Design Miami/ 2013

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“Grandfather Clock Corten,” Maarten Baas, 2013

The aesthetic tensions and convergences between old and new technology continue to fascinate designers, and increasingly, there’s a melding of the two paradigms in the world of collectible design.

Analog technologies – those that operate on physical properties such as voltage and time – are being combined with digital technologies, which work on systems of binary code. There are functional advantages and drawbacks to both, as well as distinct emotional connections: analog technologies inspire nostalgia, a sort of warmth, and digital types conjure efficiency, what might be described as a cold exactitude.

Some designers are working to marry the two in a way that explores new design possibilities. At Design Miami/ 2013, several works will be on display that combine analog and digital, challenging notions of what is physical and what is virtual, and how they fit together. The works illustrate the ever-widening horizon of design and underline the fact that no matter what sorts of technology are utilized, the goal is always an aesthetic or functional breakthrough.

Maarten Baas’s clocks, which exists at the border of video art and functional design, have featured sweepers moving dirt, “hands” around a face with their brooms, and an analogue “digital” clock app for smartphones. This new edition of his Grandfather Clock – which digitally relays a real grandfather drawing the hands on to the face – quaintly depicts the power of simulation.

“Meadow,” Astrid Krogh, Optic fibers, metal, light monitors, 2013. Photo courtesy of Torben Eskero

Krogh’s fascination with natural and artificial light, coupled with her background in textile design, has resulted in an extraordinary body of tapestry works incorporating optic fibers that are simultaneously highly artificial and reflective of the natural world. In a single stroke she is able to thread the dichotomy of the real vs. the virtual, questioning the categorial distinctions between analog and digital tech.

rAndom International, Study of Time, 2011. Courtesy of Carpenters Workshop Gallery

Hot on the tail of their acclaimed Rain Room installation, rAndom International present the American debut of Study of Time, their meditation on the relations between light, shadow and the passage of time. Using an autonomous algorithm, the piece transmits an ethereal coming-and-going, a digital manifestation of time itself.

“Collection of Light,” HUMANS SINCE 1982, wood, glass & LED lights, 2012. Photo courtesy of VICTOR HUNT DESIGNART DEALER

LED bulbs are presented like prized objects in a collector’s cabinet – beetles or floral specimens perhaps – while at the same time illuminating the frame to create a functioning lamp. The aim of the piece is to re-create the aura of an authentic collection, arranging each individual bulb as a specimen for study. The LEDs are all labeled with name, size and color temperature, indicating the concern with taxonomy. The bulbs are arranged very specifically to accomplish a radiant harmony.

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