It’s early February. It’s time to be astounded by the limitless creativity of the latest crop of young convention-deniers at Stockholm’s Beckmans College of Design. On home turf, the students regularly flourish: last year’s brief pondered realities, was all as it seemed? Whilst 2012’s presentation at Stockholm Design Week questioned personality in product; Never Mind the Object exploring tactility and emotion, and examining the notion that it is “not until objects are filled with content and reason that they become meaningful”.
Another year, another philosophical brief (seemingly the Swedish air clears the mind, my university philosophy began and ended with the question: is the pint half empty, or half full?). In Contrast explores a world of contradictions. Yin and yang. A world of moral polarity. Beckmans’ students proved that opposites do attract in their Stockholm Furniture Light Fair Greenhouse exhibition; Wictor Gussing smashes together the polar opposites of kitsch and Scandinavian design, Billy Boman’s Black Magic Functionalism treads the ground “where reason and unreason embrace”.
Can big-thinking and the innately materialistic world of product design coexist? True, many of these students may progress to the dark world of commercial design – god forbid they should choose to keep themselves fed and watered – but free-thinking, boundary-pushing, the art of questioning your every direction? Beckmans’ philosophical approach to design embodies a mantra that breaks down the walls of formality, code, tradition. They think, therefore they are – and their work is all the better for it.