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This is what designer Gal Bulka takes with him when there's a fire
by Pia Seidel
"What would you take with you if there was a fire?" I asked interdisciplinary designer Nada Elkharashi when she presented her new collection, which consists of drinking glasses of a different kind.
Go through everyday life more consciously. Sounds easy, but it's not. Especially when the objects around you promote the opposite. Fully automatic coffee machines or automatic milk frothers - many things are driven by efficiency, make noise and don't exactly offer a sensual experience. That's the kind of thing Nada Elkharashi likes to question. She researches in the fields of materiality, cultural philosophy and human ecology, and aims to develop objects to support a mindful lifestyle. An example of this is her final project for the Interdisciplinary Design Masters at Virginia Commonwealth University, which she presented at the past Salone in Milan.
The "Form Follows Culture" collection consists of five glasses that you can't just down a drink with. On the contrary, they are all designed so that you can only drink from them slowly. Nada believes that the key to healthy hydration is not how much water you drink, but how you drink it.
The new shape is meant to give you the chance to enjoy the moment of drinking more. When I ask the designer which of the glasses she would take from the line if a fire broke out and all the people as well as animals were saved, her choice is the three-gulp vessel.
"I would choose 'Paused' because it best visually conveys the idea behind my collection 'Form Follows Culture'. The glass forces you to pause between each sip. The volume of the three purple spheres inside corresponds to one sip. Once you have taken a sip, you have to put it down, turn the glass ninety degrees and continue drinking from the next straw. The designer sees her work as a methodology for making objects to prepare the user for the act of drinking and thinking. Currently, she says, it's less about how you clean the design piece and more about the sensory experience: "At the end of a sip, there is a gurgling sound because there is too much air in the vessel. It also introduces the change aurally and makes it clear that even something everyday like a drinking vessel triggers stimuli. Each sip gives the user the opportunity to take a breath and direct their consciousness to something new."
Because furniture fairs are often hectic, I sometimes have no choice but to be brief. That's why, at this year's Salone, I asked the designers:inside just the one hypothetical question: "What would you take with you from your studio in the event of a fire?" - just to find out what they are particularly passionate about. Here you can find other previously published articles from the series: