Summarising Tino Seubert's work in terms of a style is a tricky task. The German-born designer creates a sports shoe as an ode to Ettore Sottsass and the Memphis Group one moment, then follows it up with a range of austere galvanised items the next. While many of his ideas feature a link with history or come from the reinterpretation of a material, what his next project might be is impossible to predict. What is certain however is that many critics have labelled him as an important young designer to watch.
While wandering around 100% Design at the London Design Festival in September, I came across some of Seubert's latest work - the Regalvanize series. It includes a pendant light, wall mounted shelving, a tea set and quite unusually - a pair of sunglasses - all in galvanised steel. It is the random patterns of crystallised zinc that are an inherent feature of the galvanizing process that has completely fascinated Seubert.
According to Seubert, "Galvanised steel has always been highly sought after in industrial applications and in exterior architecture due to its resistance to corrosion, but never for aesthetic purposes. Its surface is often lacquered hiding its unique aesthetic qualities. Diverse intensities of the crystalline pattern are created through different grades of patination, which are combined in the object’s design to showcase the multifaceted material".
Perhaps informed by his recent work at the Bauhaus Foundation during 2014 the Regalvanize series has a strong 1920's utilitarian look. (Seubert ran a workshop for twelve graduating designers to create imaginary objects for the rooms once shared shared by artists Paul Klee and Wassily Kandinsky). The strong simple shapes found in the Regalvanize series are tempered by the beautifully delicate crystal patterns that feature on the surface of the objects. Almost 3-D in appearance, these 'flakes' of zinc reflect lighting in unique ways and subvert the shape. Subtle changes in the galvanising process exaggerate or reduce the effect.
Seubert studied at the Free University of Bozen-Bolzano, Italy and more recently at the Royal College of Art in London. He was Initially 'discovered' in 2011 after his Forming HIstory project where he sought to reference major moments in history through creating a furniture piece that was 'embedded' in an archive photograph. By seeing shapes or concepts that could be transferred to a 3-D object, Seubert produced furniture that had a real historical connection. The result of a captured moment in time, these furniture pieces are a reaction by the designer to the photographic compositions formed by people, objects and furniture.
Having trawled through thousands of archive photographs that capture major historic events over the last 100 or more years, Seubert has a large selection of ideas for possible future furniture pieces. While the ideas often present themselves in a moment of sudden clarity and the rough shape comes quickly, the same cannot be said of the process required to resolve how these furniture piece are to be fabricated.
It's the way that Seubert interprets the image that is particularly exciting. While the 'Nuremberg Bench' is all folds, his 'End of the Vietnam War Table' looks at the surface in a completely different way. Much like a screen print blocks ink from marking the paper or cloth in certain areas, the image of the 1973 Vietnam War negotiations is all about what is on the table - both metaphorically and in Seubert's subsequent design.
Like the 'Nurmberg Bench', the 'End of the Vietnam War' table uses an archive photograph as the basis for a furniture design but Seubert chooses to remove specific sections as if the table edge is chipped or stained in some way. Replicating the sections of the original negotiating table covered by pages or other objects Seubert has made them a negative component, cutting away parts of the white table surface to expose the timber beneath. Yet another example started with an archive image of the famous Burlesque dancer, Josephine Baker and worked the shape created by her lags into the basis for the stools leg shape and position.
The Forming History series is available through Gallery S. Bensimon
"The events of the past register as abstract shadows, deformations or traces on the newly designed object". Tino Seubert
Seubert sums up his Forming History series this way:
"With these pieces of furniture I would like the observer to look into the subject of history and create a consciousness about it. Furthermore, the pieces should point out our responsibility for political developments around us. We can sit on the seat of a Nobel Peace Prize awardee, on a bench where a regime was accused of mass murder or around the negotiating table of the Vietnam War. The user becomes an actor in an important political scene – ‘me, you, us forming history".
To find out more on Tino Seubert and his work visit his website.