With no doubt, design duo misher’traxler hit the curiosity of Design Miami crowd with their last works, Ephemerā. A dark room and a series of delicate objects turned in a magical garden of natural appearances. Katharina Mischer (b.1982) and Thomas Traxler (b.1981) are among the most interesting designers today and their research is often based on environmental and relational aspects and materials.
Mara Sartore: Was Ephemerā more difficult than other projects you have been working on?
misher’traxler: For us it was a very important big project and we dedicated a lot of time to it. When we start something new, we try to push our imagination very further and that’s never easy.
MS: Looking at some pieces you made, I was wondering which role does nature play in your work?
m’t: Well nature often plays an important part in our work. In nature everything is connected, every element has a reason why it is the way it is and nature is an inter-linked closed system which we find very interesting. We also try to learn from it and work with connections and interlinked elements.
MS: Nature seems to be a strong inspiration for you. I’m curious about one of your projects, the idea of a tree, in which the length and height of the resulting object depends on the sun hours of the day…
m’t: Actually we wanted to recreate the recording qualities of a tree in a production process, and therefore we had to open up the production process to other surrounding elements. Sun is the best example: all around the world it delivers its energy, it can power something and you can use this input to control the whole production process at the same time.
MS: Could you tell us more about the dualism between technology and nature?
m’t We think technology can help to recreate, or re-interpret natural phenomena or natural systems in a complete artificial way to use it in a different area – so technology tries to learn from nature and also to mimic it – maybe the dualism is not so big.
MS Design objects or artworks: there is a thin line in your pieces.
m’t We see ourselves as Designers. We use methods of Design to come up with our projects and in fact we discuss a lot functionality of the pieces, but functionality is as well a wide topic. As designers, we sometime use objects of daily use as a reference to actually play on what else it can convey: for example, we refer to the table because it’s something most humans know and can relate to. This way it can become a surface for the projection of a story.
For us one aspect of functionality is as well the power to convey messages, ask questions or to communicate something. It’s not just about the primary function in itself, it’s also about the function to trigger a discussion.
MS I think that working alongside this ‘thin line’, between art and design, can give much more interesting results.
m’t: We agree and the line shouldn’t be seen so strict. In the Bauhaus for example graphics, architecture, art and design was not strictly separated – everything was very combined, instead now it seems more detached from one another, probably to make it easier to understand. It’s not necessary to see them isolated, because the results and sometimes the message is more important than in which box the project belongs. Still, we think we have a very strong Design-approach in how we work and develop projects.
MS: Art Nouveau was a challenging inspiration in the Perrier-Jouët’s Ephemerābecause contemporary design, so minimal nowadays, looks the opposite somehow of Art Nouveau. Did Perrier-Jouët give you a frame, beside Art Nouveau?
m’t: We had complete freedom in our proposal. We found the relation with Art Nouveau and as well with Perrier Jouët in the connection with nature and at the same time in the melancholic feeling of the celebration of a moment. At the same time, we wanted to engage people to a personal relationship with the pieces, in an easy understandable way but at the same time as well on a deeper level, and also between themselves and nature, which is becoming more rare. Therefore we tried to recreate a very specific moment to which nearly everyone can relate – the way natural elements react when you come too close – they often hide.
MS: For how long have you been working together?
m’t: Since 2004. We studied in the same academies (New Design University/Austria and then Design Academy Eindhoven/ the Netherlands) Since then, we were working on both individual and joint projects and found it very fruitful, so we thought to open our own studio in Vienna, in 2009 was the next logical step.