HOCHsitzen: interview by Schmuck2 to Martí Guixé

Article  /  Artists   BehindTheScenes   Making
Published: 11.06.2015
HOCHsitzen: interview by Schmuck2 to Martí Guixé.
Susan Pietzsch
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This interview is part of the HOCHsitzen publication which brings together the HOCHsitz-studio and the collaboration by the Cologne art historian Dr. Anne Schloen, Susan Pietzsch/Schmuck2 e.V., and the Berlin-based artist Ulrike Solbrig/UNWETTER for an interview project they conducted over the internet with a range of international designers, artists, and theoreticians.

Martí Guixé calls his concept: radically contemporary design. He has become famous for his critique of consumer society and his unusual take on disregarded objects of everyday life. He studied interior and industrial design quite conventionally in Milan, but at some point drop-lights and soap dispensers started to bore him. “I am a designer,” he said, “but I hate objects.” It isn‘t form that is interesting to him, but perspective; and therefore he aims to create poetically absurd moments with his design. With ostentatious naïveté he presents simple solutions for a complicated world that on first sight seem irritating, but that are actually quite practical. The form of an object is not the most important aspect for him, but its idea and its use. He brings the principle of “form follows function” to a head: as little form as necessary, as much function as possible, and sometimes he even finds a form for complete function.

Schmuck 2 _ Susan proposed that you build a working space. Can you explain your approach?

Martí Guixé _ Well, I remember she told me she would like to put a container in her garden, and initially the idea of a container was strange, and as hunting stands are very often visible during a trip to Glashagen, I thought the typology of a raised stand would be much better, as it is not so visible, it has a hunting stand’s inherent quality of camouflage, and it is also similar to a tree house; and with that – and from the positive reaction from Susan.
I then started to work on a more formal concept. Shall I also explain the formal concept?
Schmuck 2 _ Yes, please.

Martí Guixé _ The formal concept was to create, according to Susan, a very small space that could work as a jewellery atelier. I wanted to do it differently than the typical tree-house construction, so I didn‘t make it so rural looking, but in such a way that there is a kind of system to it. The walls create an edge where you can fix some vertical elements, and these elements can be real trees, or other elements, so that it incorporates a casual factor in the construction of the atelier and could also work without these vertical elements; and since it is on the ground, it allows you to put it in different contexts.
Another interactive feature was the idea of collecting wood and putting it on the walls, to create a camouflage effect, or a kind of mimicking of the surroundings and some hanging elements on the bottom, from which could be hung umbrellas, bags, or technical things used to work with the jewellery. The raised stand atelier also provides an open entrance, a kind of space anterior to the room. The windows are randomly situated creating an aquarium atmosphere: inside is artificial, like a laboratory room, and through the windows there are nature ‘aquariums;’ I like this effect. The idea was also to have a glass room, to give natural light for working.

HOCHsitz Atelier
Photo by Inga Knölke

Schmuck 2 _ Okay, how important is it for you to be site specific?

Martí Guixé _ Well, it is not so important for me to be site-specific, but I think the designed element needs to be open enough to offer the possibility that it can be made site specific. I think the context is a very important consideration and then to counter it or to react positively.
But, in any case, context is important. Of course, I am very good at responding to commissions, maybe better than inventing new commissions on my own. I prefer to have a very clearly defined commission than to have a “just do something, whatever” commission. With this way of designing, I am very site specific.
Schmuck 2 _ Your tree stand was realized by a local sponsor. As it now turns out he built his own interpretation. For example: You wanted four poles with the tree as the fourth pole. Now the tree stand (studio) has four poles but no tree. How do you deal with “mistakes” like this?
Martí Guixé _ Yes, it is always like that, but in my case – as the main strength of the idea is dependent on theconcept and what it represents, and also the raised stand atelier allows manipulation – it is less important than when a project is based on material, architectonic details and very sophisticated finishes. In this particular case, I would consider it to be less relevant.
Schmuck 2 _ Could you imagine a limit for what is acceptable in general?
Martí Guixé _ No, there are no limits! I think when it goes beyond the limit, then it becomes art. But there is a limit in quality. Then things are broken easily.
Schmuck 2 _ So do you mean art cannot deal with mistakes, but design can – yes?
Martí Guixé _ Maybe I did not explain it well. I think the art world can accept everything, therefore when something in the context of design is so poorly done that it looks like something special, that is not design anymore but art, or that would be my interpretation.
Once I was on the jury of the Hermes Prize, and I saw a very bad presentation that was really great, somebody who was so “fresh” and insolent, and also had the courage to present it. It was a statement per se, that’s what I mean.  I am always incorporating this factor, casualness, or non-predictable results in my work. I think it is part of being contemporary… social-networking, open blogs, etc.. You cannot control what will happen, and what happens is never expected – and usually is very bad – but it is where we are going
Schmuck 2 _ You seem to embrace the concept of flexibility. When in general flexibility in the political realm is associated with neo-liberalism – where do you see yourself?
Martí Guixé _ I am not sure if it is like that, I just do not care about realization. If the things are in good hands, then it is well done; if not, then it isn’t, it is more the idea of a platform; yes, of course it decreases the quality, but quality is a subjective value to be contextualized.
Schmuck 2 _ Do you feel close to the concept of futurism?

