Strange Harvest
Architecture / Design / Art
StrangeHarvest is written and collated by Sam Jacob.


Lemon Squeezy: Design Tendencies after the Juicy Salif



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Design as a functional activity ended with Philippe Starks Juicy Salif. This iconic lemon squeezer thrust its sharp tripod legs into the heart of Modernism. From this point on, designers would never be able to escape the inherent useless-ness of their activities. As bitter juice trickled down the sculpted chromed surface it dripped anywhere but where it was intended and it stung the profession with its painful lesson: Use is Useless.

Instead of helping us to do things, post-Salif design is a way of helping us understand things. Design helps us to navigate our relationship to contemporary context. It allows us to explore complexities through mute, wordless sensations of touch, texture and form - through materials and technologies of production. Design allows us to feel qualities of the contemporary before they are fully formed articulate ideas - like finding your way in the dark.

Design is a language of whose building blocks are how things are made what they are made out of as much as what they look like. Encoded within these choices are cultural attitudes and ideas to the mechanisms that shape society: to technology and its implications.

It is most obvious in the proto modernism of the arts and crafts movement. Designers such as William Morris played out a dramatic opposition to the cultural effects of the Industrial Revolution through the design of household furniture. Morris revived medieval manufacturing techniques that re-instated the role of the craftsman over the machine. To understand Morris, it is important to recognise that floral patterned wallpaper was actually a radical manifesto.

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William Morris - Acanthus Leaf Wallpaper

Contemporary design and architecture are currently benefiting from new waves of digital fabrication techniques. Their impact can be categorised into three tendencies: The Graphic Cut; the Complex Surface; and Nu-Craft.

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Klein Dythams Leaf Chapel

The 'Graphic Cut' takes advantage of the ability to computer control devices such as lasers and water jets and thus cut elaborate and intricate patterns into varied materials. The technique itself is two dimensional, and makes objects which are more like a branch of illustration or graphic design. The tendency within this field is to refer to a world of pre-existing objects which are used as quotations squashed flat: elks heads, elaborate baroque furniture, arts and crafts wallpaper. In this way, designers can easily reference history and tradition - though these references are rendered immediately contemporary by the precision of the cut and the flatness of the material. Sometimes the patterns created are wrapped around the overtly three dimensional spaces produced by complex surfaces. In order to create a doubly-complex surface. The CNC technology allows surface elaboration that has been impossible to mass-produce over the last 100 years or so due to labour costs. Though the graphic cut is often references history, it seems oblivious to its most recent forebear, Postmodernism which used historical reference, pattern and flatness as a polemical attack on Modernism. This lack of engagement with by sidestepping the polemics and politics of postmodernism, designers using these techniques. Its effect can be an overwhelmingly rich visual field, or a reduced abstraction close to a childs cartoon depending upon how it is deployed. It uses either richness or abstraction as a way of demonstrating it status as representational design - the too-muchness or not-enough-ness act as a kind of quotation mark - a break from the objects surroundings.

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Greg Lynn - Tea & Coffee Tower, Alessi

The Complex Surface is a function of the ability new software provides to design and manufacture in three dimensions. This design approach often uses technologies of rapid prototyping - if not in the final manufacture, then in the design development. Typically designs of this type are non-representational, abstract and sculptural - like 1950s abstract expressionist sculpture except super accurate and highly engineered. They use the tropes that new technology can deliver as a way of symbolising the future. In this way it is an interpretation of a particular machine-loving Modernism, though it rejects any idea of functionalism in favour of a queasy, over-powering sublime effect of form. It finds critical legitimacy in a particular strand of American architectural academia, and is linked to the earlier critical project of figures such as Peter Eisenman. An example of its cutting edge technology is that production of Greg Lynns highly sculpted Tea and Coffee set for Alessi is apparently affected by resources required for the American military presence in Iraq. Though it thrills to the super-high tech in both the way it is made and its materials, it sometimes suggests an affinity for organic form that one might associate with Art Nouveau in its intense use of parabolic curvaciousness. It also shares Art Nouveaus interest and ability to be a kind of totalizing design. It has a scale-less-ness that is seemingly consistent between condiment sets, furniture, buildings and masterplans. The complexity of the surface is beguiling - it twists and turns as though formed in an erotic vortex, attempting to seduce you with endless fascination. The finish of the object becomes important such as seamlessness (which creates the sensation that it might have been born fully formed rather than constructed) and lustre (which accentuates the play of light across its body). These help create a sense of alien-ness - lacking signals of everyday manufacture and a sense of scale that material and making often introduce.

