Face your fears

These pieces of furniture challenged visitors to confront their biggest phobias.

Performance artist Fyodor Pavlov-Andreevich’s ANTIFURNITURE show challenged understanding of furniture design with a collection that was made specifically to make the user uncomfortable. Featuring a series of performative sculptures that invited visitors to interact with unusual desks, hammocks, chairs, ladders and more, the exhibition became a ‘piece of personal theatre’ for each individual.

‘As you temporarily inhabit these sculptures by sitting, climbing, dangling, rocking and lying, you are invited to reflect upon and confront your fears,’ writes  Pavlov-Andreevich. ‘Each sculpture represents one or more phobias, and through physical discomfort and purposeful endurance, we are forced to face our fears and be challenged to overcome them.’ 

‘Bunker-bed’, for example, taps into scopophobia (the fear of being looked at or watched), sociophobia (the fear of meeting someone new) and carcerophobia (the fear of prison) with a curved wooden bunkbed-esque design that forces two visitors to face each other while lying down.

‘A bunk is a bed for two. Two people are bound together by circumstance: they might be in prison, a refugee camp, or anywhere else that a person might not find themselves of their own free will,’ explains the artist. ‘The fear of the other and of others is the reason why people cease to listen to each other – and why wars begin.’

‘Rock-n-Desk’, a rocking chair with a space to rest your head, is targeted at agoraphobia (fear of open spaces), demophobia (fear of people and crowds) and gelotophobia (fear of being made fun of by other people). As the artist notes, people shield their faces with their hands or rock themselves into a feeling of safety when they perceive danger, which this sculpture mimics.

The exhibition ran at the London Design Museum from 26 September to 29 October 2023.

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