IN CASE YOU HAVEN’T NOTICED, Houston is working on its reputation, evolving from a burn ’n’ churn city fueled by thoughtless sprawl and the energy industry to a metropolis with a thriving downtown, a design community, and, increasingly, an environmental conscience. To wit, the success of native creative John Paul Plauché, whose reDO lawn chair is the embodiment of the concrete jungle’s greener thinking. The Dayton-bred, University of Houston–trained designer—who shows at New York’s International Contemporary Furniture Fair and the closer-to-home Lawndale Art Center—works by day for the architectural powerhouse Kirksey and by night on his own projects. “I was noticing a covertly modern icon slowly vanishing,” he says of the classic backyard perch. “It’s an overlooked item from just about everyone’s past.” So in 2005 Plauché began cherry-picking castoffs from Houston-area yard sales, junk stores, and Craigslist postings, finishing his first reDO last spring. The aluminum tube frame is buffed to a chrome-like finish, the original plastic webbing is replaced with stitched leather strips, and the arms are made over in cherry wood. Plauché’s studio has completed only two in a production goal of fifty chairs, but his reinvention has already sparked the interest of one well-known blue blood. “Robert Durst spent thirty minutes in the chair at Peel Gallery, talking to the owner. He reserved it, but he didn’t come by to pick it up,” Plauché says. “And I’m not dropping it off.” Proof that good design might just change the world, even if it’s one recycled seat at a time.
Limited-edition reDO chair by Plodes Studio, $2,500. Available at Peel Gallery, 4411 Montrose Blvd., Houston, 713-520-8122, peelgallery.org.