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19-02-2015 - Thursday 19 February 2015 – 6:30 pm

The theme of the opening exhibition is inspired by the immediate product of Iris Ceramica - the ceramic tile, a successor of an ancient craft, that today is a hi-end industrial product. This is one good example of a craft, that over time developed into industry, but there are more crafts, arts and other vernacular activities, that today are more or less industrialized.
Though having an indisputable positive impact, this fenomena poses a number of challenges, that are illustrated in the exhibition through the story of a ubiquitous object of mass production, that used to be a product of a woodworker - a chair.
The centerpiece of the exhibition is an object, that is familiar to most, and can be found in many homes across the globe - the Frosta stool, introduced in IKEA product line by Gillis Lundgren in 1970’s. Being an essence of industrial standardization, it hasn’t changed since then. However, despite being so simple and casual, it’s a focal point in a story that started in Deutche Werkbund and Bauhaus in late 1920’s, where, with the onset of industrialisation, the new machine esthetic was born, but never saw the mass production. Chairs made of tubular steel, despite being created using a machine, were too labour-intensive and costly to produce.
Search of an object of a good quality, feasible for mass production, was taken further by Alvar Aalto, who experimented with bent birchwood, creating over 30 furniture items in 20 years that form product line of his firm, Artek. Using Aalto’s patented technology of bending solid wood, Artek to this day produces and sells furniture worldwide.
One of the stools, created in 1933, E60 model, became a prototype for what we know today as Frosta. An example of victorious standardization, it illustrates all the challenges posed by mass production. A human, once responsible for all the creation process from design to assembly, became an operator of the machine with a limited skill, unable to develop and improve design in the process of making. Design development was stultified, tied to production cycles or even sacrificed, if the market keeps accepting the product.
Second part of the story features two attempts to put a designer back into process of making, a 1974 Auroprogettazione by Enzo Mari, and modern day Sketch Chair. Mari proved that a designer can take a hammer, nails, and build his own design, what he personally did in 2010 video shot by Artek, that now produces Sedia 1 chair, one of 19 designs featured in Auroprogettazione brochure.
Sketch chair offers a modern take on the hammer. An open-source software allows a designer to make numerous models of a chair, test their strength, and get a file, that can be used to have a full scale chair cut out of plywood using a digitally controlled router, and assemble it using a wooden hammer, without any metal joints. This not only gives a designer an ability to constantly improve the product, freeing the production technique from dependence on economies of scale, but also creates a different syntex, that is used to create the form. Thus, pieces of carved plywood, intersecting and forming self-supporting structures without glue or screws, are forming the new machine esthetics, immune to standardization.