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Oipherique - Atelier Oi

Issue 64 Dec/Jan 2011/12

Design for design’s sake provides essential inspiration for Swiss practice Atelier Oï.

atelier oï à «neue räume» from atelier oï on Vimeo.


A disjointed tango of accordion music gave the first indication that Oïphorique – an illuminated scénographie temporarily installed at Zurich’s Neue Räume exhibition – was going to be somewhat left of field. While the rest of the show was comfortably padded with the sort of furniture and fixtures that exude stylish, practical respectability, Oïphorique’s dark, curtained-off space sought to inspire with the creative equivalent of a Victorian folly: intriguing, transfixing and seemingly without purpose.

Two rows of illuminated, full-height ‘totems’ stand in the centre of the room. Pleated sleeves of stiff fabric are hooked up to hidden wires, forcing them to compress and expand like columns of pulsating jellyfish.
The piece is the latest in a series of self-commissioned projects by Atelier Oï. Every two years or so the Swiss-based, multi-discipline architecture and design practice takes a break from working with its regular client list (an impressive roster that includes Bulgari, Louis Vuitton, Dior, ikea, Foscarini and B&B Italia) and challenge itself with a brief of their own devising.

The resulting work is installed at the practice’s office in La Neuveville, from where it might make occasional outings to relevant design shows. As well as providing an eye-catching calling card for the atelier, the projects encourage collaboration between the different skill sets within the company firing up fresh ideas that often feed back into work for clients.

“It’s like the défilé de mode of the fashion world,” explains co-founder Aurel Aebi. “First we make these crazy pieces and they go on to inspire the more everyday prêt-a-porter products.”

“It’s exciting because we have lots of different professions within our team - engineers, lighting designers, landscape architects, interior designers, boat designers, architects - and it’s great to be able to learn from these other disciplines,” says Aebi.

Oïphorique has already proved its inspirational worth by provided a starting point for five new lamp typologies for a Spanish luminaire brand, scheduled for launch in Milan in 2012.


(c) Atelier Oi

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