Wrap Up of London Salons: Explore & Act - pamphlet
During LDF 2017 Ineke Hans wrapped up her London Salon Projects of 2016-2017 in Brompton Design District. Theast London Salon events popped up as presentation, publication and conversations to present alternative perspectives in design.
On the Pamphlet
The full reports of all London salons and events can be read online (see), but for the wrap up Ineke Hans wrote the Pamphlet EXPLORE & ACT with twelve motto's for design.
"Everyone who joined the conversation will have their personal conclusions and recommendations, but from the 12 salons I extracted some personal thoughts on how talents can be relocated and how design can take up an active role in the changes that our society currently meets. After all the talking it is time to act.
Ineke Hans, Designer and Founder of The London Salons"
Johanna Agerman Ross - curator contemporary and 20th century design V&A, writer and founder of Disegno Magazine - wrote an introduction and edited an 'extract-conversation' of the 6 studio-salons as a digestible read. Altogether it gives insights in 12 London Salons and the popup events that took place over the year and it points out at explorations and actions for furniture design and designers to drive design forward in the future.
The Explore & Act Pamphlet is designed by Dutch graphic designer Irma Boom.
These Pamphlet was complimented by the exhibition EXPLORE & ACT to illustrate what these 12 points could mean for design.
(conclusions and recommendations on 12 salons by Ineke Hans)
1. Move focus: from making and the new to meaning and needs
Peak stuff! We have enough “stuff”. This twists with the designer’s desire to design objects. The goal has to change: from making more to making sense and being meaningful.
2. Work on the system: it doesn’t work
The furniture system is a complex structure of fairs, manufacturers, design shops, galleries, consumers, designers, press and more, but it has become a treadmill in which too many things are taken for granted. It acts like a rhizome, but it needs fresh impulses that tackle that system fundamentally.
3. Explore and invest in new economic systems to bolster design
Crowdfunding and online sales give designers direct, interesting access to users and sometimes more profit than via manufacturers. Economic models need to shift if we are to start “making less” and want to move from financial growth to growth of wellbeing. The latter is an important topic for designers to focus on in projects.
4. See the world as your workshop and act in it yourself
The classic “designer-client” relationship is no longer self-evident. Designers are flexible, can initiate projects themselves and the world is their workshop. The profession has changed and grown. That means designers need to think responsibly about their projects and be fully engaged in their processes and how they impact on the world.
5. Rethink the workplace
Workplaces are changing: we work at home and we like to feel at home at work. This impacts furniture design as contract and domestic markets collide. Designers should have a role in that change.
6. Use the space we have efficiently and design hybrids for it
With smaller urban workspaces and living spaces our furniture needs will be different and much smaller in scale, but furniture can adapt by becoming more hybridised and connecting with the public realm where, in turn, furnishing needs more attention.
7. Act on a 24/7 networked reality
New technology makes living and work flexible, mobile and networked 24/7, but the lifespans of furniture and technology are difficult to match. We struggle to deal with that new reality on a social level and here designers can contribute with strategies for coping.
8. Get involved in reality: design for a social context
Design should not act from an ivory tower. Our technology-driven society needs a human, more psychological approach for design, embedded in social context where it interacts with users.
9. Sense impacts of local making with global knowledge and vise versa
Many products have fixed appearances and are stored and shipped around the world. This impacts globally on environment and communities. Yet digitisation allows open-source furniture production (where and when needed), customisation and small-scale production that is no longer just manmade, but a mix of digital and craft methods.
10. Look at the future and pioneer
Innovation is not only a matter of novelty, change of colour, a different story or style. Design needs to be innovative and has to make sense. Designers and manufacturers need more time to invent, explore, engineer and cooperate with science to come up with more pointed projects.
11. Look at history and learn from it
Use old and new methods for design, but when creating new products, design history can offer insights to reflect and build upon and prevents you presenting “new-olds”.
12. Design solutions and not more stuff
Designers can apply their problem-solving abilities to move away from creating more tangible objects towards intangible strategies and solutions.
