A cabinet or an art installation? The Open Lattice, designed by Luigi Ferrara for Dekla, is on display at the IDS show in Toronto. Ferrara, an architect and the director of the Centre for Arts and Design and the Institute without Boundaries at George Brown College, worked on this collaboration (built by Kal Mansur) with former students Nick Crampton, John Pelo and Sisley Leung.
But what is it all about?
Tell us about the Open Lattice. Would you describe it more as an art installation or a piece of functional design?
The Open Lattice is both an art piece, a functional piece and a talisman of a particular philosophy of design that I call SIMS (Scalable Interactive Modular Systems). In an odd way it is a bit like an altarpiece which is both highly symbolic and functional. It is the fifth in a series of such installations that have used the system to generate a type of hybrid environment, product and communication. In this case it is a screen, a storage cabinet, an artwork and somewhat of a treatise on love. The Lattice is open to the other, can be filled and can be emptied, in a way its a metaphor of what happens when we love and live the process of being loved.
Poster - Symbols of Love
Why did you choose this project to be part of IDS?
I was invited by the owners of Dekla to reflect on the theme of the opening night party "All you need is love" which is one of my favourite songs from when it was used way back in the Billy Jack movie in the seventies. Luisa Alexa of Dekla had seen another of my pieces at the Art Show Dismissed project curated by Heather Nicol and wondered if I could create something that would complement their booth at IDS and then move onto the Showroom for the spring.
I was excited to show the Open Lattice in a more artistic way as the previous installations were more functional and infrastructural in nature used as a flexible exhibit wall system and for creating a retail environment and as an architectural building system for housing. The IDS project allowed me to demonstrate how the system could be many things at once. It also provided an opportunity to test new materials, surfaces, shapes and sizes which are the kind of variables that one plays with when designing using a SIMS.
Poster - Evolution of Open Lattice System
What do the various designs on the cabinet represent?
One side of the cabinet is covered with symbols that relate to love and that people can recognize from a variety of cultures and experiences. These are placed on the doors of the cabinet and overall form a kind of Cabinet of Wonders of signs. The back side is covered with images of the Open Lattice system in evolution coupled with a series of quotes from different religions and philosophies. The progression of the drawings and the quotes will hopefully make people meditate and think about the theme of the party and about love in general.
The Open Lattice
How does the Open Lattice fall into the IDS opening party theme of "all you need is love"?
I believe that the juxtaposition of the quotes and the symbols will show how critical love is to many cultures and people's beliefs and at the same time in an odd way also show the challenge of the practice of love. The clash in the nuances of meaning embedded in those symbols and words will also give pause. Yes, love is maybe all you need, but the varied forms and ways of love are also one of the deepest challenges that we may need to reconcile in the future.
What are your thoughts on Toronto Design Week?
I really have a lot of hope for Toronto Design Week and its possible growth into something that could be recognized and appreciated both locally and internationally. As a result of my travels I believe that some of the most wonderful design talents and practices are happening in this city. Too few people know about them and get a chance to appreciate the cultural vibrancy of our city which is really quite unique in the world. As it grows Toronto Design Week can change that.
I know that my students in the School of Design feel that excitement and look forward to participating every year and if we can make the public feel the same way that would be great for this city. Who knows if we keep this growing, maybe we could even apply to be the ICSID World Design Capital in a few years time.