advertisement
advertisement

Injecting Soul Into Chilly Modern Design

A new exhibition by Yves Behar explores how individuality is trickling back into design.

Injecting Soul Into Chilly Modern Design

We’re surrounded by anonymous, mass-produced junk. So it’s no surprise that for years, forward-thinking designers have been trying to give product design an dollop of individuality and soul, whether that’s through customizable designs or high-tech craft.

advertisement

Those designers are the subject of TechnoCRAFT, the very first museum show curated by all-star designer Yves Béhar. The show opens this Saturday at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. But we’ve got a quick preview for you.

Béhar is tapping a trend that’s been going for a while now–what he calls “Design in an Age of Individuality.” But there are obviously many ways to imbue an inanimate object with a personal, emotional connection. Béhar’s exhibition proposes six: Crowdsourcing, Platforms, Blueprints, Hacks, Incompletes, and Modules.

Which sounds complicated, but let’s take a look at some examples.

“Modules” just refers to all the attempts by designers to create kits of parts, which users can adjust according to their whims. A good example is pictured up top: Clouds, designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec for Kvadrat, is a system of interlocking fabric tiles, which can be joined to form dramatic walls and room dividers, or simply hung as decoration.

Hacks are probably the most obvious example, and icons of design, from Ikea to Eames, are perfect targets for hacking. Here, a hack of an iconic Eames side chair, created with baby in mind, by Andrew McCandish and friends:

advertisement

And here, a hack by Studio Proxy that conjoins two different pieces of Ikea furniture:

“Incompletes” involve objects that have to be finished in some way by the end user–the idea being to engage the user in actually creating the product. Here, a stool by 5.5 Designers which is too uncomfortable to sit on by itself. The user has to complete it by adding her own cushion:

advertisement

A similar idea by Martin Konrad Gloeckle: The Shaded Sconce is just three pegs, which are only complete as a sconce when topped by a book of your choosing:

By extension, the “Blueprints” section covers designers who simply provide you a blueprint and ask you to build the entire damn thing yourself. An example we’ve covered before: Lindsey Adelman’s custom chandeliers usually cost upwards of $10,000, but for DIY-er’s without cash, she provides a blueprint and sourcing instructions for re-creating one of her designs for less than $200:

advertisement

And finally, you could classify architect Greg Lynn’s Toy Recycling series any number of ways. But the idea was to turn a reminder of our personal childhoods into a conversation piece for grown-ups (which actually sounds a lot like sitting in a shrink’s chair, come to think of it):

That’s just a taste: There are well over two dozen designs in the show. Check it out this weekend.

About the author

Cliff is director of product innovation at Fast Company, founding editor of Co.Design, and former design editor at both Fast Company and Wired.

More