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SAIC Students Turn Household Objects Into High Art

Can you guess the functions of these bold and bizarre items from the Whatnot collection?

Photos: Jonathan Allen for the School of the Art Institute of Chicago

Who says form follows function? In Whatnot, a collection by students at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, form is king. For the designers, all of whom are 30 or under, creating household objects is high art. This year’s group teamed up with West Supply, a foundry in Hermosa that specializes in blown glass and bronze, to churn out a series of 15 bold—if not bizarre—pieces.

The works debuted during the prestigious Milan Design Week in April. Starting in mid-May, they will be on view at SAIC’s LeRoy Neiman Center and sold as limited editions for prices ranging between $365 and $2,000. Here are a few objects from the upcoming show. 

Hover over or tap these objects to see their transformations.

Miiko He’s incense burner invites contemplation … or brooding. Think snow globe, but with smoke.
Wacky beach paddle game? Nope. Turn on Amanda Yamasaki’s colorful, shadow-casting LED lamp and you have an instant disco vibe.
Candlesticks or deer antlers? Perhaps the better question to ask about Angela Huang’s cast-bronze design is, does it really matter?
Forget to party prep? Not to worry, Kaan Tombaz’s serving tray will elevate any last-minute selection of Trader Joe’s snack packs.

More from the collection:

When crafting this tabletop mirror, Irem Mimaroglu pondered the question: What would time look like if it were an object? (Apparently, a frozen banana leaf.)
Yuling Yu taps into viewers’ schadenfreude with this blown-glass lamp inspired by a skirt caught in a taxi door. Humiliation has never been quite so chic.
Ting-Yu Tseng’s bronze book holder wedges onto a ledge—perfect for the world’s thinnest lit collection.
Majenta Alcyone Strongheart’s stemless blown-glass drinking bowls double as disguises—not a bad benefit if you’ve had one too many.


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