While figuratively “blowing the roof off” is arguably an aim of every design festival; physically having your roof blown off is not.
Sadly that is what happened to Designblok Prague 2017; Storm Herwart, when not completely de-roofing the Art Deco Palace of Industry which hosted the event, causing damage sufficient to force organisers the cancel the last two days of the five day festival.
A situation not only unfortunate and irksome for the organisers and exhibitors, but disappointing all those who had planned spending the Sunday and/or Monday at the event.
Does however give the organisers a relevant and fitting theme for Designblok Prague 2018 …… but before we get there, our Designblok Prague 2017 High 5!!
In our interview with Pepe Heykoop about the Tiny Miracles project which sees women from an impoverished inner-city community in Mumbai manufacture his designs with the aim of allowing them to raise the community’s living standards, he told us about an early problem whereby purple marks would occasionally be left on the leather lampshades, a consequence of the workers’ hands coming into contact with their Bindi, “…..we liked it, we thought it was nice proof of the authenticity of the product, that the lampshades we’re being made by hand, however the retailers in Europe were saying “this one is stained I want a discount!””
We dare not think how those same retailers would react to the Human Trace Tableware collection.
Created in context of the project People from the Porcelain Factory by anthropologist Ewa Klekot and ceramicist Arkadiusz Szwed, the Human Trace collection was realised in conjunction with the porcelain factory in Ćmielów, Poland, and via a process which involved the factory workers wearing gloves covered in cobalt salts, a material that is barely noticeable until the pieces have been fired
The result is a charmingly chaotic and continually surprising pattern whose resemblance to classic Delft goes deeper than the mix of blue and white, and which also stands as a celebration of the random and imperfect, that finger prints on crockery can be a cause for delight rather than disgust; but also a documentation of the manual nature of the production process, or perhaps better put how often the various pieces pass through an actual pairs of hands. And that they do pass through actual pairs of hands.
Created in cooperation between typographer Vojtěch Říha and ceramicist Matěj Polách, Superior Object is a collection of 26 objects representing the 26 letters of the English alphabet. Objects which although self-confident and charming on their own, achieve, as with real letters, a whole new relevance and dynamism when combined. And recombined. And recombined. And recombined. Romance Bidden. Banned Dormice. Beard Condemn I
If we’re honest, which we always try to be, we were captivated on sight by the project, and slightly cross with ourselves. “Decorative ceramics?”, we challenged ourselves, and decided to assume that something had gone wrong with our systems, that it was too early, had been a bit cold on the way to Designblok….. So we left it for a bit. Went back. No, still captivated. Away. Back. Away. Back. And the awe never faded.
Only in conversation with Matěj & Vojtěch did we discover why. The project began as a font developed by Vojtěch, Vegan Sans, and was then later developed into objects by Matěj. There are clearly two things there that speak to something deep within us. Not least the fact that despite being objects, they aren’t. They are letters. Letters developed as letters. Letters which having a common heritage and genesis can be combined effortlessly. As letters. Or as objects. Objects which being letters have no predefined function, can be whatever you want them to be. And tomorrow can be something else. And as such represents a fundamental necessity of good design, that which is created according to a concept, position or belief, rather than as product.
No, its not an idea that’s going to change the world, but it might just change your interior.
How much effort, how much design, does it require to support a plant pot?
The disparity between that which is required and that which is involved in the objects of the collection Rostly – Grew – by Kateřina Kučerová & Adriana Kováčová is what makes them such appealing objects.
Plant stands/holders aren’t new, are however essentially tables or wall mounted hoops. The creative effort being essentially one of visual forming. They are also essentially 1D objects. They have height, depth and breadth; but their functionality only requires their height.
With Rostly Kateřina & Adriana have designed a 3D plant stand/holder, and in doing so have taken the principle to the absurd. Everything about Rostly is ridiculous. And genius.
Not just in terms of the disparity between “should” and “is”, but the disparity between creating a technical, mechanical system that no-one needs, and then doing it in the simplest of fashions, with high-quality materials and craftsmanship, but in a most primitive, almost naive manner, so that you’re unsure why you even have it. But are so glad you do.
While the question of whether there is a disparity between form and function doesn’t exist, because the functionality doesn’t exist. Free-floating articulated plant pot holders aren’t a thing. Are however a joy.
In these pages we’ve often celebrated plant hangers, those objects which allow one to suspend a plant in space, approving as we do of the way they disrupt the room, bring in new visual levels. The Rostly collection does the same, in the most delightful, absurd, pointless and endearing fashion.
Take a piece of not quite al dente spaghetti, push from one end so that its starts to bend and twist over and in on itself …… don’t over push, just a little, gentle, pressure ….. And Hey Presto!!!
We can’t confirm that is how Prague based designers Matěj Coufal and Eduard Herrmann a.k.a. Herrmann & Coufal arrived at their new Spaghetti coat rack. But we do like to think so.
Although we always shy away from using the word “sculptural” when referring to furniture objects, it being one of those lazily, far too easy, overused words for describing objects which present a form that is very much for itself, that exists independent of functionality, something inherently sochařský; yet, as you walk round Spaghetti it constantly changes, constantly attracts your attention with a new combination of its component part.
Yes, we hear you at the back, hang a couple of coats, scarves and a dog lead on it and you lose the effect. Yeah. But have gained a very spacious, functional, reduced and practical coat rack; and one, as Matěj and Eduard are very keen to point out, who’s twists and curves are not random but rather have been designed and placed to optimise use, to be in harmony with the movements of hanging up a coat.
There goes our squashing spaghetti theory!
In addition to the floor bound version Spaghetti is also available in a hanging version which maintains the curved section but replaces the straight pole and base with a wire that hangs towards the floor, steadied by a small pendulum. However for us it is the relation between the straight stab and squished head that brings in the necessary humour and tension to allow it work as an object. But as ever, what do we know…….
When is a shelf not a shelf? When it is just the frame.
We’re fairly certain Bez polic – Without shelves – by Leona Höbausová a.k.a Kusy isn’t the first object which ignores the shelv in shelving, but then again we’re are often wrong; and regardless of such considerations, in the form and proportions of the larger, triangular, version Leona has achieved a very pleasing lightness with substance. Particularly pleasing is the way it promises, nay threatens, to disrupt the space without dominating, and promises, nay threatens, to do so less out of any intention, but because it can do nothing else. It must.
Leona also presented a lower, more quadratic version, which didn’t rock our boat quite as much, somehow struck us as a little too obvious, somehow lacking the confidence and character of the taller, wedge shaped version.
As ever with such open storage objects, while viewing it we found ourselves screaming “DUST!!!” in our ears. To which we replied, if you’re a tidy person not a problem. If you’re us……. maybe take the ownership of such an object as motivation to change, improve, your habits…..
No dust problems, but the same cleanliness requirements, with the equally charming and engaging vitrine Na krehke veci – The Fragile Thing. A quietly, reservedly, ostentatious, object existing as it does for no reason other than to allow you to display things, while it itself has been conceived to be invisible. Yet essential. Which is a nice contrast, and not one that is particularly easy to achieve.