Design on Trial · Abitare

Page from issue 493 of Abitare

Konstantin Grcic’s 360ºC chair for Magis is a product that defies classification. It’s a chair that doesn’t look like anything we have around us these days. It’s a bit like stool, but it has a sort of a small back. It looks hard, but it’s actually much softer to the touch than one would thing. As with other of Grcic’s creations, it doesn’t look pretty, luxurious or particularly comfortable.

After it was launched in Milan this year, the 360º chair received a considerable amount of press, but I would say only got two relevant, considerably different reviews. Sam Jacob’s brilliantly funny and insightful review in the September 2009 issue of icon magazine highlighted the chair’s physical and mental impact on the user: “Sitting here is conceived as an active state – a constant psychological state of agitation.”

Abitare approached it from a very different angle: taking advantage of the chair’s April launch in Milan, it gathered not only the designer and manufacturer to talk about it, but also called other people to the discussion, which it called “design trial”. Placing the 360º chair as the defendant, Abitare design and architecture editor Anniina Koivu called American designer Jonathan Olivares for the prosecution, MoMA’s curator of architecture and design Paola Antonelli as the defense attorney. The chair’s designer Konstantin Grcic and manufacturer Eugenio Perazza (Magis’ charismatic CEO) were called in as witnesses.

The court session can be seen in part on YouTube; its transcript was published in June of 2009 in the printed version of Abitare and can be read in its entirety on the magazine’s website – where there is even the option of downloading a pdf of the article’s pages. This is an extremely entertaining and thought-provoking piece of design criticism. The chair is placed in its historical, use and environmental context; it’s talked about as if it was a real, living being, as it is accused – particularly on the environmental impact of its parts and materials – and defended – the strongest arguments being it’s a new way of sitting and a new interpretation of office furniture. In the end, the defendant is found “Not Guilty”.

Design on trial is a phenomenal, engaging way to observe and critique designed objects – and I assume it would also work for built environments – that goes well beyond the usual test-based review. So far Abitare has not published another design trial, but I look forward to the next court session.

I wrote this post as an assignment for the ‘New New Media’ D-Crit course, taught by Elizabeth Spiers. This was supposed to be a segment of a larger assignment, called Reading Room, an online venue for discussion and critique of design and architecture magazines. This post and the Metropolis magazine post were examples of content created for different sections of this website. This one is dedicated to innovative magazine sections and writing formats, the other to the design and redesign of magazine. Other sections include “Popular Subjects” (where one subject, product of person that having widespread coverage in magazines around the world would be regularly picked in order to analyze/discuss the way it has been talked about offline and online) and Editors, dedicated to the figure of the magazine (something I’m quite obsessed about) and how a publication can become a mirror of its editor’s personality and preoccupations, or completely  change from one editor’s tenure to the next. This section would be made up of a series of interviews with living editors on how they do what they do, and discover the people, the work and the legacy of historic and influential past editors. Reading Room would actually be something I’d like to actually turn into a reality, but maybe when I’m done with my thesis



87 Comments

  1. Digg

    While checking out DIGG yesterday I found this

  2. eminem wrote:

    Looking around

    I like to surf in various places on the web, often I will go to Stumble Upon and read and check stuff out

  3. when i die wrote:

    Tumblr article

    I saw a writer writing about this on Tumblr and it linked to

  4. I loved your blog.Thanks Again. Cool.

  5. That’s pretty much where a majority of the math comes in to take the inverse square root There’s some magic numbers like that that take way too long to actually explain, so a "wtf is this doing?" is better than just ignoring it and people skipping

  6. Tumblr article

    I saw someone talking about this on Tumblr and it linked to

  7. Numbani wrote:

    Dreary Day

    It was a dreary day here today, so I just took to piddeling around on the internet and realized

  8. WorldPres is the authentically very easy system of creating blogs, Work with the system WordPres this the pleasure. The rich set of tools to projecting, standard elements – let quickly build  beautiful blog. That is why WordPress top one. Slawek,http://www.fotovoltaicke-panely.etsolar.info

  9. Google wrote:

    Google

    The data talked about in the post are a few of the top available.

  10. jazz improv wrote:

    Tumblr article

    I saw a writer writing about this on Tumblr and it linked to

  11. KasieBDumond wrote:

    I really like whatever you guys are usually up too.
    This type of clever work and exposure! Maintain the good works guys I’ve
    you guys to blogroll.

