Engineering Temporality by Tuomas
Markunpoika Tolvanen

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Design Academy Eindhoven graduate Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen has covered pieces of furniture in a fine web of steel rings before destroying them with fire to make functioning objects that resemble fuzzy fading memories of the originals (+movie).

Engineering Temporality by Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen

Calling his project Engineering Temporality, Markunpoika Tolvanen was inspired by his grandmother's disintegrating memories as she struggled with Alzheimer’s disease.

Engineering Temporality by Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen

He completed the project while studying on the MA Contextual Design course under Louise Schouwenberg, one of three Masters tutors who recently resigned over a dispute with the school then rejoined after claiming victory.

Engineering Temporality by Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen

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Engineering Temporality by Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen

Here's some more information from the designer:


Engineering Temporality
Tribute to human fragility and material culture

The topic for my thesis spawned out from a personal agony within my family: my grandmothers declining health. Once a strong and bold woman, now only a fainting image of her past. Her Alzheimer’s disease is unravelling the fabric of her life, knot by knot, and vaporising the very core of her personality and life, her memories, and turning her into a shell of a human being.

Engineering Temporality by Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen

I felt the urge to connect design to the human emotional sphere and to values that reflect how we are as human beings, by trying to create a bridge between the metaphysical and the material world using design as medium of expression.

Engineering Temporality by Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen

Material Culture

The use of language in Western contemporary culture implies that memories are often conceived as possessions: we ‘keep’ memories alive or ‘preserve’ them, as if our memories were materialised objects. These objects become mementos and our personal possessions which we are responsible for. When objects impregnated with memories are created, they become precious and irreplaceable because of the transference of memories into that object.

Engineering Temporality by Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen

Fragility

We have a tendency to facilitate the notion of fragility into objects that have special meaning to us, which enhances our ability to care for them; this can be expressed psychologically, metaphysically or through material fragility. Nevertheless, fragility tends to transform objects more valuable, more precious and beautiful by their virtue of expressing the transience of life and our temporal nature.

Engineering Temporality by Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen

Temporality, Care and Dasein

According to philosopher Martin Heidegger temporality is what defines us as human beings. Dasein (meaning ‘Being-there’) is a temporal mode of being. Dasein unifies the past, the present and the future and Heidegger refers to them as the ecstasies of temporality. Our existence as a being (as Dasein) reveals itself as authentic care. My interpretation of Heidegger’s philosophy is that through care we define more profoundly who we are as human beings.

Engineering Temporality by Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen

Beauty

In the same way as human life is fragile, transient, and flawed, design should reflect these same values thus bringing more care into our surroundings, revealing Dasein. The notion of beauty migrates into objects when we consider them symbolically comparable to us.

Engineering Temporality by Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen

Design

To enhance the active engagement in the caring process towards objects, I created objects that are enmeshed in the notion of fragility through physical and psychological virtues that reflect temporality.

Engineering Temporality by Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen

The selection of the material for my final objects was done according to what I regard as being an common structural material in furniture industry; tubular steel. I manipulated the tubular steel by cutting it into small rings. Connecting the rings back together to form a semi covering layer over an existing object was a method of capturing the physical space the object occupied.

Engineering Temporality by Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen

The vanishing of the original objects is done with fire; a primordial force used as a method for recreating the original object. The object goes through a horrific physical transformation and a metaphysical bond between the object and memories is forged into existence.

Engineering Temporality by Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen

My pursuit was to give an object a memory, create tension and stage a play between the perfect, anonymous mass produced structural material and the imperfect of human being. The shell that is left caresses the vanished object, the memory of it, referring to the past.

Engineering Temporality by Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen

The intentions of my thesis are to translate human fragility into a design object and introduce humanistic, more profound values into the field of design where functionality, aesthetics and mass produced perfectness are the paramount. This has been my aspiration — make design a metaphysical experience that overlooks functionality. This is not to say that functionality in objects, or in design, should be disregarded. For me it’s about elevating the tedious functionality of everyday objects.

