Transmogrifier Machine breathes new life into old objects

Transmogrifier Machine breathes new life into old objects
Kiwi designer Katy Wallace's Transmogrifier Machine project is nothing short of transfixing. Fuelled by broken and unwanted furniture, she produces a unique, useable, and downright desirable new piece every week.

katy wallace transmogrifier machine ​Kiwi designer Katy Wallace'sTransmogrifier Machine project is nothing short of transfixing. Fuelled by broken and unwanted furniture, she produces a unique, useable, and downright desirable new piece every week. 

katy wallace transmogrifier machineThe exhibition, supported by Creative New Zealand, is taking to the road soon, with outings at MTGHawkes Bay (April to August), Tairawhiti Museum in Gisborne (October to December), and Objectspace in Auckland (February 2015). The whole Transmogrifier collection will be auctioned in March 2015 through Art + Object. 

What is the Transmogrifier Machine project all about?

The Transmogrifier Machine produces one-off, original pieces of furniture design. It is fuelled by second hand and broken furniture, transforming old unwanted objects into new desirable, usable works of art. I run the machine single-handedly, with over 20 years of furniture experience under my belt.

Why do you think it resonates with people? 

The Machine's works are surprising and often magical, but have an everyday-ness that people love and relate to. There is a history and sentimentality that comes from the old furniture that is fed into the process.

Is there any one transmogrified item that you're particularly proud of? 

There are many pieces I’m proud of for various reasons, each piece is so different to the next. ‘Someone Else’s Chair’ is one of those pieces. It brings together what was a broken but beautiful chair, with two walking sticks, to give you a new chair that evokes a past, and lends you a hand in a very direct way when you use it - it tells a story.

katy wallace transmogrifier machine someone else's chair

How do you choose items to work with/transform? How does sustainability factor into your work?

I look for pieces that have an inherent character to them, showing the marks of their past lives, with good workable foundations. I look for things unwanted, even broken to keep the creative process as free and uninhibited as possible.

Great satisfaction comes from reinventing the treasure that is languishing in opshops. To rescue these objects and make them valuable again feels like a very low impact way of creating new furniture.

What’s your most treasured piece of furniture?

I treasure most of the furniture I live with, if it doesn’t work well and give enjoyment it’s out! Many pieces I have are bold in form and colour and are selected or tailored to be super functional in our small, busy abode.

Describe your style in three words?

Bold, subtle, witty.