Design values are what shape our everyday experiences. This year we invited a variety of creative practitioners to interpret Arper's design values to show how multivalent and universal they are.
Below some quotes from the interviews we have made.
Anna Puigjaner, MAIO
"Balance is a good characteristic of any brilliant design — any good design has a good sense of balance. In our case, we always attempt to design for openness. How much do you do and how much don’t you do to allow a design to change through time, and grow by itself?"
"When you use a well-designed object or space it makes you feel better. The design is there, but you aren’t aware of it."
"Every decision we take as individuals connects to the community."
David Seiter, Future Green Studio
architetto del paesaggio
"There’s a kind of balance to be distilled from the iterative design process, as you build consensus among social, ecological, and historical influences that play into any idea. And then, there is design and day-to-day life — the broader sense of balance between home and health, friends, and work or practice."
"The stretching of scales — the balance among different aspects of landscape architectural practice — is something we are really excited about, and, we think, creates a dynamic result."
"There’s a broader meaning of sustainability — a new way of thinking. The bigger thing we can do as designers is to inspire people to change the way they think about things."
"Collaboration balances an awareness of ego and a mindful approach to practice."
Ingrid Fetell Lee
"A lot of design movements have tried to override our natural impulses toward joy, toward color, toward light, toward vibrancy. My recommendation is that by adding some of these deeper, more universal aesthetics of joy in your life, you can replenish what is often missing in the built environment."
"Intuition is about what we move toward and what we move away from. This is one of the most fundamental problems of any organism. And at that fundamental level, we’ve scrambled a lot of signals, and our intuition was formed for a different environment, and now we are in another one, so how do you cope with that?"
"We have intuitive things that come from our own learning and from our personality, but there is this universal intuition that leads to very common behaviors: we generally avoid dark corners, we generally avoid pinched spaces. We gravitate toward places where there is sunlight, unless we’re in the desert or the height of summer in which case we gravitate toward shade. These universal patterns express a kind of shared intuition."
"Emotional tenor affects a lot of the things we do. If these aesthetics really bring more joy, we become more affectionate, more open, more collaborative, creative, willing. So, how can we use our environments to help us get the best out of ourselves?"
Choreographer, Dancer, Performer
"Intuition is a kind of listening. As a dancer, or someone who privileges movement as a way of knowing — a way of being in the world — trusting intuition opens up the possibility to perceive the world on more than one level simultaneously."
"When I trust intuition, there’s a space that opens up, that expands my sense of time. I can shift my orientation to the world within the space of intuition."
"The space of intuition seems vital in softening what feels like harder and harder lines between people. It’s time to not judge, but rather, to feel, sense, and experience something first."
"Can my curiosity as an artist create conditions where we can notice together what’s already happening all around us?"
Deyan Sudjic, OBE
Director, Design Museum, London
"One sense of intuition is knowing effortlessly what is right for a situation and what is not."
"It’s that sense that there’s no space between the eye, the brain, and the action."
"Design is partly about form giving, but it’s also about asking questions. It’s about observing behaviors, and then trying to synthesize all of those things into a process or an object or a system or an interface. The reason that design is interesting and important is that it keeps reconfiguring itself and it keeps being about different things."
Managing Director, AKQA Italy
"Innovation to me is about creativity and intuition at the same time. All innovation starts as creative ideas, but not all creative ideas will become innovative ideas.
"We need intuition — maybe not human by default — to enhance the insights that derive from constant data analysis."
"For us, family is a series of things but also a feeling that you are stuck together, on the same wavelength."
"While the common idea is that a family of objects implies a series of commonalities, I am more interested in the differences between the objects. Thinking of a Thanksgiving table, with the quirky uncle and strange cousins — sometimes you can't help but wonder if the idea of family is stronger than the actual connection or relation to some people. So I guess what I am saying is that first and foremost you have to believe in Family as a concept; the way it manifests itself is largely up to you."
"Moments of togetherness happen in the least expected places. Those are the most interesting spaces to me from a purely architectural point of view."
"Obviously people are spending a lot of time on their phones, at home, on laptops, immersed in technology. But I do think, ironically maybe, that this creates the desire to be more together."
Maurice Scheltens and Liesbeth Abbenes
"By very precisely building our constellations of ‘objects,’ we achieve a super realistic image. As if we could organize this chaotic world. It gives a certain calming comfort. And for us, in post production we always go with the image that is made on set and never take over."
"We have to study any product up close to know what’s there. We like to look at it in a fresh way. We believe that it all makes sense by looking and not so much by knowing."
"All ideas and decisions — the whole process of making — are developed together. We have to persuade each other in our individual ideas which makes working together an active and alert process. We are each other’s mirror, having realized long ago that we both feel the need to check the other for their opinion."
