In an exclusive to Design Carrot, the well regarded Dutch designer and founder of Studio Drift, Ralph Nauta talks about the lessons he has learned on the job and the stunning new piece he has designed for the upcoming Abu Dhabi Art Fair.
As the co-founder of Studio Drift, Ralph Nauta sees the future of his design explorations focusing on lightness. He still remains, as he was as a child, amazed by the complexities of human invention and in wonderment of their journey from a thought to being. With their seminal work, Fragile Future taking on a never-seen-before scale, Studio Drift celebrates unseen beauty in the most mundane things at the Abu Dhabi Art Fair. The Fragile Future III – Cloud Chandelier is the largest chandelier installation of the concept. Within its three chandeliers a total of 285 dandelion lights dazzle.
Design Carrot (DC): Please tell us how your collaboration with Abu Dhabi Art Fair came to be.
Ralph Nauta (RN): We first showed our work in the Middle East in 2012 during Design Days Dubai. Fragile Future was one of our featured design pieces and it was extremely well received. People were surprised, inspired and that was we hoped to achieve. It was there that we met the organisers of Abu Dhabi Art Fair. Our gallery Carpenters Workshop Gallery was invited to participate in the 2013 edition of the fair and we decided to share a new take on the Fragile Future with Abu Dhabi.
DC: How did you come up with the concept for Fragile Future?
RN: Fragile Future that was the 2005 graduation project of my design partner Lonneke, but it was a very different version to what we do today. From the simple beauty of the dandelion itself, when the flower becomes a seed ball to the fragility of the tiny seed parachutes blowing away to do what they are meant to is a beautiful metaphor for life. Also it is a humble flower that grows without much care all over the globe. By situating these very normal things in an unexpected circumstance we can change how people view ordinary objects that are, in fact, naturally extraordinary.
DC: In that regard, the Fragile Future series makes a strong social statement.
RN: We revisit the dialogue between nature and technology. This dialogue is already there and from a cultural perspective we have always seen them as contradictory. But it doesn’t have to be. Destruction of nature is not a prerequisite of technological advancements. There is a way of balance, sustainability, and social responsibility that can be taken into account in any endeavor.
“I think by putting these elements in our work we are trying to open up people’s eyes to the environment and the nature and life around them.”
DC: With Fragile Future, we are seeing the LED technology, literally in new light.
RN: Fragile Future III is a modular work. One bronze module is a visible circuit with 3 ‘dandelights’. A module can be attached to the next one (in unlimited different ways), meanwhile the power will always continue correctly through the installation. Real Dandelion seeds, handpicked and arranged around an LED infrastructure is our response to mass-produced, easily discarded design and the constant debate as to what is hi-tech and what is low-tech.
DC: On your journey as a designer, what has been your most valuable lesson?
RN: The most important thing I learned is that you can do anything you want. You open up your mind and (as a creative) if you want to do something you just try to find the right producer. If the producer says “no you can’t produce this”, then you know you’re on a good track because no one has done it before. And you take them through a process, where certain ideas, in the end, will be put into production. So you realize that everything is possible in life, as long as you go for it.
DC: What are your views on the arts and design scene in UAE/Middle East and what/how do you hope to contribute to it?
RN: The interesting part of shows such as the Abu Dhabi Art Fair and Design Days Dubai is the dialogue they create. For me, the real worth is in the exchange of ideas and knowledge between cultures. We found the arts and design scene in the Middle East abuzz with everyone very interested and keen to learn. We hope to contribute by inspiring people with our ideas and works,
DC: What has been the hardest lesson your profession has taught you?
RN: If you want to have a successful business you have to have a strong balance between women and men within your team
The Abu Dhabi Art Fair runs 20th-23rd November 2013 at the Sadiyat Cultural District, Abu Dhabi. For more information click here.