The purpose of this contextual review is to illustrate my research and the direction of my Major Design Study. My aim for this project is to merge the Deconstructivist style with homeware. Throughout the design process I will keep in mind current trends and affordability.
Since its genesis in the 1980s, the term Deconstruction has been primarily associated with Architecture, however it can be found throughout all fields of design. Although, due to the prevalence of alternative aesthetic theories, Deconstruction has been largely rejected in product design. Figurehead Deconstructivist architects have created products utilising their signature style, but these objects tend to be few and far between.
I have chosen the Deconstructivist style as my inspiration as there are no specific “rules” to follow. I see it as an opportunity to play with forms and volumes, while being able to appreciate the unpredictable and perplexing aesthetic that is characteristic of the style. I am interested in exploring how the style could be applied to homewares in the context of a changing marketplace that is focusing in on “Generation Rent.”
Research shows that by 2025 only 40% of Londoners will own their own home (compared to 60% in 2000.) (Fraser, 2018.)
Generation Rent is offering new opportunities for fashion retailers to branch out into the homeware market. As living conditions become more unstable, young people are unlikely to splurge on traditional, expensive furniture. However “aspirational interiors” popping up on social media, has spurred young people’s interest and has resulted in younger shoppers looking to buy frequently updated ranges at an affordable price.
I want to design something that “Rentysomethings”(Harry Downes, 2012) can afford, that will be on trend and interesting. I want my design/s to be a conversation piece and help make any space feel comfortable, whether it is a first home or a shared apartment.
The post modern style that came to be known as Deconstructivism has roots reaching back to World War Two. Russian Constructivists created a series of drawings that broke the “rules” of classical architecture and composition. These drawings opened peoples eyes to the possibilities of architecture. Post war, the country was going through dramatic changes (social revolution) which inevitably impacted architecture (architectural revolution.) (Stouhi, 2018)
Parallel to the Russian Constructivist movement, the Modern movement was paving its own way. The war was over and people were desperate for stability. (Stouhi, 2018) Ornamentation was stripped away leaving clean cut, naked functionality. The Modern style, due to its simplicity and readily understandable nature became the popular choice and architects’ radical structures ceased to see the light of day.
These two movements are important as they form the basis of the Deconstructivist style, along with Post Modernism, Expressionism and Cubism.
The term “Deconstructivism” was coined from Jaques Derrida’s “Deconstruction.” (Derrida, 1960s) Derrida promoted the idea of fragmenting a building and exploring the asymmetry of geometry (Russian Constructivism), while still maintaining the core functionality of the space (Modernism.) (Stouhi, 2018) Following Derridas theory, architects began to experiment with spaces and volumes. “Form follows function” was rejected but the elegance of Modernism was preserved.
To Deconstructivist Architects, Deconstructivism isn’t a movement but rather a “style of architectural rule breaking” and freedom of expression. These architects reject the idea that structures need to have a coherent form, and in doing so create structures with fragmented, manipulated surfaces and non-rectilinear shapes which distort and dislocate conventions concerning structure and envelope.
The term “Homeware” does not relate to one specific object, rather a whole range, from furniture and utensils to decorative objects for domestic use. Homeware for Generation Rent has had an injection of energy and style and designers and brands are taking into consideration their target demographics budgets and needs. The objects that are being created and sold have lower price tags and on trend aesthetics.
In recent years a surge of home inspiration pictures filling up social media sites, such as Instagram. The abundance of these posts on social media encourages consumers to “refresh their home décor alongside their wardrobe each season” (Verdict Retail. 2018) and has led to an increasing amount of people purchasing homeware at an earlier age.
This trend has not gone unnoticed by high-street or high-end brands. Brands that are typically fashion based have begun to branch out into the homeware sector, and are succesfully engaging with this younger target demographic through price and aesthetic.