The rise of Nu-Craft as design activity is an alternative response precipitated by the availability of technologies to designers. Rather than a Luddite rejection of technology, or a total inversion as with William Morris, it more often appears as a negotiation between high and low tech. Craft techniques or materials as a way of providing distance from the coalface of technologies novelty. They might include

What they suggest is a kind of authenticity which you could class as physical-ness - a way of manufacturing a 'real-ness' that attempts to form a fissure in the seamless quality of technological production. To do this it draws on sensations such as nostalgia and humour - moments of engagement which are not formal but cultural.

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Maarten Baas

The idea of the 'Joke' as a design principle explores the difference between expectation we might have of a material, technique or object and the manner in which it is implemented. This gap is a means of recognising difference.

It also suggests a hybrid condition, sometimes embedding contradictions into objects - tradition becomes novelty, the mass produced becomes hand-crafted (or vice versa). Unlike the certainty of Complex Surface design this design mode works between established positions.

It is visible in the work of Hella Jongerius, Maarten Baas as well as aspects of Marcel Wanders and Jurgen Bey - and many other designers related to design collective Droog.

This design attitude is most closely related to fine art - indeed many of its tactics seem to have been lifted directly from a contemporary art primer to such an extent that it seems somehow too easy. It also echoes some postmodernist design concerns such as taste, value and multiple meanings.

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Kieran Jones - Poang chair as Sledge

Nu-Craft includes the activities such as IKEA hacking - where the amateur culture of bedroom computer programming meets generic flatpack furniture. On websites such as Ikea Hacker posters swap tips and projects which "funked up klippan sofa, an ingenious idea for your pax wardrobe, a creative twist on your kitchen countertop, or even advice on how to finally stop forby stools from wobbling". This creative DIY-ism is visible in phenomena such as Make magazine which includes projects from electronics to knitting. These phenomena are closely related to the rise of blogging and the cult of the amateur, and posit a position where everyone can become a designer (as opposed to the specialisms and arcania of high design culture). They also suggest an existence of objects outside the machinations of consumerism.

Unlike the first two categories, Nu-Craft does not try to overwhelm its user with sensation. It is not a stylistic approach or a totalising design vision. Instead it displays wit and ingenuity in specific instances - a kind of design intelligence.

These three categories dominate contemporary design practice. Each of these techniques relates to a way of seeing. They share a commitment to the object as a cultural lodestone - whose significance is a way of describing the contemporary condition (even if they don't themselves admit it). Importantly, they do not propose design as a solution. After Starks Juicy Salif, it has been impossible to imagine design as an agent of progressive change in the old modernist sense. Designs driving aspiration is to improve the world through richness and relevance of its cultural presence. Contemporary design produces devices that are not intended to perform as advertised: as chair, table, lamp or whatever. They are devices whose function is a particular kind of cultural experience.

They do however offer different positions. The Graphic Cut and the Complex Surface - for all their intricacies exploit technology in a simplistic manner - that's to say, they do what they do because they can. Technologies have liberated aspects of design that have, until recently, been un-drawable or unmakable. Their explorations of the design possibilities is a kind of release. In their intricacies of pattern or form they aspire to a kind of technological sublime, an overpowering encounter with digitally crafted complexity. Nu-Craft however has a cooler response to technology. It is selective of how and when technologies are used - a kind of editorial or curatorial attitude to available and appropriate ways and means. Technologies are used here as a more articulate language. The possibilities offered up are more open ended. The Complex Surface for example is a kind of dead-end - a baroque endpiece to a particular history of design as formal object. Nu-Craft steps out of these vectors of design history, instead forging unexpected links and hybridisations.

