№24 Object


‘Object’ (Latin ‘obiectum’) means literally that which is ‘thrown against’ or ‘placed before’. What we have here is, on the one hand, an extreme form of possession – the object exists (and may be named) only in the event of our acting upon it – and on the other, an equally extreme abstractionism (in order to endow an object with existence, we must throw it (from us)). The stone in the hand of primeval man became an object at the moment when primeval man needed it as an instrument. But at the same moment it also became an attribute – that which creates (changes) not just its surroundings, but man himself, shaping his identity. The apple in Eve’s hand was the original object; with it history began. The object is an attribute or distinguishing feature of its owner. In choosing this or that thing, we are making a gesture of self-description and self-construction. The ‘new’ mass human being of the 20th century was someone who lived in a world of thing-signs. Congruent with this new human being was “the work of art in the age of its technological reproducibility” (Walter Benjamin), a work of art which was stripped of the ‘aura’ of authenticity.

Members of industrial society were surrounded and created by serially produced objects, which deconstructed their uniqueness. It was thought that high Modernist design would enable the universe of things to attain an ideal state, satisfying all the user’s needs. However, this project failed (or was transmuted to the next stage). And the hero of modern, post-industrial society, submerged like an amphibian in information, is now undergoing a change of attitude to serial production. The main object of modernity, the smartphone, is a portal into the world of information, an environment which is filled with individual content consisting of objects. The latter is confirmed by the existence of a principal actor who has become a micro-factory for production of himself as a product. The hipster, a figure for our time, is someone who is identified by means of object-attributes without which he loses his identity. The smartphone is part of an infrastructure for which serial production is still essential. All other kinds of design, however, no longer have any need for serial production – since reality has shifted into the realm of virtual reality. This is a kind of net for Proteus – only the net is laid not by the subject, but for him. So the subject disappears (Baudrillard), itself becoming an object. Furthermore, the third industrial revolution has made it possible for all versions of a product to be obtained in domestic conditions by printing them out on a 3D printer.

Unlike objects in the age of Modernism, things made from an abstract substance (‘ink’) do not dictate to us how to live, but create the illusion that we ourselves are the authors of the setting in which we live. From this moment forwards any form that is conceivable is possible. And if in architecture we remain bound by gravity and the laws of physical structures, in product design form has already forgotten about function. While remaining newsmakers, designers nevertheless lose their importance. And then they become craftsmen; this is how they resist the total digitalization of reality: objects which are made by hand for friends or friends of friends remember their makers’ hands. Digital geometry responds to inexactness: it becomes alive. It is possible that the subject (designer) has not left the scene altogether. And we users are able to fill our environment with what still exists on this side. As the poet Francis Ponge advised, “So let’s select objects which are of value, which endlessly resist our desires. Things which we shall choose tomorrow and for every day… And we’ll lay the foundations of our domestic temple: each of us, just as we are, will, I’m sure, work out what Beauty means to him or her.”







Vladimir Frolov Space of the lost object




“Good design has no boundaries” Interview with Eero Aarino


“Design is a never-ending story” Interview with Boris Berlin


Andrey Lyublinsky: “Serial production is fine”




Kseniya Litvinenko Paradoxes of production: the semi-socialistic object and constructing everyday reality


From idea to production Designers from our region on how they conceive and realize objects




Ida Kukkapuro Towards the post-Internet. Notes on Finnish product design


Lithuanian design: between France and Finland Interview with Marius Ilgunas 


Yaroslav Minsonzhnikov and Tatyana Kudryavtseva: "Everything is only just beginning"


Kai Lobjakas Changing values and new perspectives. A short introduction to contemporary Estonian design


Kristine Budze In place of an industry. Ethnographic traditions and DIY production as the basis for contemporary design in Latvia




Jukka Savolainen Good design is defined by the public. On the role of design museums


Ylva Frid From factories to micro-labs. The Stockholm Furniture Fair 2015


Lina Perlova: «Design is a matter of freedom»


Discussion 15 years of OAM, St Petersburg


Yury Zemtsov: “Each of us is a free architect”


Nikita Yaveyn: “Each of us is a free architect”  


Mikhail Mamoshin: “Each master architect conducts his or her own dialogue with the city”


Design lab


OOPEAA Riihi house, Alajarvi


Design Laboratory Office of Design Laboratory, St Petersburg


Mailitis A.I.I.M. Temporary pavilion for Riga 2014 festival


KAMP Arhitektid NOA Restaurant, Tallinn


Audrius Ambrasas Architects Villa G, Vilnius


Design Technology




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At a conference, taking place in Tallinn on April 21-22, architecture’s turn to nature and data will be explored from political and historical perspectives. Keynote speakers are Matthew Gandy and Douglas Spencer from the UK. The conference is organised by the
Faculty of Architecture, Estonian Academy of Arts, Estonia in cooperation with the Department of Geography, Cambridge University, UK. The event is open to the public.

The only foreigner to take part in the series of architecture talks entitled ‘Genius loci’ (organized by Project Baltia and the ‘Novaya Gollandiya: cultural urbanization’ project) was the Finnish theoretician Juhani Pallasmaa. Russian readers know Pallasmaa from his book ‘The thinking hand. Existential and embodied wisdom in architecture’, which is now a bibliographical rarity. Here Marina Nikiforova talks to Finland’s principal architect-thinker.