Berlin-based creatives get together to discuss the new book, Why Materials Matter

Materials Matter

By Emma Lucek

Last week, a gratifying trifecta of design events happened in Berlin—equal parts book launch, exhibition, and panel discussion, organized by curatorial collective QUEI Studio. The book? Why Materials Matter by Seetal Solanki, founder of Ma-tt-er. The exhibition? A presentation of new bookend designs by exciting Berlin-based, materials-driven designers, commissioned specifically for this event. The panel discussion? A conversation around the topic of material processes and consequences, moderated by QUEI Studio.

I’ll admit that it was difficult to maintain the requisite Berlin-coolness given how taken aback I was by the grand atmosphere of the Bocci 79 showroom, which reads like a stately museum archive of the experimental work of Canadian lighting company Bocci and its dashing founder-head designer Omer Arbel. The spiraling, marble staircase framed by a cascading light installation gives way to many smaller rooms across four floors, each offering site specific lighting displays, one more elaborate and playful than the next. The designers' bookends, though, were gathered in two adjoining rooms—easy to find, really, if you eavesdropped on the cooing of the guests.

If you’re familiar with the Berlin design scene, it was rather easy to decipher which bookend was created by which designer. Philipp Weber's employed lyrically blown glass; Crafting Plastics' used Nuatan, a material that they’re bringing to the market; and Pascal Hein’s was a singular piece of stone that you needed to crack in two. I did, however, overhear Sophie Rowley’s friends expressing surprise that her bookend was not made out of denim, but rather a burned-orange resin. Bookends: a new kind of business card?

It was great to see a shortage of chairs thanks to the local design community's keen interest in the topic of the discussion—materials, processes, craft, and responsibility. And I’m thrilled that Seetal Solanki and her book are shaking things up. It comes after years of working in various creative disciplines, and it very deservedly has been called out as one of the best design books of the season.

Well done to QUEI Studio for scooping up so many inspiring people and things into one beautiful space, asking us all to think about how design is about much more than its final products. The panel spoke earnestly about how we have a responsibility in making scalable, systemic, well considered decisions as designers.

If you’re Berlin-based you can pick up Why Materials Matter at the brilliant bookstore Do You Read Me?! Otherwise, of course, please check the web!

  • Text by

    • Emma Lucek

      Emma Lucek

      A British-born Pole currently based in Berlin, Emma has a background in research and design. In addition to being Pamono's Design Editor, lately she's been working on critical writing in the fields of art, architecture, and cultural theory, as well as design journalism.
  • Photos by

    • Isabel Calderón

      Isabel Calderón

      A journalist and filmmaker originally from Colombia, Isabel has lived in Berlin since 2016. Currently pursuing a Master’s in Intercultural Conflict Management, she also spends time cultivating her many avocations: learning languages, forging transnational connections, enjoying beautiful tunes, listening to random stories, drinking good coffee, taking strolls through the city, and—when the mood strikes—dancing.
  • Photos by

    • Pedro Gething

      Pedro Gething

      Multitalented, full of good ideas, and curious about almost everything—especially his adopted home Berlin—Pedro is a Portuguese-British photographer with a degree in design. We like to have him in the office working on our photos as much as possible, but when we reluctantly let him go, he can be found traveling and just generally exploring the world.

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