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Tomas Erel

Designerbox Co-founder

Artsper met Tomas Erel, co-founder of Designer Box, a monthly box with objects created by talented designers. Tomas talked to us about art, design and his favourite for finding new designers. 

Artsper: What draws you to design?

Tomas: I've been surrounded by design since my birth but I think for me I'm very drawn to design because it is domestic art! Design is not just about creating a useful object. There are a thousand answers to the question what is the best knife?, the best armchair? Design as art acts on our emotions as well as our reasoning. Design about bringing a bit of poetry or even subversion into everyday objects and sometimes even creating new uses ...

The democratic aspect of design is also essential, reaching a large mass of people. I'm mostly drawn to the area between high-end gallery design and often disembodied industrial design. This is where everything is happening creatively, where you find innovation, talent and ideas.

Artsper: Who is your favourite designer? Why?

Tomas: It's impossible to answer this question! There are plenty of them today. I would like to mention those who encouraged me into design: Enzo Mari, Castiglionni, Perriand, Kuramata, Sottsass, but I could also say Sotto, Donald Judd, Dan Flavin, .... artists who helped to forge my tastes and open my eyes.

Artsper: What is the relationship between art and design?

Tomas: It's a long story and there is a clear link. A bit like Duchamp with his bidet, or when Maarten Baas, put a completely charred iconic Rietvelt chair for sale! This chair sculpture, is it art or is it design? It is clearly an art object but does that make it art?

Art, like nature, is a source of inspiration for each creator, a little like a research laboratory where one can freely question the real, the philosophy, the politics, the representation, ... a laboratory, conceptual or narrative, in which the designer can draw his inspiration.

If today, design has entered museums, galleries and auction houses and sometimes we see works by designers who question, like Baas, the border with art, design and art are not the same, they don't meet the same objectives and do not produce the same effects. Art has a close relationship with all creative activities, design and graphics are no exception.

Artsper: If you had to imagine a collaboration between an artist and a designer, who would you choose?

Tomas: Complicated, and it has rarely been a success (it often ends up being painted furniture ;-) so not very interesting! I might ask an artist, but not a painter or sculptor, to imagine an installation from an object or a series of objects chosen by a designer. The idea being to initiate a dialogue where the object is not a support but the raw material.

Artsper: Can design be accessible?

Tomas: It's not a question of whether it can or not, the designer's design as well as industrial design MUST be accessible, it participates in the change, the improvement of daily life. It doesn't cost anything more to make an object that has meaning behind it than an object that stands for nothing, so why should we reserve for an elite, this great source of well-being and innovation.

Even if we need to find or invent new models. Offering designer objects at the price of unsigned products (less than €20) is one of Designerbox's main aims. In order to achieve this, we eliminated the middle-men, created short circuits and put the creators at the centre of the customer's experience.

Artsper: Your favourite place for discovering design and new designers?

Tomas: The smaller fairs that happen alongside the major fairs or the European design week (Milan, Paris, Stockholm, ...).

Artsper: Your favourite place for seeing art?

Tomas: Other than Artsper? :) Personally, I would say the Palais de Tokyo in Paris where I go regularly with my family. The big open spaces are great for children who can run in the middle of the works, interact with them ... It has a raw edge but it's a great place to go for brunch, dinner, it's always full of life and there's always something to do which is what I've come to expect from cultural institutions today.

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