Speed has become the measure of success and fast is never fast enough.
Now, urgent, instant.
Fast news, fast networks, fast fashion. Being efficient, being productive no longer feels like a decision, but the only available option. Being competitive is essential to survival.
In Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times efficiency is measured by the maximisation of rapid production through the progamming of human behaviour.
As mechanical gives way to digital, we struggle to keep up, always falling further and further behind.
Stress and anxiety mount as we become more enslaved to technology.
And it’s not just in big business, in culture too.
Algorithms, fungible bits, virtual screening rooms.
But the world at this speed is unsustainable. Speed distorts out values, repressing what needs to be re-cultivated – sustainability, community, cooperation, generosity, patience, subtlety, deliberation, reflection, and slowness.
DAMNº 79 will delve into designers and artists working with, analysing, celebrating and critically denouncing this contemporary obsession with time. It will look to those forcing an alternative, insisting on how time's gone must be reconsidered to ensure that time’s coming has a decent chance of being so much more about fairness to each other and the environment.
RAPHAËL BARONTINI, COLOURING OUTSIDE THE LINES, words by Gabrielle Kennedy
Race, place, power, and prejudice. The work of French artist Raphaël Barontini deals with some fundamental questions. And he is doing it on his terms, uninhibited by any of the constraints restricting contemporary political discourse. More gentle than insolent, the graceful handling of his subject matter makes him one of the few artists of colour confounding France’s defiantly peculiar embrace of race.
“When it comes to race, the French don’t like to engage with the topic, and the art world in particular, exists in a sort of bubble. It can survive with little connection to other global trends and movements. There is certainly the start of something which is exciting – particularly amongst younger artists of immigrant parents. But when I was a student, there wasn’t a lot happening, most likely because the schools were run by people who had never been part of a mixed or coloured reality.”...
Portrait of Raphael Barontini, photo by Nolis Anderson. Courtesy of Mariane Ibrahim
ERIN McQUARRIE, I WEAVE MY OWN ARROW—words by Anna Winston
Structurally potent, meaningful and complex, the art of weaving is deeply imbued with cultural traditions spanning eras and continents. Erin McQuarrie inhales its inherent richness and technical finesse, interpreting the craft afresh in relation to herself and her place on earth, creating work that sincerely expresses her soul.
The language of textiles passes through time differently than the spoken or written word, weaving its own version of history. It contains layers of codification and complexity, revealing tensions between the communal and the deeply personal. From the prosaic functionality of work-a-day woven linens to the mind-boggling achievement of Star Gauge, a palindromic poem woven in silk by the Chinese poetess Su Hui that contains 3000 shorter poems within its gridded brocade, and on to the visual narrative of the Bayeux Tapestry — each of these pieces encapsulates time...
Erin McQuarrie, I Weave My Own Arrow
MADELINE GINS & SHUSAKU ARAKAW HOW TO LIVE FOREVER words by Don Byrd
According to conceptual artists and amateur architects Madeline Gins and Shusaku Arakawa living too comfortably was catastrophic to the human condition. They believed that humans should live in a perpetual state of instability and even suggested that that their designs might enable their inhabitants eternal life. Here we have an insight from their one-time collaborator, Don Byrd...
James-Simon-Galerie, Museum Island Berlin, Germany View from terrace towards Neues Museum © Simon Menges
MAXINE MÉDAT — SPINNING YARNS, words by Sara Kaufman
Maxine Bédat had her epiphanous moment while standing next to a landfill in Ghana, watching the incineration of a mountain of clothing. Seeing that pile—the final, unceremonious depository for our obsession with fast fashion—sparked a focus that she hopes will help re-direct the fashion industry to operate at a more thoughtfully deliberate pace. “We can’t achieve what needs to be achieved to live on this planet with this disposable relationship with clothing,” she warns. Knowledge is power and by presenting a cracked-open view into the minutiae of clothing production and use, Bédat wants our undivided attention.
Maxine Bédat’s longtime interest in clothing has consistently straddled the intersection between her aesthetic appreciation for fashion and wanting to understand the story behind it. Her new book, Unraveled: The Life and Death of a Garment, follows the journey of a pair of jeans from cotton farms in Texas, through manufacturing and assembly factories in China and Bangladesh, into distribution centers in the US and, finally, to landfills in Ghana. Her book chronicles the profound and indelible imprint that fast fashion has on our world...
