THE DESIGN PRIZE 2021 for experimentation goes to objects of common interest

Nov 05, 2021

designboom spoke with objects of common interest, the greece and new york-based design studio founded by eleni petaloti and leonidas trampoukis, ahead of being awarded with the golden madonnina trophy 2021 of milan’s THE DESIGN PRIZE (find out more here). operating within the realm of art, design and architecture, objects of common interest creates still life installations and experiential environments and objects. the studio experiments often with materials, textures and hues, like the holographic surface treatment of its ‘future archaeology’ series (see more here), or the opal resin, part of their ongoing exhibition at the noguchi museum, which transforms sunlight into pale blues and deep oranges (more here).

during our interview, leonidas trampoukis talks about the studio’s creative process, their experimentation with different materials and techniques, as well as their new resin fabrication studio, which will open soon close to a newly-formed gallery district in piraeus. ‘we don’t work with a specific material or a specific direction in mind, every project is almost completely new,’ he explains. ‘we’ve worked with many materials like metal, resin, fabrics, a bit of everything, because our intention is not in the form or the material, but it’s in the ideas.’

DB: how was objects of common interest born? what does your practice focus on?

DB: can you tell me a few things about your process? what is the first step you take when you create a shape or an object?

DB: so instead of having a predefined form in mind, you let a lot of the fabrication influence the way the final product is going to look like? do you sometimes change something while it’s being constructed?

DB: do you experiment with materials and treatments yourself in the studio, or do you outsource and visit different craftsmen in their studios?

OoCI: both and in combination. for example, it’s very hard to make the inflatables ourselves, so we work with a specialized fabricator in the UK. we’ve worked with 3D models, and we’ve worked with different mock ups in the studio, and then we sent it directly to them, and they sent us samples and pieces in full scale. then we edit it on the spot and sent back comments and then they sent back the correct version. so working in the actual model, but in real scale mock up. for things like the tube chair, we did the initial prototype ourselves, we got huge chunks of foam and we hand-sculpted it in the studio, and then we gave that to the fabricators. they perfected the technique with machine cutting but still out of the same principles of sculpting, not handmade but machine-made. other times, working with marble for example, we work with 3D models, we do small scale mock ups and then go right away to the marble craftsmen. so it’s it’s really a mix of back and forth collaboration.

volax objects, exhibited at carwan gallery in 2021

DB: besides materiality, you also experiment with forms, like in the inflatables, or even in your functional objects, which often have unexpected forms. where do you draw inspiration for these?

DB: during milan design week this year, you presented the ‘future archaeology’ objects, which were made of steel, right? but they had this holographic treatment on them.

OoCI: they were made of steel and wood. so, it’s a combination basically for logistics again. some things could not be made in metal, some things could not be bent in wood. we didn’t really care about the idea of being wood or metal, but we cared about the idea of being simplistic in form. the initiation for that project was the finish, not the material itself.

future archaeology at alcova during milan design week 2021

DB: is it the same pigment you’ve used for some of the objects in the noguchi museum exhibition?

DB: can this also be used in different forms, or in bigger forms?

OoCI: yes, it can, and that’s what we’re going to be experimenting with in our own fabrication studio. it can be anything we want it to be, we control what color, how transparent, how translucent, and what size we want it to have. we create moulds, and we cast it in. we can also create very rectangular pieces out of it, just casting blocks and cutting them. so we will be making a lot of things out of that as well, soon.

doric columns at the noguchi museum

DB: what else are you working on at the moment?

DB: do you often use your own objects in your architecture projects?

THE DESIGN PRIZE is an annual award program that celebrates excellence on a global scale. initiated in 2017 and curated by designboom, with patronage by the city of milan, THE DESIGN PRIZE recognizes both the extraordinary achievements and little sparks of beauty and delight that have emerged over the past 12 months.