In this review I will look at a selection of these brands: FCUK, IKEA, Zara Home and Urban Outfitters. I believe these brands are targeting the same market that I will be focusing on, young, first time, home makers. They all have style, price and sustainability in mind when designing their products.
Parc De La Villette
Throughout his career, Tschumi argued that there is no need for a fixed relationship between form and function. He believed that the role of his creations was to act as a tool for questioning social structure. (Architectuul.com, 2012) The structures he designed were inspired by ethical and political matters. This redefined architectures role in freedom. . In creating the Villette Tschumi aimed to create complex structures without following tradition. (Tschumi, 2001)
The Parc De La Villette (Paris) was Tschumi’s first leading public work. Prior to the erection of any such buildings, the idea that the city and park should be two separate things and that the city should not encroach on the park was popular opinion. Tschumi’s goal for this project was to inject some life into the park while promoting the city’s culture as well as encouraging an influx of educational, social and creative activities for the public. Unlike other architects, Tschumi’s creation did not take influence from the surrounding landscape, but the idea that the space was something to be explored by those who came to see it and to give visitors a sense of freedom. The structures placed all over the park were designed with three basics of organization in mind, Tschumi referred to as, follies, surfaces and lines. (Souza, 2018)
When he built the Parc De La Villette the question on everyone’s lips was, “why red?” Since then he has continuously used the colour in a multitude of his designs for a multitude of reasons. For the Parc De La Villette, the colour was not to add any sort of aesthetic value, rather to easily show the structure of the project, that the series of buildings “belonged” together. (Medina, 2018) The actual colour is irrelevant.
I like the use of the red in his projects. The bright and bold appearance makes his structures stand out and rememberable. I would like to incorporate a pop of colour into my design to hopefully achieve the same effect. The use of simple geometric forms (rectangles and squares) is simple but I appreciate the way the structure is visible and unapologetic of its form.
Bohnics work is versatile and works in any space or setting. She has taken every opportunity to bridge the gap between jewellery, objects and furniture creating beautiful, sculptural pieces. Through traditional craft and industrial technology she “fuses modernity of style with function to achieve a contemporary elegance.” Using only the finest materials and an obsession with deconstruction and reconfiguration of pure geometric form, Bohnic creates stylish designs that are a mixture of juxtapositions, angular yet feminine, dark yet light etc. (Bohnic, 2018)
I admire Bohnic and her designs as she really values the aesthetic of a product. This is evident through her use of materials, finishes and forms. Her refined sense of style and taste is unique and allows her to create objects that you would not find anywhere else. The refreshing nature of Bohnic’s work is something I want to include in my design.
Architect Zaha Hadid captured imaginations across the globe with her pioneering visions. Her work transformed peoples ideas of what could be achieved in concrete, steel and glass by creating surprising spaces and fluid-like forms. (Zaha-hadid.com, n.d.) Nicknamed “The Queen of the Curve” by British media, she used unconventional and circular forms in her designs, often gaining inspiration from the structures surroundings.
Hadid had the ability to create structures that have the appearance as if they have sprouted from the earth like living entities. Through her use of energetic forms, the envelope of her creations reflect the buildings purpose and, at the same time, visually encompass and captivates its audience. Through the continual use of glass Hadid’s buildings are filled with natural light. She often arranges the glass in such a way that it echoes the buildings surroundings e.g. like rippling water.
I would like to incorporate Hadid’s style of sweeping forms in my design as well as playing with light.
Zaha Hadid For Georg Jesnsen
Hadid’s collaboration with Georg Jensen in 2016 produced a range of silver jewellery that was designed to “reference the sculptural forms and curves of Hadid’s most famous buildings.” (Morby, 2016) The collection included five rings and three bangles, all made from sterling silver and black rhodium-plated sterling silver with black diamonds. Through this collection Hadid had the chance to express her ideas in a different scales and mediums. (Davis, 2016)
“You can’t translate a building into a ring directly, but the striation comes from the elevation of the buildings” (Hadid, 2016) ((Gomelsky, 2016)
The architects influence is clear in this collection. She has managed to find the equilibrium between architectural structure and natural forms, as she does in her buildings and has created sculpture like objects in her unmissable style.
