After a night of celebrating Impulsive Furnishing Unit as the winner of the 2013 Frame Moooi Award, the winners Itay Ohaly, Thomas Vailly and Christian Fiebig, juror Jana Scholze, curator of Contemporary Furniture at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, and Marcel Wanders, designer and founder of Moooi, came together to discuss what the project means for the ‘future of design’ in a panel discussion.
Hosted by Robert Thiemann, editor-in-chief of Frame Magazine, the debate centred on new ways of design manufacturing versus the established. Impulsive Furnishing Unit is a method of fabricating furniture on-site, a low-cost and easily implemented alternative for young designers compared to getting picked up by a producer. Vailly told the audience the design arose from frustration with the established routes within design. Without networks and substantial investment, he said Impulsive Furnishing Unit and similar projects represented a way to realise ideas instantly and cheaply.
Wanders praised the designers for their entrepreneurial spirit and ability to take matters into their own hands. Asked what the project means to a large brand like Moooi, he said one of the biggest problems for a producer was the cost of transportation – a problem that the technology of Impulsive Furnishing Unit might help to solve. The beauty of the idea, he said, was in transporting a machine and instructing it to make 500 chairs, rather than transport those 500 chairs individually.
Scholze’s choice of project signals a frontier in the way design is made and distributed, that fundamentally changes the way we think of design. She spoke of the possibilities that remote fabrication opens up but also questioned the authorship of these machine-made designs; if the technology makes everyone a designer or maker, who is responsible or liable for the products?
After a hour of lively debate, including contribution from the audience, Wanders had the last say on the new wave of machine-made, process-driven designs. For him, the project represented one way to move manufacture forward but not a total view of design. 'Not everyone is intensely fascinated by how something is made,' he said. 'Being a designer is also about magic and fantasy – if we don’t have that I may as well give up and be a dentist.'
Photos by Andrew Meredith