Text by Federica Marie Carenini
Photo by Daphne Kuilman
The final work is work in progress
Envisions is not about the final product. Envisions is the blending of continuous collaboration and experimentation aimed at showing the un-shown and unveiling the gradual transformation of a concept into reality.
The driving forces behind this new Dutch collective are Simone Post (1990) and Sanne Schuurman (1989). After graduating from Design Academy Eindhoven and bonding over the same experimental approach to work, Post and Schuurman were looking for ways to recreate the thriving and collaborative environment found at the academy. This led to the rise of Envisions in 2016 – an inspiring platform of designers who share knowledge, experiences, and ideas in order to explore new and unusual possibilities for the creation of a product.
The first feature of the collective is collaboration. According to the founders, teamwork smooths the creative process and boosts innovation. ‘Unity makes strength’, Post explains. ‘When you work by yourself, you often overfocus on an idea and are unable to proceed and to develop it any further. Putting your work into words by presenting it to others helps you to improve your understanding of what you are doing.’ Once every two weeks, the team gather and everyone has the chance to share ideas. These meetings are a great opportunity to get food for thought and to boost the individual creative process.
Coming from different artistic backgrounds, the team members have wide-ranging knowledge of materials and techniques. This heterogeneity fosters experimentation – the heart of Envisions. Materials are the first source of inspiration. The aim of the collective is, first, to explore the infinite possibility of applications and uses. Then, to focus on the research process rather than the finished product and to make the observer aware of the investigative process that went into creating it. As a matter of fact, collaboration does not concern the designers alone. Envisions’s intention is to trigger a dialogue between creators and the public. By involving clients and manufacturers in a product’s creation process, they are encouraged to approach the work as collaborators, opening up new possibilities for joint ventures.
Both Schuurman and Post define the production of Envisions as a big ‘Gesamtkunstwerk’ – an artwork produced by the synthesis of various art forms. That’s what the collective is all about. For the coming edition of Milan’s Salone del Mobile, the platform is expanding its work to the furniture industry. Twelve designers have carried out specialized tests on the same type of wood produced by Spanish manufacturer Finsa. This resulted in twelve different perspectives on the same company. The challenge of Envisions is blending the works and portraying them as a single, strong, and comprehensive picture. ‘It’s not about who designed it. It’s about what you see and what experimentation is behind the final product’, Post explains.
However, managing so many people and tasks is no child’s play. The previous exhibition in Milan was fundamental to the understanding of what does or does not work. ‘It’s important to have someone who takes charge of the situation’, the founders point out. ‘Our roles are now clear: we supervise and we determine the project orientation, who joins the projects, and what should be exhibited. It’s quite a difficult task, but it’s manageable if split between the two of us.’ Considering that the collective exhibited for the first time last year, the work they have done so far is impressive.
For Envisions, the Salone is also an interesting opportunity to look for new members with an appetite for experimentation. The collective is interested in people from different backgrounds and with diverse knowledge, not only related to artistic fields. The aim is to create an inspiring environment where the unexpected becomes reality – or it tries to, at least. One of the latest examples from the group is the application of Virtual Reality in the creative designing process. Virtual Reality boosts the creation of an idea and broadens experimentation possibilities. Moreover, it allows the visitor to see the type of research carried out before the creation of the final product.
When it comes to talking about the future, there are no clear long-term objectives yet. However, the two designers’ major goal for now is to expand Envisions’ belief in collaboration to companies and to the furniture industry. These environments commonly lack any experimental approach in their production systems. ‘There is no time for research. Because focus is only on the result, everything has to be done immediately.’ Nevertheless, the two young creators believe in the opposite. ‘A more inconclusive way of working would also be a great opportunity for the industry’, they explain. ‘By smoothing the creative process, the blending of collaboration and experimentation gives birth to innovative and original ideas.’
This article was published in The Dots #14 and distributed during the Milan Design Week 2017. Find the complete magazine here.