SUPERTOYS SUPERTOYS designing objects for an animist world

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+31 (0) 61 62 539 90 (Merle)
+31 (0) 62 95 800 20 (Job)

“Today, it seems interesting to me to go back to what I would call an animist conception of subjectivity, if need be through neurotic phenomena, religious rituals, or aesthetic phenomena. How does subjectivity locate on the side of the subject and on the side of the object? How can it simultaneously singularize an individual, a group of individuals, and also be assembled to space, architecture and all other cosmic assemblages?”

— Félix Guattari

As humans we are used to organize our lives around our objects. Objects (especially digital ones) become more and more an extension of our body, prosthesis, physically and mentally. Without them we feel a great sense of lack. At the same time, currently, there is a clear shift from owning an object we use, into using the time of an object we do not own (share economy etc). This remarkable shift let us to believe that we will, unfortunately, more sharply distinguish tools from artefacts in the near future, and subsequently, interact with objects only through its added user enhancement/ability/value or only through its narrative/brand/identity power. A distinction which, in result, enhances the destructive bond between lack and desire as a cultural force that scrambles and confuses, and that, in our view, creates an unreal world.

We started Supertoys Supertoys in 2018 because we feel confused and disconnected with these current modes of object-human relations. In our design practice we build upon the notion of an animist conception of subjectivity, nurturing a relationality among things and humans, taking a positive turn, celebrating Guattari’s notion of schizophrenic desire as a constant creative force disconnecting it from lack.

In our view the border between object as tool and object as artefact should be blurred or erased, reassessing modernity. And while this border erodes, new connections can be made, new assemblages can exist. It is in this blurred and eroded state, where the most concrete and the most abstract come together, where there is no distinction between content and expression, that the real world exists. In this sense, you could say, we have an animist view of the world. We consider all things, objects, animals, people, planets as being connected to one large network, where there is nothing that is necessarily more important or less important than anything else, where objects have a spirit of their own; where things enfold into themselves.

Try to imagine how things enfold into themselves by asking the following question: What if a table wants to be a flower? Or what if a table, which looks like a flower, changes into a table again. What does the table desire? These are simple questions that can easily be mistaken for a speculative design strategy, but for us, they are questions within the realm of animism. Highly intuitive and a bit naive but as such starting points to find the imperceptible qualities of form and shape. Finding aesthetic phenomena in all their sensibilities, giving us an entire new mode to view the world, a more animist view on the world.

It’s not that we think our animist world view is better than other views but it gives us a sort of intuitive alternative for exhausted systems such as capitalism, neoliberalism or lately the dream of a ‘share economy' in which the main focus of all these societal systems is on production and (non-) ownership of things instead of the reciprocality between things and humans. In a way, we try to break the ongoing entanglement of “being human through things” through “being human among things”…

…and when we consider ourselves humans among things we can more easily design objects for what they are and not what they are for. //

Merle (1988, DE) graduated cum laude from the Piet Zwart Institute, Master Interior Architecture: Research + Design in 2017 in Rotterdam. For her graduation project she received the prestigious Willem de Kooning Research Award and MIARD Alumni Research Award.

Job (1974, NL) is a practising architect and design lecturer. He worked for UNStudio as senior architect before starting his own practice.