Engineering Temporality by Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen

“Temporality reveals itself as the meaning of authentic care. The primordial unity of the structure of care lies in temporality.” - Martin Heidegger

Engineering Temporality by Tuomas Markunpoika Tolvanen

  • H-J

    You know it’s from Eindhoven looking at the first image… nice!

  • http://www.designconsultant.it Stefano Caggiano

    The Alzheimer’s disease is one of the “epochal” diseases of our time, meaning that – as well as other diseases, such as dyslexia – it contains the reverse of our time: a time connected & fragmentary, on hyper-communication and cross-media acceleration.

  • Otto

    The same, but different. If the designer rants, fills up an A4, he/she most likely just graduated from the Design Academy in Eindhoven.

  • http://www.debbielawson.com Debbie Lawson

    I absolutely love this – in fact I'm quite jealous…

  • Jan

    Shiro Kuramata did this in the 1980s.

    http://designmatcher.com/nl/gallery_detail.php?de

    Maybe a coincidence but they look very similar. Why did the student’s tutors not mention this work?

    • Guy

      Who is to say they didn't? Now I'll respond to Luuk below.

  • wonderer

    Love love LOVE it. Simple as that.

  • rashid

    This is indeed the problem of these story-driven designs. If there is nothing else to the design but this one strory, but the story has been told already by someone else before, then, unfortunatelly, you have failed.

  • xtiaan

    To everyone here having a moan that “its been done” may I just point out we have been through 40 odd years of postmodernism so its fairly firmly established that EVERYTHING has been ‘done’.

    Sure we have seen things similar to this, but what’s important here is process and context (which in this case is fairly unique and quite beautiful). It’s like saying nooone can make computery blobs anymore because Hadid did it, or Kapoor owns anything vulva shaped, or if you use Corten you are ripping off Serra.

    “Its been done” is no kind of critique. It’s like the redneck who says of modern art “I could do that”. It’s a simplistic, reductive and kneejerk reaction that shows a complete misunderstanding of art and design on its most basic level.

    • Luuk

      There’s similar and there’s:

      “Wrapped it in flat steel rods, welded the joints, and set it on fire, burning it out to create what has been called “the glittering aura of a Modernist icon”

      – Homage to Josef Hoffmann, Begin the Beguine by Shiro Kuramata, 1985

      The story is different, but the result is the same.

      Shame, I really loved this at first.

  • Guy

    There are some ideas that deserve to be revisited. Kuramata’s experiment is not the jewel in his portfolio and nor did he expand on it beyond one chair as a conceptual idea (as far as I’m aware).

    The text indicates it’s a post-modernist statement for a context whose importance has long dissipated. This student proposes a new context which creates a new significance.

    The question of plagiarism only arises if the student knew about Kuramata’s work and did not mention to his tutors. If it was known about and still developed, or not known about and co-incidentally developed, it’s not important.

  • http://guykeulemans.com Guy

    You know, the whole emphasis on originality in design is very inflated. Do we still get upset with Breuer or van der Rohe for copying Stam’s cantilevered chair? Can we recognise that all three versions create significance and value through their subtle differences? So why not revisit the experiments of the past and improve upon them or propose new relations?

    In my opinion, this is a beautiful work in the way its aesthetics perfectly capture the feeling and mood of age-related degenerative illness. While the concept, or more accurately the technique, may (or may not) be copied from Kuramata, it’s only partly consequential to the success of the project.

    There are differences… One thing I find interesting is the change in function. Kuramata takes a historical chair and produces… a chair. This student takes a cabinet and produces an object which is only marginally a cabinet. Which seems to be only strong or functional enough to hold a few hats and a jacket. Some would say this degeneration of function reduces it to sculpture. Alternatively, I could say it re-iterates the aesthetic relationship to senility.

  • http://guykeulemans.com Guy

    There are some ideas that deserve to be revisited. Kuramata’s experiment is not the jewel in his portfolio and nor did he expand on it beyond one chair as a conceptual idea (as far as I’m aware).

    The text indicates its a post-modernist statement for a context whose importance has long dissipated. This student proposes a new context which creates a new significance.

    • Luuk

      A great and well articulated argument. Anyway, I hope he does well.