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Dezeen panel discussion

The Line Between Art and Design

Aritco’s fourth collaboration with Dezeen was a talk entitled The Line Between Art and Design  which took place during Stockholm Design Week 2020 at Sven Harrys konstmuseum, the venue hosting Swedish designer Alexander Lervik’s exhibition Imaginations x 12.

Dezeen founder Marcus Fairs started by introducing Alexander Lervik who talked about the Brain lamp he designed in 2007 from an MRI scan of his own brain (pictured below) and his TED talk in 2009 about how 3D printing would disrupt the design world.

Alexander described how he won the competition to design the Aritco HomeLift in 2013, and the inspiration behind the design for the new, commercial Aritco PublicLift Access which launched at the Stockholm Furniture and Light Fair 2020. “My exhibition of 12 design objects, Imaginations x 12 is inspired by different art movements,” he explained.

The second panellist, Li Pamp, talked about her background as an art historian, and how her career as a broadcaster on Swedish TV began at Stockholm’s top auction houses. She referenced the limited-edition Concrete chair (pictured below) created by artist Jonas Bohlin in 1981 which came up for auction. “Although it looked like a chair, it didn’t function as a chair as it was almost impossible to sit on,” she explained. “The artist signed a number of limited-edition pieces – was this design, was it art or was it something in between? Maybe we need to redefine what is art and what is design, or is it even important anymore?” she said.

The third panellist, product designer Petter Thorne, spoke about his collaboration with an urban designer to create a public art installation and how he teamed up with a human rights activist to create the award-winning, modular design installation 17,000 (pictured below) which contains thousands of small artworks, a comment on the number of refugees currently at risk of deportation in Sweden. “Function and practicality don’t necessarily define design as many artists are practical. The distinction between art and design is not relevant – the object is either good or bad.”

Alexander Lervik then explained that anything could be called art, but that design must always have a function. The Ars Sella Sculpture from his exhibition (pictured below) is a homage to Giacometti and can be considered art as it doesn’t function as a chair.

His Motus Lamp was inspired by the Concrete Art movement, but the prototype had to be re-engineered to accommodate all the wiring to keep the cost of production down so it could be seen as more of a design piece.


Popular Dezeen Talk in video

Other themes discussed included:

  • Design must address a problem and include function, but can a function be an emotional response?
  • Art can demand a higher price than design, but is this changing as the market matures?
  • Can a design piece be considered art simply by the creator defining it as a collectible limited edition or by the dealer presenting it as a valuable object?
  • Does rarity re-define a design piece as a desirable artwork?
  • Are design and art merging in a new aesthetic movement?

See highlights of the talk – click here.


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