About fifteen pages of variations lay on the table, a decade on the concept of a rhythmic library, a three dimensional curtain, explored again and again in different projects – as a kitchen, as a bookstore, as a law firm interior. As a first step of the newly founded EventFurnituur, we aimed to systemize them, creating a modular storage system. An endless array of configurations was already present in those pages, which now needed to be consolidated into a coherent and workable system. And so “SPACES” came to be: re-thinking the concept as a series of Continuing dashed lines of different proportions, which could be cut at any height, and used as building blocks for different furniture systems. The modules were carefully selected to offer versatility and usability, based on traditional paper and media sizes. they could be joined as shelves, vertical and horizontal libraries, as desks, benches and all the spectrum in between.
We explored them in scale and in real size, experimented with the possibilities of this new system, and finally showed them in Milan. To further explore the versatility of this system, we made sticker pages, a separate sticker to each module, and alongside scissors and A4 pages marking floor and wall, we created a physical interface where visitors could use these modules in scale and offer new configurations. We were surprised with the results, and the unknown potentials discovered through this dialog with users. One of our own configurations, a desk made with the system, was presented at OBJECT Rotterdam, where it was picked up by Renny Remakers of DROOG. seeing the system, she invited EA to submit proposals for a new project they were working on – Design for download – a concept in which users would buy designs – production plans – online, and produce, separately, worldwide.
In two of our proposals for DROOG, eventually realized, we used the same principals again – storage, interface, dialog, and a two dimensional composition which translates into a three dimensional one. We learned from SPACES while adding to it what we felt design can be, in a time of a shift in how we saw the users. BOX-O-RAMA turned the endless dashed lines into a series of scalable boxes which could be stacked together. On a digital interface, it was a two-dimensional composition laid down by the user, which had been algorithmically added structure and extruded into a three-dimensional storage unit. FACADES AND FUNCTION reversed the process, and offered the external composition fixed – a desk, a cabinet, a bench – while the cavities were open for configuration. We again offered an interface for user interpretation (this time digital), and again we were surprised with the results, later putting them back to work for us.
But SPACES was not left out. We re-introduced the system, this time as a design tool for EA, in a project we called the DIGITAL ONE OFF. A digital competition was to be held, were we would invite users to complain about their space, and their need for order in a specific context. The winners EA would choose, those with the most fascinating interiors to work with, would win a unique SPACES composition by EA, designed specifically for their space, needs and context.
BOX-O-RAMA was further developed and fixed in three configurations now sold by DROOG. FACADES AND FUNCTIONS has been left out. SPACES is still an evolving, living product. In the span of a two years, this ever evolving concept we called SPACES has become a platform to explore ideas on space, on design, on context, functionality and users. The ideas developed in this series of projects are still being explored by us years later. So are the projects themselves.
It was on a car ride to one of the old Rotterdam’s harbor hangers, in an old, yet beloved SAAB, that a sense of what EventArchitecuur was became clear. Herman and I were going to see the constructed elements of an exhibition EA designed before it boards a ship to Sao Paolo. I was on my second, perhaps third day of work with EA, working on an adaptation for a design sparked for this Sao Paolo exhibition – a hybrid of a bench and a billboard – which in the project I was working on for the Utrecht Manifest Biennale turned into a series of “Social billboards”, each calling for a different social activity.
On our way there, I asked Herman something about the process of his work. I think I was then curious how he feels about working with the same element he has just shipped to Sao Paolo, so uniquely present in that show, again in a new project. This idea, of developing or re-using an element again and again has then almost seemed blasphemous to me. Each project has a context, I thought, each one requires complete originality. “We work the elements from exhibition to exhibition” Herman explained. “Some exhibitions I am more happy with than others. But once every few exhibitions, there is one exhibition in which you feel it all clicks. around these moments we sometimes leave old elements out and introduce new ones.”
This notion, seeing the office’s oeuvre of work as one continuous project clarified at once the scope of EA’s work. As a project, it is constantly being researched. As a project of twenty years, it absorbs new ideas, yet is not confined by fashion but by the boundaries and thematic explorations it has set itself. Sketches and prototypes are financed and realized through commissions, leaving a trail of experimentation and by-products, tested in reality. Yet the project that is EA is ongoing, and it is bigger than the sum of its parts.
That SAAB was a great car.