Disney + Corian + Lago + Us + lots of pizza = A living room concept for Milan 2011
It's a long and (slightly) complicated story, full of unusual partnerships and unanticipated outcomes...Disney and Dupont have teamed up to exhibit in Milan this year. They decided to use two of their innovative products as the foundation the show—for Disney that was Tron: Legacy and Dupont wanted to take their well known material, Corian, into a new dimension.
The idea was to recreate the virtual world of Tron using Corian as the primary material and invite a selection of designers to propose furniture for each area of the 'safe house' (Kevin Flynns virtual home in the film). Invited designers and companies include Cappelini, Ernesto Meda and Lago.
Domestic furniture company Lago, is known for their interior 'systems' and unusual take on product communication, overseen inhouse by Diego Paccagnella. Paccagnella had the idea to create 'Apartmentos' to showcase the company's products in real-life situations—inviting people to live with the furniture and configure it to their individual needs as a convincing way to show the products in action. It was at the Apartmento in Zona Tortona two years ago that we first met Diego. My collaborator, Andrew Haythorntwaite and Jordi Canudas worked on a project (Buon Apettito) that needed some 'unauthorised' places to exhibit and Paccagnella (who knew Canudas previously) allowed the project to be shown at the Apartmento.
When Lago was approached to design the 'living room concept' for the Tron/Corian project, Paccagnella invited Canudas to particpate, and as the project was quite a large one—Jordi in turn extended the invitation to Haythorthwaite and I (the three of us had collaborated several times before). Which explains the 'us' in the equation—myself, Andrew Hathornthwaite and Jordi Canudas—three designers who enjoy working together and share an appreciation for the process of making as a kind of 'performance' of design.
Andrew, Shai, Jordi
The brief was to create a space that was easily recognizable as a living room, built from Corian with a strong visual connection to the film.
As Jordi now lives in Spain and we are based in the UK, we decided to relocate to the manufacturers in Italy and work on the project together on site. We spent a very enjoyable week by the mountains—brainstorming, prototyping, eating amazing pizza and debating over late night grappa.
The virtual world described in Tron: Legacy has a strong and distinctive visual character. The environment is largely made up of geometric forms intersected by illuminated lines of coloured light, echoing its computer generated foundation and moving away from organic, irregular forms found in the 'real' world.
An often repeated shape throughout the film is the circle: it is present in objects, vehicles and graphics. This simple geometric shape is usually animated by another key motif: lines of light that cross over the costumes, transport and environment.
We focused on these two elements: circles and lines of colour, to create the foundation for the visual language of the pieces, building a living room scenario that can belong within the aesthetic world of Tron.
Thermo-moulding is one of the most immediate methods to create objects from Corian, the pressed sheets are formed, cut and joined to build volume and mass. This project takes a close look at the possibilities of moulding and develops a process of taking a single repeated shape, reconfigured via a range of interactions to create a landscape of functional objects where each expresses their own story of making. Much like the different digital characters within the film, each object has the same beginning, but very different outcomes.
Instead of camouflaging the joins within the furniture, intersections are highlighted by blue lines of glue that traverse the surface—easily explaining the concept and bringing the added dimension of the language of the interior world of Tron.
Living Room Elements
Each element that we commonly find in a living room scenario is analyzed and retranslated using a modular 'building block' of thermo-moulded Corian. As each product typology (book shelf, fireplace, coffee table and easy chair) has its own particular functional demand, every piece introduces a new method of cutting, joining and reconfiguring. The possibilities of building from a single formed piece are limitless!
Alongside looking at the unique production possibilities of the material, each piece is developed with a close look at the virtual world and how the real world living room might change in the realm of Tron. For example, we know that there is no real fuel to burn in the virtual world, so the fireplace becomes an interpretation of a focal point within the space, updated for this special new context.
The exhibition opens on the 11th April and runs until the 17th at Padiglione Visconti, Via Tortona 58, Milano, Italy.
Shai Akram met Andrew Haythornthwaite while studying at the Royal College of Art, the two now run their own design practice and are also members of the Okay Studio collective. Her projects cover creative direction and design for interiors, events, and furniture/product ranges. Shaiâ€™s work is a combination of practice and theory, translating research and ideology into objects and visual language. Her work has been exhibited internationally and projects have taken her to China, New Zealand and Italy- although Shai loves to travel, she secretly wishes she would stay in one place long enough to have a cat.