Close to be Open by Agnes Ögren and Valerie Otte

Designers Agnes Ögren and Valerie Otte of Zurich and Berlin have designed a wooden bench with long blankets buttoned onto either side.

Top and above: Backpack by Agnes Ögren. Seating furniture that changes appearance by opening and closing. Similar to a neat and correct personality; one day someone pulls the string and everything just gushes and bubbles out. In the open state the bench, welcomes you to a more generous relaxed seating.

The design is part of a series called Close to be Open, which also includes drawer units that can never be shut and a lamp called Strip that's bursting out of its shade.

Above and below: Can’t make up my mind by Agnes Ögren. Two different sized drawers on legs. The drawer is either open, closed or a little bit ajar. This lack of determination creates the handle in itself. In the opened space is a felt glued both for the practical part of sliding and for the aesthetics like a frame around the drawer.

The collection was first shown at Stockholm 2010 in February. Photographs are by Matilda Kock.

The information below is from the designers:

Close to be open

At their first meeting in Milan in 2007, the two designers Agnes Ögren and Valerie Otte realised that the inspiration for their work comes from similar sources: both are interested in objects which are not predominantly functionally motivated but which tell a story that is reflected in the design process and the design itself.

The idea of a joint project was soon born.

Above: Boulder by Valerie Otte. Boulder radiates a commanding yet secretive presence. Buttoned up, its contents hidden, it exudes inscrutability. It is unobtrusive, yet its simple elegance is impossible to ignore. It is intransparent, reveals nothing of itself. Enclosed in defiant grey, it only illuminates those who love the shadows. Its true beauty lies in twilight.

Valerie lives in Berlin and Agnes, who is Swedish, in Zurich.

Above: Strip by Valerie Otte. Strip is the object of our desires. Shapely and multi-facetted, alluring and aching to be disrobed. Light is its element it reveals MORE or LESS of itself. Wrapped in layers of innocence it covers up modestly while yearning to deliver itself into our hands.

This geographical distance meant that the two collaborated via Skype and e-mail. Ideas were developed and drafts exchanged in a virtual studio which the two created over the months of their correspondence.

The designers’ goal was the Stockholm Furniture Fair, and there Valerie and Agnes met again in February 2010 to make their objects, which up until then had only been visible on a computer screen, accessible to the public. Under the title “Close to be open” the designer duo presented a bench, two lamps, a cupboard and two chests of drawers.

Above: Loop by Valerie Otte. Was it negligence or intent? This slim cupboard differs in one significant detail from its exclusive walnut fellows. The band around its edge veers out of line, loops the loop, revealing, as if by accident, the false core of the wood. Loop plays ironically with our expectations about material and the way in which it is used, It bares something which is usually concealed brazenly wearing its heart on its sleeve.

The project explores both the mechanical-physical and the metaphysical aspects of opening and closing and of open and closed states. Both designers are fascinated by products which refer in some way to this and other grey zones of transition.

Thanks to intensive coordination on the choice of colours and materials, the objects harmonise well with each other and successfully reflect the duo’s joint vision, despite having been developed in two completely different places.

See also:


Stockholm 2010