Furniture project number one is fully complete. Or is it?.. That really is down to the viewer…
I consulted 4 Design students to share their views. The general consensus was one of appreciation and attraction to my work and its inherent ideas.
Further quotes included:
Laminated panels look finished, MDF doesn’t. Now, is that down to social conditioning?
They requested it be self assembly. I assured this concept had been considered partially and exercised thus far.
Desirability for DIY was expressed. Indeed, my concept includes this, in that, attachable panels were easy to make for any reasonably equipped home workshop and practitioner and were demonstrable of easy to moderate maker skills that could be followed/ mimicked/ expanded upon. User instructions could well be supplied!.
Enthusiastic comments were made regarding sustainability, not only of product, company and materials, but of the people that purchase, their well being and personal skills etc, catered for in varying ways, ongoing. Gaming, puzzles, education, making, designing, multi purpose: Bedside cabinet, telephone table. games table, laundry box, lamp stand, storage and not least an object of aesthetic and intellectual enjoyment, even a topic of debate via its challenging and symbolic aesthetic and material application.
Suggestions were put forward that the modular carcass could be reproduced in various sizes. I had considered that interchangeable and exchangeable paneling could be produced in varying sizes so as to extend or enlarge surface/ storage areas of cabinet. And the students extra take on this I thought well worth considering certainly as the design proposes modular fixtures to flat pack construction, therefore rendering use akin to that of say leggo: As universal as is feasible, without over complicating design or manufacture.
The question was asked of me; “What is it that you are truly selling”?.. Great question;
Well, I am selling good health in product form. I am genuinely concerned to sell a product that people may want to own for their better good. Why would their not be a proportion of the market place that would want to empower their family in engaging and entertaining activity?. And at least, a proportion of the market place that may simply want to own unique one off works of design?
I am trying to design a universal product. Holistic Design if you like. Something for everyone, and more.
Does my design achieve this?;
Well, I am pleased with the results in general. I feel I have catered for many dimensions of theory within this small cabinet. In fact, one of the most enjoyable elements of this process, is that I myself, the maker, allowed myself, for once, freedom to make mistakes, to experience machining and process errors without the need for modifications, rather, focussing on the need to embrace imperfection, even celebrate it in a work of furniture!. This was truly liberating and only served to inspire and ensure creative fluidity. So for me, this was making, in the utopian sense!.
It is multi functional and flat pack assembly/ simple in construction and form.
It does offer a multi cladding facility which easily translates.
It uses found, recycled and sustainable high and low end materials.
Has involved the public eye in its conception.
Embraces new technology and material processes without disregard for traditional craft skills. Craft skills of under rated importance, replaced by machining and manufacture the likes William Moris regarded derogatory to the human spirit. Indeed, a lack of regard for fine crafting skills and the very essential personal and spiritual development gained through honing fine skills, should not be ignored. A true sense of liberation can arise from prolonged periods of pure and unbroken concentration! .
It is potentially educational, should people wish to interact with it on that level, as they may, say, a sculpture in a gallery or crafting within an arts workshop.
There are many levels of theory embedded within and without its walls for consideration, Phonomenolgy is referenced as an inspiration stemming from the likes of seminars with Jill Howitt CATS Tutor at HSAD, references like Anish Kapoor and Buddhist notions of ’emptiness’ concepts which I have been concerned with for many years.
I am keen to explore notions of existence, values and morals within symbolic references as well as literal references, all of which have been documented in my blog.
There are nods towards the Bauhaus and Modernist values.. Stripped back design, utilitarian values, functionality, form following. Dieter Rams as a reference among others I have listed in blogs.
Rams published a set of design guidelines, to which I added, especially as he made no reference to human well being as such. My inspiration from this manifested in ways appertaining also to the philosophy of Wabi Sabi, The Japanese Art of Impermanence: Aesthetics, that of nature, balanced, yet imbalanced, perfect yet imperfect, transitory elements, changeable, not fixed.
Experiments with materials during the making of this piece proved fruitful as I see it. Working with corrosive agents, natural elements- light fading, decomposure, mirrors and metaphors relating to the nature of existence and the ego, words and puns relating to etymology, the nature of words and language, tearing the colourful heart from letters, reverse brealle rendering it useless to the blind as spoken words may well be to the deaf.
