Aufgabe Null x Supertoys Supertoys
23 April 2021
Pillow Talk is the latest concept from COLLECTIBLE In-Depth. This new series of articles instigates design encounters in a playful setting. The idea is simple: we pair designers from the Curated Section and each duo then freely chooses three questions to ask to each other. They can tackle any subject, within the realm of design - or not! Today’s duo is Hilaria and Nikita von Saldern from Aufgabe Null, and Merle Flügge and Job Mouwen from Supertoys Supertoys.
Supertoys Supertoys: In your designs, we see a combination of intelligent and clever daily life observations resulting in visually strong communicative forms. They all have a great sense of perfection. How do you guys deal with the last 5% towards the 100% (or even 110%) perfection?
Hilaria von Saldern: We both are blushing. When actually sculpting a piece, that was on our minds for so long, we’re in flux, as witnessing it becoming reality feels like a drug. To see the emergence of a piece is the ultimate reward for every effort made beforehand.
Nikita von Saldern: Finishing up a piece is similar to meditation: your concentration is at its peak and conversely calm and contentment set in.
HvS: Having said that, if you had asked about the other 95%, the answer wouldn’t always be quite as euphoric. (Both laugh.)
“Observing and evolving the findings into propositions is our passion.”
SuSu: We love the way you guys use archetypal forms as an aesthetic experience to evoke a specific emotion when it’s used, for example with the Moka Pillow. Again, a jealous making clever observation of a daily routine and great aesthetics! Why not mass produce and make everybody happy to drink their early morning coffee from a sleepy coffee pot ;) …let’s say to democratise your designs?
NvS: We consider our work as thinking out loud, as containers of information and not so much as commodities. Once an idea is encapsulated in an object, it can be fed back into the system as a physical piece of information. There is no need for mass production to accomplish this, obviously.
HvS: Observing and evolving the findings into propositions is our passion. Repetition on the other hand isn’t. Also, because the joy of making something for the first time that we described in the previous question is then missing.
SuSu: You often use unusual materials for everyday objects. Simple question, what comes first: form or material?
NvS: And this is a great example of how non-linear we sometimes really work.
Bonus question: What are your dreams for your practice?
HvS: We dream of maintaining our freedom to only approach ideas we love. This demands courage and stamina but it’s the only way we can imagine our practice.
NvS: Additionally, I would say scaling the studios financial framework in order to be able to get more ideas realised is another goal we have.
Aufgabe Null: One characteristic of your work is the dichotomy of playful objects being based on serious ideas. You utilise fun as a universal language in a wonderful way. Are you ever worried your message could get lost in translation?
Merle Flügge: To be honest, we don’t understand half of it ourselves, we work in a highly intuitive way. I guess you could say that through our designs we try to understand the world and it's cool if people feel the same way when they see our objects.
Job Mouwen: I guess it's not so much that we want to send out a message through our designs per se. We rather think about philosophy or our world view as a point of departure. It’s nice when people see our objects and connect to them on a soul level... it is the start of a journey I guess.
“We create objects as much as objects create us, I guess. To quote Sam Jacob, whom I admire: “… it was objects that made us human, just as much as we made them objects.””
AN: Considering yourself animists you see objects as having a spirit of their own. Accordingly, are designers Creators with a capital “C”?
JM: haha yes! “We’re just a million little gods causin' rainstorms, turnin' every good thing to rust.” ~ Arcade Fire :))) It’s difficult to answer it without wine or beer… let’s meet up soon in real life :). For us, objects which have an ambiguous appearance have the ability to create their own world, a magical environment. We consider ourselves visitors in their magical world, that is what we are after: a state of animistic subjectivity. In a way, the objects are already there, we just show them.
MF: We create objects as much as objects create us, I guess. To quote Sam Jacob, whom I admire: “… it was objects that made us human, just as much as we made them objects.”
AN: Looking at "Imagined, for uncertain times" it seems your work easily traverses the transitions from the digital realm to the physical and back. Did your objects ever tell you where they feel most content?
MF: That’s a cute question :)
JM: Yes it is! In our case, since we work mainly digital, the physical object is a sort of transfixed solid of a digital process. It is almost like a snapshot of an ongoing metamorphosis. Maybe compare it to the hatching of a butterfly caught in its transformation, without the eerie part ;) Does that make sense?
MF: It makes sense if you are a butterfly :P. In our new design “water is also just a human” the negotiation between digital and physical and the quality of metamorphosis is the most obvious. What do they like best themselves? I guess we will not know for sure. It’s definitely something to think about :)
Bonus question: What are your dreams for your practice?
MF: We dream of unravelling new worlds, opening up other dimensions for people to see if you will. This means that we have to create an environment where we can work as freely as possible in a continuous creative flow, without financial restraints or even physical restraints.
JM: I guess that’s why we feel really comfortable in the digital world. It would be cool if people could dream together with us and support us by buying a lot of our stuff ;)
About Aufgabe Null (Germany)
Aufgabe Null is a studio for functional art composed of architects Hilaria and Nikita von Saldern. Their practice is informed by versatile perspectives and a transdisciplinary understanding of their surroundings. While their work often contains notions of critique or irony, it always primarily constitutes propositions and challenges limitations, valuing originality over the risk of failure.
About Supertoys Supertoys (Netherlands)
Following their fascination for animism and subjectivity, Supertoys Supertoys, a design duo formed by Merle Flügge and Job Mouwen, explores the concepts of metamorphosis and object-hybrids: the idea of a transformation from one object to another or from an immature to a mature form is a theme central in their designs. Their motivation is to find ways to express the objects’ own existence.