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Wed, 16 April 2014 13:11:20
Sri Lanka sees German design economy
23 Feb, 2010 07:54:37
By Ruwanthika Jayasinghe
Feb 23, 2010 (LBO) – A wooden chair becomes a news paper holder when it is turned over once. When it is turned again, it becomes a small table. A small bench table can be lengthened into one five metres long, allowing more people to sit.
A ten metre high mini library has a work table built-in with just two cleverly fitted wood planks.

These multifunctional pieces of furniture are part of a German travelling design exhibition held now in Colombo, which promotes thrift and being close to nature.

"Design is trying to fulfil certain needs by using economic principals not only in the price, but also in handling," says Volker Albus, the curator of the exhibition and professor at University of Design in Karlsruhe, Germany.

"Economic principles mean that you have to concentrate not only on artificial materials but more on natural materials."

"Design has to fulfil needs. They have to be described very precisely by the designer. You have to respect the situation, the surroundings, the economy and the possibilities of the users."

Less use of synthetic materials in each of the designs makes them more usable and eco friendly as most of them are made of wood, recycled plastics and iron.

The travelling exhibition which has now been in over 29 countries over a 10 year period, has works from designers from Berlin, Frankfurt, Cologne and from other German cities.

The exhibition is based on the theme of being 'Conscious, simple – consciously simple: The emergence of an alternative product culture'.

The exhibition will be held at the J D A Perera Gallery of the University of Visual and Performing Arts at Horton Place in Colombo till March 02.

The University of Visual and Performing Arts, the Academy of Design and the Moratuwa University are the main collaborators of the event with the Goethe Institute, Germany's cultural exchange office in Sri Lanka.

"We try to convey this message, that you can have a chair done either in a poor way which is nothing but functionally a chair, or you can also have the same chair done in a very nice way too," says Richard Lang, director of the Goethe Institute.

Five Sri Lankan designers are also exhibiting their works.

"This is a great opportunity for the Sri Lankan design students to experience international design first hand," said Chandraguptha Thenuwara Head of the Art History Department, University of Visual and Performing Arts.

"It is not like learning from text books."

The design trends follow the traditions of home-living culture, with some of the pieces referring to the functional furniture of modernism in a conscious break from the past popularized by designs school Bauhaus and the Ulm School of Design.

The exhibition shows an evolution of design over a period.

"The collection consists of simple pieces ranging from the mid 80’s to the mid 90’s representing that period of design culture in Germany" says Albus.

"With expressive and artificial pieces from the beginning to more or less surreal pieces at the end of the period, you get to see a certain development from these designs."

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