Shanghai. Have you been yet? With the Chinese boom-metropolis currently hosting Expo 2010, offering architourists an (at times embarrassing) embarrassment of architectural statements by over 200 countries, now is the time to go. For a furniture designer to be commissioned to create the seating for their nation’s expo pavilion is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Design duo Thomas Wütrich and Yves Raschle, aka INCH Furniture, were lucky enough to receive such an opportunity when Swiss Pavilion Architects Buchner Bruendler invited them to design a furniture collection for the project. The result is a series of sublime pieces, whose considered, sober beauty looks set to make them contemporary classics.
Architonic met up with INCH at this year’s Salone del Mobile in Milan to discuss their Shanghai project.
How did you receive the commission to design the furniture for the Swiss Pavilion?
The main topic of the Swiss Pavilion is sustainability. The overall topic is ‘Better City, Better Life’, and within that Switzerland talks about the contrast between city and nature. So, sustainability was one of the criteria when the architects, Buchner Bruendler, were looking for designers. The second was that the designers must be Swiss. Add to this that our furniture is produced in Indonesia – that is, also in Asia – and we’d hit the nail on the head.
What was the process of working with the architects like?
We knew them before, so it was a personal kind of relationship. We met them every couple of weeks and they would talk a lot about their vision, which was very important, about how the pavilion should look architecturally. They knew and liked our furniture, so we started looking for the right answer furnishing-wise to the pavilion. It was a very personal, yet very enriching, conversation that we had with the architects.
It doesn’t happen very often that designers and architects have that close of a relationship, where they are both defining a space – architects using structure to define a space, with designers responding to that structure and also helping to define the way the space is experienced.
Well, it was more common years ago. Architects made a house and then furniture was designed specifically for it. It’s a pity that it doesn’t happen so often these days, because every architectural project is furnished at the end, so if it’s a collaborative project it can work out really well for both architects and designers.
continue the interview here