Digital: "Hortensia" by Andrés Reisinger

Experiment with new worlds

Thanks to the emergence of NFTs (non-fungible tokens), virtual works in art, design and architecture have received immense attention in recent months – and polarised strongly in terms of value and sustainability. Designer Andrés Reisinger is currently taking a middle course with Moooi.
by Anna Moldenhauer | 5/14/2021

The ability to copyright digital works with transparent information about the creator and the sales process currently gives makers the ability to create a digital original that can be clearly attributed to them – even if it is copied many times. In addition, NFTs offer the option to trade works on virtual platforms for a fee without middlemen in order to reach new target groups, or to sell percentage shares of the works. The sums achieved in cryptocurrencies for the digital originals have been immense – be it the "NFT digital house" by Krista Kim for the equivalent of $512,000, a collage by Beeple changed hands for $69,346,250, the surreal furniture collection "The Shipping" by Andrés Reisinger reached $450,000. Omer Arbel also recently offered the DIY recipe for making the filigree candle proto-type 64.0 as a limited edition NFT for the converted value of around $198. Artists and Designers like Omer Arbel and Alexis Christodoulou are in addition currently experimenting with time-based programmable assets – digital images that change over time.

Trading in NFTs has polarised strongly – opinions of the meaning and value of the digital works differed greatly depending on the perspective, and many questions about the law, data protection and security are also still unresolved. Furthermore, the infrastructure of NFTs and cryptocurrencies currently consumes high amounts of energy, just as transactions are time-consuming. Designer Andrés Reisinger is currently looking for a middle ground and produced ten digital designs under the title "The Shipping", four of which were produced analogue. The armchair "Hortensia" from the digital collection was thus produced analogue as a limited edition in collaboration with the textile designer Júlia Esqué and will soon be part of Moooi's range. Reisinger explains his perspective on the discussion about opportunity and harm in the course of the development of NFTs in an interview.

Anna Moldenhauer: Andrés, you decided to produce some of your digital designs in analogue, like the "Hortensia" armchair together with the textile designer Júlia Esqué. After you created a limited edition, it will soon be part of Moooi's range. To what extent did the 3D rendering have to be adapted for mass production?

Andrés Reisinger: It depends on the complexity of the design. In the case of Hortensia chair the challenge laid in the textile, the upholstery of the chair. We were collaborating with Júlia Esqué, textile-focused product designer, from the very beginning of the project and together we channeled this project from the digital realm into the physical. The limited edition Hortensia was created entirely by local craftsmen under our supervision with Júlia: we were guiding the artisans from the prototype phase till the very final result. The structure of the piece was made from wood which was covered by sculpted foam and finally we came up with a specific textile system that was upholstered all by hand. The basis of the Moooi version is made of steel and injected foam, which can only be applied on a big scale production. Moooi used the same textile system for upholstery but used their fabrics. Naturally the local production and industrial production differs one from another and both have their pros and cons.

Do sustainable materials play a role in this process for you?

Andrés Reisinger: Naturally sustainable materials matter. Although I also like to focus my practice on creating demand before supply. The current model is based on producing massive quantities of the product, storing those in warehouses and then forcing the demand for it. Reversing the mindset and focusing on the real demand first can help us optimize the production.

Don't you feel it's a devaluation of analogue craftsmanship that in the course of the current hype large sums can be achieved for virtual works?

Andrés Reisinger: I believe analogue craftsmanship will continue to exist no matter what. And good craftsmen will continue to be of lack. There is some common sentiment between futurists that humanity will utilize the eventual Metaverse as a form of escape and that will make the physical or analogue dissolve. However, I offer an alternative vision. In my practice I see a new possible answer to what the Metaverse holds: Instead of co-existing between two worlds, let them become singular. I believe the physical and the digital are merging towards

NFTs are currently criticised for consuming a lot of energy, what is your opinion on this?

Andrés Reisinger: Calculating carbon footprint based on transaction count fundamentally misunderstands how ethereum works. An ecological impact that NFT’s processes generate is insignificant compared to the damage that the current banking system is causing to the environment. Every argument on this is based on a superficial perception of the way those processes are operating. A couple of weeks ago a serious transition from POW (Proof of Work) to POS (Proof of Stake) took place in one of the major NFTs platforms. POS is the solution to decentralized transactions, with almost zero ecological cost.

What do you think will remain of the current mix of digital and analogue production when the hype around NFTs is over?

Andrés Reisinger: Objects that are done well: with love, care and time invested. With a thoughtful concept and high-skilled masters behind. Whether digital or physical, that wouldn’t matter.

Analog: "Hortensia" by Andrés Reisinger and Júlia Esqué for Moooi