(an extract of 6 studio-salons by Johanna Agerman Ross)
Ineke Hans The reason I set up this series of salons on furniture and society is because I love the discipline of designing furniture. However, recently we have seen changes to the way we produce, retail and consume furniture and these changes will impact an industry that for a long time has looked the same. The previously separate fields of “contract” and “domestic” furniture are now infiltrating each other’s domains; the increased costs of renting spaces for working and living means that in urban areas the space we have is much smaller for furniture there is less space and less money for it; the younger generation is not interested in possession but in sharing; digital developments such as open-source technology and online retail change the structures of how products get to users. Simultaneously it feels like the furniture system has become a treadmill in which we produce too much, ‘new' seems more valid than ‘necessary' and we hardly ever take the time to wonder if what we do makes any sense. So I thought it would be nice to sit around a table to talk and to invite retailers, designers, writers, curators and manufacturers to join the conversation.1
Benjamin Hubert If you look at furniture-specific fairs such as Milan, they don’t really relate to the wider world any more. This year 1,323 companies are showing there. If they all show five new products that’s about 6600 new pieces of design every year within a discipline where we’ve already solved some major problems a long time ago. I think it’s the designers’ responsibility to design for problems that are more urgent and therefore help more people. Instead we spend a lot of time pitching furniture projects, and you know how many you have to pitch if you want to earn any money as most manufacturers think you should work for free and instead earn your living on royalties if you are lucky. So this year I decided that instead of donating that free time to furniture producers, I would donate it to charities and non-profit organisations. We’re still not making money from the time we spend on these projects, but at least the projects give something back, which feels more fulfilling and it better reflects the values that I think design should stand for.
Ineke Hans I agree that there’s not a lot of rocket science to be expected from furniture at the moment – there also seems to be more about styling than innovation.
Gareth Williams This was different in the past when furniture design was stretching boundaries and new ideas were pushed. This is why Milan became so important in the field of design. But the cutting edge has moved away from furniture.
Jana Scholze Well there might not be a lot of debate about furniture, but as long as there are humans we still need furniture. The numbers, are not the point for me. The fact is that furniture is so close to us as humans and seemingly not so involved in the digital world, the discussion around furniture will move back to the physical space and the human being. We have all seen how the domestic space has collapsed into one space but we also see that that doesn’t work: we are working 24 hours a day. There is a need to bring things back to a human scale again and to deal with technology in space and in our lives. Individual needs can be served better nowadays because of technology.
Ineke Hans There is too much furniture being released. If you ask people how often they buy a new table this doesn’t match with the number of tables that are coming out every year.
Gareth Williams Aren’t all of us here complicit in that system – whether we write, design or sell? The system requires novelties and new ideas. The rise of digital technology has changed the manufacturing, marketing and distribution of goods. How we buy and design nowadays seems less top-down and more bottom up. Designers rather than manufacturers are the initiators of design processes, as are the end consumers: “crowd-sourcing” and “user-centred” are words that you often hear in design nowadays. The language has changed and this has reshaped the way designers are working.
James Mair When things get to you via open source and online distribution you risk ending up with too many mediocre ideas. There is a lot of that going on and it numbs the furniture industry. Maybe we need to have the specialists, evangelists and signature designers as the game-changers to deal with that.
Daniel Charny What Benjamin described is what used to happen with luxury and limited editions where designers experimented through investing collectors and took that knowledge onto other places and into industry. This is the model that needs to happen now: doing work in one place and shifting the knowledge to another where it is valuable and has impact even if there’s no one able to pay for it. I recently came across a project in Bhutan where two industrial designers set up a little factory to produce earthquake-proof school tables. To make that viable they found local manufacturers and learned from them. They used open-source knowledge and made jigs to teach them. They needed far more furniture-design knowledge than just doing a table. The level of design in such a situation is much higher. We have to look at local manufacturing with global knowledge. One of the things with Milan is that you go there to meet other people and clients that you don’t know, but most of us see people and shows we do know! This proprietary model is eating itself. So we are not talking to the right people nor looking at or being active in the right places.
