Thursday, February 24, 2011

Marc Newson, Random Pak Sofa

Marc Newson grew up in suburban Australia in the 1970s. During his childhood, he spent most of his time making things with his grandfather in their garage, and he also loved to take the different components of objects like radio, bicycles, watches apart to see how they worked. The little boy would have been amazed if he had known that he would later design cars and jet, that a work made by him in his 20s would be sold at more than 1 million pounds and would set a record, and that he would himself become an icon.

Newson studied jewelery and sculpture at Sydney College of Arts. In 1986, Lockheed Lounge launched Newson’s career. The then 23-year-old had made the piece with his own hands and exhibited it in a gallery in his native Sydney. It was the beginning of a process that would make him one of the most prolific and recognized designers in the world. The Lockheed Lounge established a parallel vein of work that is neither strictly furniture nor art but that he has described as experiments that needed a medium. Newson does design-art: handcrafted, limited editions of pieces of furniture so sculptural they are more art than serviceable item.

In 2005, Time magazine named Newson one of the 100 most influential people in the world, and he was also placed among the world's top 10 industrial designers, with names such as Philippe Starck and Ron Arad. In 2007, Newson had a solo show at the hugely influential Gagosian Gallery in New York, the only designer in a stable of artists.

Newson exploited his image cannily, occasionally even modelling next to his products in advertisements. But nowadays he is the rejecting the “rock star designer” epithet that was given to him by the media.

Among all his amazing works of art, we had to choose one related to the previous object we study, which was... Toilet Paper. The parallel was not so easy to make. But Toilet Paper is, first of all, paper. It is something that seems fragile, light, but in fact can be very strong. It is something that you can find in any home. It has a particular structure when you look at it closely. Taking all these different elements into account, we chose to work on the Random Pak Sofa. You can find a sofa in almost every apartment, it is an object of the daily life. But this Sofa has a very particular structure that we will study now. It seems light, it seems fragile, just as paper. But unlike toilet paper, it inevitably catch the attention of anyone who happens to see it.


This piece is made exclusively of grown nickel. The body of work at Gagosian is the culmination of a more serious period of investigation, heavily influenced by Newson’s access to the technology of the aviation industry. “All the technology that I’m interested in typically filters down from the aerospace industry, most of the time for the military,” he says. “I’m able to cross-fertilise, and that for me is what’s really exciting about what I do ».The process used to create its very particular honeycombed style derives form a software developed by Newson's studio to generate shapes built in nickel by a laser sintering process, typically used to create rapid prototypes for the automotive or aerospace industries. Sintering in the process of coalesceing from powder into solid by heating. This process is called electro-forming, and consists in the growing of a metallic culture onto surrogate forms that then become redundant. In the basic electroforming process, an electrolytic bath is used to deposit nickel or other electroplatable metal onto a conductive patterned surface, such as glass or stainless steel. Once the plated material has been built up to the desired thickness, the electroformed part is stripped off the master substrate.

“It’s for making shapes that can’t otherwise be fabricated, like complex manifolds for jet engines.” "This process is obscenely labor-intensive," says Newson. "It takes months and months and months to build each piece, because they are so hard to make and there are so many failures. We've put an enormous amount of research into this". Only 10 pieces had been made. So basically, if you want to recreate this object using its raw materials, you will need nickel powder, and powerful computers, software, lasers and other machines.


The pieces are currently exposed at the Gagosian Gallery in New York, their rice has been estimated to go from $70 000 to $400 000. Nevertheless in 2006, Newson's aluminum recliner, Lockheed Lounge, was sold at Sotheby's for $968 000 , the highest price fetched at auction for a work by a living designer. These are considered as works of art, and so their prices can skyrocket in auctions.

Marc Newson is suspicious of the design world's current love affair with art market. "It really bugs me that there are people cashing in on this", he says, referring to the lucrative wave of limited edition and one-off works selling through auction houses and galleries.


What does it look like ?

The Random Pak Sofa is designed to seat more than one person and providing support for the back and arms. Therefore, it disposes of 2 arm-rests on both sides and a long back.

The structure gives the RPS a metallic, shiny, grey hue.

On all parts, the sofa is pierced. The entire structure appears as a metallic web, or even a metallic sheet covering a sofa-shaped bubble of air, oddly holding in mid-air.

How does it differ from objects in the same family ?

Typically, couches consist of a wooden or metal structure supplemented by padding and are covered in a variety of textiles or leather, or sometimes a combination of both.

