Material Directions 2024: Helter-skelter
As it becomes increasingly difficult to navigate reality from fantasy, analogue from digital and fact from conspiracy theory, an element of nihilism sets in. The world has become a dark funhouse where halls of mirrors refract and conflate, where reality is distorted and anything, however bizarre and unlikely, cannot be discounted.
Old certainties have been eroded and we are left with a new reality that is unsettling and full of threats. Many of the core drivers for this story were explored in Fury (SS 2023), but where Fury was powered by political rage, there is a more resolute aspect here, rejecting the status quo to work collectively against cynical and self-serving existential threat.
This is an anarchic story that delights in twists and turns, unsettling and questioning, jolting us out of comfort and passivity. There is a place too for the role of satire and the questioning and ridiculing of people in power. Many of these themes highlight the growing chasm between the cultural drivers of the young and old.
Visually, there is a theatrical and macabre aspect embraced by notable designers and performance artists that informs colour and material. Distortion, reflection, and exaggeration play an important role combined with a colour palette with the potential to provoke.
A distorted Hall of Mirrors aesthetic materialises through uncomfortable and bizarre contortions. Dorian Renard twists and deforms clear and coloured acrylic to create the Éclosion chair as part of his collection, The Beauty of Distortion.
Aluminium pipe is struck, bent and curved into awkwardly unrefined positions in Jinyeong Yeon’s interpretation of Dior’s classic Medallion chair.
In Helter-skelter surfaces favour the molten, sickly and sinister. Molten glass in varied hues is blown and sculpted, creating an unexpected slick tactility in Bethany Wood’s Molten Landscapes.
In lighting, Nicolas Erauw’s LAMP TR-009 obtains a slick gleam through the process of wax-dripping and resin coating.
Cartoon-like patterns emerge as designers source inspiration from popular culture, video games, retro comics and animations. With its animated look and acidic-toned tendrils, Ryan Decker’s printed aluminium floor lamp appears as though brought to life from a video game.
Kick Stals’ poster illustrations shine a light on environmental awareness in the style of old-school horror comics.
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Image credits from top: Dorian Renard | Eclosion Chair, The Beauty of Distortion | Acrylic; Jinyeong Yeon | Dior Medalion chair | Aluminium pipe, sand casting | ˝ Dior; Kiki Goti | U+II Mirror, Lamp and Table | Foam, acrylic | Photo Hanna Grankvist; Bethany Wood | Molten Landscapes | Hot glass, blown and sculpted | Photo Simon Bruntnell; Nicolas Erauw | LAMP TR-009 | Nothing Lost Series | Wax, metal, resin; Ryan Decker | Relic of Yore floor lamp, Feudal Relief | Printed aluminium, pâte de verre, lighting parts | Photo Sean Davidson courtesy of Superhouse; Kick Stals | Kick Illustration | Be Aware | Ink on paper, digitally added colours, text; Leo De Carlo | Ultrabench, Ultrastory series | Charred wood, coloured engraved glass, iron structure | Photo courtesy of Vetralia Collectible