Design is acts of love. Of care. Of commitment. Of desire.
At Makers With Agendas, we are dreamers and we are makers. We re-imagine the status quo. We ache for challenge. We ask the right questions. We get annoyed by the wrong answers. We are problem solvers.
Makers With Agendas was born out of our passion for design and our loathing of its abuses. We’re on a journey for change because we care.
Makers With Agendas is a new design capacity engaged in thinking, producing and distributing design.
We explore new design typologies for a new society.
“At Makers With Agendas we’re trying to work with themes and problems rather than just entertain ourselves with a cool design.”
“We will engage in everything we want to and in nothing we don’t need to. ”
“I see beauty in the procession that links a design to an experience.”
“The culture of making is linked to the culture of curiosity. This bizarre alchemy links curiosity to productivity.”
Julien De Smedt and Karen Wong part 3
KAREN WONG, deputy director of the New Museum, New York and co-founder of IDEAS CITY
KW: When you first told me you were going to tackle a tea set I was highly suspicious. Do we really need another architect-designed tea set vanity project? Alessi’s Tea & Coffee Piazza by Michael Graves and Daniel Libeskind’s sterling building forms masking as functional objects makes me want to jump off a bridge. T42, for me, is haiku – unexpected, tightly composed and lyrical. Why is the tea set assignment so iconic for architects? How conscious were you about the lineage of tea sets?
JDS: Those examples are very much what we’re trying not to do at Makers. It becomes a matter of taste and it’s very subjective. In this lineage you mentioned I’m only really charmed by Kazuyo Sejima’s set for Alessi, maybe because of its simplicity, but probably mostly because I really like their aesthetic. Not to be bound to a single style doesn’t mean I don’t have an opinion about aesthetics, obviously. This said though, even when I look at that tea set, in its profusion of elements, I feel a little bit overwhelmed. I prefer the pieces individually. So I wonder if that was an unconscious motivation to make my tea set imbricate into itself. I know that consciously I wanted to create the intimacy of two people meeting. But maybe my ideas were guided unconsciously.
KW: Four out of six launch products seem to be about simplicity in the domestic setting. Why start here? What's the ‘agenda?’
JDS: We wanted to start with ourselves and with things we could control, test, understand and afford. We are working in parallel on other projects that aren’t yet ready to launch as they tackle more substantial agendas. This said, with the first six products we are laying out some of the generic agendas that will return in the future: compact design, flatpacking, raw materials, flexible use, gender neutral.
KW: Let's talk about Mike the Bike! I can check off all the buzz words: integrated design, alternative urban mobility structure, e-bike, gender neutral frame. But why the name Mike – a very male name for a revolutionary design? Why not Jessie, Logan, Dylan, Lee, something that evokes duality?
JDS: To be honest, it’s still a working title, and since the project isn’t launched yet, it’s still up for grabs. But I should explain where it came from. We had a bunch of intelligent and conceptual names such as Pulse or Vibe, but in the end it didn’t feel personal enough. And then came Mike. It felt so natural easy and yes a bit masculine but somehow so friendly in an almost cute way.
KW: Ok, I am feeling Mike. Pulse and Vibe sound like sex toys – to be avoided please! I'm counting the days until my Mike bike is delivered to my home in Brooklyn. Major US cities are notoriously unfriendly to cyclists and there has been a concerted effort to change that over the last decade. NYC only this year implemented a bike share program. European cities and bike designers have always led the way in innovation in this design field. If I'm correct, you designed this bike during your time in NYC and the prototype was made in Williamsburg. So is this bike an American design or a European design?
Stay tuned for part 4 of this interview.
Photo by Canyon Castator.
Design Is Flat
This photograph was taken overlooking Sweden at the Øresund Strait, one of the busiest waterways in the world.
The polluting emission from 15 container ships is equivalent to that of all cars in the world and unlike power stations or cars, they can burn the cheapest, filthiest, high-sulphur fuel. A simple amendment in the law could change that.
Photo by Nikolaj Møller for MWA
Design Is Collective
On June 30th 2013 Vladimir Putin signs a bill making homosexual propaganda to minors illegal in Russia. This photograph was taken during the ‘To Russia With Love” demonstration held on August 20th 2013 in front of the Russian embassy, Copenhagen. The colors on the rainbow flag were designed to symbolize life, healing, sunlight, nature, harmony and spirit.
Photo by Nikolaj Møller for MWA