With the RPS, most of that is absent. Everything seems ot have been stripped to the bare essential: the metal structure. It is the sofa in its purest form.

We could also wonder about the alleged question of comfort that the regular sofa is expected to provide. At first glance, the very metal structure that constitutes this particular couch does not look very appealing to any back or bottom. On the contrary, one of the first question one might ask is: "Is that sofa really comfortable?"

By these characteristics, the RPS strictly differs from any typical sofa. The least one could say is that it is not conventional. Rather, it breaks free from the norms of the common sofa.


What is it used for?

Basically a sofa, regardless of its main component, serves primarily as object on which one can sit. It is a very social object as it enables multiple people to take place next to each other on a very limited area. Of course there are other more intimate ways to use a sofa, but this one does not seem quite appropriate as it main purpose does not seem to be the confort but it is its beauty and elegance that makes it different from other sofas; Hence this sofa can be used, as it is the product of a renowned designer, to sort of show off or at least expose your delicate tastes to your guests . In a nutshell, as it is a work of art, it is a way to show your tastes.

Besides, the question that comes is how you are going to present it? Are you going to put it right along the wall, or are you going to leave some room? Is it going to be at the center of the room?

Hence, the dilemma is whether you want to use it as a piece of art, or do you want to exploit its utility by using it on a daily basis?

How does it function ?

If you think, first, about how a classical sofa works, it is quite simple: you just sit on it. Or lay down on it. It is made in such a way that when you put something on it, the thing you put will be attracted toward the ground as a result of gravity, but the weigh will be compensated by the forces exercised by the sofa on the object. Hence the object will remain in a state of inertia.

But this sofa is first and foremost made to be looked at, to be admired, to be exposed. It is created an thought as a piece of art. Would it be strong enough for someone to sit on it ? Would someone even think of sitting on it ? Would you by something like this for practical needs, just to put it in your living room ? I would not.

Therefore, the RPS works as a piece of art, and a piece of art is meant to arouse someone's interest and imagination.


What makes this object unique and sets it apart from identical objects ?

One of the first assets that makes the RPS different from other designed sofas is the mark of the designer itself: Marc Newson. The pattern of oddly-shaped holes of the structure is one of the designer's touch. In this way, the image of the creator sets this object apart. Others could have designed it, but only Marc Newson did.

Is this object inviolable, or what, if anything, makes it sacrosanct ?

The emphasis put on the designer's label attributes a specific value to this object. One will not look at a sofa produced by a big chain in the same way, or with the same perspective as they will observe the RPS. This different approach contributes to transform this object and give it a more artistic value, maybe raise its 'ranking' in the sofa family.

The idea transported through this object complements its inviolability. To understand this, we need to analyse and understand the signification of the object...


How does this object go beyond initial interpretation ?

First, when we see it, it looks like a sofa. It is called a sofa. But its whole aspect shows, as we said before, that it is not only that. It is a piece of art. Classically, art is not associated with a practical use. It blurs the frontier between art and furniture, Newson uses the furniture as a basis for developing a new piece of art. To understand this object, we need to look further, we need to investigate how it was made, and what were Newson's inspirations. When we know it was science fiction, and the aviation industry gives us a further understanding of the object, who is a synthesis of furniture, art, science, and industry.

Does it have a cultural legacy whether it is for the mass, the elite ?

Here again there is a blur : a sofa is a popular object, it is for the mass, you can find it at very affordable prices, but this one is a piece of art designed by a designer whose first lounge has set a price record, which makes it clearly something for the elite. If we add to its potential really, really high price the fact that it has been exposed in a museum, we can nonetheless say that it is for the masses, because object are exposed in museums to be made available to the larger number of people possible.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

"Life is cheap... but toilet paper is expensive"

Wipe it !

I'm an object, but first of all a contradiction. I'm everywhere, but I seem to be nowhere. You use me every single day of your life, without exception. Yet, never do you talk about me. I do great things for you, Still, consciously or not, you reject me to obscurity. You almost force yourslef not to think about me.

My name is toilet paper, and today, you shall have no choice but to listen to what i have to say.


Raw Materials
Toilet paper is generally made from new or "virgin" paper, using a combination of softwood and hardwood trees. Softwood trees such as Southern pines and Douglas firs have long fibers that wrap around each other; this gives paper strength. Hardwood trees like gum, maple and oak have shorter fibers that make a softer paper. Toilet paper is generally a combination of approximately 70% hardwood and 30% softwood.

