Shock, Shock, Horror, Horror- Rebel Art & Design

“My approach has always been, I want something new, something that’s going to offend me, shock me or make me question what design is,” Jim Walrod

Ai Weiwei's landmark exhibition has sparked me to explore subversion in interior design. 

Subversive design is often intellectual and conceptual, it frequently relies on an 'in joke' understanding of its form. Despite its rebellious nature perhaps ironically its elitism is part of its attraction.  

Phillipe Stark is one of the icons of rebellious design, known for his playful experimentation and political statements.

'Furniture pimp', raconteur and vanguard interior designer Jim Walrod is a lesser known (at least in the UK) tour de force. The eccentric Jersey boy has created daring and subversive interiors, for clients such as boutique hotelier and owner of Chiltern FirehouseAndre Balazs.

Jim was one of the first to collect and promote Post-modernist furniture, particularly pieces by members of the Memphis Group. Their aesthetic is having a renaissance, along with all things '80s, right now. American interior designer Kelly Wearstler cites them as a key influences. Their bold colours, unusual shapes and sculptural forms are highly visible in her exquisite interiors.

"When I was young, all we ever heard about was functionalism, functionalism, functionalism. It’s not enough. Design should also be sensual and exciting." Ettore Sottsass


A few favourites...

Nobody's Perfect, chair by Gaetano Pesce

Gaetano Pesce, a furniture designer who worked within a realm of very controlled, very designed furniture at Knoll, Cassina etc., broke out and learned how to pour furniture on his own. The free-form poured plastic chair above encases stunning Etro fabrics. To me, its anatomical form and rich pattern evokes Dia de los Muertos merchandise. Once reviled, it's now hailed as groundbreaking. 


Dagger Heels by Terry de Havilland (c.2011)

Terry's shoes play on the meaning of the Italianate word stiletto (i.e. a dagger with a long slender blade) and the use of a woman's dress as sexual weaponry(!) 


Dichotomy Table by Kelly Wearstler

The witty Dichotomy Table was inspired by figurative decor and nods to surrealist art.