Drawing As A Tool To Challenging Notions of Progress
Agnese Pellino & Maria Fernanda Duarte
‘The Colony’ is a new type of community that lives 20 years ahead in the future. Gathered by personal compatibility and shared ideals, this group of individuals decided to create a new model not only of enterprise, but of living. Appreciating a collective form of independency, instead of colonizing a specific piece of land, the expedition established in an old abandoned ferry boat and transformed it into their new territory, a mobile domain that has become their home. They are able to position themselves globally according to their necessity for resources, connections and knowledge. For that, they have developed a magnetic mechanism that allows the colony to snap to container ships and take advantage of their movement. An annulling signal prevents the system of the self-driving ships from detecting their presence.
As this once unusual mode of satellite territory becomes more and more eminent, a curious correspondent has asked the colonists to provide him with some short reports, telling a bit about their daily lives on board.
Who influences you graphically?
Collages have been used by architects to communicate ideas and visions long before the advent of Photoshop, like Mies Van der Rohe in the 20’s or OMA in the 70’s and 80’s. Most recently, the technique has been merged with illustrations as a way to create interesting blends. Pier Vittorio Aureli with Martino Tattara at Dogma and Konstantinos Pantazis with Marianna Rentzou at Point Supreme have very interesting examples. But ‘The Colony’, unlike most of contemporary collages, has been illustrated entirely in AutoCad, which is very unusual and surely tells a lot about our background (architecture).
What is your take on colour?
For this project specifically, other than a personal preference for primary colors, what dictated the color scheme was an image that we had of a shipping container. Basic red, blue and green are the colors mostly used not only for the containers but also for the structure of the ship, and those reverberate on the illustrations. The story is a criticism on the contemporary system of production and division of labor, from which ship containers are a manifestation in large scale.
What defined the language of representation of the project?
Collages are most striking when they are able to create an image that only works within a certain suspension of reality, when they make you wonder “what if” and propose a different take on the existing. That feeling was essential for what we wanted to transmit with the illustrations and the story, a speculative take on how we could have different relationships with work, other than the options that we see today at the table. That is also why we never show the ferry boat as a whole, but only fragments of it, leaving room for the reader to imagine. These illustrations have an intentional old-fashioned look, for us a way to underline that progress doesn’t lay in technology but in a going back to the basic values of communal life.
What dictated the format of the book? To what extent did it limit/ challenge the method of representation?
Based on Thomas More’s Utopia, we liked the format of the book as a way to tell the story of a utopian society, making it somehow a finished, closed work that is portable and, at the same time, open to people’s interpretation. In that sense, illustrations and text were developed simultaneously and constantly feeding each other, and that is what makes the project so concise.
Would you be interested in developing the book into an animation? What possibilities would this medium offer compared to the static page?
We see illustrations and animations as different media (illustrations contain many layers of information and need more time to be absorbed) and that it would require a re-evaluation of how the story should be visualized. Probably the animation format would be a good way to implement visuals with narrative, but on the other hand this book, as said before, is a finished work in itself, and we would rather keep using this format to tell other stories, like a sort of a book series about different topics.
Agnese Pellino is an Italian designer, interested in many different forms of art. After studying for three years between Italy (Università Federico II di Napoli) and Spain (UniZar), she took her bachelor degree in Architecture and started working for a retail design firm. Few months later she moved to the Netherlands to attend a Master in Interior Architecture, Research + Design (MIARD) at the Piet Zwart Instituut, where she graduated in June 2017. Since she was very young, her passion for travelling led her to look at things in very diverse ways. Through the years, other than building perspectives, framing them would become her main hobby. Also inspired by architects such as Carlo Scarpa, and photographers like Franco Fontana, her love for composition has been developing until now, capable of integrating photography with her design practice.
Maria Fernanda Duarte is a Brazilian architect and interior architect currently based in Rotterdam. She studied Architecture and Urbanism in Rio de Janeiro (FAU-UFRJ) and in Berlin (TFH), and she believes that a little bit of Germany would do good to Rio. In Brazil, she worked for architectural and interior offices, participating on projects of all scales. After years sharing from the pain and delight of living in Rio, she left for a sabbatical period, with the excuse of taking a master’s degree in Interior Architecture in Rotterdam (Piet Zwart Institute), which she just concluded. During her master studies, Maria was frequently busy with trying to understand the impacts of digital technology in our physical environments.