Tomoko Azumi All these big concepts have led to ignored traditions and techniques, so we should look after this knowledge. Designers need to maintain this. For myself, I am bored with concepts. Since 2006 I am working on projects that are rescuing and reviving traditional furniture techniques. Part of the interest in vintage furniture is because it was made well and so it lasts! I am working nowadays with companies to see how we can adopt these qualities back into the market again. An online platform like made.com lacks things in that area because they focus on a cheaper price and instant decision making. There is a gap between the technology used for that cheaper price and the technology for good quality.
Gareth Williams The world of furniture is like a rhizome – a big network of distribution, customers, designers, manufacturers and media. If things change then new networks and connections are created and new situations and responses are therefore required.
Daniel Charny That’s always been so, but the question is if something is pulling so hard that connections are breaking? For instance: in fashion some brands weren’t using Instagram and looked down on social media and they lost clients or went out of business because customers turned out to buy instantly from Instagram! The bigger players are the users: they are offered lots of new choices but are also not interested in all of them. In the world of furniture: are we still just tweaking a bit or are bigger shifts taking place? For me a shift is that the actual making has really changed in terms of where value is created and where it is captured. Digitalisation means that value is there before something is made. Previously something used to be made, stored, shipped, distributed and then paid and there was a lot of money going around in that process. Now users are involved in decision-making and give their data and money really early on, so they give the value before something is made. 2Let’s try to identify these shifts in making and manufacturing and see how significant or marginal they are for our future. It’s like the Industry 4.0 concept: making and manufacturing have digital and technological sides that have effects on education, on living, on our financial situation, on social changes in cities and pressure on cities and on designers designing furniture. What does furniture mean to designers and has that changed over the last hundred years?
Joni Steiner Opendesk essentially is part furniture company, part digital platform that uses independent workshops for local making. It grew out of an architecture practice called 00 that asked questions about the value of design and its social impact. It came about when we had a modest furniture commission from a software company in Clerkenwell. They wanted furniture that fitted into the way they worked, their needs and their budget. And we found that we could produce locally enough to go with our clients to the workshop and get prototypes back the same day. There is a John Maynard Keynes quote that says: “it is easier to ship recipes than cakes and biscuits.” At Opendesk we ship recipes instead of goods. And our network has grown to incorporate 500 workshops, although we don’t work with all of them every day.
Mark Smith We are very different, we are manufacturers. Isokon was established in the late 1920s to produce furniture for the Lawn Flats in Belsize Park, now known as the Isokon building. We have an e-commerce site, but we primarily work through a couple of trusted retailers, so we are very archaic: we use shops. People still like to touch and feel, turn things over to have a look at furniture, however, there is a shift towards people buying quite expensive pieces of furniture without seeing them.
Kim Colin Our studio, Industrial Facility, is working on the one hand with smaller manufacturers such as Mattiazzi that combine this tradition of handcrafting with an eight-axis CNC machine. It’s interesting to do something on that scale, driven not by big sales pressures, but more to see what happens when you mix craft and technology. At the opposite end is Herman Miller which is completely industrial, very corporate and with lots of people, lots of factories and this amazing legacy of working with outside designers like Ray and Charles Eames. At the same time they have outsourced over time and they are now trying to bring things closer, to update their factories to get more control over manufacturing. Industry is changing shape and the designer’s role is changing within it.
Mark Smith In comparison we are dinosaurs and are not going to change sizes or customise our furniture. With contemporary Isokon Plus pieces we have consciously chosen them to be a pain in the arse to make! That's why we spend so much time on prototyping.
JoniSteiner In contrast we work with small independent makers who can make things quite quickly. The designer will get fairly paid, and Opendesk is paid a percentage of the making cost. But it is also possible for people to go to Machines Room or a similar ‘fab lab’ to make something themselves, in a DIY way.
Michael Marriott People always liked making things and this opens things up for furniture to be more crafted and more customised.
