Viva la Diferencia, Madrid

¡Viva la diferencia! is an exhibition that focuses on customisation and the battle against standardisation, one of the chief concerns in the world of contemporary design.

Curated by Ana Domínguez Siemens, it presents some thirty international projects, both experimental and commercial, in the form of original pieces and videos

It focuses on one of the primary concerns in the world of contemporary design: the battle against standardisation. Curated by Ana Domínguez Siemens, the exhibition showcases experimental projects and commercial designs that have already been developed which promote personalisation and customisation and provide an answer to consumers’ desire to abandon an undifferentiated domestic landscape and express their own individual identities.

The exhibition will be held on the 4th floor of CentroCentro from 16 February to 20 May, as part of the programme of the first edition of the Madrid Design Festival.

Singularity and Diversity
“The appearance of the industrial production of serially manufactured, identical products in the 19th century was seen at the time as a major leap of progress which not only provided the consumer with more democratically-priced items, but with items that were also “perfect”. The mistakes inherent to traditional manual craftsmanship were eliminated”, explains the curator. “Over time, the notion took shape in the world of design that perhaps these ‘despised’ imperfections had a positive side, as they gave the item in question a human touch as well as some diversity”.

In the 1970s the designer Gaetano Pesce, a pioneer in the anti-serialisation school of thought, was already advocating the malfatto, i.e. the badly made or imperfect things, as a positive trait that could be celebrated. “His goal was always to determine how to achieve the desired or coveted singularity that makes items unique, using the industrial production platform as a means of production that could yield a more fitting reflection of our society, which is unmistakeably –and fortunately– diverse”, explains Domínguez. He then created two projects for the company Cassina, the Dalila chair –displayed in the exhibition– and the Sit Down chair. He left it to factory workers to decide the final shape of these chairs, so that each would be slightly different from the others. In addition to the Dalila chair, other pieces by master designer Pesce will be displayed at CentroCentro, such as the Fontessa shoes he created for the company Melissa and the prototypes of his Dear Diversity chairs.

These days, technology has made it easier to manufacture non-standardised products and many designers offer differentiated products or products that can be adjusted to suit the end consumer's individual requirements. ¡Viva la diferencia! displays a selection of some thirty products, including furniture and items whose aesthetic is inspired by the user’s physical traits: the colour of their eyes, X-rays of their bones, the shape of their body or head (Cloning Series, by 5.5 designers). It also showcases items whose production takes its lead from the audience, with colour and size variations introduced depending on the interest they arouse (Collective Works, by mischer’traxler), as well as lamps that allow for over ten billion possible combinations (Alphabeta lamp, created by Luca Nichetto for HEM), tables whose materials, finishes and up to twelve different leg styles can be chosen by the user, changing the look of the end product (Multileg table, by Jaime Hayon for BD Barcelona Design) and unique hand-knotted rugs that display the weavers name, age and the number of hours spent making the rug (Day by Day rug, by mischer’traxler for Nodus).

The exhibition, which is conceived as a three-dimensional discourse on diversity in the production of furniture and objects, guides visitors down a path that simulates an assembly line, the unmistakable symbol of standardised production, which stands in contrast to the items that are exhibited. The entire installation is made from panels of recycled wood and 1,300 cardboard tubes. It has been designed by Ciszak Dalmas.

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