Thanks to leaps in technology, the definition of a designer can be less aesthete and more scientist or detective. In fact, success in the field almost certainly requires a particular level of curiosity due to the sheer speed at which manufacturing technologies are becoming available. You could even argue that good design now relies less on innovation of form and more on how cleverly and thoughtfully one utilizes the materials at hand.
Envisions, an exhibition debuting next week during Milan Design Week, explores the emotive and narrative sense of materials. A group of nine curious designers will show a collection of beautiful and abstract material explorations. The exhibition also asks, to what extent does design have the power to illicit feelings or encourage different modes of thought?
Tactile Gestures by Jereon van de Gruiter
One project featured in the exhibition, "Tactiles Gestures" by Jeroen van de Gruiter, explores the emotion of a form via a familiar object: the door handle. "Touching a door handle is one of the first sensorial encounters an individual experiences when entering a room. Yet the design of this omnipresent element generally serves purely function—cold metals and antibacterial finishes dominate the built environment," say van de Gruiter, so "by changing the door handle's look and feel, would it be possible to influence a person's perception and experience of the space he or she is about to set foot in?" A project like this recognizes how tactile experience can greatly influence our memories and perceptions.
Transsaddles by Adrianus Kundert
Other experiments like "Transsaddles" by Adrianus Kundert examine the beauty and opportunity that lies within the imperfect. "We do everything in our power to prevent our products from aging by essentially freezing them in time," says Kundert. By intentionally using lacquers generally too delicate for furniture applications on top of soft material layers, the projects within Kundert's collection will crack over time to reveal interesting color combinations, resulting in unexpectedly beautiful layers exposed through wear and tear.
"OYOP" by Studio Plott uses 3D printing to create "graphic, yet tactile, surfaces" that explore how flexible 3d printed materials could be used for the creation of textiles.
The topics explored within Envisions are vast, but all speak to one important point: in order to be a thoughtful and successful designer, one must be sensitive and curious. Progression in design can mean not being afraid to follow a seemingly aimless path of interest because that series of successes and mistakes are what make designers that much more likely to find a solid solution. Ultimately, the abstract nature of this show proves that sometimes the emotive power in design relies not on the final form, but instead the idea behind it.
'Envisions' will be on display during Milan Design Week from April 12-17th at Ventura Lambrate.