West Elm’s New Designer Collab Stars a Very Unusual Material
Chen Chen and Kai Williams’s quirky creations have us hooked.
Updated Sep 29, 2021 6:44 AM
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If you have a thing for collecting charming tchotchkes, you likely already know Chen Chen and Kai Williams. Or at least you know their work, such as a ceramic leg bowl with three feet, each wearing a miniature slide. The duo’s unconventional objects are everywhere lately, from concept shops like Coming Soon to Art Basel—and now you can pick up your very own Chen & Kai original at your local West Elm, through the retailer’s latest designer collaboration.
The offering is admittedly limited (there are four products total), but numbers aren’t important here—it’s all about the craftsmanship. The artists’ philosophy is to showcase pieces in their rawest, most honest form, an ethos that has led them to dream up totally innovative materials. Take, for example, the pink bowl and speckled candleholders. Both are made from marble dust (yes, that’s a real thing) and intentionally feature a rough finish to mimic the stone’s natural texture (rather than the fact that it’s a man-made material).
“We think about forming objects the same way things grow in nature,” explain the designers, who traveled to India to meet each vendor, visit every factory, and play around with various substances until they came up with a result they loved.
We’ve got our eye on the studded pieces, too, whose studs may look like tiny Nespresso pods but are actually naturally colored marble nubs. If it’s all in the details, these four vessels are as good as it gets.
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