MILAN – The Rotterdam-based architecture firm MVRDV – well-known for their radical architectural designs in which the built result closely resembles their bold architectural diagrams – has unveiled an equally daring furniture range during this year’s Milan Design Week, inspired by their research into densification of Asia’s rising megacities.

The research, named ‘Vertical Village – Individual, Informal, Intense’ was carried out by The Why Factory, a joint think-tank between MVRDV and Delft University of Technology, and focused on the possibilities of creating a dense, vertical, urban environment which would be shaped by its inhabitants’ individual desires.

The research spawned a publication and a series of successful exhibitions across the world. In the fall of last year, the centrepiece of the Vertical Village exhibition at Hamburg’s IBA, a 4-metre tall sculpture of a possible ensemble was dismantled and sent to the firm’s headquarters in Rotterdam.

The 80 large, rubber-foam blocks have quickly been taken over by the firm’s employees and used as impromptu furniture since then, revealing countless unconventional possibilities and inspiring the architects to consider serial production. Although this was not MVRDV’s first foray into product design – they have successfully collaborated with Alessi, and designed a small set of ceramic bowls for Cor Unum – it is the first time they have introduced an entire, comprehensive range.

The individual, abstract pieces eschew convention and rely on the users’ imagination as much as on their own iconic qualities. Produced by the Belgian manufacturer Sixinch, the set of 26 different blocks can of course be considered as a set of sculptures, but they are put to better use as side tables, low seats, toys, or, as is the case with one of the long, curved prisms, a lazy rocking lounger.

Photos courtesy of MVRDV