Graham Roebuck with his award-winning design. Graham Roebuck with his award-winning design. CREDIT: Christine Meads
Graham Roebeck's 'Beehive' seat sculpture Graham Roebeck's 'Beehive' seat sculpture CREDIT: Sam McCabe
'Beehive' seat sculpture by Graham Roebeck 'Beehive' seat sculpture by Graham Roebeck CREDIT: Sam McCabe

Beehive takes off

Friday 30 December 2011, 2:28PM
By Hunt & Peck Multimedia


QUEENSTOWN The award winning Beehive seat has generated a swarm of nearly 300 posts over the internet from around the globe in less than a week.  Beehive was designed by Graham Roebeck and made by acclaimed designer David Trubridge.

Starting with the idea of sculpture as frozen music, the concept explores themes of digital media and portable storage and won the Professional category of the 2011 Formica Formations design competition in November. Working with Trubridge was humbling and insightful, Roebeck says.

“The response literally is like someone has kicked a beehive,” he says. “I had it on my To-do list for weeks but only submitted it to Contemporist website on 23rd December. Within 24 hours I was emailed by a Dutch businessman and editors from designer magazines in Lebanon and Russia, and three days later editors from Sweden, Britain and Taiwan.”

In just five days later Beehive has featured on nearly 300 interior design and fashion websites, blogs, Twitter & Facebook pages from USA, France, Vietnam, India and Great Britain.

The name Beehive comes from the towering 1960’s hairdo. “It was the middle of winter, we’re building our first home and our stopgap rented house is completely uninsulated, so I could relate to that frozen music metaphor literally. Looking back, I guess lighting a fire a couple times a day also imprinted the Beehive matchbox logo on my subconscious.”

The rounded form of Beehive is a guitar pick spun into a 3D object, with a hole bored to reference a calabash gourd vessel, used for thousands of years to hold food and water and assisted migration.

The leaf sections of the chair reflect the ongoing development of the guitar pick from a convenient rounded ‘found’ object to the refined teardrop shape of today. Roebeck says the iPod is the current calabash of the digital age.

The New Zealand Formica Formations competition has its roots in 2008, when the Formica Corporation commissioned 10 of the world's most influential architects to design sculptural pieces to be auctioned for the Cincinnatti Contemporary Arts Center. The contributing architects were Peter Eisenmann, Michael Graves, Zaha Hadid, Thom Mayne, Bill Pedersen, Laurinda Spear, Bernard Tshumi, Jaime Velez, Massimo Vignelli and Buzz Yudell.

The resulting nine piece collection is entitled Form: Architects at Play.

Described by New York gallery owner Max Protetch as comprising museum worthy forms to domestic showpieces, Christies Fine Arts Division sold eight pieces and one unbuilt concept at auction raising  $425,000 in total.

In March 2011 The Laminex Group brought the original collection to New Zealand for the Auckland Arts Festival and invited New Zealand architects and design professionals to submit entries.

Graham Roebeck won the professional category and Untic student  Norman Lin, the emerging designer category. The judges were Auckland architect, Ron Sang; Formica Corporation Vice President of Design, Renee Hytry- Derrington and Hawkes Bay designer David Trubridge, who agreed to manufacture the winning concept.