Vedat Ulgen is an inventor and designer of modern unconventional designs, who is leading a new wave of industrial design and functional art in Brooklyn with his studio and design collective, Thislexik (pronounced “dyslexic”). The studio’s headquarters are located in a simple, modular construction of five recycled, primary-colored shipping containers, designed by Ulgen and architect Deger Cengiz, and are set in an overgrown bus parking lot in Red Hook, within viewing distance of IKEA. But unlike the Swedish home decor store that brought us simple, affordable ready-to-assemble furniture (and a fur-coated monkey), Thislexik muddles the line between mass-produced furniture and gallery art.
The Cactus Chair, reminiscent of Shiro Kuramata’s Glass Chair, is the studio’s most arresting piece. Ulgen and Cengiz cleverly toy with one of the most basic forms of comfort—the reclining chair—by seamlessly melding together transparent, acrylic slabs to form a recognizable frame, but also strip it of a traditional interior. The fragility suggested by its transparency is only intensified by a prickly cactus positioned directly underneath the seat. But while the lack of convention calls into question its functionality, all worries are eased immediately after reclining in the chair.
All of Ulgen’s designs are meant to be sensational and conversation-starters; other examples include the Worn Series, comprising stools, tables, vases and pots are draped in repurposed denim or shirtsleeves; and Ulgen’s award-winning Arc Light, which deviates from the traditional stationary light fixture by using Tesla coils to power wireless LED bulbs that can be repositioned based on moods or preferences, creating a functional live art installation. ♦