form my designs takewhat's visual and tangibleis conceptually
based around systems. There are no random things brought to it for decoration.
Design has always been about form making, but recently designers have
been dematerializing their designs something that happened decades ago
in art. When I was at school, graphic design became very dense with meaning;
it was organic. I felt it necessary to bring in a secondary thing: a conceptual
framework, a system. Which doesn't mean there aren't still elements a
system can't control that you have to bring knowledge to... it's just
that they're outside the system.
Cook: So in adhering to a system you're removing
yourself from the decision making, not removing yourself from the aestheticisation
of the final product.
Solhaug: Dan uses graphic design with reference to an A4 sheet of paper,
and I make architecture in relation to the body. For me, using the four
by eight sheet as a system is secondary to object making. The idea of
systems is not foreign to me; I appreciate the idea of a template. Most
of the architectural things I've worked on have been deeply conceptual
in this way. But with design rather than with architecture, it becomes
a question of removing subjectivity. Architects do the same as designers
but in space... they then try and make space lyrical and even intangible.
Eatock: For Foundation 33, design isn't about one discipline. We may not
be furniture specialists but we have become specialists of the mediums
we work with. The medium came before the table. I wanted to take a four
by eight sheet and cut and glue it together so the surface is the edge.
I had no function for it, I didn't know what it meant to make something
like that. And then Sam said, ''wow, it would be great to continue that
surface down to the floor... how could we do it?"
Cook: So there was always the intention of making
something that could be used?
Solhaug: The moment we made legs to hold the surface up, then it became
functional. It's as simple as knowing the system: 24 slats in 48 inches.
How wide should the legs be? 2 inches. It's pretty logical.
Cook: Do you agree with Ellen Lupton when she writes:
''design's linguistic and social aspects are trivialized or ignored when
abstraction is made the primary focus of design thinking''?
Solhaug: Design is definitely stronger when based on context. Which is
what I do. Whether found or invented. But to me there is no hierarchy
in the process. Design linguistics and social aspects should be part of
Eatock: Sometimes simplicity needs something beyond just that. The difference
is that we don't try and make a form from the outset but rather we discuss
it as a non-thing, as something that's not physical. It is through the
process that it takes a form, and then we develop it until it works conceptually
and physically. And that's applied to everything: the design, the furniture,
even the space of our studio.
Cook: Then how do your diagrams function on the
abstract compositional level, and how do you anticipate your diagrams
being read in relation to the finished product?
Solhaug: There's a strong connection in architecture between diagram (plan/section)
and the finished spatial work. For me this is the relationship I feel
with our diagrams, it is about material, structure, concept, scale, the
utilitarian aspect, the process, and drawing. And yes, all those things
that occur when one exists (diagram) with the other (object).
Eatock: We're taking things that exist already and changing themit's
inevitable that sooner or later someone is going to do it. This is not
my intention; it's only looking back to see how I made themwith
them being so systematic, and having so few random elementsthat
I could imagine someone else doing something very similar if not exactly
the same. The idea for the multi-ply would have ended in the sketchbook
it was an idea, not even a diagram. But then Sam added another
50% and it developed into another idea, a diagram and then it became a
Solhaug: Where we meet is where these tables exist.