We admire anyone who can actually make things but it gets more interesting when these inventions do something even cleverer than make our lives easier, like using external elements around us and employing them into the process. Take Mischer’Traxler, a Vienna-based studio made up of Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler who develop and design products, furniture and installations (among other things) that push concepts and innovative thinking to the limit. As a result their projects are experimental, with an emphasis on the physical process and combine both craft and technology together in the wonderfully simple but refined mix.
This week at Clerkenwell Design Week, the pair are showcasing several of their brilliant projects including collective works a production process that only fully functions when people pay attention to the machine. Translating the flow of people into an object the outcome, a wooden basket made from veneerstrip, is continually different each time in terms of colour and size, as the machine records the audience’s presence. Another project is the idea of a tree, where the intensity of the sun is translated through a mechanical process into one object a day. Starting when the sun comes up and stopping when it sets, the object produced is a recording of the sun and shadows throughout the day with the thickness and colour altering appropriately. It’s this kind of fresh thinking, that’s really exciting to see and to find out more about their way of thinking, Mischer’Traxler had a little chat with us…
So where do you guys get your ideas from? Do you work together to collate inspirations?
We collect interesting materials all the time for inspiration. Nothing in particular but if we find a great article, materials, nice images, fascinating texts etc. we keep them in order to have them when needed. We both collect and bring things together and discuss why we like them. Our ideas derive from fascination for nature, machines, human interaction and systems. However for most projects we do not start with one particular idea but more with the story we want to tell and why we want the project to happen. This is then followed by a lot of research and material testing and slowly the ideas develop.
A lot your projects highlight the relationship between man and machine – how do you feel our approach to making has changed?
We believe that design should start right in the beginning of a project. So especially for designers, they should understand production processes and how to use and misuse them. These days man and machine are often really disconnected from each other and machines are often put out of context which is a pity. So we sometimes try to come up with production processes that are more related to a context and where the outcome tells why it is the way it is.
Your work is often self-supporting when being produced, so is the preparation and process to get to that point just as important?
For us the production process and the machine are important, but as well the resulting object is super important, since they prove that the process functions and are a specific record. Like for the idea of a tree where the resulting objects are records of the sun-conditions of a specific day and place or in collective works where the baskets tell the story of the audience’s interest in the process. So both the machine and the outcome are equally important.
h3. What’s the next project you’re working on?
At the moment we are doing a lot of brainstorms and research for a possible installation in an old people’s home in Vienna, which we would quite enjoy doing, but it is not definite yet. Then we want to continue with a project we just started about objects that tell you how to reproduce them and the rest we will see soon.
About the Author
Rebecca became staff writer at It’s Nice That in March 2016 before leaving the company at the end of 2017. Before joining the company full time she worked with us on a freelance basis many times, as well as stints at Macmillan Publishers, D&AD, Dazed and frieze.