These differences could be categorised as an open-ness against completeness. If design can no longer be judged by its functional utility, the terms of reference for understanding the success of a design become more complex. Equally, form, composition and other aesthetic qualities are only the means by which an effect is manifested, not ends in themselves. Effect is how the design communicates cultural content and is therefore the primary attribute of contemporary design.

Designs apparent impracticality is not failure; it is the point from which it explores possibilities of contemporary culture (for those who find this a ridiculously pretentious position, there are plenty of products that work). This is why design chairs are almost always more uncomfortable than other kinds of chairs, why design tables are a challenge to use.



Posted by anothersam at April 12, 2008 6:40 PM.

3 Comments

liljem said:

it would of been nice to of put more pictures of his work on

lil said:

i think it would of been nicer if u had put some more of his work in

anand said:

good thinking

Leave a comment





Contents:

More Scenes In Cartoon Deserta

Eiffel X-Rays

Beyond: Values and Symptoms

Sub Plan

Shenzhen: Window of the World

White Power

Generic Powerpoint Template: Delivering Bad News

Duplicate Array

The Best New Building In London

Book Review: The Infrastructural City

A Balloon in the Pantheon

Letters From The Pantheon

Henry Moore in Motion

On My Steel Horse I Ride

The Michael Jackson Monument Design Competition

Now Showing: John Baldessari Sings Sol LeWitt

Obscure Design Typologies: Life Guard Chairs

Osama bin Laden Cigarette Lighter: Novelty Products as Congealed Culture

Absurd Car Crashes: A Eulogy for J.G. Ballard

Candy Pistol

Now Showing: Dan Grahams 'Rock My Religion'

This Concrete 'O': On Serotonin, the M25, and the Motorik Picturesque

Church of the Literal Narrative

Philadelphias Floating Architecture

Now Viewing: Married To The Eiffel Tower

Le Corbusiers Image Hoard: Poeme Electronique

Giant American Signs: Original Learning from Las Vegas Footage

Giant Soviet Signs Cut Into Forests

Bricks Melted Into Icicles: Napalm Decorative

C-Labs 'Unfriendly Skies' & 'Bootleg' Volume

2 The Lighthouse: Self Storage & Architectural Hallucinations

Ceci N'Est Pas Une Pipe: Infrastructure as Architectural Subconcious.

Viva Sectional Cinematography!

Now Showing: The Installation of an Irreversible Axis on a Dynamic Timeline

Plug: Junk Jet

Sim Seasons Greetings! The Rise of Neo-Winter

Geography in Bad, Festive Drag.

The Ruins of the Future

High Tech As Steampunk ...

On The Retro Infrastructural

Simulations of Industry: High Tech Architecture and Thatcherism

David Greene: The Big Nothing

From The Factory to the Allotment: Tony Wilson, Urbanist

Koolhaas HouseLife / Gan Eden: The Revenge of Architectural Media

Ruburb-ric: The Ecologies of the Farnsworth House

The Architecture of Divorce

Flagrant Delit: The Movie

Landscape as Clothing

Telly Savalas Looks At Birmingham Redux

Acts of Un-Building: Timelapse Demolitions

Yard Filth: Next Years Hot Look

Stonehenge: A Black Hole At The Heart Of British Architecture

The Popemobile: Mechanised Robes & Motorised Architecture

Tarmac Adam, Tarmac Eden

The Secret Language of Surface

Some Housekeeping

Information Fields: Agriculture as Media

My Bloody Valentine: Sound as Substance

A Cubist Copse: Gehrys Serpentine Pavilion

Olympic Model Protest

Spouting Off: Some Thoughts On The Fountainhead

Form Follows Dysfunction: Bad Construction & The Morality of Detail

Floating Homes

Vintage Tradeshow Surrealism: International Grune Woche

Moving Houses: Buildings In Motion

Desktop Study: The Strange World of Sports Studio Design

Married to the Eiffel Tower: More Objectum Sexuals

60 Years of The Crazy Horse Memorial

Married to the Berlin Wall: "The Best and Sexiest Wall Ever Existed!"

