Ineke Hans Salon

Ineke Hans & Joni Steiner                                      report 44

REPORT XL-salon #1-3: furniture is not working

For contract-furniture oriented Clerkenwell Design Week 2016 three unique popup salons were curated: the UK-NL XL1 salons. These breakfast salons, were open for an audience and each time a Dutch and British speaker discussed a different topic around furniture & work environment.

New furniture is annually launched but where does it all go? Are we providing furniture for catalogues? What are the demands for furniture typologies and furniture production today and how can open source developments play a role in this? London-based Opendesk storm the world with open source furniture: available globally, locally produced. Dutch Designer Ineke Hans and Opendesk did a project with four emerging Dutch and UK designers called 'furniture is not working'. Gareth Williams spoke with Joni Steiner of Opendesk and Ineke Hans about that and pointers for the future of furniture design.

Date & location: 26 May 2016 - Clerkenwell Design Week Goldsmith's Centre
Moderator: Gareth Williams (Professor of Design at Middlesex University)
Speakers: Joni Steiner (Opendesk) & Ineke Hans
Photo's: Thor ter Kulve

Furniture & work:
furniture is not working

Gareth Williams: Good morning everybody. Nice to see you all here. My name is Gareth Williams head of design at Middlesex University. I am pleased to welcome you all.
Today's theme is really looking further forward into the future with the great title: 'Furniture is not working'. Clearly furniture is working: we are all sitting on furniture that is functioning. But what we are really looking at is not that furniture itself doesn't work but the furniture system. By that I mean that the way we design, make and consume furniture is changing very fast; a lot of the paradigms are quite broken and need to be reassessed. It is great that we are thinking about that here during Clerkenwell Design Week that is also a celebration of a particular furniture supplier in a contract system that is very established. One could be a little cynical about that really.
What we are looking at today is a kind of alternative to that and the kind of challenges and opportunities that have arisen that propose different ways of working and different furniture systems, including digital technologies which enables us to view a lot more furniture online as a customer. It has effected how we design furniture and it clearly effects the way furniture is made and then distributed. We are trying to look at the structure of the industry.
So far as a little opening gambit, I am now going to ask Joni Steiner from Opendesk and Ineke Hans to talk about their ideas on why furniture is not working.
So, over to you Joni!

report 40 Joni Steiner: Just a brief background: I am a declared architect by training. I am not actually a furniture designer and we set up a collaborative studio about ten years ago when I graduated from the RCA which was actually about looking outside of the traditional borders of design. A group of people that were architects but than grew to be a software programmer, product designer, a social scientist. It is interesting to come from the scale of a building, but also to work on digital projects like websites and platforms and now moving into the workspace and try to combine all those things. That is what Opendesk is trying to do.

One of the things we got really involved in was social collaborative workspaces. So we designed a whole series of co-working spaces that we actually based ourselves in.

21st centure model for manufacturing

report 41Joni Steiner: This is in Westminster which was designed with Westminster City Council.
As designers we are interested in how to bring alternative values to projects, rather than just sitting back and wait for clients to come to us and say "build us a great house", we thought can we be propositional? Can we invent things ourselves and find the right clients to fund those critiques? The hub in Westminster is a co-working space that focuses on social impact with entrepreneurs that came together and share the same values.
It taught us a lot about collaborative work environments and one of the things that came out through designing the building and space and also running it was that the furniture and the occupation of space really sets the atmosphere and the level of cooperation between people. This was our first aspiration in designing furniture. In doing that we got very excited about digital fabrication because as architects projects can take three or five years and you can get really detached through layers of bureaucracy and huge design teams. Looking at furniture we got very excited about the capabilities and possibilities of digital fabrication and the immediacy of being able to prototype something. But also the idea that as technology develops the costs of that technology drops and the access to it increases. Opening this up to a bigger audience and allowing people to get access in the making and designing of things is where Opendesk came from. It asked this question: "What is the 21st century model for manufacturing?".
report 42We see it as something which relies on knowledge centres, making things where land and labour is cheapest. Mass production and mass logistics basically separated the designer and the maker and in some ways the customer or client. We can see a future which says that this all collapses when you have the digital tools and digital manufacturing. We can make and design things everywhere and if we have the right way to both communicate and control it than it creates for the designer, the maker and the customer a new experience making them really part of the process.Opendesk is about being a new kind of furniture company that uses digital technology to enable the local making of products, but also on a global scale. So we can actually make products all over the world.

