Area 121+ / design on/off

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Transformable objects: design in motion

This issue of Area titled ‘Ouverture 2012 – design on/off’ is the testimonial of a long research proiect which is also the subject of the homonymous exhibition organized in Milan on the occasion of the Furniture Salon, at the Spazio Emporio in via Tortona 31, a nerve centre of the ‘Off-Salon’ events. The editors have therefore acted as a kind of study centre dedicated to the collection of materials, objects, techniques and design methods that concern and involve the subject of movement and transformation within the context of industrial design. The main purpose of this project has been the identification and subsequent analysis of objects capable of expressing their function through the action of opening and closing, objects that explicate their value by a revelation or metamorphosis; dynamic objects equipped with a specific, more or less sophisticated mechanism, and in any case characterized by the presence of kinematic functions that make it possible to change their dimensions or consistency and thus their possible uses. The subject of change, and specifically that of opening and closing, is presented through a reading of an ample range of case study objects that have left a mark both on the history of design and on our gestures, actions and everyday behaviour; industrial products or simple prototypes designed by not just by famous designers but also by capable technicians, testimonials of the specific knowhow of the different manufacturers. The magazine, and consequently the exhibition, therefore features a small selection of the many objects that have been collected and classified by type of use. The research and the whole cognitive path associated with the ‘action of the Ouverture’ have been conducted with the help of experts from different professional and cultural milieus, each of whom has elaborated and provided his or her own interpretation, in historico-cultural, design and technological terms, of the subject of motion. Vittorio Marchis, professor in the History of technology at the Turin Polytechnic, has analysed the subject from the specific viewpoint of the genesis of the components and the study of the mechanisms that make it possible to open and close objects through three treatises-stories that are as concise as they are informative: “the taxonomy of mechanics”, “the theatre of objects that open”, and “inside the door”, considered the essence and basis of the simplest and most common everyday action in the home. A further and spectacular critical analysis is proposed by Dimitris Kozaris, artist and movie director who has explored, through emblematic episodes and images that have made movie history (from Metropolis to Sliding doors), the meaning of opening and closing a door, a lamp, a dinner or even a relationship, as well as any other object or condition of life associated with our homes.

Laura Andreini

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