Inflatable Icebergs: Sublimated Guilt Has Never Been So Fun

The Cinderella Effect: Phantom Architectures of Illumination

Two Deaths and a Retirement: The Strange Shape of British Architecture

If London Were Like New York: Antique Schizo-Manhattanism

If London Were Like Venice: Antique Geo-Poetic Speculations and Hydro-Fantasy

41 Hours in an Elevator: The Movie

NASA: Mapping the Moon with Sport

Lemon Squeezy: Design Tendencies after the Juicy Salif

Stadium Seat Mosaics

The Nihilistic Beauty of Weapons Arranged in Patterns

Light Vessel Automata

Dogs: Britains Greatest Design Obsession

Madison Avenue Modern

Detroit Sucks: The Motor Shows Last Gasp

Mies' Grave: Cut Out Model

All You Can Eat

Valentine Machine

The Tools of Re-Geography

Floating in a New Town Sky

Authentic Replicas: Football and the Franchising of Place

Folk Football: Landscape, Space and Abstraction

Haystack House

A Wishing Well with a Fat Up Pipe

The Camoufluers and the Day-Glo Battleship

Pseudoccino: Instant Coffee Foam

Yesterdays Technology, Today

Blown Up: More Inflatable Military Stuff

On Christmas Trees, Folk Forests and Staples Office Supplies

Hampton Courts Shrouded Sculptures

Named Fabric: 20 Sponsored Pieces of Architecture at the New Museum

Form Follows Felony: The Secret Home of the Un-Dead Canoeist.

Architectural Magazines: Paranoid Beliefs, Public Autotheraphy - More on Clip/Stamp/Fold

Little Magazines Seen Today

James Bond Lives Next Door: Suburban Imagery as Industry

The Ghost of Christmas Futurism

Petrified War Machine

Military Deceptions

Chapters for an Imaginary Book About Architecture

Shrouded Plinth - Urban Striptease

In the Night Garden - Surreal Landscape of Nostalgia

Kim Jong II, The Great Architect

Pill Box Picturesque

Un Clear Monument

Place Faking: Instant Heritage for the Thames Gateway

The Marc Bolan Memorial Crash Barrier.

Warped Domesticity

The Nuclear Heritage Coast

Enjoy The Silence: Bose Noise Cancelling Headphones

The Story of O (2)

Telly Savalas Looks At Birmingham

X100: A Design Exercise

How to Plan A New Town

Carpet Bomber

In Search of Britains Vehicular History

Scenes in Cartoon Deserta

Scary Suburbanism: Why Horror is at Home in the Suburbs

Re-Make Re-Model

I Like Your Manifesto, Lets Put it to the Test-o

How to Become a Famous Architect

Northampton - Sci-fi Pop Planning Promotion

Advertising Central Milton Keynes

Baltic Exchanged

Festival of Nostalgia

The Clapham Trainwash

Airports as Music

Test Card Dummies

The Velvet Underground at the Glass House

Duplikate: Kate Moss on the Production Line of Individuality

The Museum that Ate Itself

Hollow Inside: Starbucks Foam and the Rise of Ambiguous Materials

Revisions to the Architecture of Hell

Crufts: Dogs, Design and Aesthetic Genetics

Eos Airlines: Executive Bubbles over the Atlantic

London's Ugliest Buildings

1.51 Miles Of String

Google Earths Vertiginous Mapping

Church of the Ascension and Descension

Reyner Banham Loves Los Angeles

Replica Bombs

The Invisible Bungalow

House / Boat

Reading Lines: Skateboarding and Public Space

Mountain Sculpting

Sint Lucas in BD

Bat House Competition

Old Walton Bridge

Kiruna: The Town That Moved

Spray On Magnetic Defense

Chris Cornish: Prototyping History

The Jubilee Gestalt Vase

The Most Visited Location in the UK

Anything to Feel Weightless Again: The Cargo Lifter and the Tropical Island Resort

'Its beauty will know no season'

