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This Furniture Is in a Class by Itself

April 11, 1993|EMILY ADAMS

Walk into anybody's house and spend a minute coolly appraising the furniture. Check out sofa size, window coverings, fabrics used. (We know you do this anyway; we're just giving you permission.)

What you will find is this: almost everybody's home furnishings fit into three distinct categories, or theories.

* One: Comfort is next to godliness. Here you will you find seven-foot sofas, well-punched throw pillows and La-Z-Boy recliners all situated for maximum television-viewing comfort. You may also find popcorn kernels embedded in the shag carpet.

* Two: Don't bug me about furniture. I'm busy. Your first clue here is that nothing matches, some chairs are broken, and nobody apologizes for the state of the home.

* Three: Comfort is irrelevant. Style is all that matters. You've seen a house like this, but it probably isn't yours.

It's always fun to walk into a style-over-comfort house. You look at the unusual furniture, note the hard edges and think to yourself, "That looks like fun. Glad I don't have to sit on it every night, though."

If you enjoy this kind of thing, there is a place you can go to ogle without having to make small talk with the owners. And the furniture is probably stranger than most.

Consider, for instance, the eight-foot metal and "fuzz" dressers. Or the lamp that glows brighter or dimmer when you rub its belly. Now there's a good time.

The dressers and other imaginative furniture designed by students at the Southern California Institute of Architecture are on display at the FHP Hippodrome Gallery in Long Beach.

Standing near a front window, the towering dressers have an internal structure of steel, overlaid with fuzzy red or tiger print material. They are topped with fuzzy rabbit ears. Instead of standard sliding drawers, the dressers have button flaps--just like old-fashioned long underwear.

The dressers, designed by student Robert Leonetti, are the big attention-getters, according to Kerry O'Brien, associate gallery director.

Once there, visitors can rub the lamp that turns on when the metal is touched, delicately lower themselves into a harshly geometric chair designed by artist Peter Shire, or just marvel at how nine different artists have skewed the average household items.

It's kind of like Pee-wee's Playhouse. Only it's art.

"Functional Forms: Artists of SCI/ARC" will continue at the FHP Hippodrome Gallery, 628 Alamitos Ave., Long Beach through Saturday.

Admission is free; the gallery is open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Information: (310) 432-8431.

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