Core77 Design Awards
- Other Years
Morpheus is a sculptural furniture piece inspired by the future. Elements of tension and suspense through unusual or non-conform conditions will become more important and push humanity towards becoming more flexible and adaptable to new situations. Therefore adaptability should also be implemented into the furniture that surrounds us in our everyday life.
The design of Morpheus addresses these thoughts. At first it appears to be a sculpture but then it becomes a multi-functional furniture piece by serving the individual needs of the person that interacts with it. Each part was specifically designed to meet its function for the whole construction and was developed by considering a variety of factors particularly regarding statics and stability. By making use of simple physical laws and traditional wood treatment methods, higher material costs were avoided.
The limits of its use underlie your imagination. Do you need a table, a ladder, a shelf, a display, a bar, a chair for one or up to 4 people? Situations change and Morpheus will adapt the way you need it.
Everyone knows the temptation of doing something you are not supposed to do. I encountered this phenomenon in my research about sitting opportunities. It seems to underlie a very subjective judgement where sitting is appropriate. The rather odd cases, where someone chose to sit in a place no one else would have chosen, awoke my interest and led me to examine what created the attraction. I found that especially in art and sculpture the play with the unusual is used to create tension and it inspired me in the development of Morpheus.
Being aware of the radical changes in our society and our environment I chose to focus my design concept on the demands and new circumstances of the future, the way I imagine it. In my opinion time will bring multiple elements of tension and suspense by unusual or non-conform conditions. Humanity will probably have to become much more flexible and adaptable to new situations. Therefore I believe adaptability should also be implemented into furniture in a more extensive degree. The design of Morpheus addresses these thoughts. It first appears to be a sculpture but then it becomes a multi functional furniture piece by serving the individual needs of the person that interacts with it.
Part of the design process was an elaborate experimentation to develop a coherent concept and form language with a variety of materials like paper, foam, aluminium foil, plastic pipes, toothpicks and cardboard. I tried different ranges of motion with and against gravity and tested my static possibilities. A range of foam models in which elements twisted around axes became the foundation of the final design. The intend was to create a furniture piece that interacts in some physical way with its user and creates room to play. The experimentation with the materials was a major part of the concept development and the overall design process.
When the outline of the concept was done, each element of Morpheus was refined to fit its function for the whole construction and was developed by considering a variety of factors particularly regarding statics and stability. Each wooden board has a specific area of support that touches the ones underneath and above. The size of this support area is big enough to supply stability for the whole construction, but at the same time it is small enough to avoid too much friction between the boards. Through this sliding is enabled. The tapering on the side of each board creates a generous grip area for the hand even when the boards are placed on top of each other so that handling is comfortable. Furthermore, the size of the circular holes that serve to thread the boards onto the steel axes are calculated to fit in such a way that each board holds its own weight. This is made possible through the wedging of the board on the axis through the weight distribution.
After working out all the details, it was time for production. I presented my idea to my previous internship company Josef Hofmann Modellbau in Ingolstadt and they agreed to cooperate and help me to produce Morpheus. For 1 1/2 months we were in close contact as I was allowed to use their facilities and gain from their know-how. It was really interesting and valuable for me to get the chance to execute the production in such a professional way and to experience first hand how the dynamics between designer and producer work.
The moment of assembling Morpheus for the first time was breath taking for two reasons. I had done countless calculations to make sure everything would work out, but experience shows that things often do not work out as one wishes. Secondly, for the assembly I had to thread each of the 40 wooden boards onto the axes. One of the conditions I set myself, knowing that the whole object would be heavy, was that I can hold and place each part myself. Now it was time to prove it. To my enthusiasm everything worked out as planned except minor adjustments. My biggest concern was if the lower boards would be able to move even when the weight of all the other ones was added on top. It turned out that the wedging technique, the support area and treating the wood with curd soap worked perfectly and that stability was no issue.
When exhibiting my project at university it was the moment of truth. My intention was to design a sculpture which would create curiosity and the desire to interact with it, inspired by my research about sitting opportunities. As people were approaching I was trying to read their reactions. The viewers started exploring the object and eventually proceeded touching it. Then as soon as they realized that each of the boards is movable, they started playing and creating endless variations of sculptures and possibilities to use it. The only limit was the imagination. From table, ladder, shelf, shoe display, sushi bar to chairs for on or up to 4 people, Morpheus would adapt the way it was needed. Through the interaction the sculpture changed and fulfilled my second intention of creating a multi functional furniture piece that fits for any individual, space or future time.
I think in this playful way of interacting with furniture that simultaneously serves so many purposes lays the core value of Morpheus. I hope to create a different relationship of product and consumer and through that to address and better the problematic of throwaway society.