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Against Deconstruction Eternalized in Marble.

from betablog:

Daniel van der Velden, initiator of the Meta Haven: Sealand Identity Project, is a graphic designer + writer based in Amsterdam and partner in the studio Maureen Mooren & Daniel van der Velden. Like etoy, the work of MM & DVDV recognizes the complicity and problematic issues of design, art and authorship in the context of globalization and corporations.

This interview was conducted by etoy.AGENT-ZAK from the Los Angeles based etoy.USA-BRANCH.

links: print work by Maureen Mooren & Daniel van der Velden can be found (here and here)


Z: how do you view your role as a designer, writer, conceptualizer... and the importance of the interplay between them?

D: actually designer, writer and conceptualizer are all three part of our definition of designer. it is a relatively new thing to think of design as authorship, and it is also a problematic thing. design is traditionally seen as a support discipline, but increasingly we are becoming conscious that it is authorship itself and should be considered equal to, for instance, architecture. our efforts are in fact all about trying to work towards such a position. this has to be done in many ways simultaneously; by design, by writing, by editing, by publishing, by thinking in public.

Z: by wrapping your message in fiction (the image of a simulated "truth") you destabilize your own message. to what extent is this your intention?

D: I get the point but don’t agree completely. the plain facts delivered by a piece of information are not its message or content, but its economical raison d’etre. the message is what remains after the facts have lost relevance. when you look for instance at a spanish bullfighting poster, the dates are not important; its visual message is all the more. we try to create a piece of work that plays around the facts, connecting them to hypothetical scenarios (see for instance ROOM invitations). the instability that occurs with this strategy is one that is I think always happening when something ‘boring’ (like some dates and names) is uploaded with something thrilling, or playful. this is also our task as designers: to make life more lively, instead of merely more orderly.

Z: with archis especially you focus on a systematic dissection of stylistic conventions and formats. how did you arrive at this / is it important that aspects of the work look like things we are familiar with?

D: the stylistic conventions, or as we prefer to call them, ‘typologies’ of magazines determine to a large extent how their content is perceived. with archis, we had to deal with a magazine’s identity which was partially avant-garde, partially traditional. a real schizophrenia. part cutting-edge critical thought, part book reviews and cross-sections of buildings. appropriating other magazine’s formats has been and is a strategy to accommodate archis’ schizophrenia. it is strategy to make archis a ‘magazine about magazines’. note though that not all elements play with familiarity, and that overall ‘strangeness’ remains always an aim.

Z: lots of your work deals with appropriation, simulation and recontextualization. can you describe their purpose and how you view the.. i guess, contemporary function of appropriation and simulation (as opposed to "classic" postmodern ideas)?

D: I would say that our work, and also the Meta Haven project in that respect, is more and more about a kind of Google-approach to information and design, which is associative and search-based, and found or stolen containers can actually contain contrasting or embedded second meanings. ‘smart noise’ you might call our work. it is not so much a reaction to modernism, as postmodernism was, but stylistically a reaction to the modern disguise of postmodern design of the late nineties. I think that the visual style of real postmodern design and architecture is problematic in its certainty; it is, let’s say, deconstruction eternalized in marble. we try to create work in which not only the message, but also the voice is ambiguous. but speaking of postmodernism, I do like the writings of venturi a lot.

Z: in a lot of your work i get the feeling that style is being corrupted or dismantled so savagely that the reader should, at least, pause before being seduced or "buying in". do you foresee this technique as becoming a new conventions in itself.. as a visual style?

D: that is of course already a reality. but there exists no ideal recipe for interesting design and everyone who believes so will always be, at some point, proven wrong. to use the dismantling of form as a stylistic recipe for success is only appealing to people without ideas. what is important is that design is exciting to think of, look at, has personality and is informed by our world. information society is informed and influenced by staggering developments in the world of communication. design should sometimes look for sacred beauty, but at other times participate fully in the current chaos.
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