Shanty towns inspire panelled storage
cabinet by Doshi Levien

| 21 comments
 

Milan 2014: a patchwork of panels on Doshi Levien's Shanty cabinet for Spanish furniture company BD Barcelona references the temporary housing found in cities across Africa, Asia and South America (+ slideshow).

Storage cabinet by Doshi Levien mimics the eclectic materials found in improvised shanty dwellings

The Shanty cabinet hides a rational storage system behind a seemingly random series of panels that is inspired by the design variation found in informal settlements, where corrugated iron is used to create unique dwellings and colour combinations that change as they fade over time.

Storage cabinet by Doshi Levien mimics the eclectic materials found in improvised shanty dwellings

"A lot of people think that these improvised structures are ugly, that they have negative connotations," Nipa Doshi told Dezeen. "We really like the beauty of the improvised."

Storage cabinet by Doshi Levien mimics the eclectic materials found in improvised shanty dwellings

Corrugated iron is often seen as a cheap material in the west, but takes on a new value to residents in these homes said the designers. "To [the people who build these homes] this is a prestigious material," explained Doshi.

Storage cabinet by Doshi Levien mimics the eclectic materials found in improvised shanty dwellings

The lacquered MDF cabinet features extruded aluminium legs and is set to be the first piece from a bigger collection that BD Barcelona will produce in the next year.

Storage cabinet by Doshi Levien mimics the eclectic materials found in improvised shanty dwellings

It is available in two different configurations – one with three shallow drawers on the right hand side which can be finished in multiple colours or shade of grey. The other has a concertina-opening cabinet.

Storage cabinet by Doshi Levien mimics the eclectic materials found in improvised shanty dwellings

The collection is a continuation of Doshi Levien's aesthetic, which seeks to combine a European approach to industrial design with a strong interest in handcraft and a "way of looking at the world that is not so pure," said Doshi.

Storage cabinet by Doshi Levien mimics the eclectic materials found in improvised shanty dwellings

"It's not a one-sided European design approach," she explained. "There's another world out there and there are many other ingredients we can use in design that are beautiful. It's finding beauty in everything."

Storage cabinet by Doshi Levien mimics the eclectic materials found in improvised shanty dwellings

The Shanty will launch at Salone Internazionale del Mobile fair in Milan next week.

  • http://www.lauramariepeterson.com Laura Marie Peterson

    I can’t wait to see shanty towns across the world populated with these!

    Design is much appreciated – the political incorrectness of claimed inspiration is not.

  • CN

    Great. Just what we need, shanty town inspired furniture for the homes of the rich!? This is a slap in the face to people who have no other option but to live in shanty towns. This is insensitive, elitist and imperialist.

    • Omy

      There is nothing politically incorrect about finding inspiration in the way people resourcefully create their own homes. It is absurd to suggest that beauty should not be sought or found in these settlements, and that they should be off limits for inspiration.

    • ICantLiveInYourBoringWorld

      You guys can’t be serious!? Insensitive? Politically incorrect? Your over sensitivity is appalling. One is not allowed to be inspired by people that don’t have as much money as someone else? Are the people in the shanty towns allowed to be inspired by Mr Levien, or is that politically incorrect too?

    • Dee

      I agree with you. At the same time, why am I not upset about it?

  • Modernrustic

    This is offensive! “Shanty” should not be part of the name of this furniture. If they really want to bring awareness to the beauty of improvised living “shanty” structures, they would use reclaimed materials only and give some of the proceeds to the people living in “shanty” situations.

  • AArchitect

    This must be an April Fool?

  • Theo H

    After Mark Newson’s comments that industrial design could learn from fashion (to market products more aggressively to a wider audience and create vacuous trends to drive demand, presumably) this is a disturbing example of design displaying the bad habits of the fashion world. Not a good sign.

    For fashion’s past form in this area, see following example: http://jezebel.com/5452006/the-evolution-of-homeless-chic/

  • Ben Schmideg

    This MUST be an early April Fool’s joke. Surely. Right!?

  • Romain_M

    I’m sure the poor and homeless are relieved to know that they live at the very height of style.

    Interesting design, miserable narrative.

  • omikey

    Shanty town inspired? Excuse me while I throw up at the comparison.

  • http://www.designadam.com Adam

    Perfect for Jacob Zuma’s Nkandla mansions.

  • Ben Schmideg

    Surely this must be an April Fool’s joke, right?

  • Paul Baber

    Zoolander derelicte! WTF!

  • omy

    Modernrustic. Who is offended exactly… and why? Please elaborate.

  • Corpho

    I want a shanty cabinet to store all my dinner plates embossed with the faces of starving people. They remind me not to overeat, which is a perfectly acceptable means of design inspired by the misery of others, no?

  • bosco

    Besides the design by itself, and getting into the discussion about the inspiration that named and articulated the concept of this collection, I would point out that is not new stuff to get inspiration from the environment generated as a consequence of poverty (Favela chair for Edra by the Campana Brothers, for example).

    It is surprising that there’re certain contexts where it is politically incorrect to get “material” from and that we don’t take time to distinct the point of the project and what is the intention of the creator, in this case a product design duo, who is clearly saying that they are
    talking about the beauty of these structures.

    In the other hand, when Nipa said, “A lot of people think that these improvised structures are ugly, that they have negative connotations”, of course they do have negative connotations, but not in the way of looking at them as an ugly stuff. They are a consequence of poverty, and the only motive why this kind of structures exists is because the people who make them don’t have the resources to produce a more decent space where to live and not because they believe that corrugated iron is the best material
    to build a house with, is because is the only one that they can afford.

    So, I would say that we can agree on its beauty but we
    cannot forget what they are.

    Maybe the words that Nipa is using to talk about the
    project are not the most appropriate, and cultural differences doesn’t excuse that people have to live in these “houses”. When she says that “To [the people
    who build these homes] this is a prestigious material”, is like if she is saying that “for the people that lives in these homes boiled rice is like Beluga caviar” let’s be careful with the words.

  • omy

    Corrugated sheet steel is a prestigious material when compared to the alternatives. It is structural, versatile, waterproof, rust proof coated. The material is not limited to use in the shanty towns and a vast number of southern Indians are using this material for construction in their homes, not through necessity but because it works the best. It is an aspirational product. I have read too many value judgements in the previous posts that are based on limited experience and a narrow view point.

  • ICantLiveInYourBoringWorld

    Holy Cow! I have never seen such an onslaught of mindless comments. Someone sees a texture, colour, and pattern combination, and draws inspiration from it. Then names the design to correspond with the inspiration. What’s the big deal? I can guarantee that the people living in shanty towns, if shown this cabinet, would not take offence. I live in a relatively run down apartment building and if someone significantly more wealthier than me were to make something even more exclusive like a multimillion dollar piece of art inspired by my shabby home, I wouldn’t bat an eye. This oversensitivity makes me sick to my stomach, and makes me worry for the future of our society. If this type of oversensitivity continues nothing will progress and no one will make or do anything, in fear of offending someone somewhere.

  • Tom

    Overall a fairly muddled concept, a bit funky and not particularly worthy of a fuss.

  • Architect Ingels

    Also, apart from the “inspiration”.

    “It’s not a one-sided European design approach”

    It’s disconcerting to see a generalized dismissal of the European approach to design as “one sided”, given how the ever-evolving design world embraces pluralism as it continues to be influenced by its environment.

    Why can’t your approach stand on its own feet? Why does it need to be summarily dismissive of another approach to be valid?