The Iterative and the Recursive: The Serial Logic of Multi-Ply / Andrew Blauvelt / Design Director Walker Art Center

I have been searching for a term to describe the kind of systematic design that I have been interested in lately, which I find in three-dimensional form in the Multiply series of furniture by Foundation 33. Precision, efficiency, rationality: these are the words that come to mind with the Multiply series. There has always been something missing from the equation, as if the terms are borrowed wholesale from science or hold the vestiges of modernism. Such terminology misses, I believe, the conceptual nature of the work by being more descriptive of its technical execution. It is only with the occasion of the Multiply series—the 10.2 Coffee Table, 16.8 Dining Table, and the 8.4 Low Table—that the conceptual logic reveals itself. The Multiply series explicates the recursive nature of the process. The recursive structure is one in which some of the elements produce the rules that generate the structure itself. In this way the Multiply series reveals the generative nature of the working method in which recurring elements (the material, the method of assembly, the numbering function of the titles) establish continuity yet yield variation. By contrast, iteration is repetition, which is the logic of modern industrial production. In their exhibition space at 100% Design [October 2000], Foundation 33 uses the material of repetition—mirrored glass. By fabricating only half of each table—their formation interrupted—and displaying it against a mirrored wall, the completion of the object is realised. However, the serial logic of Multiply remains open and generative.