An aspect of Hadid’s work I like, is that throughout every design you capture a sense of the architect’s unapologetic personality. She immersed herself so deeply into architecture, she carried its values through into every aspect of her life, notably her clothing. This immense appreciation for her craft also shows through her buildings, this is something I would like to convey through my own design. To really attach my interest and passion for the project into the final outcome.
Aandersson studio explores design in a very experimental way. Focusing on product design, packaging design, digital interface design and graphic design the studio attempt to connect the mediums in some way to encourage the consumer to consider the relationships between mediums. The idea of juxtaposition used in their work has led the studio to form a new “language” of design. This language is simply presented in their 2014 collection, ‘Deconstructions.’ A collection of ceramic tableware with a twist. Working from tableware’s primary purpose as objects to efficiently “contain and control a material” Aandersson studio have disrupted the forms in an effort to retain the same control but in a disrupted vessel. (AANDERSSON, n.d.)
“The deconstructions collection explores the effects of radical alteration on the ultimate functionality of traditional utilitarian forms.”
The Deconstructions collection is part of my aesthetic influences because the studio hasn’t tried to radicalise the forms they have only slightly altered their form to create something that potentially works better than the original. The shadows created by the slipped sections add a sense of ornamentation, which lends itself to the pure white surface.
Rasmus B. Fex
Rasmus B. Fex’s creations are the result of a conceptual process. He follows his own mantra ‘Art with function – Design without’ in the effort to “think outside of the box.” This approach allows him to create interesting conceptual objects through a new trail of thought. (Bfex.dk, 2009)
I think Fex’s point of view is refreshing, and although he is designing without function in the end his products function pretty well. His 9,5° chair is a very clever design. The legs are tilted by 9.5°, however the seat being horizontal, Fex has removed the necessity for a rod beneath. (Bfex.dk, 2009) Fex has allowed himself to push function and mass production away from the focal point of his design process and has created a new way to think about design. (Chalcraft, 2012)
I am drawn to Fex’s designs as using function and mass production for the starting point for every project can become monotonous and when every designer is starting at the same point it is hard to be original. Fex presents a new and fresh idea that is unlike many I have seen. The visual nature of the chair invites you to sit on it because you want to see if it will be able to hold your weight your curiosity consumes you and this chair keeps you asking questions. I want to incorporate the sense of exciting peoples curiosities in my design. I want people to be asking, “how does that work?”
The current homeware trend varies depending on where you look. At the moment, due to unsure housing situations, home inspiration feeds and probably the weather, there is a trend for comfort and warmth. This trend has been picked up by brands and has led to an influx of earthy neutral colours (creams, browns, greens, etc), soft furnishings (sofas, cushions, textiles etc), metals (copper, brass etc), and natural materials (wood, stone, Terrazzo etc.)
Parallel to this “cozy” trend, homes are becoming wireless. This has seen a number of smart products emerge on the market. Most notably, smart lighting. Consumers are buying smart LED light bulbs that can be controlled using a remote rather than a switch on the wall or a cord. This has led to more contemporary and minimal designs as the wireless technology allows for a significant amount of reduced bulk in/on products.
Brands are also promoting sustainable living. With our current environmental situation people are trying to make changes in the way they live and the products they consume. Reusable and ‘green’ products are appearing on shelves worldwide and are selling well.
Given that we are living in a world that is significantly influenced by social media it is very easy for brands to quickly find out what their consumers are interested in or ‘liking’ on sites such as Instagram or Pinterest. This can be used as a production tool for a company, (they see what their consumers are buying and can then produce products to compete) or as a chance for collaboration with other designers. In the last few years a number of collaborations has been seen from the likes of Supreme X Louis Vuitton and Paul Smith X Anglepoise. These collaborations have given a fresh facade to old designs.
