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2010-03-03 // // Arts // TTT, Three Translated Traces // Assignment
 TTT, Three Translated Traces
 by Isabel Valdés Marín



   Concept translation
   The assignment consisted in translating the views of a fashion designer into the design of a chair diving into the meanings that cling to materials and techniques in the furniture flied.
   After that, we were asked to design a side table, which actually represent the opposite concept of what the chair does, while at the same time it would remain obvious that the two belong together.
   Finally, the third translation was into graphic design field in order to communicate both chair and table on a poster.
 TTT, Three Translated Traces
   I checked different fashion designers and shortly after that, I realized this was a nice chance to discover very exciting and interesting projects. The designer who I felt identified with and which motivated me the most to work with, was Martin Margiela which concept is deconstruction or deconstructivism.
   In order to get start working, it was necessary to understand the definition and analyse what deconstruction or deconstructivism is.

   I found the first definition of deconstruction was given by French philosopher Jacques Derrida who explained it as an approach (whether in philosophy, literary analysis, or in other fields) which rigorously pursues the meaning of a text to the point of undoing the oppositions on which it is apparently founded, and to the point of showing that those foundations are irreducibly complex, unstable or impossible.
   However, this definition, being in my opinion too abstract, did not satisfy me, so I looked for one which could deal with formal problems. I found that the one given in the architectural field gave me a clearer idea of what deconstruction could be especially if applied in a design context.

   Deconstructivism in architecture is characterized by ideas of fragmentation, an interest in manipulating ideas of a structure's surface or skin, and non-rectilinear shapes which serve to distort and dislocate some of the elements of architecture (e.g. as structure and envelope). Therefore, the finished visual appearance of buildings that exhibits the many deconstructivist "styles" is characterized by a stimulating unpredictability and a controlled chaos.
   Martin Margiela translates this concept into fashion field by a deconstructive-reconstructive process. He first deconstructs different clothes and reconstructs a new one by combining different pieces of the original ones. He obtains distorted effect with garments of oversized proportions, such as long arms, and with linings, seams and hems on the outside. The result is unpredictable and controlled, harmonic and elegant.


Once understood Martin Margiela’s deconstructive-reconstructive process, the question was how could I translate this concept into the furniture field? Which process and materials should I use? Suddenly it was clear for me how to proceed and I went for it enthusiastically. First of all, in term of style, I focused on his last collections in which neutral white and black fabrics predominated in stylized proportions. Then, I would work with a deconstructive-reconstructive process using first hand products to give a neutral surface feeling and trying to shape an elegant composition. I bought a chair and two different types of table legs, one of them with a wheel and the other three without. I used the table legs as the new legs for the chair seat, and the original chair legs as the chair’s arms. The tall table legs together with the white and black finish should provided a stylized look to the final chair.
   The result? A disaster! Completely discordant!

   Why? Well, I knew the final  composition was not working; but really, was it just that? Something else was wrong: the materials, they lacked of character. If I looked for new materials and tried a more balance composition, would that be enough? I was not sure about that.

   I started again, this time analysing Martin Margiela first designs and I finally found what he was talking about; it was not about a simple deconstruction and reconstruction with good taste, he was talking about the process itself. He did so by using the traces of the process as elements in the new construction. The materials were second hand materials with their story in their skin, with the traces of their experiences. The trace of the process was the key.

   But how would I translate that into the furniture field? Which traces could I choose to work with? I imagined some possible traces. For example to make the chair looking not completely done to show the process, not hiding the joining parts, showing the tools I was going to work with…but no, the process couldn’t be applied so literally, so rude, so obvious!
   At this stage I couldn’t answer the question, so I decided to work with the “thinking hands” process and start manipulating materials.


  I went to some second hand shops and I choose carefully different furniture pieces: a piano stool, a round wood table, and a chair. I deconstructed them and tried different compositions for a chair. I finally decided one solution, but still without founding the way how to show the process. I fixed the chair and when I was starting to paint it I discover the trace I was looking for. That was a beautiful trace!

It reminds me suddenly to some Spanish modern paintings of the 50´s and 60´s, with these natural colours of earth. I decided this surface to become the main character of the chair by painting everything else in white. Finally, it worked!

   The next then was the table. This time the starting point was defined: if in the chair I was working with the trace of the structure, its contrary could work with the structure itself.  Normally, the hidden structure would now become the main character as in the chair: opposite but complementary.

   The trace talks about a fragment of memory and I then started to think about Braque’s cubism paintings and David Hockney's photocollage, which are examples of deconstruction processes in two dimensions. I would try a photocollage as a process in order to translate both deconstruction and constructions processes into graphic design poster. With this in mind, I suddenly stopped looking around. I was there, in my workshop, in this space fixed with all those wood and metal sheets, chaotic and however balanced: that was the space for photo shooting.


Once I had the pictures I tried different collages. The final poster shows the chair and the table in a space doubly fragmented, firstly because the original space is deconstructed and constructed and secondly because I used David Hockney's photocollage technique to finally deconstructed it again.


While writing these lines I wonder whether the second deconstruction was really necessary. Perhaps the picture was already transmitting the concept itself. This thought have made me thinking I am actually going through a never-ending process which is both analysing-deconstructing and concluding-constructing.
   Isabel Valdés Marín