This final slide is a short reflection on this idea of 'furniture not working'. I was in China recently and that was my office. So, on a technical level we are working everywhere and the workplace is just about connectivity to our clients and colleagues and finding spaces just to be able to work.
report 43Obviously China it is interesting that as soon as you land there IS no connectivity. You can't get connected to anything related to Google. We started to reflect on what do you actually need to work? There is a very practical side to 'what is furniture for the workspace and what is the workspace'. And we invited some designers to think around the near future of the workspace and that goes back to this bigger question about furniture working as an industry: "Are we happy with the way it works now, or are there alternatives?".

Change of landscape

Gareth Williams: So, what we are really facing is a changing material landscape in the sense that furniture is being physical made in a different way and that technologies are enabling that. But it also raises questions about legal rights and ownership and the structural basis of the furniture industry in the way we might consume it. {44)You showed a slide with creative commons. If furniture is been made through creative commons licences than it is about a different ownership and payment, so it is not just a physical change but a whole change of mindset too and legal parameters have to be shifted as well?

Joni Steiner: Yes and it opens up some pretty interesting questions at designers about authorship, the IP question and the distribution of data. That will probably be a big topic.

Gareth Williams: Ineke...

Ineke Hans: Well being a Dutch designer I have a studio in Holland in Arnhem, but I opened a little office here in London again after being away for eighteen years. I lived and studied here 45 As a designer I work on many different levels. I made a quick division: I have a design studio, a own collection and recently I set up the salons which are a research project. I work on sculptural projects, but also on injection moulded high-tech furniture that is using new ecological materials. By being a designer - and like many Dutch designers of my generation did - I was initially showing my own collections because I had no clients. Today we still produce most of that in the workshop in Holland that is in the same place as the studio. We sell to the contract market more and more, which is a funny thing to find out about, because we were not contract oriented originally.
Having been in design for twenty years now I noticed that there were lots of things going on at the moment as Joni spoke about and Gareth mentioned. But when working on projects I didn't make the time to get my head around them, even though I thought: "this is important and I need to look into it!". I guess you all recognize this. So when I decided to go back to London I also decided to set up this research project. Mainly into furniture because that is where I come from.
Things are changing, that is good and it will always be, but I saw so many things together. Like the contract and the domestic world that have merged, urbanisation makes - especially in a city like London - that spaces are getting smaller and more expensive which means that there is less space and less finance for furniture and has an impact on the types of furniture that we need.
The furniture system with the fairs is becoming a treadmill. It has an economic set up that hangs together with elastic bands. We are unhappy about it but it is very difficult to change it.
We are also living in a time where we are trying to get to less consumption and to products with more concern and meaning. This will mean less production, in the western world we are moving towards 'less', also because we have less space.
There is a whole generation that is not interested in possession anymore which also has an impact. They can't afford a house anymore and a classic status symbol like a car makes no sense when you are stuck in traffic with it. If you are so mobile nowadays: why sit in a car with a steering wheel in your hand and do nothing while you can work in the train?!
Then I noticed - being a designer myself that works in the industrial field, and sometimes also on a sculptural scale and on social projects - that THE furniture designer does not exist anymore. Designers are more hybrid.
So there were a lot of things to think about so I thought: I make time for it and this year and I dive into that" and that is how the salons came about.

report 46Here you see upholstered furniture that I designed for Offecct for the workspace. There is a beautiful picture of my mother in law, who was a typist in the fifties, where she is sitting and typing on a desk with a colleage next to her on a desk. But there were actually fifty colleagues typing and they all did not speak but just typed, where nowadays we lounge and have conversations in offices and have these types of furniture. At one point we designed for the headquarters of the Rabobank and I thought: "when are these people going to work?!?" We were designing for fish restaurants and break-out spaces. So there is a different thought about working nowadays.

