Having visited one of the most promising design fairs in Stockholm, MiND had the chance to meet some emerging designers with ground-breaking ideas. Greenhouse Project is a popular department of the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair which gives rising talents a platform to showcase their prototypes to industry’s significant producers, journalists and visitors from across the globe. Once you participate in it, you’re out on the main floor with the leading brands.
Dario Vidal is one of the participants of Greenhouse Project 2019 whose “Luu Stool Collection” is definitely worth being featured in our series of Green House Participants Interviews #GreenTalks. “As my projects are usually experimental, I do need to know the reaction and feedback from the industry to understand where to take the project from there and how to improve my practice.” Dario describes what Greenhouse meant to him.
His Greenhouse design “Luu Stool” –that means “bone” in Finnish- is based on algorithms which are programmed to generate infinite forms that have similar features. Dario distinctly points out that his idea explores a middle point between industrial production and craftsmanship by blending computational design and digital fabrication. It is a contumacy to the principle of replicating exact copies.
Being half Finnish, half Mexican and having grown up in a multicultural household, Dario has perfectly blended different perspectives into his life. Nowadays, he is pursuing his master’s in Contemporary Design at Aalto University. Curious to learn more, we asked Dario his insights about Greenhouse Project, sustainability and the future of design.
What does Greenhouse Project at Stockholm Design Week mean to you?
Greenhouse is an important platform where we can present our projects and meet professionals from the industry. Sometimes after working for a long time on a project, I lose perspective and become attached to the current result. This is when I specially need to acquire external feedback and retake the scope of the project and redirect it for the better.
"We as designers have the responsibility to have sustainability in mind and try to make the right choices, choices that are not always evident or easy. Sometimes synthetic material can be the best alternative for certain uses, as long as it is used on a responsible manner."
Can you describe the design process behind the work you displayed at Greenhouse?
I find special interest in creating a set of rules that will then generate a form rather than creating the form itself. To achieve this, I use algorithms where I can set certain restrictions and boundaries to make sure each iteration is suitable for the purpose and have a certain degree of control. By doing this, I can then have infinite number of variations generated by the same algorithm almost instantly. The digital form is then machined by a CNC router without the need of a template, mold, or matrix. This means that there is no need to make replicas with this method, instead all items within the collection can have its own unique geometry.
As an example, imagine all birch trees there is in the world. We can easily recognize them as birch trees, nevertheless there are not replicas between them, they are all different. There is a huge richness and variety of form across everything in nature. This is the same philosophy I am trying to apply to my design process and that is the reason I choose the tools I use: algorithm aided design and digital fabrication. Sure the same philosophy can be achieved by hand-crafting the object, I just personally choose to use machinery and experiment with the boundaries and possibilities that they bring.
How do you integrate sustainability into your works?
My focus lately has been on digital fabrication machinery and the way to generate individual items rather than replicas of the same object. This means, in sustainability terms, that the shipping of the object/item around the world from the factory to the consumer is avoided. Instead, local digital manufacturing can potentially be a way to create the object right where it is needed.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
It might sound cliché, but I have to say I certainly take inspiration from nature. I reside in Finland and we are surrounded by nature. In my practice, I attempt to attract attention with movement and try to engage the viewer by it. I remember the first time I encountered the northern lights; it was completely unexpected and we suddenly noticed them while driving on the highway in middle Finland, we stopped and as we were on a remote location without any light pollution, the show was mind-blowing. This powerful effect is what I will always strive to communicate in my work.
Also, different cultures and traditions keep fascinating me. As I have grown up in a bicultural household, I automatically analyse both my beloved countries, Mexico and Finland. It is inspiring how the two are so familiar to me and I can clearly see how there are many ways to do things in different contexts, none of them right or wrong, but just different. It can be simple things like counting from one to five with your hand, it’s different in both countries, one would start with one finger and the other with another, and I find those differences very inspiring.
What are the changes you would like to see in design industry?
I would like to see more opportunities for the recent graduates and young designers overall. It sometimes seems that the industry is highly secretive and tough to get in. I find especially hard to get access to certain machinery and techniques to apply in my projects. The easier access to machinery and materials, the more we can experiment and the better we become as designers.