Perfection is overrated. In a world of mass production and assembly lines automated down to the smallest rote task, discovering imperfections or mistakes can feel refreshing.
It's those imperfections that Camilla Wedelboe Monsrud is interested in exploring, and what set the groundwork for Inside Out, a series of objects that reconsider errors as sources of unexpected potential and celebrate what can come out of vulnerability, instead of viewing it merely as a weakness. The final works were displayed as part of RE F O R M, a biannual exhibition in Denmark that invites practicing artists, designers and studios to experiment and explore a range of processes and techniques.
Working with people diagnosed with Parkinson's Disease in a series of workshops, Monsrud challenged her collaborators to draw a straight line. "The project is about daring to show your weaknesses and incapabilities, when hands are shaking, resisting or moving slowly," Monsrud says. "It is about breaking down taboos. For me as a designer, my assignment is to change these irregularities from being errors to becoming a source of visual potential by using them in a specific furniture design."
The Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts graduate took the sketches her collaborators generated and translated them into three distinct ottomans, each symbolizing a specific expression of the drawn lines using foam, paper yarn, wool yarn, concrete, wax, hide and textiles.
"The poufs relate in size in terms of the human body," Monsrud says. "In this project I have worked with making the material the detail and the detail the material." Each ottoman's shape is based on an extruded circle, resulting in a cylinder—a shape that fascinates Monsrud. Finding the right aesthetic proportions to match the function defined the size for each, which the designer based off a comfortable sitting height. Each pouf is 550 by 550 by 400 millimeters.
Two of the ottomans are created from solid comfort foam, making them easy to move around and stack, while the third is composed of concrete with a polystyrene core. "This variation allows new expressions to emerge out of different combinations," Monsrud says. "I like moving stuff around so I don't get tired of it."
While the first two poufs are inspired by slow movement and shaking, the third takes its inspiration from the lack thereof—the feeling of immobility or being frozen—and is therefore less easy to move, clocking in at around 180 pounds. Cement was mixed into a greased mold and vibrated to remove any air bubbles. After 10 to 30 days of hardening (doused with water continuously), the cylinder is separated from the mold and polished.
For one pouf, Monsrud has sewn together patches of primed canvas to create one large swath of fabric with a tone-on-tone pattern. Fabric is assembled to create the exterior skin and then padded around the foam with hidden hand stitching.
For another, a carpet pile was created entirely from hand, from the back of a dense network in which yarn was pushed through with a tufting machine and fastened by a simple loop. All parts were padded with hidden hand stitchings before the pouf was trimmed with tufting scissors to achieve the desired end result. "The long threads are carefully provoked errors as a part of the final expression," Monsrud says. "I have worked with 5 different threads at a time, all in different colors and types, to make the surface more alive. In this case, I have mixed paper yarns, wool yarns and horsehair."
"The project has been an experiment in challenging my own design method to push myself into corners that had previously been unknown to me," Monsrud says. "For me, these persons' actions came as unexpected gifts and gave me ideas I would never be able to think of by myself."
For those eager to see Monsrud's poufs or the work of others in the exhibition, the show heads to Four Boxes Gallery in Skive, Denmark next. In the meantime, they can also be viewed online at re-form.dk
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