report 47This is a table we designed for a company called Arco in the Netherlands. It is really based on the kitchen table and having a drawer where you can store things in, but made so that you don't get in trouble with your knees under it when sitting at it. Actually the guy that runs the company is the tallest man I know and would hit drawers quite soon. We made very thin walled drawers to store things in formed of recycled "PET-felt" and than eliminated the thickness of drawer rails by sliding on the drawer itself. Getting back to family again: my grandmother would have a writing desk, a kitchen table and a dining table. Now we do everything at the same table, partly because we have less space, but also because that's how it goes: we have breakfast and than work with our laptop at the same table. So, furniture has to be much more hybrid too and as a furniture designer you also have to deal with that. report 48

We all know this classic image of work that you see here above. Now we know also these cool co-working centres below where everybody is talking to each other and maybe taking eachother out of their concentration. It is also a great place to work together and to meet others that you need for it. We know that this is happening, but you can wonder: "What are the next steps?"

Coming from Arnhem, which is not a village but a city of a certain size although for some as if they go to the countryside, I realize that it is nowadays possible to work everywhere. Still you see - like me too - that people want to be in big cities. Why? We are so mobile that we can work from everywhere. I am doing it now myself here where I work with my studio in Holland via mails, facetime and 49It is all possible and yet we don't decide to go to the countryside and work from there where it might be nicer and cheaper. 
This last image here at the bottom is a very interesting app developed by someone from Arnhem recently to find the 'white spots'. You can find the nearest spot to you with NO internet connection. I think that one of the biggest things we will have to face is how to get to terms with the digitisation, with being online 24/7 and always working, where our mobility enables us to work from everywhere.

What Opendesk actually means

Gareth Williams: Thank you for scoping up a lot of different challenges and a very shifting landscape for where furniture exists now.
We've got a lot of interior designers and interior design students here today. I want to try to focus for a while now and talk more about Opendesk and what it actually means. If I have designed something for someone or a particular site can I than come to you Joni and you have the facilities to make it for me? Is it as simple as that?

Joni Steiner: It is a little bit like that. I am an architect and there are a lot of architects who designed a piece of furniture probably sitting on hard drives around the world, only made once. A starting point was to say that all designers now more or less design in computers, so you have design as software. There is also a huge number of people that have both the skills and the tools to make things in a digital way. So, it was about bringing those networks together in the Opendesk platform where you can put in your postcode and find someone nearest to you to get something made.

Gareth Williams: We are really talking about having furniture made in a certain way. A lot of the furniture that I have seen is cut from sheets and than comes together?

Joni Steiner: It using cnc technology since that is the most matured digital fabrication than something else and it has been there for a long time. It is very stable and secure on what the capabilities are. It is not like 3d printing where we are still thinking about what to do with it.
What inspired us too was that this could be a new way for designers to bring products to market and get exposure, rather than having to go through selection processes with big brands and have really just a small percentage of your work seeing the light of day. So it could be a new way to service design.

Who owns what comes out of all that?

Gareth Williams: There are clearly technical constraints because this technology does certain things very, well but can't do other things. Still there is an awful lot of sophistication depending on the designer's abilities to design using that technology. But who owns what comes out of all of that? How does it make any money?

report 50Joni Steiner: This is the big question that everyone legitimately asks. Our default idea and proposition is that it is open, but that is also agnostic to the license that we have seen around in design, so we are actually saying to the designer: you choose yourself whether you make your file completely open source or you use creative commons or you actually close it down and make it a paid download.
As a platform we like the idea that it is open and we have proved that sharing has a net benefit But actually being open also is about letting people choose: if we would forced everyone to be open source that would not be very open.
What we find is that most people confuse open source with thinking that everything is free and that you cannot make any money out of it. Actually the licensing of the product and the business model behind making that product are two separate things. It is a bit like saying: "would you be prepared to pay £ 100 for the chair you are sitting on?". If the answer is YES than the question is also: "would you be prepared to pay £ 100 for this chair if it was an open source design?". If you like the chair and think £100 is a good price for a chair if it is made well, the actually design-IP licence behind the chair is something that is between the designer and the manufacturer. From the customer's side it doesn't really make a material difference.