Kim Colin A company like Herman Miller sees that changes are now going very fast where they used to go very slow. An expansive tech company has requirements that are different to before and it’s about the assembly and reassembly of products. We might have to reconfigure a situation based on a time frame: a company might say: “We want to reconfigure a room in five minutes,” not: “we want two people on a desk or four people or a chill-out space”. The issue is time. It was previously a myth that people wanted to move around furniture, but that myth is now the zeitgeist. We are interested in those behavioural aspects. And what the industry is suffering from is that all the domains are separated. The factories are outsourced, the designers have been outsourced, the companies become separate entities that only look at marketing. This kind of fragmentation does not work and certainly fails in most designeducation where whole aspects of the process and all of the tools are not available and neither are they built into education in an integrated way.
Johanna Agerman Ross In 2011, there was a worthy effort by fellow journalists to bring the whole picture into light at the Milan Fair, they called it Milan Uncut and editors such as Marcus Fairs at Dezeen, Kieran Long at Architectural Review and Justin McGuirk at Icon rallied to have a more active conversation about how the furniture industry works. Designers working for 3%-5% royalties rather than getting paid for their research for example; the mechanics of PR and marketing and how the economy around the industry actually works. Sadly there weren’t the results and openness expected in the debate. That same year, the awareness around Kickstarter started to grow and Time magazine called it “the best invention of the year” and with this designers had other platforms for showing and selling their work than at furniture fairs and design festivals. It seemed that this time opened up a new way of looking at the industry, and as a result we have seen an opening up of new manifestoes and potential ideologies. In 2012, Joseph Grima curated Adhocracy at the Istanbul Design Biennial, looking at these new tendencies, two years later Zoe Ryan curated the biennale and looked at manifestoes, in 2015 Louise Schouwenberg and Hella Jongerius presented their manifesto ‘Beyond the New’ on the eve of the Milan furniture fair. So there has been a clear shift and new opportunities and discussions coming to the fore in the last five years.3
Peter Marigold When I started as a designer I felt uncomfortable with this lineage of having to speak with manufactures who are perhaps not totally committed to your designs. But when I went on Kickstarter for the first time with Formcard I was suddenly in direct communication with the people that are interested in my product and I had absolute control over its representation and communication. But I don’t know how successful crowdfunding for furniture is. I think particular projects that are candy-shop-like tend to be successful. Sadly a table is perhaps not very communicable in the medium of a 50-second video.
Rose Etherington Often the stories and the people behind products are interesting though and places like Kickstarter or Clippings, where I work, use these stories in making online connections with customers. It’s not really true that people don’t want to buy big pieces online. You just have to make it possible to understand a piece and get as close as possible to creating the same situation as where you can pick things up or walk around them in a shop. The important thing for independent designers is that these new platforms can lower the entry level to get your products into the world. This will make a big shift and it became possible only fairly recently.
Jane Withers I assume it is a fundamental switch where before 80% of a designer’s time was working as a designer and now 80% of it must be working as an entrepreneur?
Matylda Krzykowski But some products don’t translate well from being a designer’s own production to being produced and sold via a brand. I recently spoke to a designer who got a project he’d made successful himself into production with a company. He was given a choice: an upfront fee of £500 or 5% royalties? He thought: the company will take care of sales, so let’s choose the royalties. After two and a half years he’d received £450. The object sold less because in its new context it had a different emotional value than when it was handmade.
Tom Lloyd We all choose to speculate and it is quite democratic. It allows young designers to get a platform and to experiment on what you could not do yourself – if you find the right partner.
Johanna Agerman Ross But what is often left out of the debate is that the manufacturer does not always invest in the product to get it on the shop floor, they invest to become news fodder for Milan and with the ‘Milan Uncut’ debate you see that if this happens continuously it becomes increasingly difficult for both established and young designers to make a living simply from royalties.
Sheridan Coakley So then the designer should ask for a fee, but they should also understand when a design will be successful for a manufacturer. Before the royalty system existed most manufacturers employed designers. There’s a huge freedom if you are an independent designer and you are successful. If you are not successful that has nothing to do with how much you earn; you may just not be a very good designer. There are just very few designers that make a good living and I don't think it has to do with the royalty system.
