In 1973, when the Danese design firm asked Enzo Mari to design porcelain ware,
he approached the problem from a view point of the ceramic factory workers.
He watched as they worked with the clay and observed that
« …because of the ‘production and market needs’ they were little by little being forced to reduce their quality to zero even below zero…
they have ended up performing …
meaningless gestures, undemanding of anyone or anything… ».
Mari decided to base his designs on hand-building, avoiding the use of the mold or pottery wheel.
My research is both historical, digging into the past of this one particular object and also bringing other objects as I go along. I am less interested on the biography of Enzo Mari, or rehabilitating this product, as I am for using this as a kind of collector in order to think about my work.
So what I will show are the products I have been working on this year, and using those to think about variables of process and production in design.
The first one is a series of eight glass bowls.
Its called Things also shape us.
It is a collaboration with a glass-blower from Stourbrige in UK.
Each of the pieces are their to deconstruct her usual process.
Therefore, instead of using all her tools at a time (as she will do),
I have asked her to use a different for each.
Although she asked me to bring an image* to start with,
it resulted in a series of props that connect material, technique and shape.
Thought out that project I have tried to reach forms which emerge from machine and mass production and are of the same kind as them.
In all its contradictions, I work on « objects » which become guidelines
of their own tools. By juxtaposing handcrafted and machine-made objects
I try to reach a point where the final object is:
as well as a tool,
as well as a representation of the machine that created it.
The second project is conceived as a sculptural element,
that implies a relationship between
itself and the audience state of behavior.
It is called a Kissing gate.
It is a structure that becomes a variable for action.
The barrier allows one person at a time to circulate from one side to the other.
Standing in line with a process of industrial fabrication,
the Kissing Gate is a result of an afternoon spent under
the Gravelly Hill Interchange, a location far better known
as Birmingham’s most famous landmark, Spaghetti Junction.
The gate was a sculptural metal-tube form,
an element made and placed by man
as a way to better organize the general use of the natural landscape.
I see the Kissing gate as a symbolic bridge for a design practice
that always stand in relation to production.
The third project is a proposal for the internal WT magazine 18.
It is called The process was a joy to watch.
The issue is intending to focus on development of proto-types,
which are try out products, guidelines, before production.
Prototyping is not only to be understood as the development of “first forms”,
but as a more general mode of ongoing culture:
a mode that is a tentative, based on bricolage,
constant change and improvements of products and practices.
A prototype is the bridge between « one » and « infinite ».
It´s a try out, early sample.
It acts as an evaluation to learn from,
as well as a simulation for future production.
The forth project is the web invitation of my box,
called VARIABLES FOR A PROCESS.
It lays out a discussion around the etymology of the term "Kissing gate",
via theguardian.com, on the notes and queries page.
This extract support a method of expertise based on tentative, on bricolage, on user involvement and ongoing change for improvements and contextualization of design products.
To end this presentation, I come back to Enzo Mari, and his project called Samos, commissioned by Danese.
After his visit to the factory he proposed a workshop during which no one could use industrial machines. The experiment resulted in a series of porcelain stripes, interlaced, coiled, layered or woven, highly glazed clean looking bowls and vases.
The pattern of each piece is defined by the hand but also by the craftsman behind. By deconstructing the process and facing the different aspects of the raw material, they explore question of servility and duplication.
By reenacting this workshop, i kept thinking at process as a form of methodology, and the importance of the prototype to reflect on manufactured products.
This project is for me both a proto-type and a final object,
as it was made in a state of experimentation, but is considered now days,
as a master piece of design, present in the British museum collection.
I use this project to think about different approch to production,
function and design bound up to become variable for social impact.