Yet, as we all know, not many could actually stand up to the challenge. Because when it comes to design, things are often more easily said than done and the time, effort, care and research that lie behind a product are rarely appreciated by the public.
Hence, telling the story behind a project is a way to re-evaluate design as a discipline and a profession, as well as a means to raise awareness of the technological and production challenges that provide value to things, well beyond aesthetics and styling.
At the last edition of the Fuori Salone, one of the major pushes in this direction was given by the contemporary design platform DMY Berlin and Create Berlin, the network of designers based in the German capital.
Their exhibition, Open Process, purposefully set up in a garage where tools, machines and materials gave an instant feel for daily work life, unveiled a series of stories behind products, going from the very first inspiration and concept, through to various testing phases to the realisation of the final prototypes.
An explanatory approach was particularly suited for the Malva lamp collection by Oliver Bischoff and Danilo Dürler (aka Ett La Benn). Manufactured using cellulose and viscose, these lights are generated by the forming of moistened sponge cloth and hardening by air drying on a mould.
Although the general look of the design is defined, there is always a random element to the realisation part of the process, due to the way in which the material hardens. The result is an industrially manufactured product that is never the same.
“We think it’s pretty interesting to play around with customary materials like this, especially in terms of eco-friendliness and sustainability,” say the designers.
“The natural colour of the material turns any light (traditional or energy saving) into a warm tone.” Needless to say, such a multidimensional product would not be able to thrive in the eyes of the public for its looks only – it truly requires the story that brought it to life.
And so does the furniture designed by Werner Aisslinger, the NETwork 3D stitching collection. It’s made of fabric, with no structure and it is completely empty, seemingly floating in the air.
In order to make it, Aisslinger has used a production process that implies plotting the designs onto a carrier by the means of a programmable stitching machine to get a ‘pop-up-object’ that rises from the surface as if it was extruded into its third dimension.
The stitched textile honeycomb structures are then hardened through resin impregnation. Again, rather than a one-off work-of-art piece, we are in front of a product conceived for industrialisation.
In times of economic turmoil, with audiences increasingly attentive to the issue of price and quality, telling the tale of designs works. It brings design back to its very professional roots and steers it away from the glamour-oriented flair of the last few years.