What we are saying is that you can have open source product that can make money for designers. What you need is the right structure and the right relationships with the makers. With all the manufacturers that we work with - which are around 600 workshops around the world - ...

Gareth Williams: Wow!

Joni Steiner: ... the agreement is that we will find the jobs for these fantastic makers. In response we ask them to make the objects the desks, the chairs... and factor in the percentage that the designer has asked for as design fee. So there is an agreement that the design is valued.

Inspiring the young generation

Ineke Hans: Last year I was teaching in Germany and it is interesting that when you look at the furniture system with its regular fairs and how designers work in that with companies - and than talk to students they are very interested in 'open source' not only because it is open but because it is a different system! When you go to these fairs as a young designer and want to talk to manufacturers hoping, hoping and hoping that they will take on your work this has become an impossible situation in a more or less bankrupt system. The younger generation is looking a lot into ways to get their work into the world and open source somehow seems an opportunity.
What I also really like about it is that you are no longer shipping furniture all over the world, but if you have an office in London you have it locally produced here and if I have an office in San Paolo I have it made over there!

Gareth Williams: It is a disruptive system isn't it? And 'disruption' is one of the IT words at the moment that economists and political scientists talk about. Companies like Facebook and Google are seen as disrupting the status quo of how businesses operate. We are really looking at a disruption to the existing system for delivering furniture. You have explained how it could be very beneficial to designers to access fabrication and how it connects the designer and the manufacturer but what I am still not quite clear about is the later stages: distribution and retailing and the consumption of furniture? Does it also disrupt the market for furniture? Are we cutting out middlemen, dealers and contract managers?report 51

Joni Steiner: If we look at this 20st and 21st century diagram of making and shipping and production the idea behind the Opendesk model is that you can go directly to a local producer - which by the way is everything from one person making a desk on their own to a small factory scale. It is really quite open as to who produces, because we've focussed on one process and standardised sheet materials to start from.
Going back to the 20th century model that has these layers of production, distribution and sales, this idea now is that we can go directly to the workshop and maker. This is not someone just cutting bits of wood, but people with a level of skills using digital tools like cnc machines. Working with Greenpeace, and a lot of start-ups and tech companies like Google and Nike, the Opendesk model is also a way for companies to make San Francisco desks, Boston desks...

Gareth Williams: This comes back to that disruptive companies can have enlightened procurement, but that doesn't really help reaching mass market. Consumers look at brands that they trust, know and heard of. How do you disrupt that connection? How does this kind of furniture penetrate the big market?

Joni Steiner: We have not had the budget to do any marketing. At the moment we are on track for about a million pounds worth of revenue and that is without any marketing. A lot of things are coming through people visiting someone's office and saying: "where does this furniture come from?". There is a whole narrative and story behind all of it which I think has caught people's imagination. In some ways our brand is way bigger than we are. On the one hand it is working, but it is a big challenge if we want to grow this.

Getting under the skin

Gareth William: It is a great example of the 'shop local' idea, challenging international globalised business models, of which contract furniture is a great example, by lots of small interactions on an almost individual level with small workshops, small communities and small networks to get under the skin.

report 52Ineke Hans: We are talking about contract now but I was in the workshop next to the Opendesk office, where they also have cnc machines, and there was at one point a women who had downloaded a stool. She had it cut and was very happy that she could do the finishing and giving it a colour herself. She thought it was even better than IKEA because it was for her also about the 'experience'. This is an IT word too, but she felt that she was making something herself. Of course the contract world is a completely different world, but there is something appealing for the domestic market in this new system too.

