Listeners who trekked to the Metropolis pavilion at the far back of the ICFF had the opportunity to hear Brooke Stoddard interview Anna Lindgren and Katja Savstrom from the female foursome Front. The two Swedes explained what went into the work that wowed the attendees in the Milan Furniture Fair, provided detail on projects they'd done in the past and gave glimpses of projects to come. Presenting their designs from inception to completion, they began with each design brief and told the story of how that concept became a tangible object. Given the breadth of the products they've designed, the process was an adventure.
While they lacked the verbal showmanship of Cameron Sinclair's presentation last year, success for them is the manufacture of compelling products rather than inspiring audiences to give, although the pricetags on their Mooi animal furniture may tell a different story. Beginning an extended clip of Eddie Murphy talking about the value of vases in Trading Places and ending with a video game which had the player attacking furniture, the audience was clearly not in for a typical design presentation.
While an enormous black horse seems a bit excessive to serve as a light fixture to me, the ladies mentioned that they interviewed 100 Swedish households and photographed their homes to do the research that led to the animal series (I'd like to see that questionnaire!). That dedication to process and searching was evident in every facet of their presentation. From interviewing magicians to better understand perception (their shade collection), to studying motion capture and rapid prototyping to accelerate the production process (their sketch collection), the process behind their work was often as compelling as the final product. Hearing these backstories gave the products meaning. I suspect that the Front presentation may be the only time in my life that I'll see a video game where machine gun noises accompany exploding chairs, but I can't deny that the amorphous vase that came out of the exercise is totally compelling. So while squiggles of plastic that simply suggest a chair and would present a challenge at a cocktail party may not be everyone's cup of tea, the process of discovery that went into their products could quite easily be called art.