technocraft ybca

Make It and Break It

A giant metal box, sneakers, and IKEA furniture don’t necessarily sound like they belong together. They sit side by side in TechnoCRAFT, however, a new exhibit at San Francisco’s Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, with support from swissnex San Francisco and the Swiss Arts Council, Pro Helvetia.

TechnoCRAFT marks the curatorial debut of famed Swiss industrial designer, Yves Behar, founder of Fuseproject. In the works on display—Eames high chair, rocket bike, etc.—Behar seeks to highlight the design shift from mass consumerism to mass customization. This ever-growing trend toward individualizing design through social and open-source platforms, new materials, and other methods are outlined in the exhibit’s main themes of Crowdsourcing, Platforms, Modules, Blueprints, Incompletes, and Hacks.

Puma’s Mongolian Shoe BBQ program, for instance, allows users to design their own sneakers online. Threadless asks customers to vote on what T-shirts to produce. And Swiss bag maker Freitag gives consumers the power to source desired cuts from used trucking tarps direct from the Internet.

It’s not only fashion that’s seeing a blurred line between designer and consumer. TechnoCRAFT features reimagined furniture such as IKEA coffee tables infused with wooden geometrics. Martino Gamper’s 100 Chairs in 100 Days project, meanwhile, represents a virtual family tree of seats pieced together from iconic styles and cast-off materials.

Some design even awaits completion by the consumer. The Do Hit chair by Droog, for example, is a big stainless steel box that comes with a sledgehammer. Smash and sit. Just remember to bring earplugs. The You Make It light fixture by Lindsey Adelman simply comes with instructions and a list of parts, while the Fragile Salt and Pepper Shakers by StudioKahn await being broken in half to unlock their full functionality.

To see how consumers are playing a more and more active role in the creative process, visit TechnoCRAFT through October 3, 2010, at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, 701 Mission St. (at Third St.), San Francisco, (415) 978-2700.

On Oct 2nd, 2010 Yves Behar and Sam Grawe discuss the exhibition at YBCA, from its genesis to individual selected works, and the contemporary moment in design, including the nature of American design in “Crafting a Conversation.” More information and tickets.