Out of the Ordinary.Interview with Wieki Somers
Wieki Somers and Dylan van den Berg are together Studio Wieki Somers. Since the founding of the studio the designer duo lives and works in Rotterdam and has specialised in a slightly different view on ordinary objects. They experiment with forms and materials and get their inspiration from nature and natural forms. Until 11 January 2015 the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam dedicates the retrospective “Out of the Ordinary” exhibition to the designer duo and presents objects and installations from the last ten years of their collaboration. We spoke with the designer Wieki Somers about the studio and her approach towards design.
What made you to become a designer?
In the beginning, design offered a means through which one could attempt to understand the world a bit better. Ultimately, design has become a language in which an object is worth a thousand words. This is probably still the most important aspect of what we do. An object should always enter a dialogue with the user, the functionality brings an object closer to you. You sit on it. You touch it. It is the first condition and then there is the emotional aspect of function. I have always been asking myself why things are the way they are, what they could be. And still, we are exploring the unexpected qualities of everyday objects.
What would you say is your strongest skill and how did you improve it over the years?
First of all, our projects are always assigned to the both of us, Dylan and I have been collaborating since 2003. Dylan prefers to work more behind the scenes, but he is fully present in the research and design process. Our collaboration is a continuous dialogue, we both have our own qualities. I think I am good in bringing all puzzle pieces together, making the right connections. Dylan can realise dreams with his technical skills and by finding the right materials and techniques. We have both a sensible eye for details.
Which materials and processes did you like the most? What would you like to explore further in the future?
Our work is a continuous process – so to speak an exploration. Finding the right materials has always been an essential part of our research. The material's tactile qualities, its personality and inherent characteristics contribute a great extent to the message we want to convey. “Frozen in Time” for example is based on the black ice phenomena that hit The Netherlands in the late eighties. UV-sensitive resin, the material used for this production, can be regarded as a durable form of ice – like ice, it halts time for a moment. For the lamp collection “Mitate” we used materials that influence the light. The collection employs a variety of materials, and a combination of high-tech technology and craft techniques. The lamps communicate and reflect. The range of our products is wide. We always work with different materials depending on the project. For industrial products the materials are often given, for gallery pieces we experiment more with different materials. Most important is that the materials and technics we use are durable and last long.
What fascinates you about nature?
Nature has no rational rules for it’s existing – beauty can simply be. I have never seen an ugly flower or cloud. On the other hand, natural shapes are the logical results of their function. Today, a hundred years after Art Nouveau, we are still fascinated by new materials and techniques in combination with craft, and by the translation of natural forms in a contemporary way. But finally I think the influences of Japanese aesthetics made our last works more abstract, less figurative, even if it is inspired by nature.
What are you currently fascinated by?
We are often inspired by ancient or mundane customs, and try to imbue some fantasy into the most common objects, think about Magic Realism in art; technically flawless finish combined with an exciting play of light and colour to make reality strange and mysterious. On a completely different level, but still using kind of the same principles in our designs by accenting the magical side of life, we like to transform dreams into uses. “Bathboat” could be an example. But it is also an example of reinterpretating a daily ritual. I have always been fascinated by rituals. They might bring back focus and attention to our hectic lives. They enable a stronger connection with ourselves, with each other and with the contexts in which we are. The repetitive nature of rituals makes them stronger in the course of time. We like to explore the significance of rituals in the present and give them a new form and meaning.