Maxine Bedat at Kpone, the landfill where 77 tons of textile waste from Kantamanto gets dumped per week (Ghana)
THE PRICE STUDENTS PAY — IT'S TIME DESIGN SCHOOLS TEACH THEIR STUDENTS ABOUT MONEY words by Virgil Goyet
Our current moment of reflection has yet to find a boundary as we continue our fine-toothed examination of the institutions previously thought to be unassailable. Virgile Goyet argues that it is time to focus attention on design’s future generations - making sure that their toolboxes, going forward, include the types of wide-eyed examinations of finance and worth usually reserved for business students. Engaging in deal-making will not transform designers into agents of capitalism, he argues. On the contrary, creators do require support and allies to make their voices heard.
Money, like a family secret, is both everywhere and unmentionable in the design world. It is a field dominated by the influencing effects of global wealth and corporate cash and yet, design programs—responsible for readying design’s future—still promote the development of proficiency and craft over career-making. And while design’s elite espouse change, the young still wander the biennales with their notebooks looking for inspiration as the adults around them strike €100,000 deals.
Jing He in her studio
THE Rs—Research and Realities. By Sarah-Camille Malandaiin
DAMN° RESEARCH helps us to think critically through design. It allows us to both reimagine the material world to make it more functional, and to restructure systems to make them more transparent and fair. Design research happens across the spectrum from product design through to understanding how societies are organised or will be organised given the inevitable changes humans are facing.
DAMN° REALITIES provides brands with a way to fuse advertising with unique editorial coverage. It is a partnership that is personal, targeted and has international reach.
Every issue we ask a graphic designer to create a new R (or Rs) for our Research + Realities section and to explain the process behind their work. Sarah-Camille Malandain, a student in the MA graphic design programme at the ENSBA in Lyon, France, tells us the story behind her ‘Rs’.
Before the invention of the printing press and movable type, texts were handwritten by
scribes in Scriptoriums. By repeating the ductus, or prescribed number, order and direction of strokes, of everyday writing, their natural gestures were tamed and the written characters and forms stabilized so that they often looked like printed text. This led to the first printed letters strongly resembling handwriting.
R's Designed by Sarah-Camille Malandain
ZANAT — FROM KONJIC, WITH LOVE words by Giovanna Dunmall
The last 18 months have been a time of reflection for Bosnian furniture brand Zanat. Prior to the Covid crisis the company was growing very fast says CEO and co-founder Orhan Nikšić, and it felt like they were always playing catch up. Finally, the team could catch its breath and focus on the bigger picture. “We used this time of slower growth to or- ganise things better,” he explains. “We digitalised our pro- duction and management processes, which allowed us to be more efficient and make fewer mistakes. We introduced a system to manage the complexity of our operations and prepare us for whatever is coming down the line.”
This ‘quiet’ time also allowed the company to do something else: diversify. “We launched a collection of smaller carved wooden objects for the home such as stools, mirrors, trays and candle holders called ‘Lockdown Dialogues’ in September last year,” says Nikšić. “The thing is, you tend not to buy a chair unless you can sit on it and our products are so tactile that being able to touch them before buying is important. These small pieces are easier to sell online and have helped our business cope. In the process we realised that carving lends itself very well to smaller objects.”...
Inside the Zanat factory in Konjic. Photo: Bessaam El-Asmar
TECTONIC RESONANCES — BEYOND EXTRACTIVISM AND COLONIALISM
How does contemporary design engage with legacies of extractivism and colonialism? How can we create a new discourse on design from Latin America?
The central theme of the London Design Biennale that took place last June was Resonances, a concept that was key to articulating a series of ideas that we as curators of the Chilean pavilion had already been working on around contemporary design and the role of Latin America in fu- ture global design production. ‘Tectonic Resonances’, as our project was called, explored design from the perspec- tive of geological ages or deep time and worked with the sound of rocks to connect the ancestral rituals of humani- ty with the tectonic history of Chile and the global supply of raw materials that fuel our contemporary way of life.
Sourcing the lithophones. Credit/author: Chilean pavil- ion team. A video detailing the process of sourcing the lithophones (rocks that produce a musical note when struck) in Chile.
NOMOS — MAKING TIME, words by Herbie Russell
NOMOS Glashütte is in the timekeeping business. And it is highly skilled at it. For all the undeniable aesthetic qual- ities of its watches – their delicate forms, clean lines and unhurried minimalism – the brand remains wedded to its foundational ethos of precision and quality. When asked what drives innovation at NOMOS, Deputy Head of R&D.
Theo Prenzel answers with a question of his own: “How can a mechanical watch be developed to be as precise as possible?” The company was founded in January 1990 by Roland Schwertner in Glashütte in former East Germany, just two months after the fall of the Berlin Wall. This small town had once been the hub of German watch-making but decades of Soviet rule had gutted the industry; machinery and technology had been seized and watchmakers forced to operate under the state-controlled GUB (Glashütter Uhrenbetriebe). Watches were still being produced but they were of inferior quality.