The design of the Meritulli table began with the integration of the long aprons into the table plate, to provide for a platonic, yet sturdy form. The leg slabs are mounted to the plate using recessed steel brackets that allow for dismantling the table without disturbing the monolithic form.
I developed these trestles for the University of the Arts Helsinki. At the time I got the commission I had been working with craft production for a while, yet had not realized how, nonetheless, I had stuck with a quasi-industrial design process – drawing, and then producing from the drawings. As this job entailed the making of some fourteen trestles, I felt it was a good moment to try out what opportunities I would have if now I actually went working "on the floor," to use the machines and materials as drawing tools.
Various materials, 2015. Assistance Guilleaume Bleeckx
Design Library Eira × A Weaving Kiosk
With Rosa Tolnov Clausen.
Pop-up presentation, 2015
Design Library Hermanni
Having been meh about the absence of a specialized art book store in Helsinki for too long, we set up our own this year. Design Library Hermanni opened this fall as the city’s only independent design, architecture, media and art library. Website and other things are still under construction (give a little time, it’s a very non-profit project), but be welcome at our Sankariliiga premises anytime to check and take home our books!
2014 – ongoing
Kolding School of Design Graduation 2013
In March I was invited to curate the graduation exhibition at Kolding School of Design, a programmatically determined, carefully composed and joyful, almost motherly organization and one of the two national design academies of Denmark. When I began working on the project, it felt for both the humane characteristics of this program and the fact that I dislike exhibitions of this kind that serve the institution more than the graduates to be appropriate that I align my approach with the individual graduates and their amibitions setting out into their careers.
In an initial workshop, I asked how each of them wished their practice to develop once having left the frame of the academy. There emerged different "wills" from there and from their theses that I felt characterized the designers better, by a more intimate layer of temperament, in their production. These became the structure of the show, across which projects from all study departments were distributed.
In KRYDSNING (crossing), projects were shown that dealt with conflicts of all sorts. RADIUS grouped works that aimed at expanding practical reach in technique, method or technology. FUNDAMENTET (the foundation) showed projects that set to inspect fundamental concepts, mechanisms and conditions such as infrastructure, perception, tradition, construction of identity etc. VÆLD (abundance, overflow) joined work that proposed for a sensual dealing with the environment.
To defy scale and save the show from suffocating in the imposing mass of Koldinghus castle, the display was realized by the graduates themselves, in a dimension that challenged the stage as much as their construction experience, in a beautifully intense, two-week production effort in which we used a mere 8.000 Euros in equipment and material.
I got the commission to design a table for a private client who wanted to accompany it with a set of Hans Jørgensen Wegner’s CH24 chairs. Since much of the strength of Wegner’s work stems from his training as a cabinet maker, my interest was in how I could reply to his magnificent joinery from a background based in totally different things.
My response was an admission of absence. I drew the table in an essentially 2D shape, one that is the material’s own only in relation to a simple machine environment. The flat, volatile structure lets the eye slip easily, and occupies the space opposite of Wegner’s mesmerizing compositions, which it complements effectively. Related to Wegner’s idiom are the fine-tuned angles of the tapered legs, that reveal a silent but complex dynamic when one moves about the piece.
To shield off glare, no hard material is used in this light but the manual gesture of applying spray paint where light should not pass. Tweaking the driver electronics allowed for building a circuit with three cathodes instead of the usual two in order to draw a more voluminous object in terms of space and light.
Fluorescent light, electronics, spray-paint, 2010
Remote Material of Implication
When our studio was asked by the Van Abbemuseum to present our position on how cities should address the evacuation of the former industrial sites in their centres, we soon found that it is not only the industry that is retreating from the city but, more generally, all various trades of manual—“manipulative”—character. Our daily paths are most likely to oscillate between two poles of city life—areas for dwelling and areas for shopping and leisure (with work succumbing to the interplay of both). While production becomes increasingly obscure and products hermetic, we rarely find a workshop to fix electronic devices or a woodworker to repair broken furniture. This binary construction, which has to do with proprietary strategies of production as much as with visibility, is the urban rendering of the consumer model.
To install the idea of a city in which production and manipulation have equal place beside dwelling and commerce, we chose to appropriate and produce by hand a piece of heraldry of the real-estate industry and erect it in a heavily contested brown field in Eindhoven. The construction billboard, a structure that usually announces the end of a decision making process based on capital grounds, was in this way confronted with a new kind of work—a thinking work less inclined to (re)produce than to manipulate, to question and to know of, in a sense that appears important if the citizen is not to degrade into a user.
