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Take Five: Ellen Nyqvist


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Published date
16 June 2017

With Show Two: Design opening next week, we talk to exhibiting design students about their work and the inspirations behind it.

Ellen Nyqvist, graduating from BA Product Design, explores the notion of truth in design by taking cues from the Dogme95 film movement, exemplified in the work of Lars von Trier and Thomas Vinterberg. Dogme95 sought to strip away extraneous effects and theatricality from film-making focusing instead on emotional rawness and storytelling. Translating the Dogme95 manifesto into Nyqvist’s disciplinary context presents compelling frictions not simply between maker/user but also the role of freedom/restriction and honesty/deception within design:

“The manifesto is about opening up a discussion about the current state of design as much as following the rules of making. We need to get back to basics, when you feel that there’s too much refinement, the Dogme Design manifesto helps you to get grounded again. The rules are a restriction but also a freedom; the result may look completely different to other designers’ interpretations but that’s the point, you can apply them to any field of design.”

Here, Nyqvist shares five of her Dogme Design rules:

Dogme95: All shooting must be done in an already existing location. No stage setups, if a specific prop is important for the story, you have to find the right environment where it already exists.

Dogme Design: Making of the product must be done in the environment where the product is intended to be, and by the user it’s aimed for.

If the user assembles the object themselves, and by hand, it allows them to understand it better, leading to trust. Industrially-made products or those depicted on a website or magazine communicate falsely, displayed in a way to deaden the consumer’s imagination and will.

Dogme95: Hand-held camera. Movement and immobility by the hand is permitted.

Dogme Design: The process of making must be by hand or using tools/machines controlled by a human not a computer. Serendipities are often created by “mista­kes” or “failure”.

This gives the designer more freedom to improvise  the shape, instead of a predetermined and rigid vision of the final result. Making something by hand creates trust and confiden­ce in the object. Avoiding technical vices results in a purer product. (I broke this rule. Part of my cabinet has been CNC’ed. I feel guilty but can find my way around it by exposing the manufacturing process, exposing the circles in the 90 degree corners that are the direct result of CNC machine).

Dogme95: No special lighting, the film has to be in colour.

Dogme Design: The product must express its real materials.

Decoration, paint or any finishing that’s hiding or covering the “truth” is not permitted. The function and content of a product has to be accessible and relevantly described.

Dogme95: No superficial action.

Dogme Design: All structural elements in the product must be visible to the eye.

What you see is what it is. Glue or transparent mediums are not permitted. The purpose of the product has to be clear. No details are allowed that create confusion for the user. Focus should be on the essential parts, beyond what is required functionally, there should be no embel­lishment.

Dogme95: No genre movies.

Dogme design: The design should not aim to be a part of any existing trends or styles.

The world follows predictable rules and predictable patterns. But this is dangerous when applied to human behaviour, our best moments are often the most unpredictable. Designing in a certain trend or style will produce a predictable product that has been driven by a generic pattern, following the manifesto rids us of these previously established norms,

Show Two: Design is open to the public  Central Saint Martins, 21-25 June.

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