The ostensible legitimacy of mass-produced furniture rests on its ease of assembly; rarely do you find furniture that's inspired by puzzles and intended to present a challenge to the problem-solving skills of its users. Yet that's exactly what Bulgarian designer Petar Zaharinov has achieved with Praktrik, a collection of functional, flat-packed pieces that also a bit of a geometric mind game to put together, without the use of nails or glue.
Some of the pieces look like impressive specimens of three-dimensional geometry projected out into wood and glass and which incidentally, also have an everyday use. Look at this table for instance.
A portmanteau of "practical" and "trick," the Praktrik line is inspired by classic wooden burr puzzles, but simplified enough so that users can still put it together without tearing their hair out. Made out of materials like beech and natural oil finishes, they are low-tech and fun. Yet their geometric origins are also meant to bring another dimension to the process:
Such puzzle structures are geometrical and constructivist on one hand and mystical on the other. This mystery brings some emotional quality to such designs that we consider very important nowadays. They also stimulate and require some intelligence from the user which is also very important to us.
Using the three interlocking principles of "coordinate," "impossible" and "sliding," Praktrik pieces are categorized by the "logic of its structure," its function and the number of pieces needed to solve the furniture-sized puzzle, creating a logical "mathematical expression" to identify each of the pieces, like 1x3 (using an interlocking and sliding motion of one type of three pieces), or XIIL (where Roman numeral "XII" equals twelve and "L" stands for locking) and so on.
If it doesn't make sense at first, it helps to see the whole Praktrik collection in context on the website. Of course, the furniture puzzles presented there aren't the only ones possible, as Zaharinov notes:
There are still numerous practical burrs waiting to be discovered and some of the wooden “knots” presented here to be used in other fields different from furniture design.
All said, Praktrik concept is an utilitarian one that doubles as human-scaled brain-teasers. This is certainly an inventive approach to furniture design, enticing people to establish a different kind of relationship with the pieces they must solve in order to be used.