There Is No Such Thing as an Unattractive Material
This project is based on an idea we first tried out on tables we designed for the venue of the Experimental Creations exhibition (2017) focusing on material experiments and creation processes. Since we were required to make them at a low cost and work with wire supplied by the client, we decided to make a variety of things using wire and grips. While we understood that basically exhibited works were the stars of the show and the tables were merely supporting actors, we sought a way to somehow sneak some “experimental” elements into them. At first, we were thinking of using wire to fix the top of the table, but as a cost-effective solution, we came up with an idea of using a wire tensegrity structure with compression members made of inexpensive mass-produced goods to fix the top. After experimenting with different materials, we finally opted for a plastic broom stick, which is generally considered very cheap-looking and unattractive. Just as there is no such thing as an unattractive color, there is no such thing as an unattractive material. What matters is how you use them and combine them. If we can reframe something that used to be considered unattractive as attractive, we may be able to make the world a better place without having to create something new from scratch.
The tensegrity structure, coined from the words “tension” and “integrity,” was proposed by sculptor Kenneth Snelson and architect Buckminster Fuller. It is a very rational system, and the overall proportion is almost automatically determined by the length of compression members. Taking advantage of the rational system, one can have fun experimenting with playful materials that engineers do not often use. It is wonderful to see how familiar and rather dumb-looking objects are held in place based on the calculated dynamics. The interesting thing about the tensegrity structure is that it adjusts itself to approximate a sphere when trying to stabilize itself. In other words, it tries to move towards a very stable shape. And if you change one of the compression members, the overall shape changes because the balance changes depending on to the type of material. In other words, variables determine the overall composition. We thought that we would be able to follow the overall rule in the most straightforward way by providing a design that symbolically highlights the changes.
With this in mind, we decided to change only one of the compression members in making the second low table. In doing so, we came up with an idea of using driftwood and “shareboku” (meaning weather-beaten wood) as a compression member. Shareboku is a term in ikebana (Japanese flower arrangement) referring to hard branches stripped of bark. The overall shape is determined according to changes in the material and dynamics. The material changed by wire is framed by the polyhedron looking like a divided triangle, and appears as if it is freed from gravity because compression members in tensegrity structures characteristically float in the air.
We also designed another version using a perfectly ordinary shovel. We researched off-the-shelf products to find the best shovel, which had a steel handle to withstand the tension of the wire and was not too long or short for the size of the low table. As mentioned in the section on FRAME (p.059), it is an interesting experience to mindfully appreciate a perfectly ordinary shovel. We aspire to design as many ways to look at things as possible that will make everyday scenes and things suddenly look a little better than before.
Quote from Daisuke Motogi Continuous Design: Strange DIY Manual (Shobunsha)
Text provided by Designer