Transdisciplinary Studio with Prof. Alex Coles

As part of a MA degree, we delved into transdisciplinary practices, I was asked to read an extract on Olafur Eliasson’s studio from a book called The Transdisciplinary Studio, by Alex Coles1. From reading this I learnt that Olafur as a large Berlin studio who employs between 40-45 staff of all disciplines including, artists, sculpture, architecture, photographers and so on. These collaborations are there to bring new ideas together to work on in the studio. Alongside this studio is a school for students where he teaches and looks at where the students take their ideas from. In his studio, with his staff this is where he looks to take ideas to. During our discussion Professor Alex Cole’s said

“That Olafur didn’t come from a background of wealthy families, it was conceptual ambition even when they didn’t have the material means to realise it. Then incrementally stepped it up with determination to build on what he had until it became a transdisciplinary studio that would have taken about 20 years to get to that size.”

Earlier in our lecture Alex talked about ‘interdisciplinary’ where 2 disciplines for example art and design come together and he showed us work from Ron Arad and Marc Newson (seen in Gagosian Gallery) these designers started to make products in small, limited numbers, then by manipulating the media in a certain way it can help push the price up. A bespoke one off designed for you is where art and design began to crossover into interdisciplinary forms. From the Avant-garde, artists moved into design, designers started to use elements from art to help with creative fulfilment because they had become frustrated with tight corporate briefs that made them feel constrained. Transdisciplinary is based on no disciplinary limits. We also discussed the transdisciplinary – The Independent Group who started the meetings on the subject at ICA (The Institute of Contemporary Arts).

How I responded to the lecture…

After reading the Olafur extract in (Cole, 2012, p. 69) I saw this which says,

“The omission is indicative of an ongoing tendency to not only overlook design’s impact on art but for design to generally be denigrated by members of the art world. In this specific case, the blind spot means that the work of the designer Bruno Munari has gone completely unnoticed by the historians and critics associated with Eliasson, even though Munari’s work adds substantially to our understanding of what Eliasson’s works achieve by incorporating characteristics previously assumed to be specific to the designer1

I researched Bruno Munari, here are my findings so far…

Munari, was an Italian artist, designer, and inventor who contributed to visual arts such as painting, sculpture, industrial design, graphic design and non-visual arts literature, poetry, and tactile and kinesthetic learning. Munari joined the ‘Second’ Italian Futurist movement in Italy in the late 1920s where he contributed collages and created sculptural works including ‘useless machines’ but later disassociated with Italian Futurism.

After reading (Munari, 2008, p26,) I saw this which says…

“The designer of today re-establishes the long-lost contact between art and the public, between living people and art as a living thing2

And on (Munari, 2008, p31-32)

“Art is once more becoming a trade, as it was in ancient times when the artist was summoned by society to make certain works of visual communication (called frescoes) to inform the public of a certain religious event. Today the designer (in this case the graphic designer) is called upon to make a communication (called a poster) to inform the public. The designer is the artist of today.2

1. Coles, A. (2012). The Transdisciplinary Studio

2. Munari, B. (2008). Design as Art

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