One of the annual highlights of New York's Design Celebration, NYCxDesign, has always been WantedDesign's Design School Workshop—which brings together students and mentors from all over the world to collaborate on intriguing design themes, materials and problem solving. "More a collaboration than a competition," the event marks Wanted's commitment to innovation and to education. Remarks co-founder Odile Hainault, "Since the beginning, the Design Schools Workshop has been very successful in promoting schools—fostering an international network between young designers, as well as initiating partnerships between schools and manufacturers."
Adds co-founder Claire Pijoulat, "This year marks the fifth anniversary of the Design Schools Workshop, and this edition was so far the most challenging...but certainly the most exciting and successful!"
The event took place from May 12th to 16th, comprised of 26 students from six U.S. and International design schools: Aalto University (Finland), Art Center College for Design (Pasadena), Centro (Mexico), ENSCI-Les Ateliers (France), Escuela de Communicacion Monica Herrera (El Salvador), and Pratt Institute (Brooklyn). The workshop was led by Matt Sindall, designer and teacher at the French school ENSCI-Les Ateliers, in conjunction with Oui Design, an initiative from the Cultural Services of the French Embassy. Students worked in a dedicated space in Industry City, Brooklyn, and presented their final work at WantedDesign's exhibition space in Manhattan.
Here's the design brief for "Playtime":
Objects which have an element of playfulness imbued within them express qualities that generate an instant connectivity with the user. As children, we discover the world by playing. Touching, manipulating, apprehending, and constructing are all means of forming a tactile and social relationship within the world around us.
Matt Sindall adds that, "there are many ways that 'playfulness' can be found in design, where humor can be imbued within object. It could be present in the form or function, the assembly, playful use of color and texture, or the 'detournement' of an object. This quality within an object is synonymous with the human condition." (Read the full interview of Matt Sindall by Core77 here.)
This year featured professional materials and prototyping mentors for the students, which worked to great effect not only in connecting the participants with local artisans, but also in helping them to understand the real-world "pushback of materials" as teachable moments. And of course, the high fidelity of the finished models provided a pretty spectacular finale. (Wanted and its partners are currently exploring ways to show the work beyond its NYCxDesign display.)
The glass mentor was Leo Tocosky, glassmaker from Brooklyn Glass; The textile mentor was Elodie Blanchard, textile designer; and the wood mentor was Omar Muniz, cabinet maker at Industry City. Additional supporters who provided materials included Febrik, FilzFelt and Visual Magnetics.
At the end of the workshop, the students presented their work in the Grimshaw Gallery at WantedDesign Manhattan, with a jury providing feedback and commentary on the work. Jury members were Susan Szenasy, Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Metropolis Magazine; Caroline Baumann, Director of the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Museum; Maz Zouhairi, President and CEO of Lalique, North America, and Allan Chochinov, Partner and Editor-at-Large of Core77, and Founding Chair of SVA's MFA in Products of Design program.
Below are descriptions of each of the projects, along with images and videos. Enjoy!
TEAM: MONTSERRAT PAZOS GUIZAR, BEHNIA RAHMATI, DARIO VIDAL, ROMAN WEILL FATIMA ZAFIE ZARZAR
The Bull is a piece of furniture—a dynamic bench that's deliberately unstable, but a LOT of fun! Constructed of a simple rolling plank who's underside sits in a slotted disk underneath, the design offers a kind of "playful danger" that was frankly irresistible. "Although it is silent as an object," the team argues, "the rawness is seductive. It calls its observer to participate in the act of playing. The form is reduced to primary elements in order to bring the focus on the dynamic experience of the game."
Indeed, the slim profile of the seating surface makes it appear as if it is flying in the air, while the geometry of the "stoppers" underneath provide a bit of assurance that it won't fly away. "The massive wheel communicates between the player and the ground—providing support and guidance." The team submits that "The Bull's ultimate objective is to disseminate joy—both for participants and observers." The jurors found the design enchanting and compelling in its form, having a good time trying it out—both solo and with a benchmate!
