Carsten in der Elst
May 16, 2023
paloma wool pop-up in Berlin, 2023
What is your background in the arts and how does that influence what you do?
I’m a furniture designer and maker, meaning that I produce objects one can use and live with. This profession influences the majority of my perception at the moment.
Since I’m not a trained craftsman, I tend to use design as an opportunity to investigate into all different kinds of materials.
Aluskin Bench, Aluminum, 2022
Rubber Rugs, EPDM, 2022
Coating process of Foam Seat, 2022
What moves you to do what you do?
I would say that my practice is based on a proper layer of childlike curiosity and an explorative nature. My environment is constantly scanned for how things are made and where they come from.
These everyday material stories feel so significant to me sometimes, that they give rise to an almost unbearable urge for making objects that consciously focus on their own identity. Maybe by doing so, I wish to enable users to perceive beauty in all kinds of materials.
Pouring process of Foam Shelfs, 2023
Detail view of Sealent Light, 2023
Foam offcuts, 2023
Sealent Lights on Aluskin Sofa during installation, 2023
What are some of your particular elements, pillars or guidelines when creating?
I like to believe that the main element of my process is the reconciliation of serving living standards and preserving wild material stories. Accordingly, I aim to let the material or process direct the design instead of having a formal idea that needs to be served by one. My designs are meant to be determined by material properties, traces of time, marks of production and locations.
I’d say that I’m trying to make objects that are surprisingly obvious. They should not represent anything else but what they already are.
The pieces should be at least usable, not necessarily highly functional. By creating usable objects, I aim to give users the opportunity for a bodily connection to the material so that it can resonate with them.
Personally, making the objects in the studio or in a factory needs to be exiting and fun in a way. Also, the piece and/or the process needs to fulfill my obsession for order. If this involves physically demanding labor, I’m in.
Concept sketch, 2023
Inspiration: Cap Nuts, 2023
Fibreboard Bench, 2023
How do you approach and even contemplate using the materials you use? Your choice, use, reuse and presence of materials is so unique.
Since I consider materials as uniformly precious, I like to use industrial by-products or offcuts as my main source and apply an efficient attitude wherever I can. I regard material sourcing as part of the design process. I like the idea of having to do a little scavenger hunting in order to justify the privilege of making something from a material. The “first life” of materials also influence the inherent story of the object to me in the end. It feels like they already have a life of their own.
Material sourcing, 2023
How did you come in contact with the paloma wool project?
The structure of my design studies was very interdisciplinary, letting me participate in quite a number of projects where I worked alongside my friends that studied fashion and photography. I cannot recall seeing a single presentation or moodboard where there wasn’t at least one image of Paloma’s work.
Even if fashion wasn’t the subject of my own studies during that time, I would say that through your brand, I was presented with a memorable example of how an own aesthetic language between fashion, photography and art can look like.
What was the challenge and process like throughout this particular project with paloma wool?
I think the most challenging part was to design and make large scale typologies, for instance changing rooms, in a quick way so that they are budget- and shipping friendly, easy to multiply, reusable, fast to install and applicable in any location. Nomadic in a way.
Besides this, I was given full trust and freedom in material sourcing and selection. I was even able to develop a few new series and gestures, like the lights and the green fiberboard pieces, which I’d be happy to continue after the pop ups. The collaboration gave me a chance to test out some materials and ideas which I’m always grateful for.
Installation Process of Foam Changing Rooms,
Do you have a dream project?
Personally speaking, probably the renovation of a small countryside house with a big studio. Professionally speaking, maybe your first permanent store?
Dismountable shop counter from recycled stage panels, 2023