Jenny Ekdahl Monday 06 Aug 2012

A natural disaster is an event that we associate with destruction, distress and sadness. But a natural disaster is also a phenomenon that fascinates, that is beautiful and at the same time terrifying. This contradicting love hate relationship with nature was the starting point for my graduation work.

I wanted to create an object that could both illustrate my appreciation of natural forces as well as the psychological process of recovery after a natural disaster.

By describing natural disasters with graphs, diagrams and pictures they are said to make the events easier to embrace. I wanted to use similar ways of interpreting natural events in my design and use structures that we associate with safety instead of fear. As part of my graduation work I therefore investigated what shapes, textures and patterns the human being automatically is intrigued by such as rhythm, complexity, playfulness and the possibility to leave personal imprints on an object.

The structure of the cabinet is an experiment with overcoming fear by touching. The interaction with the structure on the cabinet is a way for the user to tell her story, a conversation about sorrow and fear but also about finding meaning and regaining trust in nature after an incomprehensible event. The function of the structure lies in mentally pleasing the user by showing her personality, feelings and personal marks, and it works as a tactile psychological help by hiding at the same time as it might highlight the event for the user depending on what she decides to do with it.

The cabinet is representing water as well as the absence of water, a contrast that also defines a natural disaster. One side of each wooden scale is painted blue, white or grey, while the other side has been left plain, so that they can be flipped to create patterns based on water and waves. When mud is cracking of drought it produces a similar three-way pattern that water bubbles has, and therefore I chose to use this pattern in my design.

The cabinet is keeping small keepsakes from the past safe behind a closed door, and the high legs are preventing the water from reaching them.

The cabinet is a one-off object made of beech wood with a moving structure on the door consisting of small, wooden scales. The scales were water jet cut from a veneered plywood sheet that

I constructed. They are threaded on piano wire with small brass washers between every scale, and fastened and tensioned inside the wooden frame.

I both designed and made the cabinet that all together consists of more than 4500 parts.