Chen Chen & Kai Williams

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CK-Portrait 2016 02.jpg

Chen Chen & Kai Williams is a design studio that explores materials and new ways to use them. The studio invents new techniques and materials or diverts common industrial supplies to off-label applications.

Chen Chen and Kai Williams met while attending the Pratt Institute and founded the company in New York City in 2011 at 13 Greenpoint Avenue. The studio creates a wide range of products from one-off and limited edition collectible works to specialty commercial goods.

Past clients include Whitney Museum, Brooklyn Museum, Gagosian, Kvadrat, Shinola, Mission Chinese Food and Heron Preston.

CV

Museum Shows
2013 - Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art of Trento and Rovereto “Progetto Cibo – La Forma del Gusto”, Rovereto, Italy
2014 – Museum of Arts and Design “ NYC Makers”, New York City, NY, USA

Solo Shows
2019 – The Future Perfect “Romancing the Stone”, New York City, NY, USA


Group Shows
2013 – Venice Architecture Biennial “Wunderkammer”, Venice, Italy
2016 – Chamber “Human Nature”, New York City, NY, USA
2016 – Chamber “Of Cabinets and Curiosities”, New York City, NY, USA
2017 – Chamber “Domestic Appeal”, New York City, NY, USA
2017 – Spazio Nobile “Crystalized”, Brussels, Belgium
2017 – Kvadrat “My Canvas”, London, UK
2018 – Storefront for Art and Architecture “24x24x24”, New York City, NY, USA
2018 – “Plasticscene”, London, UK
2018 – Plant Seven “This is not a chair.” High Point, NC, USA
2019 – Friedman / Benda “Blow Up”, New York City, NY, USA
2019 - The Future Perfect "The Chair", New York City, NY, USA

Fairs
2016 – Design Miami, Patrick Parrish Gallery, Booth G18, Miami, FL, USA
2017 – FOG Design + Art, Patrick Parrish Gallery, Booth 307, San Francisco, CA, USA
2018 – Collectible Design Fair, Sight Unseen Presents, Brussels, Belgium
2018 – Collectible Design Fair. Spazio Nobile “Phantasmagoria”, Brussels, Belgium
2018 – Design Miami, The Future Perfect, Booth G35, Miami, FL, USA

Material Exploration

The first collaborative project of Chen Chen and Kai Williams was the Cold Cuts Coasters, produced by soaking strips of spandex netting and rope into urethane resin and then wrapping it around a primarily wood core. This experimental method of playing with materials has become a signature of the studio, especially in the creation of composite materials (two or more disparate types of materials combined into one).

Notable composites include UV bonding cut stone to glass as seen in Floating Stone tables and encasing glass spheres in zinc for Brittle Star lights.

Other forms of experimentation involve making slight interventions in conventional materials, often the scale of use is changed, so that it can be recontextualized and can be seen with fresh eyes.

Manufacturing

When the studio began all products were handmade in the studio and a large majority of designs, especially ones with unconventional materials and processes, are still made in the studio. Starting in 2014 the studio began working with factories and fabricators in the United States and overseas to make less complex, single material products. The studio also works with manufacturing partners to create a wide range of designs for various markets.

Environments

While a small part of the practice, the studio has been the designers of retail environments including a display system that is used in 3 Baggu Store locations as well as adapted for tradeshow booths. To outside viewers this system may be surprisingly minimal and is designed to disappear once the highly colorful and graphic products are placed on it.

Other spaces include an Études Pop-Up in 2014 and the Mission Chinese Food on East Broadway.

Anecdotes

The decision to put Chen's name first was to reference the CK of Calvin Klein.