By Emily Suzuki
Artist Jonathan Trayte‘s first US solo exhibition, Fruiting Habits recently opened at Friedman Benda, and the included pieces are definitely not for the conventional-minded. Trayte’s approach to furniture and lighting design is the combination of his fine art/sculpture background and his training as a chef and foundry metal worker. All of his skills and interests merge together to create one dreamy installation, which features furniture designs that are both playful and functional.
The installation itself is assembled as a landscape that includes areas for living, sleeping and eating. Thanks to his background in the catering industry, Trayte has a thorough understanding of the texture of produce and the form factor of kitchen utensils, which he applies to his designs in unexpected ways.
“Trayte is struck by the fact that food, one of humanity’s few true universals, is visualized so differently in various cultures. Beneath the bright and playful veneers of packaging, Trayte finds real psychological depth. He draws from that deep well a commentary on personal desire, cultural habits, and rampant consumerism.” – Friedman Benda Gallery
Details of the furniture collection include sculpted shapes inspired by melons, gourds, desserts and meats, made from opulent materials, including painted bronze, leather, wood and marble. Trayte also draws from the colorful designs of candy wrappers and snack packaging that he collects from around the world.
We’ve seen the Memphis trend run rampant at furniture fairs and design weeks over the past few years, and Trayte’s designs definitely fit somewhere in the more stripped down, minimal end of that vibrant spectrum. In a sense, his designs fall on the trendier side, but through the incorporation of textures reminiscent of food and kitchen tools and his use of striking, linear forms, Trayte manages to push the limits of the Memphis style, creating a unique, delicious category of his own.