Simon Keane-Cowell

Author

Simon Keane-Cowell
Zürich   Switzerland

Build Me Up: Architonic Concept Space V


The latest fair-going union of architecture and innovative material-processing technology is unveiled in Milan in the form of Architonic’s Concept Space V.
 

Build Me Up: Architonic Concept Space V
Concept Space V has landed: the new, highly modular fair installation, launched at this year's Salone del Mobile in Milan

Architonic. The clue is in the name. We’re passionate about architecture and materials. Which is why, when it comes to our regular appearances at the world’s leading design trade fairs, we’re keen to practice what we preach, setting up our stall, so to speak, with more than just your traditional stand.

Build Me Up: Architonic Concept Space V
The optically different positive and negative sides of the bent-metal elements enhance the sharp lines of the installation

For the past five years, we’ve welcomed thousands of visitors to our Concept Spaces in, among other places, Milan, Paris, Cologne, Frankfurt and Stockholm, each installation, with its marriage of bold architectonics and use of innovative materials and processes, adding value to the fair experience. Over the last couple of years, we’ve commissioned leading designers, like L-A-V-A, Oskar Zieta and Beat Karrer, to create striking and innovative brand-supporting spaces, which have functioned superbly as platforms for new thinking – a space for presenting new concepts as much as spaces shaped by new ideas. They show what’s possible at the leading edge of design research and practice, and get people talking.

Installation of Architonic's brand-new Concept Space V at the Salone del Mobile 2014 in Milan

For our fifth concept space, we’ve turned to the next generation of designers. Architonic has long been a promoter of young design – our ever-growing Architonic Prototype Collection brings together the best of up-and-coming design talent internationally, an invitation-only showcase that reflects our ongoing scouting at young-designer exhibitions. In keeping with this, we launched the 'Fabri tonic' project, together with Christof Sigerist, design lecturer at the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and co-founder of Stockwerk3, where we commissioned, in the form of a competition, the institution's cutting-edge BA Material Design course to design a brand-new Architonic Concept Space. With, on the Lucerne side, Matthias Zäh, Florian Widmer and Samuel Perret also involved, the project offered the students the opportunity not to promote themselves as designer names of tomorrow, but also to experiment creatively with the application and development of materials.

Build Me Up: Architonic Concept Space V

Build Me Up: Architonic Concept Space V
Members of the Architonic team visit the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts' BA Material Design course for a work-in-progress crit session

The brief was to create a new, concept-driven physical fair environment for Architonic, which would function both on a functional, utilitarian level, but also serve to express the Architonic brand, speaking of its purpose and value. We stipulated that the concept be modular and extremely scaleable, allowing us to create a myriad constructional permutations across different sites, large and small (such as a main fair stand and a number of other either on-site or in-the-city satellite installations). A number of technical parameters were put in place, determined to a large extent by the kind involvement of production-technology specialists TRUMPF, who acted as development partner on the project. All concepts proposed by the students had to be constructed from sheet metal and executable on TRUMPF machinery, involving the processes of laser-cutting and bending. In essence, the transformation of two dimensions into three.

Build Me Up: Architonic Concept Space V
Samuel Schumacher presents his developed concept in model form to Architonic co-founder Nils Becker

The project took roughly six months to complete, with, post-briefing, numerous crit sessions in both Lucerne and at Architonic’s HQ in Zurich. Most challenging perhaps for the students was getting up to speed as quickly as possible with the technological possibilities that TRUMPF were bringing to the table, but they all rose to the challenge. Yet one participant in particular seized the brief by the horns and developed a concept that ticked all the boxes. Samuel Schumacher’s proposal took full advantage of project partners Meyer BlechTechnik and GEMvision’s expertise in sheet-metal processing and architectural foils respectively, while providing a flexible creative solution that allows for a diversity of configuration options. His highly modular system is based on a grid of bi-coloured anodised aluminium profiles, which can range as individual elements from 45cm to just over a metre in size, meaning the build can range in scale, according to need, from full-room to table-top. Highly angular, bent-aluminium elements slot into battens, S-shaped in profile, creating constructions in space that are based on repetition and difference, where a set of rules are introduced only to be broken in places. The optically different positive and negative sides of the metal elements – clear-anodised on the one side, with a light-absorbing, flock-like, matt-black foil on the other – enhance the sharp lines of the installation, and create a compelling visual contrast, which shifts as one moves around the structure. One’s impression of the Architonic Concept Space V is truly never the same.

Build Me Up: Architonic Concept Space V

Build Me Up: Architonic Concept Space V
Production-technology specialists TRUMPF bring their expertise to bear on the production of the new Concept Space V

There’s an added, brand-communicating value, of course. (We are, after all, Architonic.) Beyond the creativity and expertise the new concept space embodies, it operates, with its intricate grid of diverging and converging lines, as a metaphor for today’s complex world of data, something which Architonic makes intelligible for both architects and the design industry through its careful selection, structuring and linking of relevant information.

Build Me Up: Architonic Concept Space V
Highly angular, bent-aluminium elements slot into battens, S-shaped in profile, creating constructions in space that are based on repetition and difference

But don’t just take our word for all of this. Having premiered recently in Milan at the Salone del Mobile and in satellite form outside the fair at, among other places, Superstudio Group’s Temporary Museum for New Design, the new Architonic Concept Space V will be waiting for you to experience it at several forthcoming fairs, including ICFF in New York, Orgatec in Cologne, a number of locations at the London Design Festival, Maison&Objet and Cersaie, as well as imm cologne and the Stockholm Furniture & Light Fair.

Build Me Up: Architonic Concept Space V
Competition winner, Samuel Schumacher, whose design for Architonic's new architectonic fair presence responded cleverly to the creative brief