Design studio Beta Tank have designed a chair with moving panels that transform it from a functional object (on which tax is payable at 19%) to an art object (tax payable at 7%).
Commissioned by Design Miami/Basel for the W Hotels Designer of the Future Award earlier this year, the chair can be transformed into an impractical art object by twisting the flat wooden panels around to reveal pyramids.
The object has been designed as a comment on European tax regulations, which state that design objects must be sold at a higher VAT rate than pieces of art.
Here’s some more information from Beta Tank:
This project looks at how Taxation effects creativity and innovation. Seen from a German legal perspective Beta Tank created a series of objects which respond or reflect Tax rules and regulations. Commissioned by Design Miami/Basel for the Designer Of The Future Award, this latest edition is a chair (Galila Gelb), which responds to the German VAT ruling on what is art and what is design. When all the pyramids on the chair point up it is deemed to have no function and falls under an art object category. It can then be sold at a reduced VAT rate of 7%. Once all the pyramids point down the chair is legally a design object and must be sold at the regular 19% VAT rate.
The european wide treaty on VAT provides a framework allowing each EU member country to decide how to apply the reduced and regular rate of VAT. In order to do so the treaty had to define precisely what it deems art, antiques, industrial objects are.
Indeed each EU country has chosen very different industries to promote with exemptions and reduced rates. These choices are very telling of that society and culture. Making these objects was Beta Tank’s way to better understand the German VAT laws that enter its design process on an almost daily basis.
Taxing Art will be on show at the DMY Design Gallery, Berlin, on 9 December.