"We like to go in unexpected directions, transforming common objects into something new. This way the object can hold your eye a bit longer, and make you wonder about something you have actually seen before without being aware of it. This moment of awareness is the click."
Susan Sellers, 2x4
Founding Partner and Creative Director
"I always think about how voice works in design in a very simple way: you create a design language and then you modulate that tone based on your audience. It’s the same as the way you change your tone to speak with your mother, verses your boyfriend, or your best friend."
"Brands are really relationships more than systems. Like any relationship, brand is something you need to work at, tend and manage."
"Organizations are like families — groups of people who need to find a way to move together individually in common purpose. Branding helps make that possible. It’s like institutional or organizational psychoanalysis really."
"We work a lot with collections—collections of art, collections of design, fashion collections. Consequently, we spend significant time thinking about what brings a set of things together and what bringing them together means exactly."
"Most people, when they talk about the color of the earth, think of earth tones, and earth tones have a very specific connotation. Typically shades of brown. But I know because I have earth in my studio that earth tones have an incredible range of color, from pinks to yellows to blues to greens."
"What color is the earth?... We are literally standing on a spinning ball of erotic, explosive color."
"Color is personality."
"Our predominant experience is with synthetic color. What does that mean for us as human beings as we interact with environments, objects, and cities that are primarily synthetic? What is lost?"
"My conceptual work always begins and ends with color, no matter the subject I am exploring or the reason I am taking pictures."
"I pay a great deal of attention to color whether I am starting a conversation, or describing a song, or choosing ingredients to cook with, or even just trying to articulate a concept. And so often my memories are activated by the colors I see somewhere else later on."
"Before I became a photographer, I studied computer science, and had a background in physics, so maybe it helped me to understand how color is generated by our brains. Still, this technical aspect is the least interesting to me. Instead, I always try to focus on the emotional, personal, and subjective aspects of color."
"Sometimes I am surprised that I have a particular spectrum of color in my mind. And today it might be completely different than tomorrow, because every day we are slightly different people. Every experience changes us, and color becomes a very natural consequence of emotion."
"Color is unnatural only when it doesn’t belong. What matters in the end is what this color does to us. If we are looking at a painting, an object, or a chair — what is the impression its color has on us? Does it increase the feeling of something, does it shape the impression of that thing or not?"
"I want to pare things down to the essence of what wire and stone are. They are heavy elements, but how do you make them feel and look light to the wearer, so they’re not a burden to wear? So the wearer almost feels elevated herself by that quality?"
"Our approach to jewelry making is very light, reducing our ideas and inspiration to really basic, human things. The notion of the imperfect as being light is important… there are imperfections everywhere and that’s what we celebrate."
Petra Blaisse, Inside Outside
"Lightness is a mentality — it’s about boundless energy and curiosity, flexibility, fun and creativity."
"Designing means envisioning, predicting and infinitely testing, but you will always be surprised by coincidences and mistakes that often become unexpected blessings."
"We create illusions of lightness, movement, continuous space or escape, especially where these qualities are absent. We address certain sensitivities and discover effective means through experimentation and active research driven by humor and ingeniousness."
"Play is an exploration of restraints rather than a subject, purpose, or method."
"Design history has been made and driven by the curiosity and vision of designers. I think of playfulness not as decoration but as an essential element to create sympathy and originality."
"Public space has become completely mixed wherein opposite elements coexist: stillness and motion, activity and rest, work life and private life, easiness and seriousness."
"I have long had the feeling that the stereotypical sofa, made for relaxation, doesn’t have the capacity for the variety in contemporary life. So here’s a sofa where you can sit, stand, lie down, chat, read, write, watch, eat, wait, think, work, rest, etc."
"To inspire play, something has to be inviting in some aesthetic or structural way. That could be through color or texture or the posing of some sort of challenge; almost nothing is so abstract that it is invisible to a kid."
Children have a non-linear way of thinking where a simple block can easily become a car or building, but also an insect, a stage, an emotion. They connect dots without hesitation as new concepts layer and morph endlessly.
In the 20th Century, there was a natural harmony between modern designers’ and artists’ interest in minimalism and abstraction with children's capacity to impose their own definitions and visions and imaginations on things, especially when they’re not too predefined. You see that take the form of tools for open, constructive play including all sorts of blocks — from the Froebel blocks, the earliest kindergarten blocks — to stackable and multipurpose furniture to experimental installations and adventure playgrounds.
There are infinite ways to invite play — for something to be appealing, intriguing, maybe suggesting new areas for manipulation or augmentation. Openness is complementary to a non-linear, creative mind. You’re leaving things open to the widest possible interpretation.