Simon Starling's work playfully explores the intimate relationships between craft, material, and technique. His investigations into and reflections on modern manufacturing and traditional crafts reveal countless nuanced contradictions in the production of a single object as well as a fascination with process. His works, which are part utopian vision, part critical commentary on mass production, are often achieved through elaborate, performative projects.
While Starling is mostly a creator of scenarios and objects, he has documented his constructions with photographs to indicate the stages of their making and various component parts. In HOME-MADE EAMES (FORMERS, JIGS & MOLDS) (2002), Starling undertook the transformation of a historically significant cultural object, here an Eames-designed fiberglass chair, into handmade copies. The object is reinvigorated as its very history is teased out. Four photographs show the molds and the tools used in replicating the original chair. The Eames’s classic DSS chair, designed in 1948, was the first industrially manufactured plastic chair. Its mass production reflected the utopian vision of modernism, which imagined a world in which everyone could enjoy the benefits of classic, clean, utilitarian design. Today, vintage Eames chairs are collectors' items, available only to those with disposable income and discerning taste. Starling's inventive at-home attempt at replication underscores the contradictions inherent to modernism's legacy. Further, in crudely replicating this now iconic chair, he inverts traditions, resuscitating the past and pushing the established boundaries between art and life.