A rug that tells you how long it took to make and an electroplated chess set inspired by dusty archives are among the Viennese duo's most recent experiments
Mischer Traxler is most comfortable working to open-ended briefs, so a recent project for Italian rug company Nodus proved challenging. "We knew from the start that we were going to make a rug," co-founder Katharina Mischer says. "It's the first time we'd worked on a project while already knowing the result.
"We found out that, depending on the density of the knotting, the rugs can take their Nepali weavers up to a year to make." In an attempt to make explicit the effort that goes into making each rug, she and her partner Thomas Traxler decided to work with a single weaver, giving him particular colours with which to weave one line every day and so each visible line on the Day-by-Day Rug represents one day of work.
Day-by-day rug, made by weavers in Nepal
Mischer Traxler places great importance on the manufacturing process. With its project for the Kunstgewerbemuseum in Dresden, for example, the final product was a secondary consideration.
The museum asked them to come up with an installation or exhibition that related to objects in its archives. "In the archives, we came across some velvet pieces that used to have crochet or lace work displayed on them. In the 1980s, they took these off, but the velvet retained the imprint of the fabric that had been placed on top."
The designers replicated this process of the light decolouring the velvet to form an image of the lace – but with metal. "Through a process of electroplating, we made the pattern on pieces of copper appear on stainless steel." They made several products this way, but finally decided to display a chess set, called Cumprum, alongside the original velvet and lace pieces.
The theme of imprints is one that Micher Traxler has explored in another recent project, Reversed Volumes, a series of plates moulding using leaves, which built on a previous series of bowls made using fruits and vegetables.
The duo is now turning its attention to larger-scale schemes, designing two installations for an old people's home in Vienna. "The less mobile residents can't access the garden, so we decided to bring the outdoors to them with a flying garden and kinetic installation that represents the weather."