a bit of an unknown for both of us," said Gardner. "We admire the Hem brand and found it very engaging to have such a surreal object next to the more visually refined Hem pieces."

A second, sulfur-yellow version of the counter was then designed for Hem's headquarters in Stockholm.

Hem reveals design process behind Soft Baroque's Puffy Brick counter
Each counter was made by filling balloons with liquid jesmonite

To make each counter, Gardner and Štucin first built a transparent border around a rectangular base to form a frame-like gap between the central island and the outer walls.

The duo then used a large syringe pump to fill balloons with a liquid jesmonite mixture before slotting these into the gaps and leaving them to set.

Hem reveals design process behind Soft Baroque's Puffy Brick counter
The balloons were secured in a transparent container

Once solid, the blob-like bricks were taken out of the mould, numbered to keep track of their order, and glued back together to form the counter structure before being painted with their respective colours of hot pink and fluorescent yellow.

According to Hem, the outcome expresses the essence of Soft Baroque's work: "a bubblegum look juxtaposed with the sturdy silhouette".

Hem reveals design process behind Soft Baroque's Puffy Brick counter
Each block was numbered so they could easily be reassembled

As Gardner and Štucin explain, they were inspired to use this technique to make the "puffy bricks" during a trip to Naples in Italy, where they noticed an old arch holding up a stone seawall.

"Washed by the waves, the material around each stone had softened up, becoming round, almost cartoon-like," the duo explained.

"It was a rational object that became decorative, almost comical," they added. "It got stuck in our heads as the representation of an unintentional piece of progressive architecture."

Hem reveals design process behind Soft Baroque's Puffy Brick counter
The yellow Puffy Bricks counter takes centre stage at Hem's HQ

Hem, which takes its name from the Swedish for home, was founded in 2014 and is based in Stockholm. The company works with many creatives, including British designer Max Lamb, Danish studio Pauline Deltour and London-based designer Philippe Malouin.

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Hem reveals design process behind Soft Baroque's Puffy Brick counter
Hem reveals design process behind Soft Baroque's Puffy Brick counter
Hem reveals design process behind Soft Baroque's Puffy Brick counter
Hem reveals design process behind Soft Baroque's Puffy Brick counter
Hem reveals design process behind Soft Baroque's Puffy Brick counter
Hem reveals design process behind Soft Baroque's Puffy Brick counter
Hem reveals design process behind Soft Baroque's Puffy Brick counter
Hem reveals design process behind Soft Baroque's Puffy Brick counter