‘ablaze – sentimento (s)travolgente’ by ingo maurer image © designboom

as smoke fills a distored cabin, our instinctive apprehension of light, surfaces, and sound builds a transformative scene in the installation ‘ablaze – sentimento (s)travolgente’, the work of german designer ingo maurer with axel schmid for energy production company enel.

in italian, ‘stravolgente’ means physically or abstractly ‘distorted’ or ‘misconstrued’, while ‘travolgente’ describes something ‘overwhelming’ or ‘breathtaking’. the installation as a whole explores these kinds of tension and contrasts, in what the designers reference as ‘the desire to demonstrate, in slow motion, the gradual transformation of a burning building: the initial ‘dream’ is transformed into perception of change, mutation.’

ingo maurer: ablaze artist rendering of the installation

built of blackened wooden boards on a wooden platform, the small cabin is itself a distortion of the iconic pentagonal house graphic. a steel cable supports the precariously perched edifice, whose windows and door are all skewed along the same tilted axis as its walls. every few minutes, a hidden machine fills the room with smoke, which dissipates through the house’s windows and into the courtyard, and slowly clears.

the red interior of the cabin suggests the urgency and power of fire, while a recessed opening in the floor is painted bright green, adding to the contrast of the piece. from the ceiling, a silver oblong pendulum swings consistently from one side of the room to the other in times of both fire and calm, reflecting the space and its visitors and thus interiorizing them into the structure.

ingo maurer: ablaze full view image © designboom

ingo maurer: ablaze every few minutes, the cabin fills with smoke image © designboom

ingo maurer: ablaze image © designboom

the experience of visiting the project entails a further immersion into the logic of the installation, as it is only accessible through a stone corridor, from one side of which emanate the sound of loud rolls and crackles as well as a fire-like, amber glow. in the courtyard itself, cajun and zydeco music play continuously, occasionally drowned out by the rumbling sounds of the ‘fire’, only to reemerge in the soundscape as the smoke slowly settles away.

‘ablaze – sentimento (s)travolgente’ is on display as part of interni mutant architecture & design, during milan design week 2011.

ingo maurer: ablaze closer view of the pendulum and interior, as seen through the door image © designboom

ingo maurer: ablaze the interior, as seen through a side window image © designboom

ingo maurer: ablaze interior view as the room begins to fill with smoke image © designboom

ingo maurer: ablaze night view image © designboom

ingo maurer: ablaze the installation is accessible only through a stone corridor, where fire-like light flashes on the walls and ceilings, and loud rolls and crackles are heard image © designboom