Inspired by the space where digital and physical forms meet, the Wang & Söderström collection consists of decorative and functional sculptural objects that serve as miniature pieces of art. The organically shaped 3D models are first developed in the designers’ studio, before the items are 3D printed and moulded in porcelain and stoneware at a ceramic factory. The collection includes candleholders, bookends, doorstops, vases, and ornaments in different colours and textures, making them ideal for displaying in many different spaces and contexts.
We met with Anny Wang and Tim Söderström in their Copenhagen studio to learn how this fantastical collection came to be.
Early models of Doorstop and Moguls.
How would you describe the Wang & Söderström Collection for HAY?
Wang & Söderström: This collection is a family of objects that originates from our digital way of working. Each object manifests the intersection of the digital and physical process, where the forms have been embodied through 3D printing and later produced in ceramic. We wanted to give the objects organic forms as if they’ve been part of a plant or animal, but keep the alien unfamiliarity that comes from their digital roots. What makes them ordinary or what makes them strange depends on who is looking at them. In that way we want people to create their own relationship towards the object.
For this project, what is the relationship between the sculptural nature of the objects and their ability to serve a purpose?
Wang & Söderström: This collection includes pieces that are indeed sculptural, but we think that an object alone is never solely aesthetic or functional. We have a more utilitarian perspective about design, which has been part of our work from the beginning. By adding sculptural qualities to our objects, they become less defined and more versatile. They both depend on and transform their environment, while relating to each other and to us. We think it is interesting how people connect with these objects in their own way, primarily because there are no predetermined rights or wrongs when it comes to their prescribed “purpose.” That said, some of the objects invite you, through their specific dimensions, shape, weight, or simply name, to put flowers or candles in them, or lean books against them. But it is still important for us they are open-ended enough to find their own spot, whether that is emotional, functional, or both.
Does this collection mark a new or different path for you in terms of working process and product?
Wang & Söderström: This is the first time we are putting our work into production this way. We usually 3D print our sculptural objects, but our collaboration with HAY enabled us to produce objects in a new material; ceramic, which has a fantastic spectrum of possible surfaces and textures, from matte/raw to highly glazed.
Can you describe the way you work?
Wang & Söderström: Our projects can be very different from each other, in that our technique, medium, and results might vary, but the method is kind of similar. We approach each project with the same mindset: the bridging of the physical and digital. We want to explore how we can combine technological advancements with fundamental sensual qualities, to not lose the human in the digital. Working in this intersection between physical and digital is a way for us to explore and understand what it means for us humans as technology will be more and more integrated in our lives. Our primary tool is 3D software and all projects start there, even if the end result might be a physical object or installation.
3D models of the Vase and Candleholder.
3D printer in progress.
For us, digital and traditional craft are not contradictions to each other. Instead, we believe that it is in the unification of the physical and digital that there is the opportunity for new ways of sensing materials. The digital offers a study of materials and physical laws. It's a creative tool where we can sculpt organically in “clay” while at the same time calculating precise measurements and simulations. For instance, for “Chamber Vase,” which is part of our collection for HAY, we wanted to create play between the matte, slightly textured porcelain with the digital preciseness in the groves, which is difficult to create by hand.
3D drawing of Complot Candleholder.
Do you use sculptural objects like those from the W&S Collection in your home?
Wang & Söderström: Yes, we have a lot of sculptural objects at home. It ranges from nature-shaped things like stones and shells to function-shaped things, for instance a flea market find like a huge bolt that is no longer functional because it has been taken out of its context or is outdated. Among these, we also have purely decorative objects and sculptures made by friends and artists. Most of the time these items don't fill a specific function, but every now and then a situation arises where one of those objects becomes the perfect candidate: it could be something to put your keys in, for example.
Wang & Söderström is a Copenhagen-based transdisciplinary creative duo composed of Swedish designer Anny Wang and architect Tim Söderström. Anny Wang studied spatial and furniture design at the Academy of Design and Crafts (HDK) in Gothenburg, Sweden, and Tim Söderström studied architecture at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts (KADK) in Copenhagen, Denmark. Together, they founded Wang & Söderström in 2016. Their work, which focuses on digital/physical exploration, has been realized internationally, with commissions from renowned cultural institutions, leading fashion brands, and some of the largest media and communication platforms.