Últimos posts
Tema - diseño
Tema - Profession
1

VVAA, Arte Interior. Siza Vieira e o Desenho de Objectos, Caleidoscópio, Casal de Cambra, 2019. A book based on the exhibition of the same name held at the Museu Nacional do Azulejo.

 

 

2

In 2014, one appeared in the  Jordi Capell Cooperative catalogue for 53.51 €

How to Talk About Design Talking About Birds

Crow carved by Charles Perdew and auctioned for 185$ at Skinner’s, similar to the one Ray and Charles acquired on one of their trips and iconised in their photographic compositions.

On a summer trip – half business, half pleasure – to Lisbon , I acquired a book about the objects designed by Álvaro Siza. Apart from household items, furniture, religious iconography and numerous “drawn” tiles, it also featured some black and white thermo-lacquered aluminium birds called Bird XS1.

For some time now I’ve felt an urge to look into why we architects and designers produce birds so assiduously. It’s a theme that’s been addressed not only by Álvaro Siza but also by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, Kay Bojesen, Kristian Solmer Vedel, Isamu and Charles Perdew (in a sculpture later iconographed by Ray and Charles Eames.

So, with all the singlemindedness of someone with a hunch that if they look in the right direction they’ll find a raison d’être for something purely irrational, I began to research the iconography of birds: Etruscan doves, Ptolemaic falcons, Ba-birds, Scythian plaques, Byzantine eagles, Muisca figures in gold, etc. I found no irrefutable explanation other than the attraction zoomorphic figures have held for artists ever since ancient times. But what all this work did do was reveal a paradox of contemporary design which I’d like to illustrate with some thoughts about the birds made and sold by Vitra.

L’Oiseau is a decorative object released in wood in 2011 and then in a ceramic version in 2019. It was designed by the Bouroullecs and is sold by Vitra. Its creators describe it as a “simple bird”, a pleasantly companionable object with a refined presence. Fascinated by both primitive and contemporary representations of animals, they included the bird in a specific stylistic line of action they say they are going to continue developing.

Vitra offer three decorative birds in their catalogue: the Bouroullec brothers’ rendering, which they sell as a simple, stylish, austere, tasteful work far removed from tacky, kitsch reproductions; the Resting Birds, designed by the Front team from Sweden, an invitation to go beyond the purely ornamental dimension and immerse ourselves in a world of new sensations; and their great success, a replica of the bird the Eames made so popular in the photos they took of their house and their designs. Vitra call this last product the Eames House Bird, presenting it as a manufactured ornament and not mentioning its original sculptor, Charles Perdew. In actual fact, however, Perdew, from Henry, Illinois, made a living producing handmade birds and ducks of the very  type that Vitra would call vulgar and kitsch; objects characterised by the faithfulness of their depiction of the animal concerned and by the glass beads the sculptor used for their eyes.

This brings us to the paradoxes of the big design industries. They’re capable of offering an object and its antithesis, a stylised version and a vulgar version, on the same page of their catalogue. They sell us what was originally an artisan product as a manufactured object, and they charge more for a manufactured object designed by a famous architect/designer than what they charge for an exclusive artisan work.

Siza’s birds, more reminiscent of Noguchi’s stone Strange Bird sculptures later reproduced in bronze and aluminium, are today impossible to get hold of2. We hope that when they’re re-released they don’t go for the same exorbitant prices or epitomise the same great contradictions that other birds do.


Text translated by Andrew V. Taylor

Notas de página
1

VVAA, Arte Interior. Siza Vieira e o Desenho de Objectos, Caleidoscópio, Casal de Cambra, 2019. A book based on the exhibition of the same name held at the Museu Nacional do Azulejo.

 

 

2

In 2014, one appeared in the  Jordi Capell Cooperative catalogue for 53.51 €

Autora:
Fermina Garrido López es doctora arquitecta por la UPM, docente en el área de proyectos de la URJC e investigadora. Trabaja en su propio estudio y su actividad profesional está ligada al diseño en madera y al desarrollo de proyectos en relación al paisaje. El proyecto La batalla de los libros explora la importancia de los volúmenes impresos como manera de construir arquitectura.

Deja un comentario

Tu correo no se va a publicar.

*

Últimos posts