EOOS, het aaibare design trio uit Wenen kon net zo goed een boysband zijn. Deze drie designers zien hun driehoeksverhouding niet als een hinderpaal – in tegendeel, ze zien het als een bonus, drie persoonlijkheden die samengebracht worden zorgt immers continu voor het ontstaan van verrassende objecten die hun leefwereld vormen.
Martin Bergmann, Gernot Bohmann en Harald Gründl leerden mekaar kennen tijdens hun studententijd aan de Universiteit voor toegepaste kunsten in Wenen. Tijdens hun studies daar volgden ze een masterclass in design bij Paolo Piva. In 1995 kwam het trio bij elkaar om de EOOS studio op te richten, een naam die ze kozen uit de “Metamorphoses” van Ovidius. Telkens als deze drie designers meubels of producten ontwerpen, stellen ze het doel en de functie in vraag. Ze noemen hun aanpak "poëtische analyse", en zien hun arbeid als culturele dienstverlening aan de maatschappij. Uit hun samenwerking met Duravit ontstonden producten als de veelvuldig met designprijzen bekroonde OpenSpace douchewand en de steenachtige Stonetto douchebak maar ook series gekende wellnessproducten waaronder het Paiova duobad, het Nahho drijfbad, de Inipi sauna en de Sundeck pool. EOOS won meer dan 60 internationale prijzen voor hun ontwerpen, waaronder de German Design Prize, de Red Dot Design Award en de prestigieuze Italiaanse designprijs Compasso d’Oro.
You jointly established your design agency back in 1995. What else is there that brings you together?
It all began with our shared vision of a new, poetic design process. It is an idea that continues to bind us to this day. Our work together, and in particular the lively interaction amongst the three of us, continually gives rise to surprising concepts. That is why the results of our collaboration, even after all these years and in spite of our differing personalities and responsibilities, always remain unpredictable to some degree. Our collective challenges us while nurturing our curiosity.
It is said that designers need a great deal of freedom for their creativity. Now you are in an office where there are three designers together. How do you deal with that?
Design is a major process of communication in which each participating partner must contribute their various observations, ideas, innovations and technologies as part of a collaborative and evolutionary path from designer to product. It is a structure in which we need not feel that our freedom is constrained or that we are subject to external control. Even so, it must also be said that such positive partnership experiences are only possible if the partner has a strong artistic design awareness. That is why we made a conscious decision only to take on selected customers like Duravit, with whom we can work together very closely.
How is the unmistakable EOOS design created and what influences your daily work?
For us, design is a matter of navigating a path between getting lost by moving too far away from society and the present, and getting scorched by coming too close to the world. Design hovers somewhere in between. We bridge the gap by employing poetic Analyse®.* This helps us to find images and tell stories as a means of creating designs and, ideally, objects that change their identity or have two parallel identities.
What it is that has changed in the design concept of EOOS in recent years?
In the mid- and late 1990s, our work was focused on objects that allowed for a transformation from one state to another. Today we are more concerned with creating ‘tolerant’ objects, by which we mean objects with which users can enter into an open, playful relationship. The product should not give the user strict rules on how to use it “correctly” but, instead, give the user a sense of freedom. One example is “Sundeck”, the pool with a fold-away cover that we developed for Duravit. Suddenly, users began placing their pools on their terraces, or storing all manner of items beneath the cover. In this way, numerous functions were revealed that we had not even considered during the design process. This is the kind of thing we like.
Your company is very focused on sustainability. You have created many projects that focus not only on aesthetics, but also on practicality, where the overarching goal is to improve living areas. \nWhat are the reasons for this?
This positive change is an important theme for our design collective. The lifestyles we pursue in developed countries are no longer feasible as a model for the future. If the entire world were to live as we do, it would be catastrophic for the environment. \nIt is an exciting time for design. We do not need new fashions, but rather alternative lifestyles that are fit for the future. Our food, our mobility behaviour, our energy generation and our homes – all of these must be redesigned. One of our primary themes at EOOS is “alternative production”. Here, the focus is on alternatives to industrial production that make it possible for us to produce items locally and autonomously. What is needed are products that go hand in hand with sustainable materials and lifecycle design. Simply improving a product is not enough. We also have to re-design systems. For example, in the bathroom, the wastewater system plays an important role. As does energy, and many other elements.
Is there anything that you miss in today's bathroom planning or might even like to change? How do you see the bathroom of the future?
Everyone should be able to plan and furnish their bathroom in a manner that suits their personal requirements. People must carefully consider which functions they really require. Le Corbusier, for example, decided to expand the place for cleaning to include the entrance to his home by placing a washbasin there – simply because he had the feeling that it made perfect sense in that very spot. For us, the bathroom of the future is a cross-generational bathroom in which everyone feels good – from babies to great-grandmothers. In addition, the densification of cities is certain to pose a fascinating challenge for designers in future, as it is important that we come up with a way to create spaces for cleaning and relaxation amongst skyscrapers and mega-cities, and discover how the contemporary articulation of a bathroom in such settings might look.
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