Li (Lidewij) Edelkoort Lecture Summary: Through the Ears + Interpretation of: Wendy W Fok
Acknowledged as a world renowned trend forecaster, Li Edelkoort swept the stage with her personable presence, initially, by asking the 500 or more audience members to sit closer to the stage, so that the images on the projection screen could be better viewed.
Whether this was an act of compassion, a consideration, or an attempt to portray oneself as approachable or accessible, the audience applauded her amicable quality and lecture of “The Farm of the Future: from 2010 to 2050 or Beyond” without doubt, and was truly taken with assurance by her sympathetic guidance into the future of trends.
Although the topics and subtopics of the lecture ranged from industrial design to textiles, the greater umbrella discussion remains from the inspiration of the arts, fashion, and music. Hence, the ironic discussion was not purely of the integration of trends-and the topic of being socially, ecologically and economically responsible design and production-but a lecture about integrating the “natural” and “artificial” within design, and how Design itself could be an inspiration by Music (of all genres).
If not with all design, at least with this lecture (according to Edelkoort), Music was the main inspiration of the lecture-specifically, acoustic and non-linear music. Whether this was an avant-garde approach to the mixture of materials and production methods, the lecture started off to her experience with the music and the ‘bird’s-nest’-or, shall we say, the ‘moderne’ interpretation of the bird’s nest-the bird’s nest she found while strolling within La Jardin du Luxembourg in Paris.
So, what elements of the ‘moderne’ bird’s nest makes the present so different? Was it the mixture of McDonald straws and the everyday twigs found in parts, or the piece of plastic wrapper integrated within the fabric of the nest?
Perhaps the significance remains within the interpretation of materials and its entity of effect, which makes the mixture or collaboration the integral relation between the old and the new, and the fabrication during the process of design. At the end, however, could we be the judge of whether or not this remains a ‘good’ bird’s nest? Perhaps not. We do, however, from the nest itself, understand that there is an echo of romanticism that retains the European ethnic-from the diversity and mixture of race and people, to mixed materials and design that should be retained within the future of design produced through Industrial Age. Yet more importantly, it was certain that the context of renewable and blending of the old and new became a common topic of mention during Edelkoort’s lecture.
Does this nostalgia of antiques collaborate with futuristic implications and impressions? Yes, according to Edelkoort, they do. How does one do it? Through the implications of technologies and collaborations with the sciences, and the imitations of nature.
An important aspect to consider and thoroughly understand is what ‘imitation of nature’ truly means. “Imitation” is not simply the imitation through form, but the importance of understanding the basis of which formal structure does not, and should not be, imitated through production purely as a replica. More importantly, it should be through the understanding of its structure within the material nature or the affect that nature could or would provide-the importance of understanding how “scale” is an important factor, and how it contributes to physical construction within architecture and design is an important aspect of imitation through nature.
Although not mentioned by Edelkoort, a good example of nature and its reflection was thoroughly curated through the “Design of the Elastic Mind” exhibition at the MoMA New York, this past Spring, by Paola Antonelli and Barry Bergdoll (the book is in the CHBL Materials Library). The exhibition is a clear indication of the design community’s infatuation of biomimicry, nature and her forms, but also the integral understanding of how nature could compliment our production of design. This becomes what Edelkoort comments as “rekindling of the roots”, the development and understanding of how the indications through the incorporation of nature could compliment the developments of our design.
Imitation of nature or the incorporation of nature into the living space was described by Edelkoort as understanding how things are made, through technique (i.e.: using nature as formal façade studies and treatments, finding alternative uses for concrete, raised surfaces, inlay within materials, mixed materials and formations), but also the importance of craft. Also, the return of the arts and crafts movement, and use of craft as a mode of production-maybe not the true form of William Morris, but perhaps a contemporary interpretation of how the thought of craft would generate an avant-garde idea, which in turn could be an interpretation of modernity without the capital “M”.
If nature was an inspiration of building methods and means, hybridizing spaces would also be considered an intellectual approach within the science of design. Growing design, or cloning design, and designing objects or building that fit like a glove, or inspirational usages of skeletal shapes, animal and natural skins, should be considered for the future of design. As an aside, Greg Lynn Form and his Ravioli Chair (manufactured by Vitra) was mentioned several times by Edelkoort.
Design and furniture according to Edelkoort should have a hybridization of materials, affects, and most importantly, revealing the undiscovered potentials within objects and materials which are heavily used within the sciences, but rarely used in architecture and design. Junyu Watanabe, Julia Löhmann, Vicki Summers, Yoshioka Tokujin, Peter Marigold, were just some of the few artists and designers whom Edelkoort mentioned. They used the innate qualities of biological processes and alternative thought processes of designing and producing pieces that use nature as an inspiration.
The future generation of ideas and design should incorporate the dyslexia of building materials, methods, and language of techniques/craft. The importance of understanding, transforming, and developing a local and international talent to understand the Asian and Indian market-as they will become and are already savvy consumers-will become an integral impression of pollinating design within a global economy and economy of design. The basis of design, therefore, becomes growing a landscape of materials and understanding, where “play” and being “playful” with the developmental design process then becomes an improvised expansion of design.
If imitation, growth, nature and the amalgamation of resources is truly the new future, then perhaps we should be back to “growing societies”, in reference to Paola Antonelli (curator and head of MoMA for the Design for the Elastic Mind Exhibition), and be part of the movement of the Bedouin culture-romantically speaking-to create a motif in a hand-drawn way.
Stockholm Design Fair 2009 Review: Li (Lidewij) Edelkoort Lecture (Lecture Date: 05 Feb 2009)
Comments + Suggestions directly related to this article should be sent to: Wendy W Fok (mailto: firstname.lastname@example.org)
For more informiation, an interview w/ Li (Lidewij) Edelkoort can be found over @ designboom