Ineke Hans The current system does not work for young designers because they cannot afford to wait so long before one or two products finally take off and give them a living.
Chris van Houdt We are the first generation that is not going to experience large financial growth. We have to look at new ecosystems and that is challenging for us and for the design world as well as the fourth revolution of technology and its impact on how we work and with whom.
Tom Lloyd As designers, manufacturers and suppliers we are in a fortunate position to articulate that change. Sometimes there is a tyranny of novelty in Milan. But we are also part of it and we set the trend. There are a couple of big themes that we are interested in as a studio, one being the trend from “owned” spaces to shared spaces. 4It started with the desk: it was a given that you would have your own desk, but now you share it and with that the ways you use the space. Then offices were shared – largely a response to real estate costs and improved technology. Then we shared our possessions: with schemes such as Zipcar, and now we share our homes through Airbnb. Now some co-working companies are also creating co-living spaces, a mixture between a hotel and a private members club, where you have tiny apartments and share your facilities. In a way these are market responses to the pressure of costs. Furniture plays a role in making sense of that change. The other thing is about status. Maybe by demand of the millennials, status is no longer about acquisition and ownership, because it can’t be. Certainly not when it comes to property and maybe, as IKEA announced “Peak Stuff”, there is a realisation that we can’t carry on acquiring things. The furniture market might become more challenging because of that. Furniture has the opportunity to respond to economic change, social change, industrial change – how we make stuff – and technological change, particularly in relationship to space.
Luke Pearson This touches on the concept of growth as a business model – it’s broken, it is not relevant. We just had a meeting with a client in Germany and their plan is expansion with a new building every five years. That simply doesn’t match with London as a business model anymore, compared to 15 years ago. We have a completely different dynamic here and it will put more pressure on other cities. Communal living is actually in our DNA. We are talking about a very short period of time that we live in a house divided by walls from another family. That is a relative recent invention. In lots of societies that does not exist and people still live in communities.
Sarah Gaventa People think that if you create housing you create communities, but if you don’t provide communal spaces that is not happening.
James Mair If we look at the new ways that people are living – a quick two months here and then move on – then look at short-time pods with built-in furniture that you rent. Then there is the argument of disposable furniture because people think: “I am only here for three years and then chuck the furniture or recycle it.” Or invest in retro furniture and recycle it again. But at some stage people like to create some structure. It’s at that point that people spend money on furniture and that might happen a bit later than it did before, but it still happens.
Max Fraser: If we occupy ever-smaller spaces what is the effect on our acquisition of furniture? We seem to mourn the loss of public space to private interests, but if personal spaces get smaller what role can furniture designers have in that domain?
Nina Tolstrup How to live in a compact living space is of growing importance, especially given the trends towards urbanisation and rise of megacities. We gave ourselves the challenge to create the interior for a 13sqm dwelling. It is impossible to get a small space like this to work using any off-the-shelf furniture – all the interiors had to be custom made for the space – it’s more like designing the interior of a boat or caravan. We began by asking ourselves “What can you live without?”
Sarah Gaventa I used to be the government’s advisor on public space at the Chartered Association of Building Engineers and I thought this was an important concept because it is the only space left in a city where it doesn’t matter what you earn or what you wear, everyone is equal. The quality of public space for me is not about granite and bollards but about how comfortable people feel and that there is a bench that you can lie on. Using public space and sitting in it is a relatively recent phenomenon. It was not something people did because it was full of shit and noise. I don't know what we did 20 odd years ago in London without ‘Prêt’, but now every other shop front is a place to buy sandwiches and no one designs places to eat them! I don't get that.
Ineke Hans Since our private spaces are getting smaller I have the feeling that all those public spaces are getting more important, somewhere to have lunch or work on your laptop, while you wait before going to another meeting.
