The Fundamental Group
Monday, July 30th, 2012
By Gem Barton
Having paid their dues working for big names such as David Chipperfield, architect-designers Stephen Molloy and Gunnar Rönsch recently set up The Fundamental Group in Berlin to make official a design collaboration that's been in effect since 2010. The Fundamental Group share a philosophy born out of a fascination for the poetry of mathematics. They've made math the foundation for all their product design, which makes use of repetition to achieve heady abstraction.
As they explain on their blog: “We have a childlike wonder for patterns, contrasting scales and multiplication of forms. We work with wood and metal to create distinctive pieces of furniture that express a childlike obsession with form and repetition, each of our pieces exists to test a simple idea, and turn that idea in on itself, ad absurdum. Our work draws on memory, hours spent as a child trying to ‘solve’ the pattern on an oriental rug or counting the roses on a pair of curtains in the playroom. We wanted to make pieces that allow the adult to revisit that fascination, to teeter on the edge of understanding without knowing.”
The duo works predominantly in oak, because it is local and historic. When working in wood, they feel a responsibility to honor the material. For the same reason they also enjoy working with opposing materials such as polystyrene and paper because of the freedom these materials offer up. Like most designers of our generation, Molloy and Rönsch are aware of the environmental accountability of their practice but they do not lead with their green pedigree front and center. They do however feel a responsibility to use locally sourced materials. They know where everything comes from; right down to the linseed oil (rather than solvent-based varnish) they use to treat the timber.
The duo is a thoughtful one in other ways, too. It even has a five point manifesto, published just last month, that celebrates patterns and pardons mistakes. It'll be interesting to see how they follow it.
Most of the objects below are available for purchase through the Fundamental Shop.