London – London-based Michael Samuels, who has an MA in sculpture from the Royal College of Art, uses furniture that was once the future – early mass-produced modernist pieces for the home, such as those made by G Plan – to build architectural constructions that render the functional nonfunctional and seem to reflect on past and present conceptions of domesticity. His works appear in the Commes des Garçons Dover Street Market stores in London and Ginza, and have featured in group and individual exhibitions.
So why the obsession with modernist furniture?
MICHAEL SAMUELS: I started using pieces of furniture initially as alternatives for plinths, but then I began to approach them as a medium in their own right. First of all it was 1960s domestic Formica furniture and now it’s G Plan. The Formica was all about the palette of colours and history.
You switched to G Plan because . . .
After working with Formica furniture, I was looking for something less colourful and a bit more sophisticated. G Plan appeals because of the tonal palette, but also because of the history and the possibility of exposing the veneer and mass production of each piece. It was the first readily available modernist furniture in the UK, and it became a staple of British households. I like its simplicity and how it is very evocative of a certain period in British domesticity.
Where do you get the pieces from?
I used to run around to second-hand shops, but now I just spend an unhealthy amount of time on eBay.
Who or what inspires your approach?
No one really, unless subconsciously. I try to steer clear of looking for influences or of being influenced, in order to maintain some originality and a unique visual language. It’s easy to see too much these days, so I try to limit what I see.