Along side these trends there is a resurgence of minimalism. Simple designs with plain colours, little pattern or embellishment. This aesthetic makes for sleek design that can fit in any space.
As I have previously stated many fashion brands are branching out into homewares. I have selected a number of brands from the high street, whose prices vary but are still affordable for the rent generation. These brands are, more or less, following the same trends I have outlined here.
“Change the atmosphere of your home with the touch of a button. Dim them, turn them on or off, and switch their glow from warm to cool. Smart lighting at IKEA is an expandable system you can add on to as your lighting needs change. Our smart lighting range offers wireless LED bulbs, panels, and doors for furniture.” (Ikea.com, n.d.)
Light is an integral part of our lives and so it makes sense to make using it a little easier and more efficient. Smart lighting systems allow us to quickly change the atmosphere throughout the home. It is estimated that, smart lighting will soon “become the industry mainstream” (2010 8th IEEE International Conference on Pervasive Computing and Communications (PERCOM Workshops), 2010.)
IKEA is infamous for its Scandinavian aesthetic and flat pack furniture that comes in every variation imaginable. However in recent years the brand has pushed smart lighting at a low price, marketing it as an easy way to alter the atmosphere in your home. (Ikea.com, n.d.) The Swedish company has caught on to the idea that lighting is the home accessory to keep an eye on (Bradford, 2018), partly of its functionality but also because of the endless applications of lighting control.
IKEA is not the first brand to explore the possibilities of smart lighting, other brands such as Philips also have ranges. Philips actually released its smart bulb, ‘Hue’ in October 2012 and it’s selling point was that it was the first “iOS controlled lighting appliance.” (Wolfe, 2017) The Hue retails for £169.99 for a starter kit, which includes three bulbs, a bridge (used for controlling the lights) and a switch. Although not as multifunctional as the Philips Hue, IKEAs smart lighting is much more afford able and a lot less fuss. It is simple, easy to use and, like everything IKEA, minimal.
IKEA X Virgil Abloh
Pictured to the left and overleaf are rugs that are part of the Virgil Abloh X IKEA collaboration. Virgil Abloh is an American fashion designer and the founder of the Off White label and since 2018, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s mens wear. Having made a huge splash in the fashion world branching out into homewares is not only beneficial for him but, hugely beneficial for IKEA.
As Generation Rent are purchasing items for their homes that will reflect their own style and values, brands such as IKEA, collaborating with big names in the fashion industry (especially such well known names such as Abloh) boosts the brands reputation with the younger generation and therefore generates higher sales. By targeting younger generations with homewares that are more affordable than other brands, but that also carry a fashional name tag, IKEA has found a market that people didn’t even know they wanted. The 2019 release of this collaboration is highly anticipated by young home makers and has been causing a stir ever since it was revealed.
Abloh has posted ‘sneak peaks’ of this collection on his Instagram feed. This particular picture (right) has over 70,000 likes and thousands of comments. Similar pictures have also been posted on the Off White account and the IKEA today account and have also recieved thousands of likes.
“Virgil Abloh, a celebrated young multihyphenate artist”
IKEA’s 2019 “New buys to get your home in order”
In the new year IKEA is pushing their storage solutions like wall and shelf hooks as well as storage boxes. They have also introduced reusable, net, grocery bags to replace plastic ones. They say that adding bathroom accesories in natural materials can help towards creating a relaxing atmosphere. (Ikea.com, 2019)
On their website french connection lists, industrial and marble under their ‘inspiration’ tab. This correlates to my findings on current trends and can be seen in the picture to the left. The brand has incorporated warm colours such as browns and reds, and materials such as wood, leather and textiles, with their own drive for “timeless quality” and “distinctive products.” (Frenchconnection.com, n.d.)
