Friday, May 28, 2010

Designer of the Month: Tord Boontje

Week 4: installations

Tord Boontje, Winter Wonderland installation view, Swarovski Crystal Gallery, Innsbruck, 2006-2009. Courtesy of Studio Tord Boontje.

Remember Tord Boontje's Blossom chandelier, designed for Swarovski, that I told you all about last week? Well, this was the beginning of a long-lasting relationship between Boontje and Swarovski. Blossom was created in 2002, and was then followed by Night Blossom (2003), Spring Blossom (2005), Autumn Blossom (2005), and Ice Branch (2005).[1] These chandeliers directly led to Boontje's longest-running installation, Winter Wonderland (2006-2009), at the Swarovski Crystal Gallery in Innsbruck. Here is what Swarovski had to say about it:
Visitors to 'winter wonderland' step through an ornamental gate thickly entwined with flowers, vines and fantastic birds, into a fairytale world redolent with the innocence and delight of childhood. The medieval vaulted archways at Swarovski Innsbruck, all embellished with STRASS® Swarovski® Crystal, divide the space into a series of secret chambers, each decorated with its own crystal tableau, setting fairytale characters in their own crystal worlds. The last chamber depicts springtime, the end of winter, bursting with joy, hope and the wondrous rebirth of nature.[2]

Tord Boontje, Happy Ever After installation view, Moroso Showroom, Milan, 2004. Courtesy of Studio Tord Boontje.

One of Boontje's first installations was Forever (2004), designed for the Aram store in London.[3] Featuring furniture with a changeable cover made from concept/couture fabrics, Boontje created this installation to be changeable, with different covers able to change both the mood and volume of the piece.[4] Boontje also designed Happy Ever After in 2004, for the Moroso Showroom in Milan.[5] As Patrizia Moroso, the Design Director for Moroso, explains about how she discovered Boontje:
The first time I saw something about Tord was in a magazine, maybe Elle Deco. I saw this page, it was a very small picture, not an article. I saw a special mood in this little chair. Sort of embroidery, staged by itself. Then I saw a nice chandelier. I thought what clever idea done with nothing, only with creativity. The chair was different from usual; the embroidery was by hand, little figures done by himself. Linen in different colors. It was the embroidery that I love. Not a nice perfect thing made by a girl. Very interesting. The designer was a guy, not common, not the normal meaning of a nice embroidery....So I phoned him one day because I decided he has to be the new designer of Moroso, not to produce one product but to do something in the showroom out for the Fair, not commercial. I asked him to display his way of thinking, absolutely free to do the work he wanted.[6]

While Moroso may have just discovered Boontje, he certainly knew who she was, and despite a tight deadline, he accepted the project.[7] Filled with ideas about nature and technology coming together, Happy Ever After was designed with wool and silk fabrics cut in such a way to create an organic atmosphere in the space.[8] In addition to the hanging fabrics, Boontje installed a series of 7 chairs that were designed as different archetypal story characters, such as a princess, prince, witch, pirate, etc.[9] Just as the Wednesday collection made Boontje's career, Happy Ever After made him famous.[10] Moroso says that "after the show, he was really, really famous. It was magic, unexpected, completely new, stimulating, the border between design and art and other perceptions. With Tord a new period started, where everyone was feeling free to express the beauty of creativity."[11]

Tord Boontje, Carousel installation view, Boutique Alexander McQueen, Milan, 2006. Courtesy of Studio Tord Boontje.

Boontje returned to Milan in 2005 for Carousel, an installation at Boutique Alexander McQueen, a collaboration that explored the relationship between fashion and furniture and their influence over one another.[12] Inspired by McQueen's Spring/Summer 2005 collection, Carousel featured the Moroso Doll Chairs, which McQueen designed special covers for that could be worn as dresses.[13] As Boontje explains, for him, "fashion has always been a great inspiration," and that he likes "the closeness to the individual, the use of materials, colours and textures to express personality. For me it seems a real breakthrough to make wearable chairs as a true cross-over between furniture and fashion."[14]

Tord Boontje, The End installation view, Moss Gallery, New York, 2005. Courtesy of Studio Tord Boontje.

