Words of the Wise — MINI Space Talks with the Pros at Salone del Mobile
The hedonistic consumption of design that MINI Space has endured at Salone del Mobile 2012 nearly has us suffering from Stendhal’s syndrome. To remedy the visual overload, we thought it would be good to sit back and listen to what the pros have to say, to help train our eye and enhance our appreciation of the work around us. After all, without the designers’ expertise, Salone del Mobile in all its grandeur could never happen — nevermind the fact that the leaders in this field have their hands in the production of everything from your office stapler to luxury cars.
So how does a designer do it? You could say designers are like architects of everyday objects. They take something mundane and make it extraordinary. At Salone del Mobile 2012, MINI Space spoke with top designers in search of the tenets of great design. The Dutch design duo Scholten & Baijings, along with the top dogs of MINI Design, all shared their unique thoughts on the subject. To anyone out there involved in creative endeavors of their own, listen up to these words of the wise. We’re pleased to share their insights.
As the Head of MINI Design, you might think Anders Warming has cars on the brain 24/7. But he told us that in order to be successful in any creative field, you need be involved in more than just one. “On a personal level, I’m very happy to have a large amount of music in my life. I play music everyday, whatever instrument I can get my hands on — guitar, piano, drums, bass. The music then allows me to be as creative as I am with cars, but in, let’s say just a different environment. With music you’re also presenting to people, just like with a design fair like this where we must perform here. And there comes with it a certain adrenaline rush. But I think it’s important for a creative person to have different worlds to perform your creativity in. If I just did car design, I think it would be a one-sided thing.”
The importance of cross-pollination and not getting tied to a single way of thinking is clearly integral to Anders’ creative process, because he also encouraged making deliberate efforts to willingly step outside your normal comfort zone. This is of course by it’s very nature a difficult thing to allow yourself to do, but he explains the benefits.
“As designers, we always want to learn. You have to go places that you normally wouldn’t have gone and then you strive for a new dialogue, whether it’s with a new person or like we did with a project like COLOUR One for MINI. Here for example we have created something more than a concept car. We have a conceptual installation of what a car is, a conceptual car." Without testing your own boundaries, evolution, plain and simple, just can't happen.
The Dutch design duo Scholten & Baijings, who were the main contributors to the COLOUR One for MINI project, echoed the importance of dialogue. “As a man and wife team,” Stefan Scholten told us, “we work from our heart and soul and just start investigating something. We take it apart and after we see all the pieces we can then start rebuilding it again.”
Just as many other creative souls lay claim to a signature method of expression, Stefan Scholten and Carole Baijings are no different. For them, the role of color is employed from a very unique perspective. “It’s not something that’s just coming in the end — it’s there from the beginning,” explained Carole.
“It’s very important for us,” continued Stefan. “With color, we don’t just think of it as a simple choice of, ‘Ok, what color are we applying here today?’ No. It’s really more of a way of thinking. We try to find color within different materials and by using different textures."
A quality many viewers may regard simply as pigment is a solid building block for this team. The special treatment shows, though. When viewing their work, the visual harmony of material object and its immediate aesthetic impression is both brilliant and precise. They remind creators and enthusiasts alike to be ever-conscientious of the physical substance itself. We shouldn’t forget that ultimately they’re made by real hands and of the stuff of the earth.
Beginning a new project can sometimes feel overwhelimg and it can be extremely helpful to use a somewhat standardized method of creation. For Scholten & Baijings, the deconstruction of existing objects and reviving them in vibrantly colored new materials works quite successfully. But even with a roadmap like this, the classic case of writer’s block strikes even the most seasoned professionals. How do you get past this?
Adrian van Hooydonk, Director of BMW Group Design, has some sage advice for those who find themselves banging their heads against the drawing board. “I always tell my designers if you get stuck, get up and do something else, because as a designer you have to use both sides of the brain — the analytical and the emotional. But don’t try to use them at the same time, because you’ll get short-circuited. Many designers will be making a sketch and they’ll start to analyze it and think, ‘Oh, is this a good sketch?’ So I tell them ‘Don’t evaluate. Just create.’ Do 10 sketches, then look at them all on the floor and you will know immediately which idea is good and which are not. But if you try to judge the idea while you’re making it, it just won’t work.”
Picking the brains of these masters was both illuminating and an honor for the MINI Space Team. As creative enthusiasts ourselves, it was great to be given these guidelines for both producing and consuming intelligently built products. Whether it’s a car or a kitchen knife, it helps to know what kind of thinking went into making it. It's important to understand the man-made objects that surround us and how they come into being.
Next time you sit down to begin a creative project of your own, keep Adrian’s closing remarks in mind: “You have to do what excites you. Then you will have a chance to get other people excited. I sometimes say you have to be your own strongest supporter, but also your own strongest critic.”
Do you work in a creative industry? Have a side-project to keep those creative juices flowing? Tell us what keeps you sharp. MINI Space has more inspiration and creative testimony to come from Salone del Mobile 2012. Stay tuned.