A Dialog with History

Works from the Smoke Series by Maarten Baas

The Smoke series is Maarten Baas’ most important and unique contribution to contemporary design. Baas transforms existing furniture through the alchemy of fire, simultaneously destroying and creating anew. Expertly burnt to a charred but structurally sound relic of their former selves, the works are then sealed, and thus preserved, with epoxy resin.

First developed while attending the Design Academy Eindhoven, Baas’ series received international attention in 2004 through Moss, New York’s exhibition entitled Where There’s Smoke. The show marked the beginning of Baas’ practice of burning icons of 20th century design. By altering these famous forms, Baas both identifies with and rejects their historical lessons, literally creating a dialog with history.

I don't have a definition of design. By defining things, things are placed in a category. This is exactly what I try to avoid in my work. I want to open up fixed boundaries.

Maarten Baas

Champion 100

Champion 100 celebrates the collecting philosophy of George Champion. With more than 25 years in the field, Champion has cultivated a reputation for assembling works across a broad range of styles and movements. He explains: “I collect what I like—as long as it’s good design.” 

From the very beginning, George was focused on finding the best examples of any given design. His father, who worked in manufacturing and industrial design, instilled in George a robust appreciation for precision, quality and innovation at an early age.

His first foray into the world of collecting was with Shaker furniture. Drawn to the clean, unadorned lines and practicality of Shaker style, it was only natural that George soon transitioned to collecting midcentury modern works, endeavoring to find the most original or iconic representations of a form be it Mies van der Rohe’s white leather Barcelona chairs for Knoll or 50th Anniversary, rosewood LCWs by Charles and Ray Eames.

His passion for design extends well beyond the historical to the contemporary, rare and unusual. Since the 1980s, George has traveled each year to Milan to attend the Salone de Mobile and satellite fairs to view present day design innovations. He fervently follows the production of Cappellini because he believes Giulio Cappellini has been the most receptive to providing opportunities to new, up-and-coming designers. It is from the Cappellini Showroom in New York, "where the company sends its best stuff", that George has acquired many original and exceptional designs including Oki Sato’s (nendo) Tent desk.

Finally, George is also interested in the designers themselves and he has met many of the designers whose works he collects. From asking Ettore Sottsass, Keith Haring, or Philippe Starck to sign works within his collection, to purchasing works from Gaetano Pesce directly, George is wholly invested in the world of design. Design is his passion, his interest and his livelihood. 

Champion 100 is the first in a series of auctions in which Wright collaborates with a collector to present a curated selection of 100 works from their personal collection highlighting their design philosophy. George Champion is a collector and dealer located in Woodbury, Connecticut. 

Maarten Baas

Maarten Baas was born in Germany on February 19th 1978 and his family moved to The Netherlands the following year. After completing high school, Baas attended the prestigious Design Academy Eindhoven and studied for a few months at the Politecnico di Milano in Italy. In 2002 Baas graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven with the concept for his famous Smoke series that would be introduced the following year at the Salone del Mobile in Milan.

The works of Maarten Baas challenge the limitations of design, from his use of materials and process to the function of his objects and furniture forms. Baas invites the user to envision a new domestic landscape with Treasure Furniture, an edition of chairs made of identical pieces of scrap MDF, Plastic Chair in Wood where traditional Chinese woodcarving techniques are used to transform the common plastic chair into an icon of beauty, and Clay Furniture which uses materials not commonly associated with everyday furnishings. Baas debuted his highly acclaimed Real Time, a series of clocks at the Milan Salone di Mobile in 2009 and later that year he became the youngest designer to ever win Designer of the Year at Design Miami. Today, works by Baas can be found in several museum collections around the world including Victoria & Albert Museum, Los Angeles County Museum of Art and Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.

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