This year, we launched Tiipoi’s projects strand during Milan Design Week ‘15. Tiipoi Projects looks to challenge the conventional notion of the ‘designed’ object. The brief looks to the making process rather than a finished piece. Each object is is created as a by-product of the making process in areas of craft, design or art that is based on a relationship between materials and people around the world. The outcome of Tiipoi Projects is to understand why these makers continue to do what they do – where the need for the object is dictated by culture, identity or the routines of daily life. Mirror 6 is the first of such projects by our studio.
The collaboration for the mirrors has come about from a close relationship that we’ve had with a particular family of mirror makers from Aranmula in Kerala, where the tradition of cast metal mirrors originates. This family has been making cast metal mirrors in their home for over eight generations.
The composition of the metal alloy, a precise combination of molten copper and tin, is a closely guarded secret – and was said to have come to an ancestor in a dream. Once cast into a flat piece, the metal is laboriously polished by hand for a number of days, using only oil and water, until there is a transformation from the rough metal to mirror. This change from a rough lustreless surface to a highly reflective mirror is nothing short of fascinating.
For Salone Internazionale del Mobile, Milan Design Week from 14-19 April 2015, Vivienne Westwood invited us, along with the CASS School of Design to create a show in their flagship showroom in Corso Venezia, Milan that spoke of this very transformation – from material to object. The show ‘Alchemy: Material Obsessions’ looked at the role of the maker during the magical process of transformation from raw materials to exquisite objects, in homage to alchemy in the hands of a master craftsman; and how, leaving the maker’s hands, these pieces are imprinted with new histories and meaning, eventually growing into relics for the future.