by Adam Nathaniel Furman, AADipl(Hons) 2008
Design Museum Designer in Residence 2013
13 August 2013
Design Museum, London
Adam Nathaniel Furman graduated from the AA with honours in 2008 and then completed a graduate diploma through the AA Interprofessional Studio. Since then, he has set up his own practice Madam Studio with Marco Ginex (AADipl 2009), taught a Media Studies course on ceramics, written and made films about architecture. He currently works for Ron Arad Studio and co-directs Saturated Space, an AA research cluster that looks at the relationship of colour to architecture. As part of his diverse form of practice, Adam has been selected by the Design Museum as one of the four Designers in Residence for 2013. In the following interview, we asked Adam how he selected the subject of Identity Parade, which personality traits lie behind each of the different objects he has created and how this residency relates to his ongoing research and projects to date.
Why did you decide to focus your year-long residency on the theme of identity?
Each year Deyan Sudjic, Director of the Design Museum, picks a theme for the residency program, and applicants are invited to respond to the topic through their proposal. Aside from this being the last year I would be eligible to apply for the residency (maximum 5 years following graduation), the theme of Identity in relation to objects, technology and fabrication, is something with which I have been fascinated since I was a child.
How do you choose which objects to include in your cabinet of curiosities?
It is more a contemporary museum of creativity for a particular individual than a cabinet per se. It’s like those museums that carefully transfer an artist’s or potter’s, or writer’s studio, their intimate place of production and intuitive investigation, object by object, brush by brush, to a new home in the gallery, frozen at the moment the artist ceased to exist, and open to the glaring eyes of a public fascinated with the ineffable workings of the creative process. The objects are being developed through the private and idiosyncratic obsessions of a contemporary designer, alone, on his laptop, armed with a webcam, Snapchat and Rhino 5, and whose life unknown to him, is being written as he lives it, on a blog. I will kill him, and the blog, just before the exhibition starts, leaving only his objects behind to tell his story. I believe very strongly in the power of ‘character’ and ‘scenario’ to tell complex truths about our contemporary state, whilst simultaneously managing to create new designs that are inherently embedded with meaning and to some degree free of the market.
How do you name the different objects?
Each series of objects emerges out of an area of critical interest I have, from the relationship between archaeology and design, to the link between formal neutrality and hyper-anxiety. These are then elaborated through ‘lived’ scenarios by the character, in conjunction with one particular fabrication technique whether it be 3d printed ceramics, sprayed resin, plaster casting or glazed porcelain. The names tend to emerge out of a combination of the character’s scenario and the fabrication technology applied. This tends to give a good balance between technique and meaning in the project’s nomenclature.
The process of manufacture and the use of colour both play an important role in the design of each object - how do they influence its final form and meaning?
The manufacturing process employed in each instance tends to give a clear set of material parameters, which are very useful in helping to give form to what can often be an inchoate initial concept. It also plays an important part in the design development of each piece, with the content and the meaning of each piece evolving in a mutually transformative feedback loop with the design of the object as it evolves to meet manufacturing requirements. It is not simply that an idea gets made; the idea itself always gets altered to some degree, and often enriched, by the exigencies of dealing with demanding material processes. Colour is indeed a passion. It is an amazingly potent tool, it affects the body directly, and creates incredibly complex and strong reactions in people depending on how you calibrate it. Each project I do, and each object I design has a colour and pattern strategy that clearly defines what the intended impression is from any visitor and/or observer. The cluster I run with Antoni Malinowski, Saturated Space, is part of an attempt to bring this aspect of architecture more clearly into the realm of criticism and debate, looking at colour in architecture and urbanism from its politics to its history, material science and even its role in Anthropology and Mineralogy.
How does this residency relate to your research while at the AA and then later through Madam Studio?
My work throughout my time at the AA, from Mr A and the Bs under Katrin Lahusen, to Objectification: A Parable of Possession under Pascal Schoening, was always about a search for Identity through the production and analysis of space, whether in text, film, drawing or in prototypes. More recently, the residency project is a clear continuation of a film that we just recently finished at Madam Studio called “Subject, theory, Practice: An Architecture of Creative Engagement” which is a manifesto about how, as a 21st Century designer in love with plenty, but in search for depth, one can still engage with consumer culture, and new technology in all its wild abundance, use its language, swim through its forms, whilst still maintaining integrity, and critical continuity in moving through life-as-a-project. My Residency is a compressed exploration of these themes, told in equal parts humour and seriousness.
For more information:
Subject, Theory, Practice: an Architecture of Creative Engagement
Adam Nathaniel Furman's website
Lee 3d, sponsor and 3d-printer of the objects in Identity Parade