THE BALANCED DESIGN
A couple in life and work, the Viennese designers Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler, aka mischer’traxler, founded their studio in 2009 after having graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven. On the occasion of the 51st edition of the International Furniture Fair in Milan, they participated in numerous initiatives: we met them at Wait and See concept store, where they presented the exhibition Balanced.
D: What’s the concept behind the exhibition Balanced?
MISCHER’TRAXLER: It presents four different installations, each one regarding one of our past projects, The Idea of a Tree, Collective Works, Reversed Volumes and Scientific Nature of Jewellery. The idea is the balance between input and outcome, since for us the result and the process have the same importance. Every installation presents the final object on one side and, on the other, the research and the story behind it. Balanced shows everything we had in mind when conceiving every projects and gather all the books we read, the conversations we had, the things that inspired us, the materials we used. Actually we worked a lot, we thought its set up would have been quicker. Searching in the archive and collecting the material was fun, but balance all the elements has been a little tricky!
D: How does the idea of a new project usually come to your mind?
M’T: We never have one inspiration. It’s not like we just have a beam. We work on something in one direction and start collecting a lot of informations, pictures, things we like, then slowly a project arrives. It’s a process that takes quite a while. We need a kind of framework for working, so firstly we set all the guidelines, thinking of what we would like to communicate and show through the project. Then, if we have a good idea that fits with our intentions, we develop it further, otherwise we reject it for this project and put it in our “idea-archive”.
D: Your works aim to surprise but also to make people think and interact. How important is the feedback of people?
M’T: We like to discuss with people, know what they think, but it’s not that we do a project just for discussing. The reaction of people makes you consider aspects you didn’t think about. So, for us this conversation is really interesting and important. Actually, we often want to question something, like for example in Collective Works, which questions the relationship between man and machine, or in The Idea of a Tree, through which we want to show that a production process can turn into something different, not now but maybe in 20-50 years. We like triggering imagination.
D: Which role do recycle and sustainability play in your research?
M’T: We think that there are so many objects that should be reused, because they are so valuable in certain way. Sometimes, when it makes sense, we reuse objects, but we don’t sit down and think: «We want to make a sustainable project». It just naturally happens, because we discuss what’s the role of design, and then questions like nature or ecology come in and we tackle them. Sustainability is such a big word, it is like utopia. We are not perfect sustainable designer — we wonder whether there is — but we want to be aware. It’s an important theme that cannot be ignored.
D: The interaction between technology and nature is recurring in your works, where animals, vegetables or plants are often protagonists. Is your daily life in tune with nature and how do you relate with it?
M’T: We like going out for walks, especially when we have some difficulties with our projects. Having a walk in the forest, looking at nature details, collecting things like shells, stones, leaves… it’s just amazing. Unfortunately, we don’t do it so often when we are in Vienna, because we work a lot in the studio and it’s not so green there. We often have a coffee in our yard trying to reach the sun! What fascinates us a lot about nature is that it’s a perfect system, a cycle where everything has a reason and is interconnected.
D: Next projects?
M’T: We have some projects in development, but we don’t like to talk about until they are completely defined. At the end of May we are taking part in the Clerkenwell Design Week. Then, we’ll do several workshops, among them this summer we’ll give one entitled (trans)formed nature at the Domaine de Boisbuchet, in the Southwest of France. It is a cooperative project between the Centre Georges Pompidou and the Vitra Design Museum.