There are references made to green design and design for society and consumerism (Nigel Whitely).. whereby again, during studies, no reference is made to the well being of human beings, only the market place and the planet its self. In a global society, at large, overly focussed on status and attainment of the next best trendy fad or gadget, my aim is to offer a new type of product. A product that people may want to own, which will not end up owning them, more over, end up serving them for their future personal advancement.
I do feel I have considered other approaches to utopian thinking within this practice. Corbusier’s City of Chandigar and dictatorships not leading to Utopia. Theodore Adorno’s philosophy and stance between Utopia and Dystopia and that the very structure of society enforces stagnancy. That the artistic pursuit is rendered paralyzed by the very values and frameworks and constraints of our world (capitalist) system. I do not aim to try to alter such systems nor imply they are not fully effective in promoting good health. I simply aim to offer an alternative perspective, unbiased, holistic.
I do not maintain Utopia’s can exist under any form of dictatorship or government lead system. However I am presenting an idea. Possibly, we may already actually live a utopian existence?, amidst all the chaos of our modern world, as we have come to know it. I am suggesting there are possible alternative realities, as real as the one we adhere to, as outlandish as an inuit living in an igloo might seem to a westerner?, at large, chosen. Realities whereby there are no boundaries set out by language, age, color, creed, class.
I also do not imply Utopia’s are located at some far off place unattainable, absurd. I am suggesting that possibly they lie in the heart of perceptions, somewhere via the absurd.
Realities akin to the mental states borne of the acts of artists, where only the imagination limits possibility, a place, perfect, in its total eradication of definition, where enlightenment meets innovation, where possibilities arise out of ‘no where’, that fleeting place, situated somewhere possibly before the mirror stage that Lacan references in child hood, where one visits, and returns, rejuvenated, often bearing new gifts, sometimes untainted, at best, possibly, even pure?. Possibly via such locations Buddhist monks refer to as enlightenment, emptiness, ‘no thing’, ‘no where’ – UTOPIA?…
I am pleased with the results generally in this module, and feel I am consolidating my theory, embedded in my practice. I am pleased with furniture piece 1, aesthetically I feel it is pleasing. Considering, this piece was designed in no particular order, literally made up as I went along, driven by theory, which drove the function.
Regards form, well this really was left to chance in many respects. The main frame of the design was borne of a 2d art work which can be cited in my latest art work posted on this blog. the very fact the foundations of this piece of furniture were rooted in a creative form usually alien to furniture, I believe set it on a unique journey from the outset. A journey which I feel did not discriminate regards traditional formalities in furniture design. In this sense alone I believe it is borne of utopian thinking, and by this I mean not thinking!. only at the very last stage of its construction/ inception, did I fully intervene with controlled deliberation over how it should conclude. I simply removed one of the white side panels, as I thought it superfluous in that it added extra weight, cost, time, over complicated aesthetics and rendered the piece visually balanced.
I was happy in realizing, whilst reading MIND’S ‘5 Ways’ healthy living promotion, that this current work addresses some of the 5 ways to well being. I recently blogged about this, whereby I set a brief to design a piece of furniture with said 5Ways as my design objectives.
What I would like to work on;
This piece did not include wheels! And should have, I am aiming to include the old a decrepid in my endeavours. The wheels were excluded from the final work as they would have compromised its folding function so modification would be needed there. Also, The students consultation brought light to the problem of the dividing, sliding mechanism rendering the compartmentalization of the cabinet useless once withdrawn, therefore requiring a housing/ socket.
Possibly I could have expanded on my theory within this work, though possibly I have achieved an equal balance of practical work to match, as is all time permitted. I feel am however, clear in my route forward, both practically and theoretically and feel I have sufficient research material to continue working from. I would have liked to have seen a piece of furniture that incorporated some of the material experiments I have carried out, too many to have included in one piece of furniture, so set aside for use within upcoming designs. I also would have liked to have had time to construct a whole new set of panels for the work rather than the few that I did, including as well as working on the collapsible element of it, fixtures and fittings etc, so to fully demonstrate potential metamorphosis/ impermanence. Time again permitted me to documenting such process via photography instead. Lastly, a gaming board really needs to be installed- solitair perhaps!… time, time, time? I think this covers most of the journey thus far..