They are also selling a number of products utilising brass. In the picture to the right you can see that they have combined the metal with wood to create a tray table with an earthy aesthetic. The setting of the table also showcases other products available, and again we see textiles and other homewares that reflect this trend of comfort and warmth. The styling of these photos is minimalistic yet the materials and colours add a bit of character.
“Since its creation in 1972, French Connection has enthused a passion for design and continues to deliver timeless affordable quality. Innovation remains at the core of the brand… creating distinctive products across womenswear, menswear, accessories and home for the modern lifestyle” (Frenchconnection.com, n.d.)
FCUK is the most expensive of the brands I am looking at, but with the larger price tag comes great quality products. The brand uses materials like cashmere and pure cotton for their textiles and hard woods for their furniture. These products, if cared for properly, will last for a good amount of time and, are of a quality that is very attractive to younger home makers.
The main focus of Zara Home is textiles, (bedding, throws, rugs etc.) These textiles are ‘complimented’ by tableware and decorative items. (Pradhan, 2010)
On their website, Zara lists their trends as: quilts and blankets, terracotta, word print, flannel and jersey, cashmere collection and animal print. These all fit within the ‘cozy’ trend. Zara’s appeal is that it has a youthful look but a professional edge and their homewares reflect this.
They have used muted, earthy colours in their textiles and natural materials in products such as tables, chairs and the mugs you can see on the table in the picture to the left.
I like the timeless appearance of the products Zara offers. They are sophisticated objects you can buy for your first home but keep forever. I would like to create something that has a similar feel of quality and endurance.
“Zara’s aim… is to democratise fashion by offering the latest fashion in medium quality at affordable prices.”
(Lopez, C. and Fan, Y., 2009)
Urban Outfitters lists, ‘clean living’ as a trend on their website. This page is filled with reusable drinks bottles, metal straws and ‘grow your own…’ kits. Targeting Millenials, Urban Outfitters tailor their designs to suit the multi billion pound market and make saving the planet cool.
Urban outfitters has become one of the most popular high street brands for Millenials. This is down to a number of factors but mainly and most importantly listening to their audience and responding.
With over 9 million followers collectivley over all social media platforms (Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat etc,) the brand is continuously building relationships with consumers and has multiple platforms with with to encourage two way communication. This engagement with social media makes the brand approachable and relatable. It is common oppinion among Millenials that ‘user-generated content’ is a sign of quality, Urban Outfitters has realised this and invites customers to hashtag their posts as a chance to be featured on the community page of the brands website. This ensures a constant stream of ‘user-generated content’ (Foster, 2018)
In realising that young people were moving out on their own Urban Outfitters responded by installing homeware sections in most of their stores. “From neon “slay” signs to traditional glassware, Urban Outfitters offers what Millennials want for each stage of life as they progress from college dorms to apartments and homes. By anticipating their customers’ needs, they were able to perfectly position themselves as the solutions to all of their problems.” (Foster, 2018)
In the photo to the right we can see textiles, natural materials, metal and terazzo. The brand has styled the scene to look professional yet youthful and ‘cool’.
Like Urban Outfitters I would like to produce something that is on trend for the younger generation but that also has an element of quirkiness. I am interested in looking at my design process in a sustainable way and creating something that could be reusable or ‘green’.
In summary my goal for this project is to create (an) object(s) that follows the aesthetics and trends of the people and brands I have explored in this review. I want my design(s) to appeal to a younger target audience on the level of price, trend, and needs. To Understand what this demographic would want I intend to carry out a survey that will highlight, among other things, what people perceive the current trends to be, what trends they like and items and products they feel are necessary for moving out on their own.
I want my final creation(s) to merge Deconstructivism with contemporary trends and aesthetics in order to suit the budget restrictions of my younger target audience and so will set myself a budget to fit. This budget will hopefully incorporate material and production costs.
Ideally, the final outcome of this project, will correspond with the selected brands’ images.
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