Giving these away for free at Detour 2011 / by Billy Potts

This is a sneak peek at our submission for Detour (25th of November to 11th of December) - we're making 21 of these 'Artifacts'.  They're made of porcelain and were made in 景德镇 (Jingdezhen). They were fired in the same kiln that Ai Weiwei used for his Sunflower Seeds.  They've each been fitted with a white porcelain NUD lamp - each with a different coloured chord and an energy efficient bulb.  They can be used as a number of things - we're displaying them as lamps.  Make of them what you wish:  soap dish, pencil holder, plant pot, just as long as it's useful- they'll be available to take on a first come first serve basis on the last day of Detour, that's Sunday the 11th of December 2011. So what is this all about?  Read on if you're interested

Detour is an annual event that celebrates design in Hong Kong.  This year Handsome was invited to design something to exhibit at Detour in our Designer Exchange with Berlin (remember when we sent our chair to Berlin?). We were given the themes "Useless" (Use Less) and "東西" (a pun on the word "Thing" which literally means "East West").

We've taken a very ubiquitous industrially produced shape (I don't think we need to say what it is) and re-interpretted it as an artifact that says something about our  culture.    There was a time when objects were treated with respect.   They were made to last and taken care of.  In today’s consumer culture, objects are made to be disposable and consumers are wasteful; they don’t see the value in things.  Often craftsmanship,  thought and attention to detail are overlooked.  We want viewers to rethink what they might otherwise have regarded as disposable or useless.   We invite viewers to take these objects, free of charge, and to do with them as they please- as long as they put them to some good use.

We chose to make our artifact out of porcelain and in 景德镇 (Jingdezhen) because of the historical significance of this material and because of its connection to local craft and culture in that area.  Porcelain was invented in China and was widely traded as a commodity with the West.   Jingdezhen has been producing porcelain for 1700 years and used to craft it for Emperors.    Using an ancient Chinese invention to re-create a modern Hong Kong (read Chinese) icon in a dialogue between East and West is interesting to us and (I think) fits the bill for "東西" (Object / East West).