Contrast and Partnership–Diverse crafts and materials come together in Pia Wüstenberg's Stacking Vessels
A certain kind of beauty almost requires powerful contrast and just a tiny degree of imperfection.
This realization comes to me as I look at Pia Wüstenberg's Stacking Vessels. Above two perfectly formed, pristine layers of translucent hot glass, smooth ceramic or glistening spun copper or brass, sits a rough-edged, turned piece of wood.
At the apex of this eye-catching, layered composition of flawless components, is a smaller element that appears human, natural and beautifully flawed–the raw, uneven edges of hand turned wood. This imperfect piece, I feel, holds the key to appreciating the entire composition of these vessels and their mixed-media materiality.
What are the 'Stacking Vessels' exactly then? They are vase-shaped composite arrangments of three contrastive containers, which can exist and be used individually. The Stacking Vessels are designed by Pia Wüstenberg, at her studio Piadesign, and fabricated through Utopia & Utility–a design, manufacturing, and distribution company co-founded by Pia with her brother Moritz Wüstenberg.
These 'functional sculptures', as Wüstenberg describes them, are the outcome of a strategic stacking of materials that come from different places, and are molded through different crafts. The multifarious visual quality of the vessels is a result of the diversity of materiality and origins.
The spun copper or brass containers come from Metal Spinners in East London, who create beautiful objects from a family run workshop. The glass comes from the Czech Republic; from the city of Novy Bor in Bohemia, where glass has strong roots and living traditions. The wood for these objects is turned in Finland, where one individual craftsman, with more than 60 years of experience, fells the trees, seasons the timber and turns beautiful bowls for the vessels.
Clearly, the practice at both Piadesign and Utopia & Utility is rooted in a robust relationship with craft. Every product is resultant from working closely with European makers and craftsman. The endeavor is to investigate crafts in a contemporary context today and to combine traditional materials in innovative ways, so as to change conventional perceptions. Pia's practice is hinged on finding new applications for traditional processes, as well as inventing new ones.
Also evident, from the range of works we see, and the multiple dimensions each piece has, is that Pia's training and work experience has traversed all of these mediums. From a foundation year, spent studying Glass, Ceramics, and Metal at the Surrey Institute of Art and Design; to undergraduate studies in Furniture Design and Craftsmanship at Bucks New University. And finally, to a postgraduate degree in Design Products at the Royal College of Art (RCA); Pia's background prepares her to understand and create in a wide range of material and crafts mediums, and create beautiful combinations of them all.
Recent products from PiaDesign and Utopia & Utility range from the Stacking Vessels, which employ unexpected combinations of glass, metal, ceramics, and wood, to multiple beautiful pieces of furniture made with 'Processed paper'–a signature material developed by Pia, during her time at the RCA. Processed paper, we learn, consists of rolled and glued waste paper, processed in various ways.
The Stacking Vessels will next be seen at BOXPARK, during the London Design Festival in just a few days time! Pia will exhibit these works as part of Form&Seek, a dynamic collective of designers from all over the world. Recently, MaterialDriven spoke with the talented Finish-German designer and asked her few questions about her way of creating the beautiful Stacked Vessels and her work for the London Design Festival.
MD: Tell us a little bit about what you will be showing at the London Design Festival this year.
Pia: I will be showing a group of my Stacking Vessels. These are functional sculptures, mixed media Vase shapes which can be taken apart and used as containers.
MD: How does your work respond to the broader Form&Seek theme of 'De-Construct/Re-Construct' this year?
Pia: These pieces inherently have the ability to stack and unstack, break down and operate individually and come together as a whole. This is our response to the theme De-construct/Re-construct.
MD: What are the primary materials and techniques employed to create these particular variations of the Stacking Vessels visitors to the LDF will see?
Pia: These particular pieces are thrown on a ceramic wheel, for the ceramic bowls. The glass is blown into a wood mold, and the metal spun on a machine. The wood is turned by hand. The pieces are designed by myself and made by individual craftsmen, who we work with closely.
MD: Tell us just a little bit about your material experimentation in the past.
Pia: I have always been combining materials. The signature style is to combine the traditional and contemporary- so, either take a traditional material and make it look contemporary through a new concept, or use a new material and shape it with a conventional technique.
MD: Where do the conceptual and material inspirations for the Stacking Vessels come from?
Pia: The inspiration for these came from a need to find a contemporary 'ritual object' for the home, a piece that holds meaning and has a dual life.
MD: What reaction to the design of the vessels are you anticipating (and hoping for) from viewers at the London Design Festival?
Pia: Inspiration from the pieces, certainly, and perhaps surprise for their multifunctionality.
MD: Thank you so much, Pia, we can't wait to see even more people be exposed to, and become aware of your beautiful work! We wish you the very best for the London Design Festival.
Readers, click on the links below to learn more about Piadesign, Utopia & Utility and Form&Seek.