We see plenty of upcycling and repurposing projects in the past, but those humble materials that find new life as furniture, lighting and other household objects are rarely of notable provenance, so to speak. Conversely, the museum setting—the rarefied domain of pure aesthetic experience—is typically considered to be exempt from sustainability, housing exhibitions that are duly spectacular and often labor- or material-intensive.
Thus, Johanna Dehio's latest project, "Furniture - Improvisation," offers metacommentary on multiple levels: her two-month residency at quartier21 of Museums Quartier Wien culminated with a one-day workshop, in which the general public was invited to build furniture from plywood from previous museum installations.
For last month's Vienna Open Studio Night, "the set up of the gallery was made by pre-cut pieces of reused wood sheets coming from former installations or art pieces of the museum, [which offered] a mix of various shapes, surfaces and colors." Visitors selected "pieces they personally like," combining them with cable ties to create their own furniture.
Dehio's primary goal for the experimental piece was "to confront people with the loss of their relationship with the objects they are surrounded by... [to] rethink consumption... by being part of the production process." As in Sander Wassink's "State of Transience," Dehio starts with discarded materials, yet the two designers arrive at radically different results—while his 'portraits' of sculptural furniture explore 'process' as evolutionary, Dehio addresses custom culture though the second life of building materials.
Spot the differences...
Nevertheless, both designers "question what might be the unique beauty in makeshift objects and of the process of Improvisation and furthermore, what could be learned or adopted from their specific charm" (per Dehio's statement).