Inside Out looks into the ambiguous relation between people and objects in today’s consumption culture. What is the weight of things in our heavy commoditized life? Is there still space for a meaningful and lasting relation between people and things? Will design succumb to the ever-changing demands of the market or will it shed a critical light over them?
I don’t consider myself to be a relentless consumer: I buy little, I keep long, I repair when I can and when the time comes to throw something away, I always find it a little difficult to do it. The throw-away culture makes me uneasy, just like the idea of designing objects that the market will quickly make obsolete. Despite this, when I’m faced with the proliferation of commodities on a supermarket shelves, I surrender.
As a subject of this work, I have chosen that humble thing that goes under the name of package cushioning, one of the most thrown away things of our consumer society and the perfect paradigm of it. The challenge of the project was to “rescue” these prosaic materials from the landfill and make them the subject of a design process aimed at their “re/valorisation”. In order to do so “according to the structural and material data provided by the fragments, I set to the task of reconstructing something which we assume to be unknown to build up a fantastic and unexpected thing” (Munari, 1966, p204).
The outcome of this journey is a strangely familiar set of vessels that, after a long process of casting and experimentation, unexpectedly “emerge” from the negative spaces of the cushioning. They are simple artifacts that belong to the realm of the ordinary, but their unconventional forms and their ironic presence, invite us to explore them further, as if we would with an archaeological finding. They surprise, interrogate, provoke and make it difficult to categorize them as “the beautiful” or “the useful”.
As a designer, I am naturally drawn to the unusual and I try to find it everywhere. I like to look at the sides of things that are overlooked and find inspiration in anything around me, especially in those anonymous objects that people disregard. This inspiration has been the foundation of my project.
Struck by the packaging’s “sculptural” qualities and intricate geometry, and at the same time driven to it by its complex identity, I chose to work in the direction of its re-valorisation. Moving within the frame of Munari’s methodology as expressed in “Da cosa nasce cosa” and “Design as Art”, and having in mind the lateral thinking concept of “provocation”, I embarked in a series of observations, research and practical experimentations, staying open to all stimulations I could get along the way.
Behind the scenes
I went through a variety of different procedures, all of which I thoroughly documented. I explored different materials such as plaster, resin, clay, concrete and metal. I also investigated some industrial production methods but in the end found it more interesting and meaningful to return to more artisanal techniques. I chose metal as a raw material because I wanted my objects to be “heavy weighted” as opposed to the lightness and impermanence of the cushioning. It was meant as an ironic statement about “how much objects weight in our life”.