We recently received a letter from Journalist magazine with the following request: “Excuse us for saying so, but there are still people who don’t know ‘Form’ – how would you explain to them what it’s about?” We could have chosen one of the three humorous answers suggested by the magazine: a) Something like a Vogue for everyday life, but without the models. b) We look like
Brand Eins, but we had the idea earlier. c) Looks good, makes no sense. Instead, we gave a simple answer, without humour – “design”. Anyone who has missed a train due to the impenetrable user interface of a ticket machine, been denied access to a car battery by a plethora of covers, or ruined their health with misconceived ergonomic products – all in the name of safety and justice – already knows perfectly well what looks good and makes no sense, doesn’t divide ideas into earlier or later, and certainly doesn’t need a Vogue for everyday life. Such people have different demands concerning design, and we fulfil these demands with and in form.
However, such demands are not written in stone. They change over time, they get tangled up in contradictions, and sometimes they are at odds with interpersonal, social or economic interests – which is why grand designs are rarely of much use in problem solving. Instead, experience shows that many small steps lead to success, with all their compromises and intermediate solutions – in the production of artificial snow and the search for alternatives, when dealing with homelessness, when planning spaces with pleasant atmospheres or alternative methods for producing leather. What we aim to present here is not perfect solutions but paths – paths on which we will be keeping a critical eye, which also gives rise to discussions with the pioneering designers and producers.
The conflict between needs and interests is also found in this issue’s focus on abandoned spaces and getting out of places. We look at an architectural theory of conversion, take a historical tour, explore socio-political responsibility in the design of public spaces, learn about the importance of pop-up stores for today’s retailers, and talk to an expert about human behaviour when fleeing the scenes of catastrophic events.
Finally, we conducted a design critique of the nonchalantly ironic films of Jacques Tati. If you have a little spare time before, during or after the holidays, we warmly recommend the experiences of Monsieur Hulot or of François the postman. Films worth watching, and then watching again.
Stephan Ott, Editor-in-Chief