Designer Ivan Zhang originally hails from Shanghai but is currently working towards his Masters degree at Burg Giebichenstein University of Art and Design in Germany. Indeed, his work draws heavily on a certain school of Northern European design, which holds that form follows function. In keeping with the unassailable logic of minimalism, Zhang has developed his own formula, simplifying "A + B → C" to "A’ → C"—something to the effect of incorporating a "correction" (user-generated solution for specific use cases) into a product.
For example, not only does the Bookshelf’ incorporate a flatpack-friendly hinged top and bottom panel, the slightly arching shelves eliminate the need for bookends (or the ad hoc solution of propping of a book to serve as such.)
We usually tilt the last book on the shelf in order to prevent the books from falling. Likewise, a wide variety of bookends are on the market for the same purpose. This "conscious action" or "auxiliary bookend" is defined as "B" in A’ philosophy, that is: correction... This natural shape of Bookshelf’ makes conscious rectification unnecessary.
Elaborate justification aside, the work is quite interesting in itself—the tension in the shelves suggests a tautly composed structure, and Zhang notes that "with the strength produced by the arched board itself, users can easily assemble the bookshelf without punching or screws."
Still, I can't help but wonder if it would be possible have the hinges could both fold 'inward,' as in an accordion, so as to save a bit of space for transport and storage when not in use, or if that would compromise the structural integrity of the bookshelf.
The second project that caught my eye—and that of the judges of the Red Dot Design Award—is the ’, a collaboration with Jeho Yoon that garnered a coveted "Best of the Best" award in 2012. "Inspired by a ghost glass fish," the "inflatable product for leisure" is characterized by an internal network of cabling, threaded like a cat's cradle through an array of 17 carabiners.
The criss-crossing lines conjure a tensegrity structure that's been turned inside-out, as in a tesseract—the opposite of a skeleton—ostensibly a method of achieving the tufted exterior but also a mechanism to switch between the two purposes of the inflatable: a mattress and a raft.
Very clever indeed.