Contribution to Instatements, an exhibition on the future of the post-industrial city, 2010. Support structure and billboard
Kraken heeft Nederland vormgegeven
The Dutch Kraakwet was a unique expression of famed Dutch liberalism. Ruling that citizens may appropriate any real-estate standing vacant for a minimum period, it helped mitigate the stress on an utterly overcrowded housing market. Particularly beneficial to creatives in search of production space, it also played a vital role in facilitating the large-scale manual research that characterises the Dutch creative output of the last decades.
When the law was put up for debate in 2009, public discussion focused on instances of misuse while no due was paid to its place in the biographies of the designers, artists and architects with whose success the country has been priding and strategically promoting itself since the 1990’s.
Since I had been fortunate myself to find my workspace through the conditions set in and around the law, it felt incongruous to me that this dimension be omitted. I therefore launched Kraaken heeft Nederland vormgegeven to lift into view the perspective of creatives working in Holland.
The initiative instantly received strong support from many of Holland’s most prominent creators and institutions. It produced various exhibitions and worked with the media to demonstrate how large a portion of Holland’s creative scene indeed had found the framework to begin their careers in the disputed law. A book of collected statements by the supporters on their experience with the law as part of their work biographies was given to the Dutch Senate.
The Kraakwet was eventually sacked by the center-right government in 2010.
KHNLV was shown at the NAi Rotterdam as part of the Architecture Biennale 2009. It was publicised on in Dutch and international news media and specialised press and has since featured in Dutch urbanist discourse.
Kraaken heeft Nederland vormgegeven (lit.: “Squatting designed the Netherlands”, various public and press activities, posters, book (silk screen print), 2009. See http://mborn.com/kraakinfo/ for a collection of documents
Contribution to Coalition of Amateurs by Jerszy Seymour.
The faculty of this modular shelving system to accumulate in three dimensions makes it an efficient storage system as well as a means for structuring spaces.
By bending opaque textile panels, the Shades curtain allows to regulate a room’s daylight exposure from direct to fully indirect.
When shut, direct light no longer reaches any point in the room. Instead, its reflection is caught on the textile, providing a majestic manifestation of indoor natural light. The curtain movement is driven by a string mechanism which can be operated either manually or electrically. Electronic triggering of the movement in function of the momentary daylight situation can be implemented by use of a photo sensor. Next to softening the light atmosphere, the curtain also has favorable acoustic properties. Shades can be applied as a window shielding or a spatial design element, and works in relation with natural or artificial light.
Wool, steel, electronics, various materials, 2007. Photography René van der Hulst
Construction of the atelier building at Voorterweg 136 in Eindhoven.
Trade fair displays for comic publisher Huuda Huuda. Five shelves to be transported across Finland by one man with no car. Tool-free belt-and-beam design, custom made transport trailer.
Various materials, 2008
Pitkämies display furniture
Counter, book and record shelves for Jelle Cugaert’s Pitkämies comic store in Helsinki. Also housing the Finnish Comic Society’s gallery and the studio of comic drawers’ collective Kuti Kuti, the design for the shop was made to honor the hand as the building’s main force.
Various wooden materials, brick, 2008
Clamp is an accent light which locks onto level boards by means of its own weight. The light is switched on and off by tilting it from one side to the other. Adapts to different board thicknesses with a plug-in feel.
Steel, electronics, plastics, 2006
Stackbox is a multimodal container which can be raised on legs for use as a sideboard, stacked to form a shelf, or function as a transportation crate. Its shape evolves from the shaft accommodating the legs as the central constructive element which serves to distribute the structural forces in the raised setup, and distances the elements in the stacked alignment.
Plastic, steel, 2007. Photography René van der Hulst
A vase to put flowers next to one another. The scale-less repetitive shape and the industrial plastic material challenge the centric form and the craft-derived techniques that dominate the vase typology.
223DCNC is a formal and mechanical study of the possibilities to create three-dimensional constructs departing from a two-dimensional production environment. Specific problematics like undercutting and hinges are resolved by employing the thickness of the material as an agent to change the orientation of a connection.
Martin Born is a cross-process designer based in Helsinki, Finland. Trained as an industrial furniture designer, his work ranges from product through spatial design, with an emphasis on the processes of concept and project development. In the last years Martin has especially focused on craft production as a cultural, social, technical and economical space for productive practice and a manufacturing alternative to industry.
Besides designing Martin works as a curator in the fields of design and arts and runs Design Library Hermanni, a little public library for design, art and architecture books in Helsinki. His first writing on design is being published in 2016.
Born in Cologne, Germany, Martin graduated from the Design Academy Eindhoven after studying in Cologne and Pforzheim, Germany. His work has been shown at the NAi Rotterdam, Van Abbemuseum Eindhoven, Mudam Luxembourg and in selections of the German Design Council, and has been supported by the Finnish Cultural Foundation and the Arts Promotion Centre Finland. Crate Shelf and Clamp are part of the Architonic Design Collection, Switzerland.
Studio photos: Arsen Sarkisiants