Anne van der Zwaag I came across the term “social design” so many times and wondered what it really means. People often relate to it in the same way they do sustainability. So I made a book on social design that would make things visually clear and to explain the concept in a plain fashion. I researched the topic and tried to explain it from the perspective of the different stakeholders, from designer to end-user. I looked at big contemporary issues relating to energy, water, waste, food and wellbeing and how designers can make the world a better place, even just a little bit. I also noticed in design academies that there are many good ideas, but it is hard to push them forward on your own and so the book provides insights on how to manage that.5
Martino Gamper I designed a stool once and only realised afterwards that it could be called social design. I started the project in 2006 in the Boundary Estate in east London. Originally built at the end of the nineteenth century, it had a lot of antisocial behaviour. There was this little roundabout called Arnold Circus where a lot of drug dealing happened and with my friends from the design collective Åbäke we thought the only way to claim the roundabout back for the community was to physically reclaim the space. So we started organising picnics and clean-up days and every time more people showed up until we realised we need something to sit on. The residents wanted to go to IKEA for some cheap chairs. There was a little budget of around £2000 so I said: "Why don’t you give me the money?" Why not invest it in a tool that can produce something? I knew of a rotation moulder in Somerset and proposed the design and technique to the Friends of Arnold Circus and they liked it. I still produce the stool and it looks like a little side business, but over the years I’ve sold 8000 or 9000 of them.
Anne van der Zwaag If you go to graduation shows you see so many chairs and products where you ask yourself: who is going to use that in the end? What I like about your project is that the product came from a totally different process.
Martino Gamper Yes but I realised I was selling more of my own stools than a big company like Magis could manage. So I said to them: “There is something wrong about the way you sell things. You have probably 300 shops around the world!” Once you are producing yourself, you realise how much things cost to make and how to sell them.
Anne van der Zwaag When researching the topic of social design, I noticed there are three aspects that you always have to take into consideration: people, planet and profit. How does it help society or individuals, how does it improve our environment and is there a market for it? In other words, will people buy the story? A product or a service has to be appealing, affordable and understandable, people want to know where it comes from, how it adds something to their lives and why they should buy or embrace it. A convincing social design project takes all these aspects into consideration: our society, the environment and also our economic systems. If you leave one aspect out it is hard to make it successful in my opinion.
Ineke Hans Maybe this is where we have to be more active as designers too? Where Martino said give me the money and I make something happen, in matters like this designers have to stay involved longer and more actively to implement their thoughts fully. There is a great potential for designers if you remain involved, but I can also understand that you like to move on to another project.
Jon Harrison The word context came up earlier and Martino worked in an overseeable context, but there are systems that are so big! You would like to get your hands on it but it’s so difficult. There are a lot of beautiful solutions in what we call social design but it also has to be about implementation.
Ineke Hans So can’t we help? We as designers can see how to solve problems and we are in a profession that is called applied art. If we can apply art to an object, can we then also not apply solutions? I am thinking more and more that our role could also be as problem solver in social contexts and implementing strategies and solutions, so not only for tangible objects but also in non-tangible situations.
Anne van der Zwaag Students should explore more during their education, get out of the academy, be active in the field and gain practical experience. I once did a survey about where graduates wanted to go and where they ended up. Once out of school 80% of design students wanted to set up their own studio, but only a small percentage of these designers are successful in doing so, or in other words, needed. They produce a lot of interesting and beautiful designs for a small audience. Better bring design thinking into the companies that serve the masses. In Marketing, Communication, Business Development a convincing design approach can really make a difference, when absent companies hobby along with, in many cases, bad design as result.