2000 Years of Non Stop Nostalgia. Or How Half Timbering Made Me Whole Again.

Inside-out Aldwych

Backpeddling into the Future: The Historical-Futurism of British Architecture

Miss Selfridges' Feeling for Fake Snow. The Oxford St. Lights and Why We Need Artificial Winter

Nelsons Cavern

Foam Gargoyle

New Tory Logo: A Hazy Shade of Politics

Jeff Koons, Rem Koolhaas, Hans Ulrich Obrist at the Serpentine

Souvenir Empire

Celebrity Scents: The Bittersweet Smell of Success

Imperfect Pitch - Football, Space and Landscape

Product Placement: Making the Impossible Possible

Suburban Growth: Matthew Moores Field of Dreams

Perfect Sound Forever: The Secret Function of High End Stereos

Picture of the Week 1

A Little Light Product Placement

Some Advice To A Young Designer

London and on and on

In the Gallery of Ice Creams

Useless Proclamations for a Beautiful City

Mini Mies Chair

Topsy Turvy VSBA: Inverted Heros of an Upside Down Avant Guard

Harvest III: Buried Things

The Harvest II

The Harvest I

Estuary Urbanism

The Royal Families Trees

Everything Flows: ideological cartography

How Geostationary Was My Valley?

The Psychotic Utopia of the Suburbs and the Suburbanisation of War.

LegoLand London Cluster

In a Lonely Place - Under Construction

Design Will Eat Itself

Mach 3 Nitro Gel - Design that's foaming at the mouth.

Marchitecture. Architectural things to do in London this March

Metallic Jet Powered Cloud

"When we got married I had no idea he would do something like this, he just said he was going to do some decorating."

The Electric Cenotaph

Russian Rok

Commitment ...

Dinner in the Iguanadon

Trace

What happens when you cross a pen with a car?

Leg Table Leg

Florentine Building Sites

Good Morning Britain

Football Pitch: Best of British

The Sad Photographer

The First Cut is the Cheapest - Blenheim Palace: pop architecture that goes for the jugular

Book Now For Christmas

Requiem for a Toilet Seat

Architecture that Destroys

TomTom Mobile 5 / GO 700

Winning Design

Another Croydon

Holiday Snap II : Giant Glowing French Balls

Holiday Snap: Canadian War Memorial, Vimy, France

Pecha Kucha London

Anatomy of an Architectural News Story

Big Bens

First Cut - Case Closed

The Texas Tower

Its All About the Big Benjamins

G8 Security Tower

White Cubed Blues

Poundbury, unexpectedly, in the rain

The Exploding Concrete Inevitable. Lou Reed and the Casa da Musica

Swingball

Untitled (Plastic Sack and Timber)

Berlin 1945 - The Obscene Picturesque

Pizza Planet

Goal Sculptures

Interview: Jeremy Deller & Alan Kane

Previewing Cedric Price

The Mardas Touch

Building a Lionel Richie Head

Ornament is Grime 2

An Incredible Smell of Roasting Coffee

Flatpack Frenzy at New IKEA

Langlands & Bell - The House of Osama Bin Laden

Labour is kind of working

Happy Death Men

Build to Let

Architectural Criticism gets Sharp

Niagara Falls

Ornament is Grime

FA(ke) Cup

Q&A: Wouter Vanstiphout

X-treme urinals

Unigate Cowscape

Spray-on Snow

From the Baffler ...

One in a Taxi

The Queen Machine

The Knork

Venturi, Scott Brown and my love that dare not speak its name.

Polictical Placards

The Ketchup Conumdrum

Douglas Coupland: Design and Fiction

It's a Small World

Images de Parfums

Soft Carcass

Christopher Dresser at the V&A

Blow up Pub

Municipal Mummification

The Matt and Ron Show

Semi - detached

Half Timbered Van

Feltham Future

Favorite Things

Fugitives and Refugees' - Chuck Palahniuk

The Pop Vernacular

Design by Chefs

Just What is it That Makes Yesterdays Homes So Different, So Appealing?

Archigrams Pastoral Futurism

Sorry Mies

The Flaming Lips - Live.

Everything Counts - The Sound of Geography Collapsing.

Carlton Terrace Extension

Other:

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