Other materials used in manufacture include water, chemicals for breaking down the trees into usable fiber, and bleaches. Companies that make paper from recycled products use oxygen, ozone, sodium hydroxide, or peroxide to whiten the paper. Virgin-paper manufacturers, however, often use chlorine-based bleaches (chlorine dioxide), which have been identified as a threat to the environment.

The Manufacturing Process

1. Trees arive at the mill and are debarked, a process that removes the tree's outer layer while leaving as much wood on the tree as possible.

2. The debarked logs are chipped into a uniform size. These small pieces make it easier to pulp the wood.

3. The batch of wood chips is then mixed with cooking chemicals; the resultant slurry is sent to a pressure cooker called a digester.

4. During the cooking, which can last up to three hours, much of the moisture in the wood is evaporated (wood chips contain about 50% moisture). The mixture is reduced to cellulose fibers, lignin (which binds the wood fibers together) and other substances. Out of this, you can find the usable fiber, called pulp, which result from each cooked batch.

5. The pulp goes through a multistage washer system that removes most of the lignin and the cooking chemicals. This fluid, called black liquor, is separated from the pulp, which goes on to the next stage of production.

6. The washed pulp is sent to the bleach plant where a multistage chemical process removes color from the fiber. Residual lignin, the adhesive that binds fibers together, will yellow paper over time and must be bleached to make paper white.

7. The pulp is mixed with water again to produce paper stock, a mixture that is 99.5% water and 0.5% fiber. The paper stock is sprayed between moving mesh screens, which allow much of the water to drain. This produces an 18-ft (5.5-m) wide sheet of matted fiber at a rate of up to 6,500 ft (1981 m) per minute.

8. The mat is then transferred to a huge heated cylinder called a Yankee Dryer that presses and dries the paper to a final moisture content of about 5%.

9. Next, the paper is creped, a process that makes it very soft. During creping, the paper is scraped off the Yankee Dryer with a metal blade. This makes the sheets somewhat flexible but lowers their strength and thickness so that they virtually disintegrate when wet. The paper, which is produced at speeds over a mile a minute, is then wound on reels that can weigh as much as five tons.

The paper is then loaded onto converting machines that unwind, slit, and rewind it onto long thin cardboard tubing, making a paper log. The paper logs are then cut into rolls and wrapped packages.

Toilet tissue made from recycled paper is made from both colored and white stock. The paper goes into a huge vat called a pulper that combines it with hot water and detergents to turn it into a liquid slurry. The recycled pulp then goes through a series of screens and rinses to remove paper coatings and inks. The pulp is whitened and sanitized with oxygen-based products like peroxide. It then goes through steps 7 through 10 like virgin paper products, producing a cheaper, less-white paper.


A roll of toilet paper costs about 6 cents to produce. A machine can produce from 25 to 80 rolls per minute, and on average 40 000 rolls are produced per day by a classical machine.
Today there are over 5,000 different companies producing bathroom tissue around the world trying to make our lives more convenient, clean and efficient. Charmin, Cottonelle, Lotus...

Main producing countries :

1. China

2. Hong Kong

3. United States

4. Turkey

5. South Africa

6. United Kingdom

  1. Bulgaria

With a little over 6 billion humans living on earth, that calls for the daily production of 83,048,116 eighty three million forty eight thousand one hundred and sixteen rolls per day with no days off and no vacations, 30.6 billion rolls per year and 2.7 rolls per second. Strangely enough, that’s 80% greater than our daily consumption or use of salt, 63% greater than our average use of milk, and 84 billion more people served annually than McDonald’s fast food restaurants. Yet, still we often times remain oblivious to toilet paper and take advantage of the convenience it provides for us.

Each time we reach for the “cotton-savior”, an average tear of 5.9 sheets is ripped from the roll. This doesn't take into account the other uses than can be made of the toilet paper.

A typical brand's 12-pack retails for $6.99, which makes $0,58 per roll. We can thus see that it is an industry that makes huge profits, the rolls are sold about 10 times their price of production. The prices vary a lot depending on the variety of toilet paper. Logically, the most expensive to produce are the most expensive when sold. The more ply there are, the more thicker they are, the more expensive they are. You can also find the perfumed toilet papers, or even fancy printed ones.

