Stranger Things: The Imaginative Objects of Parsons & Charlesworth

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By Matthew Keeshin and Dwell
Experimental designs and consumer products make up the inventive work by a husband-and-wife studio.

Can design tell a story?  

In the upcoming exhibition Spectacular Vernacular at the Chicago Cultural Center, design studio Parsons & Charlesworth answers those questions by taking visitors through the possibilities of what objects can be beyond traditional archetypes. Combining their knowledge of product design and research, the husband-and-wife duo Tim Parsons and Jessica Charlesworth examine objects through imaginative narratives influenced by fiction, science, and art. From everyday objects to a post-apocalyptic world, the projects range from consumable objects to critical thinking pieces. This is the studio’s first major solo exhibition. 

Stranger Things: The Imaginative Objects of Parsons & Charlesworth - Photo 1 of 4 - A Form of Happiness is the neurotransmitter dopamine designed as a wooden puzzle.  The puzzle is constructed from poplar wood and magnets to connect each molecule. 

A Form of Happiness is the neurotransmitter dopamine designed as a wooden puzzle.  The puzzle is constructed from poplar wood and magnets to connect each molecule. 


Stranger Things: The Imaginative Objects of Parsons & Charlesworth - Photo 2 of 4 - Designed in 2014, the Golden Section Finder helps users discover the ideal proportions. 

Designed in 2014, the Golden Section Finder helps users discover the ideal proportions. 


Stranger Things: The Imaginative Objects of Parsons & Charlesworth - Photo 3 of 4 - The American Ad Hoc series is a collection of classic American products with a Carrara marble top. &nbsp;<span style="line-height: 1.8;">By adding the table top, the products' utilitarian uses are reimagined as tables for the home.&nbsp;</span><span style="line-height: 1.8;">The tables are made from a wheelbarrow, a Weber grill and a Radio Flyer wagon.&nbsp;</span>

The American Ad Hoc series is a collection of classic American products with a Carrara marble top.  By adding the table top, the products' utilitarian uses are reimagined as tables for the home. The tables are made from a wheelbarrow, a Weber grill and a Radio Flyer wagon. 


Stranger Things: The Imaginative Objects of Parsons & Charlesworth - Photo 4 of 4 - New Survivalism was commissioned by the Istanbul Foundation For Culture and the Arts (IKSV) for the 2nd Istanbul Design Biennial in 2014. The project describes an apocalyptic future and features six survival kits each designed for worst-case scenarios. The Object Guardian (above) is a kit designed for a curator set on still recording history, even after a disaster.&nbsp;

New Survivalism was commissioned by the Istanbul Foundation For Culture and the Arts (IKSV) for the 2nd Istanbul Design Biennial in 2014. The project describes an apocalyptic future and features six survival kits each designed for worst-case scenarios. The Object Guardian (above) is a kit designed for a curator set on still recording history, even after a disaster. 

Spectacular Vernacular will be on exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center from September 10, 2016—January 2, 2017

Cover photo, Garage Sale, is a collection of past pieces designed by Parsons & Charlesworth. Photo by Parsons & Charlesworth.