Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Plate Life

Plate Life © Alberto Ferretto

Fabrica and &Foam: Still Lights series
Plate Life, light and bowl (Dean Brown, Scotland)

Plate Life is perhaps the most conceptual of all the Fabrica objects on display in &Foam. Perhaps because, on the face of it, you're not really sure what it is or what it does. But that is precisely the point. Plate Life is  part light, part display, part...well, itself. If you needed to locate it somewhere in order to understand the idea, you'd have to look to your kitchen washboard. Because Dean Brown, a product designer from Scotland, has taken the humble domestic dish rack as his starting point.
Whereas most of us would not look twice at this functional piece of kitchen 'furniture', Brown has spied something more poetic. As he explained to me, he felt the dish rack, when filled with crockery, could be viewed as a kind of still life arrangement. Okay, but it's still quite a step from there to Plate Life, isn't it?

Plate Life © Alberto Ferretto


Like all the other Fabrica students, Brown was asked to interpret the mutually dependent photographic elements of subject, light and frame. And that is exactly what he has done. Without one of these elements, Plate Life does not function. So we have a large bowl, which serves as a reflector in the same way as a studio lighting umbrella. We have a light source placed inside a smaller bowl, which projects a cold beam onto the reflector from a focused LED (supplied by project partner Philips). We have the frame, provided by the rack which holds the lighting set up. And we have the subject, which, it turns out, is the arrangement itself.

Plate Life © Alberto Ferretto

Plate Life then, is essentially a lighting set-up of a lighting set-up. Quite cerebral stuff for something from such workaday beginnings. But it's not all high art. Brown tells me the locally-sourced Bosa ceramic bowl is a perfectly usable item for the home (they are also for sale separately in &Foam). So, if you feel the need, you can subvert the whole self-referential dialogue for a while and toss yourself a healthy mixed salad.

Jonathan Crawford

You can see Plate Life and the other products in the series Still Lights at &Foam until 21 October 2012.

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