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MONDO ARC

Kinetura

Issue 58 Dec / Jan 2010/11


Championing their concept of ‘Metamorphism’, design team Kinetura hope to reinvigorate modernist architecture and design with functional forms that respond organically to their environment

Architecture and design have undergone some dramatic changes since the modernism that dominated the 20th century. The strict rationality that created those pure, functional forms has in many cases been replaced by built spaces as complex as the societies that use them. These newest expressions of human achievement are in many ways testament to advancements in computer design technology and production possibilities. For Xaveer Claerhout and Barbara van Biervliet, the couple behind architecture/design firm Kinetura, this elaborately formed architecture, while beautiful, often doesn’t in itself offer a practical solution to specific problems. For the past five years, their objective has been to bring a renewed modernism back to architecture and design with the creation of ‘modern forms – strict, severe, functional, but with a metamorphic dimension’.

Metamorphism is the credo that informs all of Kinetura’s works. A term borrowed from geology, for them it encapsulates their concept of form and function that flexes and adapts with time.

The Kinetura project grew naturally from the couple’s architectural practice. Claerhout’s background in art history – with particularly focus on sculpture – and van Biervliet’s civil engineering and architectural education perhaps gave the pair a heightened interest in the meeting of the technical and aesthetic. The husband and wife team were often encouraged by clients to fill the spaces they created with forms and furniture; lamps and light. They realised that, instead of dictating the final character of the buildings, they were able to enhance it in such a way that the spaces would adapt to suit the needs of its occupants.

One such piece was New York, a skyscraper-like tower with flexible sides that slowly bend outwards to allow a light source inside to illuminate the room to the required level. After exhibiting a prototype at SOFA art fair in New York in 2008, they were contacted by a curator of the Abitare il Tempo cultural exhibition and furniture fair in Verona. Taking up the offer of 250sqm of exhibition space, they were able to expand on the Metamorphism theme, filling the room with more lamp prototypes as well as screening a short movie of the Kinetower – their concept for a building with an outer skin that flexes to allow in differing levels of light.
The tower’s design may seem ambitious, perhaps even fantastical, but Claerhout is clear he wants to avoid becoming an architect of impossible structures that remain in a purely conceptual form. Kinetower, he insists, is rooted in reality. “It is not our goal to create utopic and futuristic images. What we want to achieve is innovative but real products and buildings. That is why we cooperate closely with engineers and research and development departments.”

As Claerhout recalls, the prototype lamps alongside the Tower movie provoked an enthusiastic response from those that experienced the exhibition. But these were the last moments of optimism before the collapse of Lehman Brothers led to the world of construction getting collective cold feet.

One very positive outcome for the Kinetura team’s trip to Verona, however, came after a meeting with representatives from TAL Lighting. The Belgian light fixture manufacturer was impressed by the prototypes and took on the range for production.

The Kinetura Lighting series is made up of four designs comprising recessed lighting, pendants and standard lamps. Each inspired by a world city, the four styles result from Claerhout and van Biervliet’s desire to create organic light sources – not in the sense that they represent natural forms, but in the way they adapt and change their structure in response to the occupants in a space.

The Shanghai, like the New York, has flexible strips that bend outwards. Intelligent programming simultaneously brighten the light source inside to heighten the impact as the piece opens up.

The Tokyo and Santiago are recessed models with round and rectangular lids that slowly fold inwards allowing light to flow out. Operated by switch or sensor, all the fixtures adapt in a very fluid way.
“For Kinetura there is a strong link between transformable physical presence, light and human well being,” says Claerhout. “The never-ending change of natural light is influenced by permanent
transformation of the natural environment. In this process the notion of flexibility is omnipresent. Change of light and form through flexibility has an innate and important impact on the mood and health of people.”
Kinetura will be explaining their work further in Paris this January as one of 20 international designers invited to exhibit at the Meet My Project exhibition.

www.kinetura.com

 

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