Written by: Brendan Brehm Thursday, July 14th, 2011 .
Last week, we posted about a playground in Wiesbaden, Germany that primarily used netting to sculpt the children’s play space; for those of you out there that thought it looked like fun and perhaps wished for an adult equivalent, check out this project by the Austrian/Croatian design collective Numen/For Use. They have designed and fabricated a complex landscape of netting to be climbed on and explored that is currently installed in the Z33 House for Contemporary Art in Hasselt, Belgium.
Even though this project is installed in an art gallery, Numen/For-Use considers their work to be at the crossroads of artistic and functional design. One can attribute this to the collective’s start as an industrial design team and later as set desingers; their work today lies somewhere in between and blends all that they have learned along the way. In the video below, collective members Nicola Radeljkovic and Christoph Katzler discuss the way their work as set designers allowed them to explore large volumes and consider how they could be sculpted for human interaction. In this video, they also discuss the origin of the collective’s name, which gives some insight into their work. They originally used the title ‘For Use’ to brand their furniture products, but as they moved out of that field, they picked up ‘Numen,’ the non-physical element or spirit of a thing or place. Instead of just replacing the old name, they joined the two together. From there, you get to their work with physical spaces, made specifically to be explored, and also a spirit of imagination and creativity embedded in those spaces.
In this particular project, simply called Net, multiple layers of netting are suspended from the walls and ceiling, reaching a height of 6 meters. These layers of netting are then connected at certain points throughout the room to create a “floating landscape” that, according to Z33, references “biomorphic architecture and urban dream images from previous decades.” This webbed landscape changes as visitors climb through it and the netting responds to their weight and groupings. It is the mutable shape of the Net that underscores the social and interactive element of what Numen/For Use is trying to create in a public space; the net is continuously redefined as people crawl around and find different ways of arranging themselves inside it. Ultimately, Numen/For Use envisions an installation like this in the courtyard between buildings. So if you wanted to hang out with a friend across the way, you just jump out your window and climb over to their place, or you can meet up in between and lounge together under the sun: sounds like fun doesn’t it?
You might also want to check out the projects that led up to Net. Prior to this installation, Numen/For Use created similar playful spaces, but constructed them entirely out of packing tape!
Image by Kristof Vrancken