Wolfgang Kahler’s “The Disposable Teahouse”

The following project description by Class of 2015 student Wolfgang Kahler:

This work stems from an exploration of disposability in contemporary culture and works to unravel personal and cultural perceptions. It is furthermore an aesthetic exercise in the development of a cohesive environment through a series of objects, wherein each piece references the previous gesture.

Disposable materials are born of convenience, and once established in the world they begin to dictate lifestyles. Our expectations of things such as productivity, living standards, and access to goods are often predicated on disposable goods. These goods represent a release from the slowness, mindfulness, and short-term inefficiency that characterizes individually-permanent objects and the stewardship thereof.

disposable-city

It is proposed here that disposable materials are often misconstrued as temporary conveniences and, once used, passing inconveniences. Stepping back, they can be alternately understood as permanent fixtures in the built environment and the designed ecology. Individually they flow through our lives, but as a whole they exist as a constant entity.

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This project deals specifically with the ubiquitous cardboard box which, viewed as an established and constant element of our world, might be engaged either through rejection or acceptance. Contemporary thinking on waste often defaults to the former. This work, however, explores the idea that through acceptance and celebration we might move towards a higher understanding of, and more effective integration with the subject. At the heart of this work is the idea that through affirmation and alliance one might more easily address these objects in a healthy and productive fashion.

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The final work took the form of a small shelter which defines a space, two stools, and a low table illuminated by a hanging lamp. It was constructed through a series of incremental additions:

A pizza box with fold-out legs brings delight through novelty, ritual, and literal and metaphorical elevation of a mundane object.

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Following this was a set of wooden brackets that facilitate a user’s engagement with waste cardboard. These brackets were designed specifically to display the cardboard not as a homogenous material, but rather as a collection of individual objects with unique histories that are worthy of attention. These brackets were used build an architectural space wherein materials usually associated with brevity and convenience might become a context for slow and deliberate interaction between users.

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A lamp was installed to reinforce the independence of the space and provide focus on the original table. Constructed of an inverted cardboard box, it again addresses the potential for joy in a conventionally-worthless object.

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Completing the piece are two stools constructed of cardboard sheets laid in alternating directions on humble cardboard boxes. The apparent absurdity belies an inherent beauty in the simple and effective arrangement of low materials.

This work is an exercise in pulling closer rather than pushing away. It is a mode of address which might be replicated across subjects wherein joy is extracted from that which might otherwise be viewed as a burdensome and mundane.

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