Vortex (2014)

Ever since the beginning of modern design there has been a discourse on the use of ornament versus functionality, and crafts versus industry. Ornament has always been an important aspect of our work and our digital era allows many new perspectives on the discourse. Looking at a globalized world that is growing increasingly uniform, we believe ornament and personalization are becoming more and more important.

The Vortex pieces were inspired by the research on computational vortex methods by Mark J. Stock of the University of Michigan. With this method, vortexes showing seemingly chaotic behavior, visualized in beautiful sheets, can be controlled. Employing this knowledge in our designs allows users to decide how much ornamentation they want, like a duel between functionality and ornament, a play between good and bad. Mark J. Stock’s work is suffused with extremely dynamic and richly detailed imagery. It is often impossible to distinguish whether it originated in the natural world or was developed on a highly evolved virtual platform. Stock’s process is based on algorithms; with his highly computational code orchestrating teraflops of calculations behind the scenes to allow for a smooth seamless interface to the work. He rejects an over reliance on hyper-realistic rendering in favor of detailed and convincing movements and interrelationships. The theory behind Stock’s work is conceptually driven by the ability of decentralized collections of subjects to, when set in motion by nature or algorithm, self-organize into complex structures whose collaborative motion is greater than the sum of their original parts, and that belie the simplicity of their individual behavior. This smooth interfacing of natural and virtual paradigms requires special, computationally intense algorithms from Stock’s own research; algorithms that can demand days of supercomputer time or months on a desktop computer to execute.

The production of the Vortex Console was engineered in such a way that it would allow us to create a new variation every time. Multiple layers of perforated aluminum contours are assembled following a digital blueprint. As the Vortex Bookcase was meant to be an edition of the same object, we developed a pressure mold system for laminating thin aluminum sheets. The molds and the fabrication process themselves turned out to be spectacular to look at.

(photocredits: Mark Stock, Thijs Wolzak, Adriaan de Groot, Friedman Benda Gallery, JL)