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'Fashioning Felt': Furniture designers get crafty

'Fashioning Felt': Furniture designers get crafty
The Relief Chair by Mickus Projects consists of felt sheets fitted over a steel frame.
Made by adding moisture and pressure to layers of wool, felt is one of the strongest and most versatile of fabrics -- and perennially popular with the crafty set. Lately it's also been showing up in the work of contemporary furniture designers such as Ben K. Mickus of Mickus Projects, whose felt and steel Relief Chair is featured in the new "Fashioning Felt" exhibition at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum in New York. The chair is a sculpted assembly of felt sheets fitted over a steel frame. "I search for raw, industrial materials that can be transformed into evocative yet functional objects," says Mickus, who is based in Brooklyn, N.Y. As designers look for green alternatives to petroleum-based foam and fume-generating upholstery and veneers, "these projects are also a study of what I can eliminate and replace with a design that uses one material -- in this case, felt -- for cushion, surface and pattern," Mickus says. The Cooper-Hewitt exhibition runs through Sept. 7.

-- Jake Townsend
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