Turning to nature as an inspiration for design

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Turning to nature as an inspiration for design



Behind every great design is an inspiration that gave birth to a creative idea and many designers of the 20th century cite Luigi Colani, who pioneered the field of bio-design, as a major influence. Until March 25, the Design Exhibition Hall in the Dongdaemun Design Plaza, central Seoul, will give people the opportunity to see his works, all of which combine an element of nature into industrial design.

The German designer, born in 1928, began working with car companies like Volkswagen and BMW in the 1950s. Amid the rigid post-war design that didn’t look beyond economic efficiency, Colani looked to nature for inspiration, especially the ocean, which had no straight lines.

According to the 89-year-old designer, bio-design comes from the fact that we, just like other animals, are living in nature, even though we tend to separate ourselves from it. By looking back, designers can actually move forward into the future.

“The planet that we live in is round,” said Colani to Korean press on Dec. 8, when he came to Seoul to take a look at the exhibition himself. “The place that we live in is round. And if we look into our lives, there is nothing rigid or stiff. That’s what I always thought of.”

One of the things that nature teaches us, which Colani stressed was even more essential to the geopolitical situation of the divided Korean Peninsula, is harmony; not just between mankind and nature, but also between humans. “I witnessed the unification of the two Germanys, and my design can work as a guide to Korea,” said Colani. “Korea is a very industrially developed country, and it could even be an exemplary country to the rest of the world. But it’s somehow static, and you need a jump.”

On the day of his visit, Colani gave a live drawing demonstration at the exhibition hall, comparing the difference between conventional car designs and his futuristic bio-design. His 1989 design for the Ferrari Testa d’Oro broke speed records for cars by reaching 351 kilometers (218 miles) per hour, after he implemented an aerodynamic design that achieved not only high-performance, but an elegant shape as well.

There are three rules to a good design, according to the old genius. “It must be made out of good material, which has to come from nature, at an affordable price for people to buy - these are the elements that prepare us for tomorrow,” he explained. “Colani means tomorrow. It’s important to always think about the future, and to always question oneself. You must always ask and try to find an answer to the question.”

The exhibition features Colani’s works such as models of cameras, cars and furniture. Although they may seem common to contemporary audiences, visitors must keep in mind that such designs were created half a century ago, years before anything of the sort was created.

As Colani said, “The future is in the designs.”

BY YOON SO-YEON [yoon.soyeon@joongang.co.kr]

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