Avifauna Birds by Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters

published in: Design By Guest, 23 April 2012

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photo © Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters

Guest article by Maria Passarivaki

Yatzer is easily distracted when new design trends are discovered. This is why we travelled to the centre of the design planet to be a firsthand witness of this year’s Milan Design Week and to celebrate an international furniture & design showcase. There, the famous duo of Dutchmen from the Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters added contemporary art value to a very special concept.

The Netherland-based designers and committed naturalists exhibited ‘Avifauna’, meaning ‘the birds of a particular region, habitat, or geological period’; a collection of 13 stuffed bird species. The breeds of birds displayed range from a swan and a stork to a woodcock and a quail, and this is shown through a variety of shapes and sizes. Less controversial than Damien Hirst, the duo’s  birds ‘wear’ knitted and black textile fabrics instead of plumage. Whereas viewers usually have a reaction of distaste for dead animals on display, the designer duo have presented and incorporated these birds into a more romantic narrative of life.  Several thoughts can strike one when looking at them. Onlookers responded to these birds with sensitivity despite the absurdity of the bird’s situation. And this doesn’t really require any more explanation. After all, it is life imitating art.

photo © Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters
Avifauna for Rubelli by Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters
Collection of 13 Avifauna birds, commissioned by Rubelli, art direction by Edelkoort ETC / 2012

In their words they elaborate how this rather peculiar idea was formed: After having observed, analyzed and documented nature, ‘Avifauna’ gave us the opportunity to materialize nature as we see it......In every new project we learn more about the change of land and water and the flora and fauna that go with it. As designers we see blossoming timber, bleeding textiles, moving garlands and a limitless offer of techniques in the ways nature constantly changes and adapts. We try to materialize our observations and bring it closer to the industry we work in. So in ‘Avifauna’ we molded on the conserved parts of the species to materialize their characteristics in textiles.’

Covered in handmade 'Reticolo Ardesia' fabric from Rubelli’s collection., which is a fifth generation handmade furnishing fabric firm, no trace of the previous romantic beauty of the birds was left, but rather transformed into a gothic vision reflecting upon a new mysterious flock of birds. The 'dead birds' gave an afterlife at Spazio Rossana Orlandi, during the 2012 Salone del Mobile in Milan and visitors were able to enjoy them further in an exclusive showcase.

To conclude, this bird selection most definitely embraced our mood and caught our attention. These pieces will not be forgotten as they become increasingly valuable - as much as for the quality of the material in which they are wrapped up in as their essence.

photo © Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters

photo © Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters

photo © Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters

photo © Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters

photo © Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters

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Studio Maarten Kolk & Guus Kusters

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