Viva VIA!

At Meuble Paris, VIA: Les Aides la Cration 2008 -an extensive exhibit of grant-worthy experimental work -stole the show.

Jean-Louis Frechin, recipient of VIA’s largest grant, Carte Blanche, is an architect and designer who investigates everyday objects and advanced technology, proposing an interactive environment made up of furniture/modules. Among the five projects he presented was Wanetlight M, a luminous suspension composed of 25 blown-glass lamps that form a 3-D matrix of light. Each LED can be plotted individually to enable users to configure all sorts of light compositions in space. The control device uses a radio frequency transmitter activated by hand, which commands the sensors that pilot the ascending/descending movement of the LEDs.

For the first time this year, the question of the afterlife of objects and their impact on the environment governed the choice of VIA project assistant grants. All 10 resulting works were intriguing, but two in particular stood out.

Thorsten Franck’s Tube_Box storage system for kids makes putting toys away fun. The drum-shaped yellow boxes (with lids) can be used solo, stacked or joined, to serve as a chest, table, stool, tower or wagon (or whatever else a child might imagine). The base is oak, the wheels plastic, rubber and metal. The boxes are made of expanded polypropylene, which is easy to recycle.

Bina Batel’s Pull Over lamp is made of interwoven luminous textile strips tied at the (metal) base, flaring vertically upward to form a cone. A coating of flexible, translucent silicone holds the form while maintaining opacity. By pulling the cone rim down -more or less inside out -the user modulates the intensity of light. Fully lit, the cone is upside down, and the treatment of its optical fibres enables an enlargement of the halo while limiting electricity consumption.