Gareth William: As an established furniture designer who's worked with Offecct, Magis and contract and big scale industrial furniture within the furniture system, have you used these new models? Does it change the way you like to design something?

Ineke Hans: I have always looked into the new materials and techniques. I was doing a laser chair when laser was the newest thing ever and somehow I have been on all kinds of paths with Offecct and so on, I have not been involved designing for platforms like Opendesk, but I am intrigued by it and we have done a project together with young designers. I do realize it is part of the new furniture world, I don't want to close my eyes for it and I don't mind working for it either.
What I see is that the big contract companies also realise that things are shifting. They always thought in big programs, furniture that everyone on the work floor would use in one go. This week Herman Miller is presenting just one chair, that might be because they don't have a big showroom, but I think we are also done with the idea of the big dictatorial programs like the cubicals. Now we look much more at products at an individual level: how do people behave and what kind of furniture needs to meet up with that. I was talking about hybrid furniture where furniture has to perform in more than one way. I am than not talking about multifunctional, flapping and folding items, but more about furniture that stays the same but can very gently work differently in different situations. I always thought it was quite funny that when people are at their desk they have a proper chair that has to meet certain regulations. As soon as they work at home they sit on a kitchen chair and their boss gets really angry when he has to pay them when they get ill because of that. However in offices we also started work on sofa's which is not very good for our back. I like the digital changes, but I find the social implications on how we are living and working as intriguing to deal with in design.


Gareth Williams: There is huge potential for open source design and fabrications, but it has the constrains of materiality and maybe the contract furniture market will continue with those things that need investments and complex production methods like injection moulding.

report 53Ineke Hans: Yes, but what would be against having moulds all over the world and forget about shipping costs and the energy that it takes to transport all of this around the world?
There is an interesting Dutch designer called Dave Hakkens, he is working on 'Precious Plastics'. A lot in Fablab situations, where Opendesk initially also started and still operates. Dave Hakkens made small rotation moulding machines and presses for plastics of which you think: "hang on this has been around for years...." ,but he made them smaller, with guides how to make them yourself and they are also in a system with places where you can shred your plastics, recycle it and than make something with it yourself. He is dealing with waste but also with making yourself.

Joni Steiner: What is interesting on that process is that it is part of a whole maker-movement of people experimenting and taking this to a new industrial reality. We are working with Smile Plastics that makes 100% post consumer waste plastic. They produce sheets that our network can use like any other material next to sheets of plywood. There is an other company called Solid Wool that uses waste wool combined with bio resins for sheet materials. For us it is also very exciting to speak to these companies and think about how changing the landscape of design and making can impact on a bigger ecosystem and how this can help making new materials emerge.

Ineke Hans: Maybe it is nice to give an example from the exhibition.

Gareth Williams: Yes please! I would encourage everyone to go and see the small exhibition 'Furniture is not working' in the MOSA showroom around the corner where there are several really interesting case studies of young designers that you two cooperated with.

Growing wood

Ineke Hans: We asked four designers - two from the UK, two Dutch - to look into the future of open source production and asked for new thoughts about the future ways of 54 james Three products came out of this, but there is one project by James Shaw who worked together with a scientist. The basic thought is: a plywood sheet is square, a tree is round and takes 25 to 50 years to grow. He worked together with this scientist who knows about cellulose cells and how you can grow sheets. Basically you can do that anywhere so you don't have to ship around trees and wait till they have grown. These sheets grow in eight weeks, you can ship around cellulose cells and grow the sheets where they are needed. For me this is very interesting. You see a tendency that designers are much more involved in these processes. For a long time designers used to be people that just make stuff...

Gareth Williams: ..or just gave the shape and other people made it...

Ineke Hans: Yes! But designers would look at which materials were there and how they could use those. Now they try to invent the materials themselves, or work with engineers or they are in a way activists like Dave Hakkens who also tries to deal with all the plastics that we have as waste. There are a few things to this that I can be critical about as well, but the basic thoughts and the desire to move and change things is very much IN designers at the moment: a kind of active attitude.

