Exhibitions 1980 - 1989

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Some New Items for the Home, Part I



In 1988 I was invited by Christian Borngräber, a writer on design and an important player in the Berlin design scene at that time, to stay in Berlin for three months and work on an installation at the DAAD Galerie as a part of the Berlin – City of Culture program. I’d already lived in Berlin during 1983, attending the Hochschule der Kunst, where Andreas Brandolini was assistant professor under Nick Roericht (designer of the beautiful tableware ceramics that were used at the Munich Olympics).

I was completely free to develop a project for a 5 × 4 metre space in the gallery, but my first response to the offer was to plan a room set to make an everyday atmosphere. It was a reaction to Ettore Sottsass’s Memphis movement, which was getting a lot of press at the time but seemed to ignore the functional aspects of daily life completely. I needed a chair for the room and decided I would make it myself, which severely limited the technical options.

I bought a small electric jigsaw and some plywood and started cutting the pieces out in 2-D before assembling them with glue and screws. I had the structure but needed a seat. I found a supplier of very thin plywood which I realised could be glued to the frame like a drum skin and which would provide a little softness. The first model had an open back but I also made some with half-open backs and some which were almost fully closed. They were more comfortable but less striking.

I intended to have the three bottles hand blown, but as there were no glass blowers working in Berlin at the time, I found the only way to do them was to take ordinary wine bottles and have them manipulated, which in the end was far more interesting; it seemed to say ‘look how beautiful an ordinary bottle is – better than things which are “designed”.’

A sketch and planning for the exhibition.

Some of the items made for the exhibition went on to be commercially produced: the Plywood Chair and tables by Vitra, and Three Green Bottles by Cappellini.