Interview with Mischer'Traxler

Designer Interview

by London Design Festival



Curiosity Cloud, by design duo mischer'traxler, opens at the V&A on 19 September. We caught up with Katharina and Thomas before installation began to find out more about about their concept and the process of bringing it to life.

1. How did you get involved in the project?

Since last year we have been collaborating with Perrier-Jouët on a series of different projects. It started with 'ephemerā', a collection of interactive furniture pieces and continues with a series of designs for the brand entitled 'small discoveries'. In the beginning of this year they approached us asking if we would like to also design an installation to be shown at the V&A during the London Design Festival and of course we were very happy to do so. So we started to design the 'Curiosity Cloud' project. 

2.  Nature is a strong recurrent theme in your work - can you tell us about where your fascination comes from?

We are very fascinated how nature works as a very clever system. Everything is connected and has an effect on each other. There is a lot we can learn from. In addition, nature obviously has a lot of beauty to offer and a lot of shapes and colours that are just inspiring. Most of the time when we go for walks in nature there is something that inspires us. 

3. There will be 25 species of insects in the installation - how did you select them?
Yes, in 'Curiousity Cloud' there are 25 different species represented. 1/3rd of them are either extinct or highly endangered, 1/3rd are very common insects and also very important ones, like bees that pollinate plants etc...and 1/3rd are newly discovered insects. We prefer referring to real insects since it does not make any sense to us to come up with our own fantasy-insects if the real world is full of fascinating little creatures anyway and we think it is important to point that out – that nature is already full of colours, patterns etc. 

The research was done very practically by collecting data. The selection however was done very intuitively by sizes, colours, wings and whether the insects have a heavy body (like cicadas and other bugs or are lightweight like butterflies and moth). There are not so many records of extinct species and the same applies especially for newly discovered ones – so in this section the decisions were quite easy since we just had to choose from a small pool of insects. For the very common ones on the other hand – we wanted to make sure that people can relate to them or recognise them (like the ladybug, the dragonfly and the common brimstone) and that altogether we have insects from the whole world. That brings the fantasy back into the project – the species would never be in one room at the same time...unless maybe in a natural history museum. 

4. How many people does it take to make a project of this scale and complexity come together?
This is quite hard to answer. Here in the studio we were on average four people and with the programmer five. In the studio we mainly planned and designed everything, made the insects and finally assembled all the endless pieces. However beforehand many pieces in the installation were produced by specialised companies – for example all the custom-made, mouth-blown glass-bulbs came from Lobmeyr, the metal-caps were made in a local workshop here in Vienna, the insects' wings were laser-cut, the wooden display-cases were made by a local carpenter and so on. So there were more people involved than just us and therefore it is hard to estimate how many people it really needs.

5. What has been the greatest challenge in this design?
First of all for us it is the biggest project in size that we ever built in our studio. The installation was all over. In the end we had just a table left in the kitchen to place our laptops on. Next to that, since it is more than 250 elements (each again existing of many parts) we underestimated that in fact if there is one mistake, one actually has to repair or repeat a step 250 times to fix it again.

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