Oli Stratford There is a general tendency in design of discomfort with production and a discomfort with consumption. This is particularly apparent in student projects, but as Tom Lloyd mentioned, we also have an abundance of things and a desire to move away from that. There is a desire in design to produce outputs which are bettering and if values are moving away from the creation of more, it is a good case to be made perhaps that luxury gets associated with this idea of less. So, if there is a desire for social improvements, ecologically friendly products, for design strategies that will reduce the need for new objects and for rationalisation of systems and greater efficiency and encouraging new social values in the audience, this has also interesting implications for the role of the designer. That perhaps moves away the designer’s practice from the more traditional industrial model.6
Daniel Golling Sometimes you hear people say: “We don’t need more chairs, so we should stop making chairs.” But do they mean stop making, or stop designing? And why mention specifically chairs and not tables? Can we really do without more chairs in the future? My colleague Gustaf Kjellin and I wrote the essay: How We Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Chair, in response. There is also a political dimension to the comment to stop making chairs, because if we are in a state of utopia – where everything is accomplished – there would not be any need for design. Utopia is a society we are striving for, with the idea that a better world can be realised through design. We also wanted to point out the role the chair has played in history as a symbol of equality. It is not long ago that just a very few important people started to sit down and do nothing, like kings, clergymen and us here today. So a chair is also a symbol of how society has in fact evolved and become more equal.
Oliver Stratford Do you think there is any stigma around the chair – as an archetypical object and emblem of 20th-century design – that it becomes a poster boy for a particular vision of design that it does not fit with ways we speak about design now?
Daniel Grolling Well, yes looking at how we sit here today, you could say we should give our creative capabilities and resources to other stuff: solving world problems, or finding new meanings for design. But the chair is a very powerful symbol, since there are not many other objects of design that we all relate to like a chair.
Jeremy Myerson If you then look into our culture, a chair is so much more advanced than a smartphone. In our language we find seats of power such as seats of government, seats of learning. When you become a professor at university you get a chair, you don’t get a smartphone. We are enthralled to technology at the moment, but we are in danger of underselling the fundamental cultural importance of furniture.
Tord Boontje Something has shifted – say since 2008 – when the crises started. One of them is space. A lot of young people do not expect their own living environment anymore, or the furniture that goes with it. Young people don’t spend any money on furniture, they spend it on experiences and go on amazing holidays. They find it easier to spend three or four hundred pounds on a dinner at Noma in Copenhagen than to buy a chair. Chairs are however expressions of our culture. If we go back to 2004 when I started working with Moroso I made embroidered chairs. I tried to make a romantic world and it was how I tried to change the cultural environment that I was in. In 2004 Konstantin Grcic did Chair_One which was a huge success, partly because of a good price but also because it expressed the rise of the digital world.
Joni Steiner Well the reality is that we are in a society that is focussed on growth for companies that have investors. The idea being growth is success and that you cannot have prosperity without growth. In a company like IKEA they have also a sustainability section with a guy there whose task it was to look at sustainability and to see if it would be possible to sell less things. This guy came up with this very convincing diagram showing that if you sell a sofa for £200 that is also the end of a clients association with the brand. But if you design a system where you could repair the sofa you can extend the life cycle of objects and even if you recycle the sofa you extend the contact with the client and extract the amount of money you make on furniture. As soon as this adds up for their accounting department they will implement it and then IKEA will not only be a source for consuming, but also a material bank or something. They are already talking about fixing things.
JanaScholze I like to think that there will be a renaissance for chairs soon, because life has changed so dramatically. We are sitting far too much – our life is reduced to sitting. Chairs are the closest to our body, but we are not shaped for the chair and also not for sitting so long. I think that some of the major challenges of the future can be solved by medicine, but also by furniture design. Perhaps we have had some saturation of furniture, but it shouldn’t be a luxury not to feel your back and your body ache after sitting for a day, it’s should be the norm.
Oliver Stratford Maybe that’s a good point to close on. You mentioned how it’s not healthy to sit down for too long.
1 Salon #1 Furniture & Us, 2 February 2016, studio INEKEHANS
2 Salon #2 Furniture & Shifting Means of Production, 1 March 2016, Machinesroom
3 Salon #3 Furniture & Economics, 31 March 2016, Disegno
4 Salon #4 Furniture & Space, 10 May 2016, PearsonLloyd
5 Salon #5 Furniture & Social Context, 29 November 2016, Sunbury Workshops
6 Salon #6 Furniture & the Luxury of Less, 1 February 2017, Studio Tord Boontje