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Five extraordinary pieces: Barney Bubbles furniture designs come to light

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// 5 x Barney Bubbles designs, 1981/2. Photo above: Nina Sologubenko//

Last week I had an exciting encounter with the rare and adventurous furniture designs produced by the late graphics master Barney Bubbles in the early 80s.

Bubbles worked with furniture maker Marius Cain to realise a handful of pieces, some of which were featured in the only interview he gave, to Dave Fudger for the November 1981 issue of The Face.


//Bubbles’ furniture trio Editions Riviera – commissioned by music entrepreneur Jake Riviera – was featured in The Face, November 1981//


//The Ian Dury Cocktail Cabinet, 1981//


//Plugged in. The AC/DC Desk, 1982. Photo: Nina Sologubenko//


//The Tree Of Drawers, 1981//

Apart from the so-called AC/DC Desk, which has been showing at Paul Smith’s Albermarle Street store in central London recently, none of the other pieces have been displayed publicly.


//Top of The Flying Trowel Desk, 1981//


//The Turbo Chair, 1981//

Although there is some surface wear, the integrity of each of the pieces is intact.

To see them at first-hand is to gain a greater understanding not only of Bubbles’ substance and ambition as a designer but also his position as a pre-eminent zeitgeist-surfer, riding the playful and referential early-80s PoMo moment with other exponents such as Italy’s Memphis collective and Paul Jones’ and Tommy Roberts’ London venture Practical Styling (which was also featured in The Face, in the March 1982 issue).


//Practical Styling cabinet, one of an edition of just two, 1981. Paul Jones//


//Practical Styling in The Face, February 1982//

I first wrote about Barney Bubbles’ furniture designs in Reasons To Be Cheerful, my 2008 monograph of the designer. Copies of the second expanded edition, published in 2010, are available here.

Practical Styling formed the basis of a chapter in my 2012 Tommy Roberts biography Mr Freedom. Since the first edition sold out copies are in short supply but you may buy copies here if you have a few bob to spare.

I am currently working on Legacy: The Story Of The Face, to be published by Thames & Hudson in 2016.


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One Response to “Five extraordinary pieces: Barney Bubbles furniture designs come to light”

  1. Four out-of-this-world Barney Bubbles pieces and a wild Practical Styling bookcase to feature in the Out Of The Ordinary sale at Christie’s in September « Paul Gorman is…
    on Jul 25th, 2015
    @ 5:07 pm

    […] Read more about Bubbles’ excursions into furniture design here. […]

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