Field Experiments Goes to Bali to Pair Designers with Local Craftspeople—and Gets Some Surprising Results

Curator: Leta Sobierajski
date: July 10, 2014
Categories: Environmental Design, Product Design, Sustainable Design
Tags: collaboration, Design, experimental, Stefan Sagmeister, Travel
Field Experiments
"Misteur Valaire." Interlude by Field Experiments

Field Experiments is an ongoing research and development project, comprised of Benjamin Harrison Bryant (New York City, United States), Paul Marcus Fuog (Melbourne, Australia) and Karim Charlebois-Zariffa (Montreal, Canada), that explores traditional crafts by pairing designers with local craftspeople in diverse regions around the world. So far these experiments have yielded furniture, clothing, videos, publications, exhibitions, interiors, installation and printed materials.

I recently met some of these guys at Sight Unseen’s Offsite exhibition during New York Design Week (in May of this year) and I can honestly say that they're doing some of the coolest things I’ve seen in a while. 

For the inaugural field project in 2013, the group spent three enviable months on the island of Bali in Indonesia to focus on how things are made. The resulting collection of more than 100 design objects tell a very real story of Balinese life and challenge our traditional notions of the nature of souvenirs. 

Each piece of work, created with highly skilled Balinese craftspeople, is a little like a ready-made: they take objects that already exist in Indonesian culture and repurpose them to create a new function or meaning. Some of the ideas are incredibly innovative, but they're also simple and easy to construct. 

For example, vibrantly colored inflatable toys were painted black, which disembodies them from their previous meaning and forces the viewer to focus solely on their form. Or take the weekly supermarket savings posters. Typically printed on newsprint, Field Experiments' versions were carved into limestone to last longer than the duration of a weekly sale. And I can't forget the kites made of plastic shopping bags! Ultimately, though, I think the most clever projects were the textile designs, which were made by layering discarded wax onto fabric and dipping then dipping them into a bucket of indigo. 

Not only do I have design envy—I have travel envy, too!

Field Experiments

Field Experiments
"Experiment 083 - 088" (Inflatables made from rubber, plastic)

Field Experiments
"Experiment 003" (Poster made from limestone)

Field Experiments
"Experiment 079" (Totem made from limestone, lava rock, wood, paint)

Field Experiments
"Experiment 102" (Kite made from plastic bag, bamboo, twine)

Field Experiments
"Experiment 127" (Head scarf made from natural indigo dye, cotton)

Along with many other souvenirs, a Field Experiments publication is for sale with a foreword by Stefan Sagmeister. It’s a great piece of print—I highly recommend grabbing a copy from their website, where you can also get lost in their fascinating work.
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