Gareth Williams: Can you speak a bit more about the works in the exhibition?

report 55 adamJoni Steiner: Sure, so we set this design brief to look at different modes of open source production and the near future of the workplace and what that means to people. Adam Blencowe is bringing together the digital with the found and the idea that there is a huge library of it that you can pick from. This has gone into storage system using standard wooden rails from DIY shops. The nice idea is that there is this kind of standardisation in every country but it is also different in every location. He is using digital mapping of those profiles to adjust a piece of furniture to a local condition. He allows a DIY making of furniture by using the locally made and local sourced parts that he combines with digital production. I think that could not only be storage, but it could also expand into different ways of building a work environment.

report 56 paulaGareth Williams: Ineke?

Ineke Hans: Well there is also a bench from Paula Arntzen. Her idea is that in the future we have to work together. So it is a bench that you can work on anywhere, take with you and fold together, but you always have to fold and unfold it with TWO people, so you HAVE to work together.
report 57 thorThen there is another thought from Thor ter Kulve. His idea is: wherever you are and however you will work - whether you are a drone programmer working from you backyard in the south of France or a student in London moving house all the time - you will always need a table. He designed a very nice trestle that you can knock down and take with you as a bundle.

Gareth Williams: So, key words that are coming out of all of this are collaboration and trust. Trust between designers and manufacturers and also makers and their consumers. Quite a utopian model both socially and economically is proposed. Not only about furniture, but it ripples out into the values that we want our society to have.

Joni Steiner: Yes, and in my case this goes back to the architecture practice of '00' that some of these projects were coming out of. The thought was: as designers we have only certain amount of energy and time. Can we spend it on projects that have impact? What kind of impact depends on the opportunities you get and were we wanted to focus. First we looked at the workspace than at the furniture within them and now at the furniture industry and technology. You realise there is a whole system of materials, designers, makers clients... and how can you deliver value to all these?


Gareth Williams: I think it is designers of any ilk who see each other as agents of progress and change in a positive way to improve an existing situation.

report 58Ineke Hans: Yes, but it is also nice that if you work that you feel: I make sense! If you are designing, designing, designing just to end up in catalogues than there is a question. I did a project a few years ago on an Island in the north of Canada where I had to work with the men of the island to make furniture. Lots of people were leaving the island because the fishing trade had gone down. Social schemes were set up to attract new business and to get the fishermen involved in something else. They knew how to make boats in the winter word by mouth from their uncles and fathers and could do coopering. These guys were a little anarchistic being used to being the boss on a boat. I had to go into the workshop and work with them on my designs saying lets first do this and than do that because they were not used to read drawings. They were not stupid but just did things in another way. Now this furniture is still made and sold through shops and has an agent in Canada. It is something completely different than when you do an injection moulded chair but it is also very rewarding! I spoke to one of the wives of the men that were involved and she said I have a completely different person on my sofa now. A few years ago he was drinking a bit too much, he was depressed because people were leaving the island and that has changed completely since he is involved with the projects on the island.
I like to contribute to something that is doing good. I am not Florence Nightingale, but it also makes more fun for your selve.

Gareth Williams: And you see the positive impact of what you are doing.

Joni Steiner: It is not just about doing good, but also about finding different ways to do things. There has to be business sense: Something has to work as a piece of furniture, somebody has to want that piece of furniture, it has to be desirable, it has to work for the designer, it has to make sense for the maker. There are potentially ways to do that, so it is not just a dreamy idea.

Gareth Williams: Lets open this out to the floor. Is there a question?

Girl in the audience: I study a masters course at Camberwell looking at developing bio-degradable sheet material using tree sap and bio plastics. Having much more material knowledge than furniture knowledge I wonder: could I be part of the Opendesk system if I develop a material?

report 59Joni Steiner: The joy for me in the story of Smile Plastic and Solid Wool as part of our project really is the potential of these kind of things to emerge. I would recommend to meet small scale producers like them who have great stories about why they want to do that, what it takes and how they are managing it. There is also an 'innovate-UK grant' which is looking for material science and technology.

