Peter Prasil (born 1950, Czech Republic) trained as a precision toolmaker in Denmark between 1969 and 1972, and worked for 15 years as a machinist – including eight years producing dental equipment. After migrating to Australia, he moved to Tasmania in 1992 to study Furniture Design at UTAS, completing a doctorate (Visual Arts) in 2000. Prasil’s eye for detail and his ability to balance the delicate with the functional informs a fascinating body of work. Reception Suite, part of his PhD submission, is a sophisticated blend of political, technological and aesthetic concepts realised through craftsmanship of the highest level.
The streamlined and retro space-age, Reception Suite consists of three main components: a desk, a chair and a bench seat. The ‘aerofoil’ forms are made up of hundreds of plywood strips to form a box that has then been carefully carved and sanded into an organic shape. These forms are supported on lightweight structures of machined rods and fittings braced with stainless steel cable, recalling early aeroplanes or airships. The metal components are precision-machined by Prasil, drawing on his training as a toolmaker. The desk has a plate-glass top to serve as a functional surface and a built-in aerodynamic pencil sharpener in homage to the work of the famous American designer, Raymond Loewy.
“… I was able to achieve precisely the effect I desired, giving those furniture pieces strength, lightness and depth with see-through quality. Here I draw to some extent on architecture and its grid like matrix pattern, which can be seen all around us… I wanted to impart not only some architectural feeling to these furniture pieces, but also certain engineering aspects in the construction of its skeletal support or base.”
– Peter Prasil, artist’s statement
Produced in the wake of a period of high technological optimism – in particular that of Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI or ‘Star Wars’) – Reception Suite references a dystopian future of industrial and technological excess..