‘Carlton’ Shelf Build:


The most iconic design, and a flagship product the Memphis styled ‘Carlton’ Room Divider is a modern classic. This post modern shelf was designed Ettoire Sottass, a key player in the collective. Although intended for a luxury market and of fine workmanship, it is made of common plastic laminates rather than fine woods. The vivid colors and seemingly random interplay of solids and voids suggest avant-garde painting and sculpture. Which comes together in a highly thought out sculptural peice, totally ground breaking at the time.

I was hugely inspired by this work after reading about it and it was a major factor in my decision to adopt the Memphis style in my later works. With my deadline approaching quickly I had to re-design my earlier exhibition plans as they no longer suited the direction in which my work took. I wanted to build my exhibition as part of my practical work, the concept of furniture design was always appealing to me and ties in nicely with my brief. For this reason I decided to construct a peices that would sit as a spiritual succesor to the Carlton and that provides space to exhibit my ceramic elements.

I began by assembling a variety of tools and equipment before going into the construction process. I was fortunate enough to have a surplus of wood available to me that I could use straight away, reducing my costs and time needed. My Miter saw, electic drill, and hacksaw were also readily available. The only purchases I had to make to get started were Polyfilla (for filing my screw marks), Paint and varnish as well as a huge amount of nails.

As I began the build process my first step was to quickly sketch a rough plan of my idea, I find that with wood work projects its best to keep my intentions fairly vague to allow the build to progress naturally. Drawing my sketch I positioned the blocks and cut a few in half to asses how it was to come together, and see where joints had to be made.

The build process began and required a great deal of effort. I ended up making far more joints than i initially anticipated as when upright it would struggle under its own weight. I decided to double up in some areas and now its very stable and able to support my ceramics. One part that was particualy difficult was cutting the top joint into correctly sized triangles, requiring precision from a law cutting saw proved incredibly tricky and took a number of attempts to perfect.

Next I had to build a variety of shelfs on which to exhibit my ceramics. These are positioned on the units arms and its base. Relativley simple affairs I simply cut 3 Blocks in half and layerd them, with three more cuts made to form a frame around them. As well as inserting plenty of nails to build and affix them. Once installed on the design it was neccesary to fill in the multitufe of imprints I had left on the wood to allow for a far smoother finish. This was done with a knife and my pollyfiller and only took around 30 minutes to dry.


Completing this work I was pleased with the overall build. It was relativley smooth only taking around a weekend to plan and build. It was significantly more complicated than I had originaly planned for but the extra detail paid of greatly. The variety of geometric shapes gel nicely with each other and the final composition is representative of the Memphis ideals in my opinion.

I utilized a variety of bright and chalky colours that provides contrast to the various elements contained within the shelf. I opten to colour the shapes symetrically, with blue squares and a pink triangle, as well as blue and greens forming the vertical and horizontal planes. Red will be used as a subtle highliter on a few unique areas.  The painting process was relativley smooth and I am planning on adding a layer of laquer atop the finished unit to give it a satin looking gloss.

Once the laquer has tried I will take some well lit photographs of the completed unit and update my blog with them.


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