mischer’traxler’s Utopian Designs

We’ve covered Viennese design wizards mischer’traxler studio here on Outlet before — remember the kinetic light and sound installation, Curiosity Cloud, from last year’s London Design Festival? It was arguably the hit of the show, popping up all over the place, creating literal and metaphorical buzz, and plastering social media feeds.

1001mischer’traxler studio
Katharina Mischer and Thomas Traxler
Portrait
Copyright: mischer’traxler studio

Part of what makes the studio’s work so enthralling and so popular, is that it’s fun. There’s something enchanting about it — not only about the obvious lightheartedness of furniture that grows moving plants and flowers, or mechanised bugs that tinkle wildly against glass cages at the arrival of an audience — but also that the work itself is actually designed to function, and perform, for the viewer.

The newest trick up mischer’traxler studio’s sleeve comes to us in the form of their contribution to the inaugural London Design Biennale 2016.  It’s called LeveL: the fragile balance of utopia, and is inspired by the theme of the festival. That theme is “Utopia by Design”, and is itself inspired by the occasion of the 500th anniversary of the first publication of the classic philosophical novel Utopia, by Sir Thomas More.

1002mischer’traxler studio

Katharina Mischer And Thomas Traxler
LeveL: the fragile balance of utopia, 2016
Kinetic light installation
Austrian Contribution / London Design Biennale 2016
Work in progress: mischer’traxler studio
Copyright: mischer’traxler studio

In their interpretation of the theme, mischer’traxler studio analyse the bipolarity of utopia as a “complex construct of individual and social ideals: a fragile system as a balancing act that takes into account the needs of both individuals and crowds.”

Taking heed from the now and our societal “communal interdependencies”, as well as all the way back through to history’s many and varied attempts at utopian wonderlands which all descended, ultimately, into hapless dystopias; the Austrian entry to the biennale focuses on their own utopian model of an “ideal system”.

1003mischer’traxler studio

Katharina Mischer And Thomas Traxler
LeveL: the fragile balance of utopia, 2016
Kinetic light installation
Austrian Contribution / London Design Biennale 2016
Work in progress: mischer’traxler studio
Copyright: mischer’traxler studio

The setting for the festival is Somerset House, and mischer’traxler studio’s site-specific installation fills a 40 square metre gallery space in the Neoclassical building and former Tudor palace. The work is a large scale pendant object which functions with light and works with the metaphor of a mobile; responding to the historical ambience of the space and reaching maximum luminosity when in perfect equilibrium.

Not unlike other projects by the studio, LeveL: the fragile balance of utopia does respond to its surroundings — but not only to the movement of visitors. The mobile is actually sensitive to each and every movement in the room, from the arrival of a visitor to a draft of air, and each occurrence impacts and transforms the object’s brightness and shape.

1004mischer’traxler studio

Katharina Mischer And Thomas Traxler
LeveL: the fragile balance of utopia, 2016
Kinetic light installation
Austrian Contribution / London Design Biennale 2016
7 – 27 September 2016
Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA, United Kingdom
Photo: Simon Scherrer / smolbattfein
Copyright: Austria Design Net

Unsurprisingly, the installation was no easy feat, bringing together the highest standards in technological, artistic and manufacturing craftsmanship. By honouring tradition and celebrating innovation, it is the epitome of the high standard of their work by which the mischer’traxler studio entry aims to communicate and present the Austrian design ideals.

The London Design Biennale 2016 will be playing host to all manner of design installations and exhibitions from over thirty countries, all throughout this month. The festival has taken over the entirety of the stunning Somerset House, and is open until the 27th of September.

1005mischer’traxler studio

Katharina Mischer And Thomas Traxler
LeveL: the fragile balance of utopia, 2016
Kinetic light installation
Austrian Contribution / London Design Biennale 2016
7 – 27 September 2016
Somerset House, Strand, London, WC2R 1LA, United Kingdom
Photo: Simon Scherrer / smolbattfein
Copyright: Austria Design Net

You can find more information about the London Design Biennale 2016 at www.londondesignbiennale.com, and follow all of the happenings on Instagram, @londonbiennale, or by tracking #LDB16.

You can delve into more of the amazing work by mischer’traxler studio at mischertraxler.com.

Credits
Photo: Simon Scherrer / smolbattfein