A new collaborative partnership with Brooklyn designer Matt Cavanaugh of Death at Sea studio brings table objects to life with the Shark and Scuba Diver puppet-like kits. Kontextür PLAY kicks off with these two concepts that transcend the age gap between children and adults, and delve deeply into the ingenuity of minimal design.
When we talk about design, we often ask what purpose the object is serving or is meant to serve, and look to this as the sole driver of the creative process. But every real designer knows that the fastest way to discover new and innovative products, no matter the field, isn’t to brainstorm around a specific problem but to constantly experiment in an unstructured, unraveling way. Some may call this fidgeting, doodling, screwing around or even killing time, but the most accurate descriptor is a term many of us are (wrongly) conditioned to grow out of after early education; the notion of play. This notion not only led Brooklyn designer Matt Cavanaugh to create two fascinating and whimsical puppet-like objects, it also is embedded deeply into how you interact with his creations, elevating them far above being mere novelties. The Shark and Scuba Diver kits Cavanaugh has designed in are difficult to describe because they transcend conventional product typologies. On one hand the two pieces are lovely minimalistic toys, made of flexible vinyl and incredibly articulable for children to play with (complete with razor-toothed jaw and flipping flippers). On the other hand though they offer an important lesson in creative thinking, as the user assembles each one from flat sheets and binding posts in a way that retraces the steps Cavanaugh took to create them. The way the planes of each object gracefully define an image of a shark and scuba diver respectively recall the joy of origami, and ask the all important question of exactly at what point does the paper become a figure? When does the vinyl transform into a shark? The answer is whenever you open your imagination up to it, and the products joyfully show the kind of deft moves one can make when they aren’t afraid to tinker risk and inevitably fail, only to try again in the pursuit of a great idea. Playing with ideas lets a designer or artist tweak and try out things that a strict prompt or assignment may inhibit, and throughout history has been the catalyst for some of our most brilliant designs, from penicillin to the slinky. Cavanaugh’s Shark and Scuba Diver evoke an unseen world of play often lost on “serious” adults, and offers them a beautiful path back into it, for all ages to follow.