The conceptual design attitude has become very popular with Droog Design. Many (young) designers are interested in working outside the usual boundaries. Functional products are being reinterpreted. Reinterpretation places the object at a distance, causes confusion and hesitation. Nothing seems evident any more. In the challenge, the object is looked at again in a specific way and placed in a new context. This context is broader than that of the functional use. The critical approach takes advantage of an intellectual, cultural and emotional way of dealing with the material world and here too demonstrates a relationship with practices from the art world. When Marcel Wanders is asked what links art and design, he answers, ‘the poetry, the imagination, the fun, the “journey” one makes to discover the meanings, the excitement felt by the creator in showing people what he has done, regardless of whether it is art or design. The feeling of doing something for the rest of the world. When something goes “click” and things change... I like all those things in art, and I like it when design succeeds in doing this as well.’ (22)

The many interpretations of such a banal industrial thing as the light bulb form an excellent example. At Brilliant. Lights & Lighting, a recent exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, this was one of the themes, with presentations by Ingo Maurer, Harri Koskinen, Rody Graumans and Dumoffice, to name but a few. (23) To Ingo Maurer, the light bulb is ‘the perfect meeting of industry and poetry’, a fine tribute to the qualities of industrial design. At the same time, the light bulb inspires Ingo Maurer to his own form of industrial design. His designs play with a light bulb in a light bulb, with wings attached to the light bulb (‘because light comes with no noise’), with an intangible light bulb that makes Edison light up as an illustrious mind in the room. The lights conceived by Ingo Maurer are just as much a perfect meeting between industry and poetry. The poetry is defined less by the laws of engineering than by playfulness and artistic design.

This type of meeting requires companies that are open to the unusual and unconventional, to the stratified and metaphorical, and whose production brings interesting diversity to the vast array of consumer goods. It is not the ultimate chair or table that is being sought, but something that differs from the standardised universal model. (24) Designers and companies must not leave their own field in the process. However, it can help to call oneself an ‘ex-designer’, as the Spaniard Martí Guixé does, which means he does not always have to answer for the unconventional in his still somewhat commercial design. He is a designer ‘with the mind of an artist, and the “do-mentality” of a designer. In his search for essential contemporary forms of design, he operates outside current paths and formats. (…) Guixé is a typical contemporary artist-designer.’ (25)

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