Studying design history, Chicago-based designer Norman Teague couldn’t find a figure that represented him. ‘Design history needs to reinvent itself in a whole lot of ways,’ he says in a new short film by Hugo Faraco. ‘Your world is the history that you read about, and if you’re wrapping your head around the things that really say that you don’t belong here, then we have to create other books, or we have to create another world.’

The film was released on the occasion of New York gallery R & Company’s exhibition ‘From Lawn Road to South Chicago: Progressive Plywood in Times of Change’, where Teague’s work was presented alongside historical plywood design from Gerald Summers and Marcel Breuer. 

Furniture design by Norman Teague and Gerald Summers
On display at R & Company, Norman Teague’s Sinmi Stools are shown next to Gerald Summers plywood chair, designed by Gerald Summers for Makers of Simple Furniture, England, 1934

The exhibition featured Teague’s Africana Chairs as well as his Sinmi Stool, inspired, he explains, by the word ‘chill’ and images of people relaxing by leaning on a car or on a sofa’s backrest. ‘I settled upon this motion that could intrigue a person to approach it but that was also really inviting to anyone,’ he says. Named after the Yoruba word for ‘relax’, the Sinmi stool is the result of five years of research into bent plywood, and is produced by Teague in collaboration with a team of young designers and Black artisans from the South Side of Chicago, while leather goods specialist Yohance Lacour collaborated on the leather saddles. §