Interview: The Milkman Himself
Since Alexis began his time at ECAL, he has been involved in a number of design projects which, some might say border on goofy. His designs are full of insightful humor about the nature of objects and our interaction with them. For example, his doormat/umbrella stand for the dim project looks as though the umbrella stand and mat might be locked in some sort of amoebonic death match -- and the umbrella stand is losing. But this humor is only the surface of a deep understanding of humans relationships to design. Here's his cereal bowl milking stool, and his thoughts on the stool project.
--The original Swiss milking stool is a great example of communal design. Along the course of it's life, no one company set out to perfect it, or update it for the next year's holiday rush. Farmers simply made the changes they needed to make so that it worked for them, and eventually, a robust concept of what a good stool should be evolved. What was it like to work with that kind of design as your "canvas" so to speak?
Working on such an archetypal object is always exciting and at the same time difficult! One could think, what more can a designer bring to an object like the milking stool that has been shaped for a precise function and has remained virtually the same since a long time? I tried to make an object that was not just about style or shape but that would keep a particular "function" and that would still hold to its origins.
--Alexis, you've got a little reputation for tongue-in-cheek designs after that cookie project you were involved with earlier this year. What was your inspiration for the cereal bowl stool?
Milk had to be the main element of the project, in a way it is the "reason" behind the existence of the stool. Milking a cow is usually done early in the morning so why not associate the breakfast notion with it? Then, I had to be sure that the shape would be very explicit and direct.
--What do you think the opportunities for communal, organic designs like the stool are in the current world consumer market? Will user-decided designs like those from Droog and others ever really become the norm, or are people now more comfortable thinking that someone else has made the design decisions for them?
There will always be people that will appreciate a different kind of design, without any marketing-oriented commercial strategy behind it. This is the only way designers, artists and other creators are set free to explore and to make fresh and 100% personal designs. This kind of design hasn't become the norm yet but thanks to actions like the milking stools the public is getting more and more acquainted with it.
--What do you think the most important lesson that designers can take away from the milk stool project?
Even the more uncommercial and unknown objects like the milking stool can give interesting and intriguing designs when they are revisited by the right people. Creativity has no boundaries!
Copyright 2004-2006 Dominic Muren and IDFuel Team