TEAM: ANA KAREN GARZAR RAMIREZ, KRISTA HUMPHREY, SOFIA MUNES MENDOZA, CLE´MENCE PAGNARD
Make or break is a game. With an homage to classic construction and puzzle games like Tip-It, Make or Break turns up the heat with much higher stakes: Players take turns adding glass and felt pieces further and further out on the structure's limb, but if they fail, the glass elements will fall and shatter. "This game is for 'real players,' comments the team. "The kind of player that is not afraid of taking risks and facing real danger!" Jurors reactions ran the full spectrum—some found the piece a bit frightening and over-the-top, while others delighted in its transgressive approach to reimagining what game playing could be.
TEAM: ALYSSA KUHNS, MARIANA LOAZIA, MIKE RITO, LINDA VANNI
Pix is an interactive and transformable modular panel system that serves as a space divider and acoustic element in open collaborative interior spaces. The system consists of two-sided felt modules that can be rotated around their axis. When the modules are turned, their color changes, transforming their atmosphere from neutral to vibrant to anything in between. Since the modules can also be configured to create patterns, the wall can be used as a visual communication tool in social spaces. Finally, the modules can positioned in "open" or "closed" orientations, modulating both airflow and transparency.
"The organic, soft, three-dimensional felt surface invites to touch, and therefore encourages play and interaction," submits the group. "The module system integrates play into a functional object—designed for often-serious work environments where creativity and collaboration should be nurtured—such as co-working offices and university campuses."
TEAM: ANDREA GONZALEZ ARE´CHAGA BELLOT, MAXIME LOUIS, EMILY NYBURG, MARIA REGINA SERPAS CACERES, CHRISTINA VENSON
Bulle Bulle was one of the more arresting of the workshop results. "The objects explore the interaction of two materials: blown glass and wood," the group observes. "Glass is a volatile material whose formation is fluid and less controlled, while wood is stiff, structured, and fairly easy to control. Their forced interaction creates a dialogue, leaving evidence of their contrasting natures."
Indeed this was true. The group showed the process video of the Bulle Bulle stool coming together and the audience was mesmerized. Check it out below:
The designers argue that "the resultant forms are whimsical—puns on the materials. The stool seat in particular is unexpected and surprising because it is made from glass. Its creation and form reference childhood activities such as blowing bubbles with gum or inflating pool toys. The charred evidence of their interaction is left on the wood, allowing the user to understand and imagine how Bulle Bulle came to be." Jurors reacted to the shear beauty and unexpected nature of the objects, though none were too quick to run up on the stage and attempt sitting. (The students were pretty eager though!)
TEAM: KEVIN NOE CIBRIAN AGRIETA, HELI JUUTI, CAROLINA MOYANO IZQUIERDO, PAUL REAMEY
Bob is a "whiskey wobbler"— a playful ceremonial object that people can interact with. Designed for mixing and serving all types of whiskey-based cocktails with a group of friends (at the event the students mixed scotch with ginger ale!), the object can be rolled around to stir, tilted down and back up to pour, and passed around however you'd like. And despite the wobble, the form was engineered to never lose its balance.
"The design for the movement is based on objects from childhood playthings such as seesaws and rocking horses," submits the team, "and the form is largely defined by the physics of motion. The function stems from finding a middle ground between a Kiddush fountain and a shotski—the former used in religious ceremonies; the latter focused entirely on 'the fun of the party.'" Jurors were enchanted with the form, the attention to the stopper and lid details, and the overall show business of the presentation.
TEAM: MARI LINDBERG, ARTURO NEUMAN, GABRIEL ANTONIO TUSSEL MIRA, ECE YILMAZ
Magniate is dinnerware set whose forms "comes to life" when used with a complementary cutlery set. The glass plates, bowls, and glasses are each double-walled—hollow to contain magnetized liquid (think ferofluid). When the cutlery—outfitted with magnets at their ends—approaches the glass, the liquid inside follows its movement.
"The form and function of Magniate reference the metaphysical nature of matter," offers the group. "Items such as dining plates are usually perceived as 'solid', yet only a small fraction of the universe's energy density is made up of actual 'matter'. With these products, their nature shifts from stationary to organic when the substance inside interacts with the user. The magnetic energy between the inside and outside of the seemingly solid material is the essence of this fun and playful object—an intellectual item designed for reflection and recreation."
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