Gareth Williams: You also have to be very realistic about the constraints of introducing a new material in how you, as a small scale deliverer, maintain quality and meet the legislations. As an individual you have to seek any advise to become an absolute expert in your material which you of course will be! Don't underestimate the challenge. Smile Plastics feels new, but has been around for a quarter of a century.


report 60Woman in the audience: Just a thought that came up: have you thought about the impact the changes in distribution and transport will have?

Ineke Hans: I think we don't have to be too sentimental about certain things. The post office realises that it is now better ship around parcels than letters, we are no longer eating with a stone ax anymore because we found out cutlery. We evolve. If a great way of woodworking disappears we can be in tears, but we also have to be realistic and ask our self the question why that did not work anymore. I am a great lover of history and everything that has been around, but it is also part of our work as designers to think about how we can incorporate things that disappear from our lives in a clever way so they serve us nowadays. DHL almost has to solve a design problem if they would be moved out of business with less distribution.

Joni Steiner: This is why oil companies become energy companies. They find new ways to be something that adds value.

Ineke Hans: If you look at how businesses work you could say that Apple - that is already becoming a bit of a dinosaur - is now what Philips used to be for technology 100 years ago. Philips has developed in a certain way with offices, managers and systems that now slows them down.

Gareth Williams: Bringing this back to the furniture industry than: how does Vitra or Herman Miller respond to the disruption and the new models of making and distribution?

Ineke Hans: Konstantin Grcic did a Hack office with Vitra which is really based on the note of "maybe the offices we had, with the people with ties on, don't work anymore". Now we have the hubs and popup offices. This is what I ment with that the social implications of new technology and ways of working are big things for designers to pick up on and to design for in a different way. We need furniture that you can fold up and knock down and which is cheaper because offices are moved and there is less money for it. Vitra found itself loosing business because they are not so cheap. That is also why they developed chip wood, knock down furniture with Konstantin. They realise the world turns different today.

Joni Steiner: Big manufacturers will increasingly embrace the possibilities of making things in different ways. In terms of logistics: Amazon will probably get things 'droned' quite soon. IKEA has come out saying they have reached 'peak-curtains'. There is too much stuff in the world but how do you stop people consuming STUFF?


Mann in the audience: Things like Opendesk also get so popular because of participation that we have not seen before. In the old days you just ordered a model from a catalogue. Now you are part of the design and production process yourself.

Ineke Hans: With digital fabrication you can change things quite easy: like making table legs longer. I am more or less raised with the idea that a design is sacred and changing a design is shocking, but what is possible now is not so different. We always had customised furniture. If you phone up Vitra to have a 2 metre table made to 2,2 metre they will say "fine". It has now just opened up to a larger scale and clients have closer access to it.

Gareth Williams: You have hit something interesting: the difference between a passive consumer who gets instant gratification of ordering a fixed product, a modernist 20th century ideal that we all can see whatever we wanted whenever we wanted and - because of the challenge of having too much stuff - and the shift to a desire to be actively engaged with what we are consuming by customising it and actually making it ourselves.

report 61Joni Steiner: We are looking at things that are made 'post-purchase' and we can interrupt. That is a big part of the story. The relation between someone and a piece of furniture is now quite different.

Ineke Hans: Clients are closer to this and can make choices themselves where there would be more filters. The specifier would say: "this is good for you", or a shop would select just a few items from a manufacturer. Now more of their collections are online and consumers make different choices than shops would make. This is liberating and inspiring for designers but at the same time we have to be sensible and set limits, be gatekeepers to what we add.

Joni Steiner: We deliberately limited ourselves to the most universal material and process: standard sheets of plywood and cnc cutting because we had to make choices. With technology developing so rapidly in two or three years there might as well be 3d printing and other technologies that can sit side by side with cnc in developing new typologies and methods for furniture production.

Gareth Williams: We need to wind up there, but far from furniture NOT working I think we have shown how furniture IS working and CAN work in different kind of models of design, production and use. Thank you all.