CL3, Lim + Lu, Unveil Flexible Furniture at AAP NYC

a row of furniture dollies
The entire line of flexible furniture designed by CL3 and Lim + Lu is compact and portable. photo / CL3
two people in an office, one sitting and one walking
A coffee table converts to a bookshelf. photo / CL3
Two people sitting on separate couches and one person walking towards them
From seating to side tables, each piece has multiple functions. photo / CL3
People in an office, some sitting on couches and one standing at a lectern
Lecterns function under multiple presentations styles. photo / CL3
a woman moving furniture in an office while holding a plant
Pieces can be easily moved but also stored in narrow closets. photo / CL3
June 7, 2017

On May 22, architecture and design firm CL3 and multidisciplinary design practice Lim + Lu unveiled a custom furniture collection at AAP NYC, AAP's New York City studio. The two firms collaborated to design and fabricate the "flexible furniture" line specifically for the AAP NYC facility located on the 20th floor of 26 Broadway, the historic Standard Oil Building.

Inspired by the delivery trolleys of New York City and designed to be both flexible and adaptable to a compact urban lifestyle, the pushcart furniture series was spearheaded by William Lim (B.Arch. '80), founder of CL3, alongside the cofounders of Lim + Lu, Vincent Lim (B.Arch. '12) and Elaine Lu (B.Arch. '12). CL3 is one of Asia’s leading architecture and design firms with 60 professionals based in Hong Kong, and additional offices in Beijing, Shanghai, and Shenzhen. Lim + Lu is an interdisciplinary architectural design practice based in Hong Kong whose cofounders met at Cornell and started their practice in New York City.

"We were really impossible clients," said Kent Kleinman, Gale and Ira Drukier Dean of AAP. "We asked for maximum flexibility so the pieces could not only be easily moved about but also stored in our narrow closets. But we also wanted pieces that functioned conceptually," Kleinman said, "reflecting our preoccupation with the common and the specific, with public space as a stage."

Myriad hurdles were set for the designers. In addition to requiring that the pieces be tough enough to withstand the "famously intense work 'habits' of AAP students and faculty," the couches had to actually fit the body; the lectern had to work for all kinds of presentation styles; the collapsible bar had to withstand heavy leaning. The results are sofas that convert to coat racks and "thrones," a lectern and a bookshelf that become coffee tables, a seat that becomes a model display, and more.

"And we got it all," Kleinman said. "With their gift of 12 pieces of custom designed furniture, William Lim, Vincent Lim, and Elaine Lu have given us not just furniture, but a mirror of all that we value and profess. The Lim family has been integral to the life and success of the college in so many ways over many years. But this gift of creativity is, well, priceless."

By Patti Witten