Dezeen Magazine

Two Kettles No Sofa

Two Kettles, No Sofa installation playfully explores tensions between cohabiting couples

Designer James Shaw has created an installation of clashing furniture to poke fun at the disagreements that can arise when couples move in together, which is on display as part of London Design Festival.

Called Two Kettles, No Sofa, the project features a series of striking, custom-made works by Shaw, as well two subtle furniture classics – a wooden chair by Fritz Hansen and one by Møller.

Two Kettles No Sofa
James Shaw created the installation as part of London Design Festival

The installation was designed by Shaw to represent "a sort of stage apartment" that might belong to Justine and Edward, a fictional couple who have just moved in together.

Shaw's partner, writer and curator Lou Stoppard, wrote a satirical story called Hopper about the couple to accompany the installation, which is available for visitors to take home as a paper copy.

Bed by James Shaw
It includes a bed with pear-shaped sculptures

Contrasting furniture was arranged alongside each other to humorously reflect the tensions couples can experience when they are forced to combine their different domestic objects.

The designer's bespoke pieces include colourful chairs, stools, cutlery and tables from his Plastic Baroque collection, a series of furniture that is crafted from recycled HDPE plastic.

Mirror by James Shaw
A mirror made from recycled Kodak cameras also features

An oak and brass bed featuring bedposts decorated with pear-shaped sculptures was also included, as well as a squiggly yellow mirror made from reused Kodak cameras.

"The idea was for [the installation] to be the semblance of a life," Shaw told Dezeen. "The furniture was intended to be clashing and contrasting with different juxtapositions, representing the two personalities coming together."

Story captions
Extracts from Stoppard's story are fastened to the walls

Short extracts from Stoppard's story were positioned on walls next to the furniture, with illustrations of each piece by Shaw.

"Funny captions depicting little elements of domestic life further activate the importance and relationship of the pieces with their setting," said SEEDS gallery owner Nathalie Assi, who commissioned the installation.

Having created objects using recycled plastic for almost ten years, Shaw explained why he chose the material for the furniture in his installation.

"There are many reasons for using it but I suppose the main one is that it is an abundant resource which we need to make use of," he said.

"I am also interested in adding value to what is typically a very lowly valued material and trying to make things that will have longevity rather than be used in a disposable manner."

Recycled plastic hanger
Shaw works predominently with recycled plastic

Presented within the Brompton Design District as part of London Design Festival, Two Kettles, No Sofa responds to the district's 2022 theme Make Yourself at Home. At a previous edition of the festival, Shaw contributed to an exhibition of pieces made from recycled materials.

The photography is by Paul Plews

The installation is exhibited at Cromwell Place as part of Brompton Design District during London Design Festival from 20 to 25 September 2022. See our London Design Festival 2022 guide on Dezeen Events Guide for information about the many other exhibitions, installations and talks taking place throughout the week.

More images

Two Kettles, No Sofa by James Shaw
Two Kettles, No Sofa by James Shaw
Two Kettles, No Sofa by James Shaw
Two Kettles, No Sofa by James Shaw
Two Kettles, No Sofa by James Shaw
Two Kettles, No Sofa by James Shaw