Milano Design Week

Salone del Mobile and Fuorisalone 2023


Jólan van der Wiel shows what happens when nature shapes our furniture

The Dutch designer uses the physical phenomena of nature instead of industrial procedures to create plastic, glass and ceramic objects. In the Issey Miyake showroom, 700 metres acrylic piping shows the journey of a single drop of water.

He makes stools, clothes and vases modelled by gravity and the earth’s magnetism. Since 2012, when his Gravity Stool won the Interior Innovation Design Award at the trade show in Cologne, the Dutch designer Jólan van der Wiel has gotten us used to the idea of considering nature as a design tool.
After studying at the Gerrit Rietveld Academie in Amsterdam, he opened an office there in 2011. Van der Wiel is an atypical designer. He says that he follows his instinct more than usual, and employs physical phenomena found in nature instead of normal production processes.

Doing so, he has created objects made of iron, ceramics, glass and acrylic. Their shapes are boldly imperfect, in that they are the fruit of his scientific experiments. Nevertheless, his work always originates in a precise request, and although the result might veer toward abstraction, the initial idea takes its cue from a functional need. Van der Wiel collaborates with architects such as Benthem Crouwel Architects, with whom he founded the research laboratory Forces for Architecture, and with fashion designers such as Iris van Herpen, and manufacturers such as Volvo and the glassware company J. & R. Lobmeyr in Vienna.

At the Salone, he is presenting four large-scale installations at the Issey Miyake store. They feature 700 metres of transparent Green Cast acrylic pipe, a thin, highly flexible and recyclable material. The installations illustrate in an interactive way the voyage of a drop of water that is pushed through the tubes by a number of small vacuum pumps activated electrically by low tension. The pumps vacuum the air out of the pipes and move the water at varying speeds with a small puff of air.

I chose this technique in order for the water drops to travel lightly through the structure, as if there were no gravity.

“The idea is simple, and has been shown in a million other ways before, but precisely for this reason, it is a wide open and multicultural concept,” says the Dutch designer. “Starting from a small scale, meaning the scale of a drop of water, it explains in an elementary way an epochal subject, such as climate change. I chose this technique in order for the water drops to travel lightly through the structure, as if there were no gravity.”

Il lavoro di ricerca sull’acqua di Van der Wiel è iniziato nel 2017 con il progetto “Tropic City”, con Benthem Crouwel. La domanda era come gestire il livello dell’acqua se Amsterdam fosse diventata un ambiente tropicale. “Ho iniziato a lavorare su questo elemento perché è onnipresente, ma ha diverse facce: è indispensabile per la vita, ma la sua forza può essere devastante”. La prima risposta si è materializzata nella Water Bench (esposta al piano superiore dello showroom): è una panchina urbana che, nei periodi di forti piogge, immagazzina l’acqua nei sottili tubi trasparenti di cui è fatta; nei mesi di siccità, la mette a disposizione dell’ambiente. “Nel mio lavoro parto dalle tecniche e dai materiali che poi si evolvono in storie e progetti. Il magnetismo e la gravità prima e l’acqua ora fanno parte di un esperimento più ampio, che indaga come gli elementi della natura possono disegnare gli oggetti e i mobili che usiamo tutti i giorni. Il mio sogno? Portare questa tecnica ancora oltre e realizzare un padiglione fatto di acqua e di aria”. Calibrando scienza e fantasia, design e narrazione, Jólan Van der Wiel ci indica una delle strade che il design potrebbe prendere nel (prossimo) futuro.

Opening image: the designer Jólan van der Wiel

Event title:
Journey of a raindrop
Design:
Jólan van der Wiel
Where:
Showroom Isset Miyake, via Bagutta 12, Milan
When:
8th-14th April 2019
Event:
Fuorisalone 2019

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