There are about 352 sheets per roll, meaning that it will last a family of four about 18 to 19 days. That means that family needs to buy a 12-pack about 20 times per year, putting the annual toilet-tissue costs around $140.

Twenty-six billion rolls of toilet paper, worth about US$ 2.4 billion, are sold yearly in America alone. Americans use an average of 100 rolls per capita a year.

While it’s that true toilet paper as we know it today hasn’t changed much, our consumption may have. In fact, the average U.S. consumer uses more than 21 000 sheets annually.

Moreover, we can say that toilet paper will always have value because it is a good we cannot do without. In some countries the use of toilet paper was not really widespread, due to cultural differences, and people used other means. In Japan, a lot of people still use water to clean themselves. Nevertheless, globalization made the use of toilet paper common in a lot more countries, and this process is still going on today, which means that the demand for toilet paper in the world is still rising.

When you think of producers of greenhouse gas emissions, pollution and resource depletion, toilet paper probably doesn’t join the list of products and industries that come to mind. But the natural resources that go into toilet paper should be taken into account. According to some estimates, approximately 7 million trees are used each year to make up the U.S.’s toilet paper supply.The idea of using virgin wood for throwaway paper products seems silly, but it happens nearly 99 percent of the time. Toilet paper made of 100 percent recycled paper fiber makes up less than 2 percent of the market in the U.S.
The National Resource Defense Council (NRDC) estimates that if every household replaced just one 500-sheet roll of virgin fiber toilet paper with a 100 percent recycled fiber roll, 423,900 trees would be saved annually.


what does it look like?

-toilet paper is available in several types of paper, a variety of colors, decorations, and textures and may be moistened or perfumed.

-The average measures of a modern roll of toilet paper is ~10 cm wide, ø 12 cm and weighs about 227 grammes.

--The average sheet of toilet paper weighs in at a little over .22 grams and 4.0625 inches per square reaching approximately338.5 feet per roll and 5.3 million miles of toilet paper per day.

-Toilet paper products vary immensely in the technical factors that distinguish them: sizes, weights, roughness, softness, chemical residues, "finger-breakthrough" resistance, water-absorption, etc.

-Quality is usually determined by the number of plies (stacked sheets), coarseness, and durability. Low grade institutional toilet paper is typically of the lowest grade of paper, has only one or two plies, is very coarse and sometimes has small amounts of unbleached/unpulped paper embedded in it.

-Two-ply toilet paper is the standard in many countries, although one-ply is often available and marketed as a budget option. Toilet paper, especially if it is marketed as "luxury", may be quilted or rippled (embossed), perfumed, colored or patterned, medicated (with anti-bacterial chemicals), treated with aloe, etc.

-Many novelty designs are also available on toilet paper, from cute cartoon animals to pictures of disfavored political celebrities to pictures of dollar bills.

How does it differ from other objects of the same family?

-Napkins, paper towel, tissue
different size and dimensions/ cylindric shape that differentiates it from both napkins and tissues, but it is usually half the size of a roll of paper towel+ It is hanged horizontally which makes it fashionable.


  • Toilet papering (also called TP'ing, House Wrapping or Yard Rolling) is the act of covering an object, such as a tree, house, or another structure with toilet paper. This is typically done by throwing numerous toilet paper rolls in such a way that they unroll in mid-air and thus fall on the targeted object in multiple streams. Toilet papering is common in the United States and frequently takes place after the completion of a school's homecoming football game and graduation and on Halloween and Mischief Night

                  • The Madison Museum of Bathroom Tissue was established in 1992, and closed in 2000. The museum was co-founded by Carol Kolb [1] and was located at 305 N. Hamilton in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, in a second-floor apartment three blocks from the state capitol.


                                                                            Toilet Paper is a new magazine directed by Maurizio Cattelan and photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari (Le Dictateur). Following in the wake of Cattelan's cult publication Permanent Food, Toilet Paper is a new generation magazine that combines commercial photography, twisted narratives and surrealistic imaginary

                                                                            • Toilet paper dresses – toilet paper used in art as form of breaking the taboo, provocation, breaking the common imges on objects

                                                                              • some activists have proposed that toilet paper be manufactured only from recycled products and suggest that consumers boycott toilet paper made of new materials.

                                                                                The production of virgin toilet paper has spawned two current controversies: the destruction of trees, and the use of chlorine dioxide to bleach the paper.

                                                                                « Life Is Cheap... But Toilet Paper Is Expensive » is a 1989 film directed by Wayne Wang.