Tactile, functional and fun, these “poufs”, made by Italian designer Andrea Brena remind us that creative form can link people to products. Made from heavy, industrial textile leftovers, they’re woven together using an arm-knitting technique that’s pretty fast and easy to learn. The user can pull out the strings, change the form and dimensions according to their preferences. The heavy material can even be machine washed or emptied and pulled apart to arm-knit your own version.
Please tell us how you found yourself interested in design and studying at the Design Academy in Eindhoven?
I like to read people and try to guess how they would react to any given input. It’s possible to investigate how people’s minds work through any given field, knowing this I try to play or trigger the user through the use of objects that challenge him/her to find enjoyment in different ways. Changing a regular, obvious action in something more meaningful, something that one will remember as fun, or pleasant is something to aim for.
By connecting special moments with objects, you create not only a beautiful product but you can actually give something human to people.
Of course you could choose any materials for your projects, so what exactly drew you towards the use of discarded materials?
I started working on Knitted Army after I became inspired by Edra, the famous furniture label. They have amazing products and always incorporate craftsmanship with new technologies. The materials they use are very expensive and this, combined with peculiar craftsmanship inflates their prices significantly. I wanted to design something that would fit in their collection without having to use expensive materials and lengthy labor.
Now, here I am with a collection of poufs that are relatively fast and cheap to produce.
Why are you drawn to old craftsmanship used in conjunction with modern technology?
As I said, this is something that works perfectly. It’s appealing and adds value and personality to a product. I think the combination allows for products that aren’t too arrogant and difficult to understand for the user – combining craftsmanship with technology brings the object down to earth.
You’re in Berlin now, taking a bit of a break, why Berlin?
By making this decision, I’ve given myself a head start in finding the official internship I need before graduating from my last years at the Design Academy. So I guess that was the aim that led me to leave school for a year. But, I would be a liar if I said that I came here to Berlin solely because Berlin has an interesting young design scene – love also drove me here.
It’s clearly important to you that consumers have ‘fun’ with your products, why the big focus?
In my opinion, anything that isn’t planned can lead to much more fun than you’d expect. No plans doesn’t mean that you don’t have targets but when different paths to getting there are in front of you, you just have to decide which one you want to take and who knows what you will meet on your way.
Photos by Jenny Brittberg and Minseong Wang
Find out more about Andrea Brena on his website.