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Envisions: Favouring Process Over Products

How exciting can MDF and chipboard be? Very. As Dutch design collective Envisions showed in its Wood in Process exhibition during Milan Design Week.

Envisions: Favouring Process Over Products

Wood in Process exhibits. Photography by Ronald Smits

A Dutch collective formed by students at the Design Academy Eindhoven, Envisions showcases, as its manifesto states, “everything but the end product”. The collective exploded onto the international design scene last year with a series of exhibitions that showed phases and parts of design processes rarely witnessed by the public eye. The aim of the set up was to trigger a dialogue between designers, clients and manufacturers and ultimately give rise to collaborations.

Envisions continued this mission at this year’s Milan Design Week with an exhibition at Palazzo Clerici. Conceived in collaboration with Spanish wood processing company Finsa, Wood in Process was an exhibition showcasing explorations in MDF and particleboard by 12 members of the collective. These 12 creatives (dubbed the ‘envisionaires’) were invited to visit Finsa’s production facilities to learn about the company’s complete range of products, and to explore potential new material uses from the process, the end products as well as the byproducts.

 “As the realms of design and manufacturing converge and the designer increasingly takes on the role of both inventor and maker, production is subject to change,” says the Envisions manifesto. “Deconstruct and disrupt, reverse and reinvent: creatives seek to shake up the status quo by exploring previously undiscovered paths in the process.”

The resulting showcase provided an eye-catching contrast to Palazzo Clerici’s baroque interior. The exhibits included various material explorations, photographs and a VR video by Roel Deden that took visitors to a dizzyingly colourful realm modelled after Finsa’s sawmill in Portanxil, Spain. Visitors were able to virtually inspect, lift and throw the elements in the VR.

With Padded Wood, Robin Pleun Maas injected flexibility and playfulness into MDF products using fabrics and padding. Roos GompertsInter(p)layer subverted the roles of MDF and its protective and decorative coatings by making cut outs in the material’s outer layer and exposing the beautiful tactility of what’s beneath it.

Simone Post’s Wannabe Wood was a commentary on irony in wood processing, where solid wood is shredded and compressed only to be coated and finished to convincingly mimic solid wood again. Direct contact between electricity and wood used to be a no go, but with Conduct, designer duo Vantot showed how today’s LEDs can be embedded in particle boards to create safe (and very cool) decorative surfaces.

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