    Also visit my homepage: KasieBDumond

  12. You have brought upp a very wonderful points, thanks for the post.

    Visit my blog post: promotional baseball

  13. Dreary Day

    It was a dreary day here today, so I just took to piddeling around on the internet and found

  14. Would you be excited about exchanging hyperlinks?

  15. You have brought up a very wonderful details, appreciate it for the post.

  16. Gustavo Zenor wrote:

    Absolutely written content material, thanks for information. “You can do very little with faith, but you can do nothing without it.” by Samuel Butler.

  17. promovideo wrote:

    Informative and precise

    Its hard to find informative and precise information but here I found

  18. porno wrote:

    Great, thanks for sharing this blog article.Much thanks again. Really Great.

  19. I think this is a real great blog post.Thanks Again. Want more.

  20. Informative and precise

    Its difficult to find informative and precise info but here I found

  21. CreelpCege wrote:

    ???? ?????? ????? ????? ??? ???. ????? ?? ?????????? ??? ???? ????????? ???????? ?????????? ?? ?????? ??????????? ?????????????? ???., ???? ??? ??? [url=http://cheat-kod.ru/boti-dlya-cs]MapHack ??? ICCUP[/url], ??????? ????????? ??? ?????? ????????? ??????????????????????? ??? ?????? ???????? ? ???????? ??????? ????????? vkracker????????? ??? ?????? ???? ?? ???????? [url=http://withlove.gift/product/%D0%BF%D0%BE%D0%B4%D0%B2%D0%B5%D1%81%D0%BA%D0%B0-%D0%B8%D0%B7-%D0%BA%D0%B0%D0%BC%D0%BD%D0%B5%D0%B9-%22%D0%B3%D0%BE%D0%BB%D1%83%D0%B1%D0%B0%D1%8F-%D0%B1%D0%B0%D0%B1%D0%BE%D1%87%D0%BA%D0%B0%22/]??????? ????????? ??? ?????? ??????? ? ????????? 1.7.5[/url] ????? ???? ???????????????? ????????? ????????? ??? ?????? ????????????? ????? ?????? ?? mail

  22. Looking around

    I like to surf around the internet, regularly I will go to Stumble Upon and read and check stuff out

  23. Very neat article post.Much thanks again. Awesome.

  24. facial trauma Deltona

    […]that could be the end of this report. Right here you will find some web-sites that we consider you will value, just click the links over[…]

  25. Very informative blog.Really looking forward to read more. Much obliged.

  26. outdoor sets wrote:

    outdoor sets

    […]here are some links to sites that we link to for the reason that we believe they’re really worth visiting[…]

  27. Just Browsing

    While I was surfing yesterday I saw a great post about

  28. 20 ft container price

    […]please check out the internet sites we follow, including this 1, as it represents our picks in the web[…]

  29. LucinaDCerva wrote:

    It’s hard to come by knowledgeable people about this topic, however, you look like you know what you’re referring to!
    Thanks

    Also visit my website: LucinaDCerva

  30. Auto loan wrote:

    Auto loan

    […]Wonderful story, reckoned we could combine a handful of unrelated data, nonetheless definitely worth taking a look, whoa did one master about Mid East has got a lot more problerms too […]

  31. Vera Bradley Mailbag Crossbody Bag

    […]just beneath, are quite a few absolutely not associated web pages to ours, nevertheless, they are surely worth going over[…]

  32. best work from home job

    […]we came across a cool web site that you simply may well enjoy. Take a look if you want[…]

  33. News info

    I was reading the news and I saw this really cool topic

  34. MaxwellEDias wrote:

    Great blog! Will be your theme customized or do you download it from somewhere?
    A design like yours with a few simple tweeks would
    really make my blog jump out. Please let me know where you got
    your design. With thanks

    Also visit my site MaxwellEDias

  35. Zlatan wrote:

    News info

    I was reading the news and I saw this really cool topic

  36. Demostradoras en Cancun

    […]below you?ll come across the link to some internet sites that we feel you must visit[…]

  37. vlog wrote:

    Informative and precise

    Its difficult to find informative and precise info but here I noted

Leave a Reply