On the occasion of the Salone del Mobile 2016, KALEIDOSCOPE and ZEITmagazin present EPOCSODIELAK, a new project by acclaimed German designers Konstantin Grcic and Mirko Borsche – a 3x2x1 meter, free-standing Disco Totem equipped with a tight cluster of strobe lights, lasers, a fog machine and mix desks. Here’s a conversation between the protagonists of this project, as published in the accompanying fanzine.
Alessio Ascari: Konstantin and Mirko, you’re both from Munich. When and how did you first meet? Over the course of your friendship, did you ever find yourselves collaborating before? How did the idea behind EPOCSODIELAK come about?
Mirko Borsche: I actually don’t know when we first met. Munich isn’t the biggest city, so we met a number of times before we spoke, I think. Concerning the project, we’d already done some in the past, but maybe Konstantin could explain that better.
Konstantin Grcic: There is a great creative community in Munich, but not a lot of interaction amongst it. It’s a big shame, but at the same time, I always felt that one quality of Munich was exactly that— no romanticizing, everyone just gets on with doing their thing. But how did we end up working together? Apart from the mutual respect we both have for each other’s work, there is a chemistry which seems to work between us. I like Mirko the way he is. He’s smart, inspired and funny, and that´s what you get when working with him. We have done things in the past—one very private project, one more commercial. EPOCSODIELAK is different, because we really shared the project from beginning to end. It felt like something we really wanted to do together, and neither of us could have done it by himself.
AA: The project is very much indebted to dance and rave culture. What is your personal relationship to this scenario?
MB: Maybe it’s because we are the generation when techno started and became big. It was one of the biggest new modern music movements in the last decade. The project itself started with the idea of a chandelier that can also play music.
KG: Hmm, funny. I was never into techno music. I lived in England during the years when techno became so big in Germany. In England, we listened to bands from Manchester like The Stone Roses, Primal Scream, The Charlatans. The sound was totally different. These bands were still bands—musicians with electric guitars and drum kits. The place to go was the Hacienda in Manchester, designed by Ben Kelly. It was an incredible place, celebrating an industrial aesthetic which was very informative for me at the time. I guess a tiny reminiscence of this shines through in EPOCSODIELAK.
AA: In 2016, is the club still a platform for rebellion and self-expression?
MB: Sometimes I have the feeling that disco’s dead, but maybe I am just too old to know.
KG: To be honest, I would´t know. I haven´t been to a club in years!
AA: A recent exhibition entitled “Radical Disco” at the ICA in London explored the architecture and interior design of Italian night clubs in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Konstantin, how do you envision the present and future of these kinds of spaces?
KG: Clubs are a little bit like fashion: they anticipate a zeitgeist. Good clubs are like good fashion, in that they reflect the spirit of the moment and turn it into something quite radical and avant-garde. Both have a short life span. It lies in their nature, but that is part of their strength. The Hacienda was only good for a few years during the early ‘90s, but its legacy lives on and has probably become a key reference to anyone designing clubs today.
AA: Mirko, for the merchandise you’ve designed to accompany this exhibition, produced by Slam Jam, you have chosen to appropriate two symbols from the ‘90s. Can you tell us more about these visual inspirations?
MB: The dancing ghost is a reference to all these ‘90s techno label logos, but even more interesting is the red spark on the yellow background. It s the reduced version of an anti-atomic sticker, often seen at demonstrations. The original atomic sign was a heavily used symbol by ravers during that period.
AA: Christoph, we both work with Bureau Mirko Borsche, which is in charge of the art direction for KALEIDOSCOPE and the creative direction of ZEITmagazin. How, in your opinion, is design a key element to the identity of a magazine? What do you think of this experience expanding the collaboration with your designer into a live project?
Christoph Amend: It’s such a pleasure working with Mirko Borsche, who has been the Creative Director at ZEITmagazin for many years. I admire his never-ending creativity on a daily basis, and I’m happy to see him being creative on so many levels, like with the amazing object he designed with Konstantin Grcic. Mirko’s visual vision for ZEITmagazin is key for its success.
AA: Konstantin, you are a product designer, while Mirko is a graphic designer. Can you tell us how these two different fields of design interact in a project such as EPOCSODIELAK?
KG: The concept was conceived in discussions between Mirko, Moritz, myself and Jan, who is my assistant. During this early phase, it doesn’t matter whether one side comes from a graphic background, the other from industrial design. However, once the idea was born, it was very clear who would do what. At this stage, it is quite evident how different our disciplines are. In my work, we are usually building something to last (and that in itself takes time), while in the graphics, a lot of the work is done much faster and is much shorter-lived. I don’t mean this in a negative way at all. In fact, this is exactly where teaming up with Mirko gives our project an extra boost.
AA: Can each of you guys describe this project with a single adjective?
AA: OK then, rave on!
Alessio Ascari is Founder and Editor-In-Chief at KALEIDOSCOPE and KALEIDOSCOPE ASIA.
Christoph Amend is Editor-In-Chief at ZEITmagazin.
Konstantin Grcic (German, b. 1965) set up his own practice Konstantin Grcic Industrial Design in Munich in 1991. Widely acknowledged as one of today's most influential design firms, KGID combines an industrial aesthetic with experimental artistic elements, and many creations, such as Chair One, are acclaimed as design classics.
Bureau Mirko Borsche was founded in Munich in 2007 by Mirko Borsche (German, b. 1971), one of the most exciting editorial designers on the international scene. The studio is responsible for the art direction of KALEIDOSCOPE since 2014 and the creative direction for weekly newspaper DIE ZEIT and ZEITmagazin since 2007.
Photo credit: Fabian Frinzel