Jarrod Beglinger is the creative director at The Office for Lost Objects™, a Madison, Wisconsin design studio with a focus on craftsmanship. A couple of the principles that make up this studio's philosophy are "Respect the Super Normal" and Revel in the infra-ordinary." Armed with an MIT engineering degree and graduate studies in Eindhoven, Beglinger seeks to create meaningful furniture that follows logic and expresses integrity.
Lighting Appliance No. 9
Although I know your studio's name comes from a lost-and-found incident that took place in Milan, do you feel that objects that are "Super Normal" or "infra-ordinary" fall into the realm of lost objects?
Absolutely, that's one of the layers of meaning for me. Super Normal or infra-ordinary objects tend to slide away from our conscious awareness of them by their very familiarity. Many of these objects, however, have a real, genuine, honest value that other, more ostentatious, trendy objects lack. I think that when our attention is frequently captured by the next new trendy loud thing, we can lose the value that is inherent in many Super Normal objects. Recapturing that value is one of the studio's main inspirations. Our dream object is a paradoxical challenge: an object that fades into the background, but is, at the same time, highly valued and appreciated for a special quality.
Lighting Appliance No. 9
How do you define these terms?
Super Normal and infra-ordinary are essentially synonymous. Infra-ordinary is a term coined by the French writer Georges Perec. In "Species of Spaces and Other Pieces," Perec asked some fundamental questions about our relationships with the objects around us that I think are interesting for any designer to contemplate. Silvana Annicchiarico has written the best definition of Super Normal I've come across. She describes Super Normal objects as those "both 'normal' and 'exceptional' at the same time. So exceptional they seem normal." (From "Super Normal: Sensations of the Ordinary")
Do you feel that today's buying public has enough respect for common things? What about the design world?
I think there have been significant cultural and economic forces which have worked against a respect for common things by the general buying public. Some of the design world is definitely attracted to the new, the trendy, the ostentatious. There is certainly a portion, though, with a deep respect for common things. Naoto Fukasawa and Jasper Morrison built a great collection of Super Normal objects, both of their own design and from others. Any time there are two luminaries like this involved with a concept, that is an impressive measure of respect.
10° Step Stool
What are some of your alternate approaches to getting your work out there?
My biggest alternative approach is to attempt to take control of production (and distribution) into my own hands. In order to facilitate that, I'm raising capital on Kickstarter.com, a crowdfunding site for creatives. It's a very interesting model where funders actually receive something tangible from the creatives. In my case, a couple examples are the first 10 Degree Stepstools ever produced, as well as limited edition Giclee prints of artwork the studio commissioned.