Activating the Senses – Tumbler Art by Iwan Pol

Rotterdam-based graphic designer Iwan Pol creates interactive functional and decorative objects that invite us to build a physical and emotional connection with them. With this goal in mind, he creates wood wall works that change their form when being rotated and produces sculptural objects made with an innovative concrete composite of his making that intends to turn this widely-used gray and dull material into colorful and undulating compositions.

Iwan studied Industrial and Product Design at the Design Academy Eindhoven, in the Netherlands. Soon after graduating, he founded the collective Envisions with his college classmates and opened a design studio that focuses on creating objects inspired by the concepts of tactility and play. Next to this interactive approach to his practice, Iwan is also interested in exploring and altering the properties of the materials which he works with. For example, for years he has experimented with concrete as a means to create what he calls a “happier” concrete, meaning a softer and gentler take on this material. ‘If a material is known for its hard characteristics, I like to see if I can make it soft. If it is stiff, I like to make it flexible,’ he once said.

Pol’s series of interactive decorative wall works made with aluminum, wood, and hard foam, called Tumblers, bring forth this designer’s playful design tactics as while connected to the legacy of geometric abstract artists like Malevich they also bring to mind the puzzles we all had as kids. More so, their capricious geometric shapes and lively contrasting colors are not static. They rotate as one moves the canvas around generating unexpected patterns and combinations of the shapes and colours the designer chooses based on the emotions they convey. In this way, these sculptural wall works invite us to view them but also to touch and manipulate them making us, the viewers, an active part of them. It seems as if Iwan succeeds in his goal of making us aware of our senses and of the physical presence of the objects that surround us.

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Written by Constanza Ontiveros