Photo by Paul Clemence
It’s quite a challenge for young designers to break into the design world and establish themselves. But these days more and more manufacturers see the value of investing in fresh designs, both in new creations and the brand exposure that comes with fresh ideas sought by an increasingly sophisticated audience. One such opportunity is presented by the Design Performance projects of luxury manufacturer Fendi, at DesignMiami which, along with Art Basel is encamped in that Florida city til December 9.
This year’s choice is the up and coming Belgian designer, Maarten de Ceulaer. I met Maarten earlier this year at the international BoomSPdesign forum in Sao Paulo, where he presented his elegant work, backed up by inventive manufacturing techniques. For instance, he employs real balloons to create molds for individually made plaster bowls. Between his inventiveness and creativity, he couldn’t have been a better choice for Design Performance. I caught up with Maarten as he was preparing for the DesignMiami opening earlier this week. Here is some of our conversation.
Paul Clemence: How were you selected for this project?
Maarten de Ceulaer: Fendi had seen some of my designs at my gallery’s booth at DesignMiami in Basel and thought it was interesting. Then DesignMiami (which collaborates with Fendi on projects) included my name on a shortlist and I was fortunate enough to be the one selected. I think they saw that my work had a connection with similar ideas their brand stands for.
Photo by Paul Clemence
The most commonly held and influential idea about design is that it’s the art of bringing essentially unrelated parts into a “composition” or an “assembly”. The funny thing is, from a scientific point of view, this idea is entirely wrong. A much better idea about design is that it’s the transformation of one whole into another whole. Not only is this definition more accurate, it’s also crucial for achieving an adaptive design.
Let’s talk about the important implications of this distinction between assembly and transformation.
Why is it scientifically wrong to say that design is the “composition” of essentially unrelated elements? Because nothing that works as a complete system is really “essentially unrelated” — though the sciences used to operate more or less successfully from that abstract premise, and much of technology still does. By contrast, the sciences of the last century have taught us more and more about the essential inter-relatedness of the Universe, from the largest scales of the space-time continuum, to the push-pull world of the quantum. In the biological sciences, we’ve come to understand the multi-layered, historical interdependence of systems, especially evident in the web-like relationships of ecological systems. Wherever we look in nature, we find vast and intricate networks of connections.