That evening, the pop-up aluminum foundry felt like a post-apocalyptic bonfire — "a spectacle of sparks", as Ryvola put it. An ignited Honda car transmission, for example, would counter-intuitively transform into a heap of designed objects as opposed to, say, a heap of twisted metal or (should I go there?) carnage. Some guests left with metal souvenirs. One guest wouldn't leave until his cast dog had been made with "just the right amount of imperfection", Ryvola tells me over dinner in January. "He liked the fact that you could see the seam lines on the object." After all, the imperfection that results from a process lends to the story of a product. Needless to say, Ryvola and Sandstrom were happy to oblige the demanding audience member. In getting such a request, they felt they had successfully made their point — or at least, one of them. "Most architecture and design firms are like Freemasons-Lite", says Ryvola. "It's not a very forthcoming profession. There's a 'man behind the curtain' quality to production, where the designer is a creative genius who mystically reveals something to the user."
By stripping the "fourth wall" between architect and user, UEA made a performance of the process of design, and not of the design itself — even if the resulting objects were both functional and aesthetic. UEA put the messy on a platform, and treated glossy and "finished" as byproducts. The designers further made a conscious decision to interact with their audience. Ryvola and Sandstrom took requests, made conversation, and answered any questions thrown at them. The event was by no means a formal Q&A or a quiet observation. On the contrary, "it turned into a party, which was entirely out of our control", said Sandstrom.
By stripping the "fourth wall" between architect and user, UEA made a performance of the process of design, and not of the design itself