Boontje's fascination with fashion has continued to play an important role in his installations over the years. For The End, a 2006 installation of Moroso designs at Moss Gallery in New York, Boontje once again approached his Doll Chair as a work of fashion, dressing it up in different covers[15] This show also featured some of his now-iconic designs, such as the Come Rain Come Shine and Blossom chandeliers, as well as Boontje's Shadow Fabric prototype, Paper Vases (which later became his Thinking of You vases), and jewelry made from cherry pips.[16] Boontje explains:
The End is a culmination of ideas that started as prototypes. These are now in their final stage as production pieces. Working with inspired manufacturers has enabled me to create these pieces that have exactly the same spirit as the original studio-made prototypes. Often we have been able to make improvements by applying new technologies and traditional skills. We have made fantasy become reality. The dramatic presentation of The End emphasizes for me the emotions locked into the pieces as well as it being a demonstration and celebration of being alive.[17]
Tord Boontje, Bright Nights installation view, Union Square Park, New York, 2006. Courtesy of Studio Tord Boontje.

The last installation I want to talk about today is Bright Nights (December 2006), a project that Boontje did in Union Square Park, New York, in collaboration with Target.[18] Part of a collaboration with Target for the 2006 holiday season, Boontje designed 35 products, as well as packaging and graphic designs for the company, including all of their catalogues and store graphics.[19] Additionally, Boontje designed all of the store environments for the products and worked on the art direction for 5 different television commercials and the catalogue photography, with this being the first time that Target had ever collaborated in such a holistic way with any designer.[20] Bright Nights was just one incredible aspect of this campaign. Using sophisticated technology, Boontje's signature designs of flora and fauna actually interacted with people - playing, running, spinning, floating away - creating a virtual petting zoo.[21] What is particularly interesting about this installation is that the behaviors were neither repetitive nor pre-designed, allowing guests to interact with the installation in different ways with each subsequent visit.[22]

Tord Boontje, Bright Nights installation view, Union Square Park, New York, 2006. Courtesy of Studio Tord Boontje.

So that's just about it for Tord Boontje, but I thought it would be nice to leave you all with just a few images from the wonderful book Tord Boontje, by Martina Margetts, which I would highly recommend taking a look at if you want to learn more about Boontje and his work. The first image below is particularly interesting, as it shows not only invitations to three different installations that were collaborations between Boontje and Moroso, but you can also see, on the right side, the perforated border that runs along most of this book. How cool is that?

[1] Studio Tord Boontje, "Installations,", (accessed May 25, 2010).

[2] Swarovski Kristallwelten online, "Swarovski Innsbruck hosts winter wonderland: Tord Boontje's enchanting crystal landscape,", (accessed May 25, 2010).

[3] Studio Tord Boontje, Installations: Forever,", (accessed May 25, 2010).

[4] Ibid.

[5] Studio Tord Boontje, "Installations: Happy Ever After,", (accessed May 25, 2010).

[6] Martina Margetts, "Thinking & Doing," from Tord Boontje (New York: Rizzoli, 2006), 130.

[7] Ibid., 131.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Ibid.

[10] Martina Margetts, "Thinking & Doing," from Tord Boontje (New York: Rizzoli, 2006), 130.

[11] Ibid., 131.

[12] Studio Tord Boontje, "Installations: Carousel,", (accessed May 25, 2010).

[13] Martina Margetts, "Installations: Carousel," from Tord Boontje (New York: Rizzoli, 2006), 264.

[14] Studio Tord Boontje, "Installations: Carousel,", (accessed May 25, 2010).

[15] Studio Tord Boontje, "Installations: The End,", (accessed May 25, 2010).

[16] Martina Margetts, "Installations: The End," from Tord Boontje (New York: Rizzoli, 2006), 258.

[17] Studio Tord Boontje, "Installations: The End,", (accessed May 25, 2010).

[18] Studio Tord Boontje, "Installations: Bright Nights,", (accessed May 25, 2010).

[19] Studio Tord Boontje, "Projects: Target,", (accessed May 25, 2010).

[20] Ibid.

[21] Studio Tord Boontje, "Installations: Bright Nights,", (accessed May 25, 2010).

[22] Ibid.

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