(jiří macek) The London-based Royal College of Art recently had a joint presentation with other Dutch and British schools and independent studios as part of a new designer spot located close to the Lambarte metro station. While their Dutch colleagues from the city of Eindhoven occupied the ground floor of the new residential building and queried the meaning of designer work, the royal Londoners transformed a run-down factory building into an imaginary conceptual hotel.
Although we will focus on Eindhoven later, of course, the presentation by the Royal College of Art gave a more free and resourceful impression. Individual hotel parts – from furniture pieces to washbowls – were analyzed by RCA students and brought into new contexts. Students solved such practical furniture aspects as laundry, growing verdure, transport, staying in a garden, and the deterioration and variability of furniture. The result can be defined as a global solution of our existence. Let us give several examples.
Even though the Polish studio of Kompott presented a dresser consisting of simple crates at Designblok last year, Harry Thaler endowed it with an endless dimension in the Twist and Lock project. Unlike Kompott, he played with the structure and did not solve the detailing. Thus, the result was very close to Caribbean or Indian market stall workers, who bring the goods on a moped and vanish below several layers of stuff. Yet, he left a door open to our desire for things and construction. One feels as if he/she was constructing a house.
Another interesting project included a mechanical laundry machine, i.e. a simple rustic set of rotating washing drums reminiscent of huge tanks for home-made wine. One can only rarely see conceptual industrial designs. This one led us back to Leonardo da Vinci or Frantisek Krizik, which was very pleasant, beautiful, romantic, and unexpected. One realized how he/she often accepted things without understanding their operation or meaning.
The simple Biquattro Electric-Tri-Bike, designed by Valentin Vodev, was in the vein of the early industrial revolution, but with the application of the latest pieces of knowledge. The three-wheeler is able to carry as much as a Mini or Smart car can and does not slow down the user thanks to a combined electric drive.
The Garden Table by Fredrik Paulsen would please all fans of Premek Podlaha and his golden DIY age. There is no irony involved – what gardener would not like to tread on a spade and have a snack by a table? Such a life would be great.
We would also like to mention a very interesting inter-digitation with the installation entitled Hostina pro návštěvníky z jiného světa (A Banquet for Visitors from Another World) presented in Milan by the AAAD Prague. The installation included the Bakolo set of bowls and saucers deigned by Veronika Slámová, who studies ceramics and made the pieces by imprinting her body onto them. The RCA Hotel also presented a touch of cannibalism and a very similar concept in the project entitled Tantalus Dinner by Ioli Sifakaki, who says: “I made imprints of my body and invited twelve men to dinner. I wanted to initiate a new relation between the user and the designer.” I have no idea in what such relations resulted. Both projects were created at the same time on two locations that are hundreds of kilometers apart. Thus, one must believe that something is in the air. The relation between the user and the designer is of a growing importance in the field of design. Utility and aesthetics is no longer enough.
Harry Thaler: Twist and Lock