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The ‘Shape’ collection is a series of objects created over the course of two years. They have no common theme or inspiration. Each of the objects has a completely different genesis. They share the abstract name ‘Shape’ which does not mean anything.
The design of the ‘Shape N.1’ screen is based on a small model made of plasticine by Mela, the artist’s six-year-old niece. The girl was playing with plasticine while the designer was creating her models. Anna got intrigued by the way Mela had produced her object. It was pure expression, with no hesitation, no intention, no justification or explanation. The artist has been working with children for a long time and is fascinated by their approach to creation: ‘Children are uncompromising (…) when creating, they rarely hesitate; they do not reflect or analyse. They don’t try, they just do.’ The designer decided she would not only produce an object based on her niece’s idea, but also try to adopt her method of creation. The screen was thus created without a design prepared beforehand. Anna was making all design decisions on an ongoing basis, working on the material right away. ‘Shape N.1’ is the result of a struggle, a record of numerous attempts, changes, corrections, hesitations; it is also an ‘exercise in the freedom of creation’.
The screen has been entirely hand-carved in alder wood.
Launched by Anna Bera in 2014, The Whole Elements is a design studio and a wood workshop based in Warsaw, Poland. Dedicated to creating furniture pieces, crafted by hand from wood, the brand is notable for its bridging of art and design, with inspiration coming from Bera\'s observations of the relationship between humans and nature — from a biological, spiritual and cultural perspective. As an artist, woodcarver and carpenter, Anna creates mainly functional sculptures crafted by hand in limited edition runs, as well as one-of-a-kind pieces. Her designs refer to forms drawn from the world of nature. The artist focuses on the ways the objects are used, as well as on their ritualistic significance in everyday life. She creates sculptural furniture, the form of which does not reveal the functionality, instead encouraging the users to explore and give them their own meaning.
The body of work in this collection consists of pieces by Greek designers of the mainland and the diaspora, or international professionals who live and work in Greece. As a common theme we tackle the elusive notion of “Greekness” and how this transpires through the work of seemingly diverse and distinct individuals. In our attempt to define “Greekness”, we aim to raise questions about how this plays out in the work presented.
How do Greek designers view their identity? Is it through their effort to decipher their heavy heritage? Is form important in order to achieve a predisposed classic elegance, or is a philosophical disposition towards shape more poignant? Could it be simply a resourcefulness and DIY ethic to make up for the absence of design infrastructure?
How do Greek designers based abroad deal with their background? Could it be that they simply ignore it in order to finally free themselves? Is there a certain amount of innovation necessary in order to channel it into the new environment?
Finally, how do foreign designers see their work influenced by their Greek surroundings? Is it the reference through the use of noble materials such as marble or the abundance of natural light that makes their work unquestionably Greek? Or could it be something else they were seeking when they decided to move here, something abstract like humour or drama? Could their arrival finally mean a departure from Greek heritage’s self-reference?
The pieces that we present might seem ill-matched, but they share an important core element. They are confident in their narrative of a personal story of identity, that is either at peace or against the Greek archetype. Through this communication, they all describe a culturally mature and vibrant scene that is finally extroverted and coming of age.
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