An off-kilter entrance. Stairs to nowhere. Warped floors that climb the walls. Misshapen candles and mesmerizing floor patterns conveying mysterious messages. If you see the above you may have taken a magic potion or pill and entered Alice’s Wonderland. Or you might have just entered Vignettes’ most mind-warping space.
“See Past Your Nose” was conjured up by a group of artists and designers who framed everyday items in a way that takes you out of your comfort zone, distorting the view into a vortex that started sucking everything up and away… and then froze. Light fixtures lean and a chandelier dangles at an impossible angle, like a Salvador Dali painting come to life. The outside wall is the most straightforward part, which is surprising given that it’s a piece of flashy graffiti art by Peter Gegolic, with working viewfinders behind a cow-print chair and an open book with pages suspended mid-flip.
Take a peek in the mailbox before entering the room, which uses all conventional pieces. The drapes, wallpaper and chairs would fit fine in any traditional home — but it’s all a bit off. Maybe more than a bit. “Initially, we wanted a fully upside-down room, but the space wouldn’t allow for that,” says team lead Jaimie Mehler. “The movie Inception was one inspiration.”
Part of the message is a comment on wastefulness in design, with new vinyl flooring peeling away from the penny tile, the opposite of what most people do. “In most cases, if your home had an expensive penny tile floor, you’d rip that up and put a vinyl flooring over it, because we don’t think quality, we think quantity and temporary,” Mehler says. “Often what we’re throwing away is way better than what we replace it with.”
The space is best summed up by its centrepiece, a beautiful piece of live edge wood masterfully warped into a trippy table by Bart Gellhaus. It’s astonishing it can even stand, let alone support something, but that’s the point. “That [table] is not what I do,” Gellhaus laughs. “But that’s what I love about Vignettes — you don’t have to build something that’s perfect, you have to build something that’s interesting, something that you wouldn’t normally build.” It’s a consequence-free environment that encompasses the most important part of Vignettes — creative people coming together to create truly unique spaces. “I work alone, all the time, so I don’t have these schmucks pushing me to build a distorted table,” Gellhaus jests. “When you have a creative group of people pushing you to do other stuff, you figure out what you can make. It’s 100 per cent form over content.”