Martí Guixé _ Not really.

Schmuck 2 _ “Mealing” is a three-hour performance and meal-in-motion for approximately 150 people within an enclosed space. Participants will be given ceramic glasses with “edible micro snacks:” adhered to their surface are instructions for eating while performing small gestures that will require each person to interact with their fellow diners. We bring up this example because we were astonished to find your work associated with the term “dysfunctionality.” We would prefer the term “hyper functionality.” What do you think?

Martí Guixé _ But why associated with dysfunctionality? “Mealing” was a commission from Performa, to redesign a Futuristic Banquet, like the ones Marinetti did in Milan 100 years ago.
Schmuck 2 _ We read that in the book NULLPUNKT from Martha Herford. Max Borka wrote it.
Martí Guixé _ Ah, I did not read it, but probably I don’t share the same opinion as Max Borka. Yes, I would associate it with hyper functionality, but the work has so many layers that it also creates different interpretations, depending on the social cultural context. I cannot deal with a unique result of the interpretation of my work. It is again like my work: misinterpreted, or changed, it is open. My work is very confusing – different fields, different approaches – and therefore it is open to multiple interpretations. I would not associate with dysfunctionality, but with hyper functionality, yes.

Schmuck 2 _ You have already designed jewellery, jewellery displays, and – with the HOCHsitz Atelier – a jewellery studio. We found a quote by you: “Property turned from blessing (Segen) to curse (Fluch) and is an obstacle to our need for mobility and flexibility.” How would you define jewellery then? Is it an ultimately useless property?
Martí Guixé _ I did… I think in a way everything became jewellery and that damaged the classical jewellery based on the standard ring, necklace, and bracelet. Now a mobile phone has the same purpose as a watch, or plastic surgery on a breast is equal to a necklace. Therefore I would expand the definition of jewellery to other fields; and only if jewellery designers free themselves from the handiwork processes, and from material, then they can expand into other fields. In other words, working more conceptually as jewellers would allow them to work in the core area jewellery: status, attraction, and communication. Couldn’t a jewellery project be something like “Hibye” (Martí Guixé 2001) that promotes communication; a tool for nomadic workers, these could be examples of the new jewellery. In any case, this jewellery is not as heavy as property.
Schmuck 2 _ How can jewellery be transferred into hyper reality?
Martí Guixé _ I think at the moment that jewellery’s purpose is to be only a picture – not a reality – and in that way it can be present without being made. On that point there is a good example from the Basque government, which was envisioning projects, exhibiting them, but had no plan to build them; it was just a communication process. Something like haute couture, you see it everywhere but nobody wears it.
Schmuck 2 _ You are talking about immaterial jewellery?
Martí Guixé _ I understood that hyper reality refers to the media space, and then there should be things that play in that area, but I am not sure if I explained it properly.
Jewellery should go beyond material and handicraft. It is done to expose yourself for some reason – communication, sexuality, power, etc. – and this exposure is mostly done in the media, now Facebook, blogs, etc.. Then, yes, it would be logical to make jewellery to push photogénie and communication through the media.
And this could be plastic surgery, or text, or whatever, that could be added into your image, figure, or composition of a photo or video.
Schmuck 2 _ Interesting stuff to think about. Martí, we are finished and the last response is really a good one to continue with. We will probably come back to it or shape the next project out of it! Thanks a lot and have a relaxed evening! Good trip to Milan…
Martí Guixé _ Thanks! Best regards

About Martí Guixé.
Martí is a Spanish designer living in Barcelona and Berlin. He graduated in interior design from Elisava in Barcelona in 1985 and enrolled in an industrial design study program in Scuola Politecnica di Design di Milano in 1986. In 2001, as a statement against the limited scope of the traditional designer and to open new possibilities for the industry Guixé started an ex-designer movement, defining himself by the same name.

Portrait: copyright Knölke/Imagekontainer

About the author

Susan Pietzsch is a German jewellery artist based in Germany and Japan. In addition to her own artistic work, Pietzsch’s working practice encompasses a wide scope—comprehensive work on projects reflecting contemporary concepts of jewellery, which she has initiated under the name of Schmuck2 since 1997. In so doing, Pietzsch's focus lies on international, artistic collaborations in which she explores unusual and novel representations of current concepts of jewellery.
With projects such as: Wrappinghood, a project in public space for the Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art (2005); the poster project Glitz and then Some - Things in the Everyday Life of Art (2007); the Discursive Picnic involving audience participation parallel to the Handwerksmesse at the MaximiliansForum in Munich (2011); the workshop and exhibition JEWELLERY HYPERREAL - How could jewellery be transferred into hyperreality? (2012-14); and the jewellery hunt Jewelry Hunting - Die Jagd nach dem Schmuckbild; along with the HOCHsitz Atelier (2013), Susan Pietzsch formulates multifaceted interpretations of contemporary views of jewellery using conceptions that range between applied and fine arts. In addition, the artist has extensively and carefully documented her work in many publications.