Alberto Meda's Origami is a foldable, functional and fanciful heating solution for Tubes
Italian designer Alberto Meda explains the process behind the conception of Origami, a foldable heating solution for Tubes Radiatori which is not only functional, energy efficient and technologically advanced but extremely easy on the eyes.
What sparked the Origami collection?
ALBERTO MEDA: Origami arose from the idea of creating a folding screen that had the capacity to perform various functions. We wanted to design something that would work well in open plans, where there is a need for barrier-free private space. The goal was to offer heating and privacy – both factors of physical and psychological wellbeing – in a single object.
Origami could almost be mistaken for a piece of furniture.
I think the legs have a lot to do with that. The final design is the result of an investigative approach; the design process itself drove many aesthetic decisions, such as the legs. Due to issues of safety and problems of support and stability, I came up with the idea of giving the free-standing model limbs. This leg, which was added quite late in the design process, gives Origami its character and identity. It suddenly becomes domestic. It’s not just a screen, but a decorative piece, one that is highly functional and also very technologically advanced.
Did any other surprises emerge from the design process?
The design of an object is rarely a linear process. As a designer you are constantly reassessing what you’ve done. Every once in a while you encounter an obstacle, which forces you to reconsider your design or come up with a new approach. The leg is one example of how the process can trigger an unexpected element or aesthetic result. Another thing that came up during the design stage was the idea of taking the free-standing model and making a wall-mounted module. In this case the partition serves a completely different function.
How does Origami work exactly? Apart from an electrical cord, there is nothing to suggest that it is, in fact, a radiator.
Origami’s inner workings are very complex. Despite its complexity, we wanted to completely hide this technology from view. It’s an approach that I think is important. Technology should be used, not exhibited. In addition to a pleasing aesthetic, technology should provide an intuitive and comprehensive solution to our problems.
Did Origami take long to develop?
The whole process took very little time. I made a prototype using a small 3D printer we have in the studio. It was made of lots of tiny elements. The hinges, which we also designed, connected the individual pieces to make the wavy profile. I sent Tubes the prototype and they were very quick to respond with positive feedback. Physical models have a stronger impact than 2D sketches. I think the fact that we were able to provide this physicality early on played a big role in accelerating the whole process.
Speaking of physicality, what are your thoughts on Salone del Mobile or the traditional trade fair in general? In this digital age, is the show-and-tell model still relevant?
Physical presentation is still important. Sure, you could technically view all the novelties at Salone from a screen, but objects need to be touched! The desire and necessity for a physical experience will always be there.
Photos courtesy of Tubes