REPORT

Out of Place

Barcelona

13 July 2015

A cross-disciplinary exhibition hosted at Barcelona-based arts and design institute FAD features the work of artists and designers who, by venturing outside of their comfort zones, push the boundaries of design.

Out of Place features the work of 40 artists, architects and designers, including Tomás Alonso, Droog, Studio Formafantasma and Bart Hess. The exhibition, which is organised by FAD (Fostering Arts and Design), comprises a selection of projects that explore unorthodox and unexpected methods of creating.

“It is when one gets lost that one can attain positions that allows one to perceive things and situations from different attitudes and atmospheres than those known to us, those we are used to, those we have received and have agreed to,” writes exhibition curator Rosa Pera in her description of the exhibition concept.

Barcelona-based art critic Pera led the exhibition’s curation and subsequently appointed a five-strong curatorial team. While each curator was appointed to represent a different FAD discipline, (comprising industrial design; graphic design; architecture and interior design; art and craftwork; and fashion) the final selection of projects was chosen by all six curators as a result of a series of group discussions.

Due to the nature of the concept, many of the projects that feature in the exhibition are conceptual, intended for gallery spaces. “Rosa wanted each discipline to bring projects that had the same spirit of people who were investigating, doing research and exploring different ways of doing things and maybe not even thinking of projects that were feasible,” says Ana Domínguez, who looked after the exhibition's industrial design content. "Products that would not necessarily end up being on the market.”

The resultant selection of exhibits is diverse. Hang Lamp by designer Marc Ligos, a lamp that is activated by pulling a noose-like handle, sits alongside Dangerous Popsicles by Wei Lei, a series of moulds that create ice lollies shaped like magnified diseases. Tomáš Libertíny’s Landscape from his series Made By Bees also features in the exhibition. A vase made from honeycomb, the project explores how nature can be manipulated by man to create preempted forms. The vase is designed by Libertíny, who creates a scaffold in the shape of the finished vase, but subsequently built by a swarm of bees that works within the structure created by Libertíny.

Although art projects make up 50 per cent of all the exhibits, they frequently differ little from those classified under design. Another exhibit, Mushroom Building Blocks by Philip Ross, investigates the potential of mushrooms as a building material. Under the surface where a mushrooms grow, miles of root-like fibres called mycelium can be found. Ross found that when dried and then compacted mycelium can be used to form a strong, water, mould and fire-resistant building material that is more resilient than concrete. The mycelium can be grown and formed into nearly any shape – demonstrated by the two building blocks on display in the exhibition.

It is this manner of unorthodox approach to process that Pera wanted to capture in the exhibition. Designing outside of your comfort zone “is the only way that things progress,” says Domínguez. “If you always accept the rules and you never challenge your ideas then you will always end up in the same place.

"When you challenge what you do, how you think about things and look at things with different or fresh eyes, that is when you achieve something different and go a step ahead. Otherwise you will always stay in a little box. That can be nice but you will probably become something that is boring and decorative.”