From: C, a design studio based in New York founded and led by Caroline Chao introduces the BLOC furniture collection which won the 2023 NYCxDESIGN Award for Emerging/Independent Product Designer. Initially unveiled at the PLAYSCAPE exhibit during Milan Design Week 2023, the collection draws inspiration from geometric shapes reminiscent of children's building blocks. The furniture design collection juxtaposes transparency and solidity, softness and hardness, and textured imperfections with finesse. BLOC comprises five pieces—the 'Cube Chair,' 'Wedge Chair,' 'Tri Stool,' and the 'Cylinder Lounge & Ottoman.' All pieces were locally manufactured in New York, as the studio lays special emphasis on supporting small businesses in the area.
Chao is an interior designer, architect, and furniture designer, with a background in architecture and fine arts. Based out of New York City with roots in San Francisco, she holds a Masters of Architecture degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Design and an undergraduate degree in Architecture and Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania. Driven by her passion to create objects and spaces that inspire curiosity, abetted by a deeper understanding of the physical environment, Chao’s works explore the interplay of light, geometry, and space. Her focus on engaging the user's perception and interaction is evident in the BLOC collection.
Chao elaborates on the award-winning collection's inspiration by saying, “I wanted to create something both playful and sculptural, yet familiar and nostalgic. Children’s wooden block sets have shapes that are instantly recognisable and are part of a common, shared experience. There is a playful lightheartedness that interacts with a sculptural and geometric purity often associated with the shapes that I wanted to celebrate. It brings back the nostalgia for childhood toys and a lighthearted curiosity as people interact with the pieces.”
Rendered in soft hues, the BLOC collection includes various furniture pieces such as the 'Wedge Chair' which combines a wedge with a transparent slab made of solid lucite. The wood and foam structure creates intriguing variations in the way the light reflects and transmits through the slab. The 'Cube Chair' manifests as a cubic base with a solid lucite backrest, while the 'Cylinder Lounge & Ottoman' works as a unique two-piece furniture, combining to form a fresher arrangement. The 'Tri Stool' on the other hand, features a base made with two triangular pieces and a transparent slab at the top. The chair design, stool design and the ottoman, are available in a variety of fabric options including velvet chenille and tactile velvet chenille. The overall product design collection is fabricated in varied colour options including ocean, snow, charcoal, sky, terracotta, stone, lagoon, burgundy, and spa forest.
BLOC designed by From: C is an intervention that comes alive with playful elegance, where the designer interacted with the emotions associated with childhood nostalgia. Chao's learnings in architecture and fine arts shine while celebrating simple yet effectivecraftsmanship techniques. The BLOC furniture collection offers a range of options that suit different spaces and preferences and is available on the product designer's website. These sculptural pieces carry the potential to transform spaces with their unique charm and undemanding character. Chao is now in the process of collaborating with a textile and home goods retailer for her upcoming furniture collection, acknowledging and practising her proficiency in working with wood and woven pieces.
(Text by Sanskriti Vashisth. Intern at STIR)