NO-CHAIR-DESIGN: Happy Birthday Stefan Lindfors

Acclaimed designer Stefan Lindfors threw his birthday party at the Helsinki, White Hall. Lindfors is undoubtedly the best known designer in Finland and has caused a stir with his controversial design and public statements. In the framework of “design terrorism” Lindfors has branched outside the role of a mere industrial designer and has worked with performance art and directed short movies..  While he was greeting guests at the door something very different was being performed behind his back.

Lindforses colleague and friend artist Pekka Niskanen decided to give the birthday boy (who has designed everything from adult toys-to-buildings) something intangible. Niskanen gave the man who has designed it all.. An “invisible chair performance” as a gift. Talk about less is more design philosophy! A performance a gift is a novel idea. Special thanks to the birthday party planning team for finding the time to fit this into the tight schedule! I hope that this will serve as a good example for people interested in investing to performance art. Sometimes the act of giving is best served by giving an act.

This gift was only topped by Lindforses gift to himself.. Turning 50 he quit smoking. Congratulations mr. Lindfors!

When it comes to sustainable design Lindfors caused a scene some years back when designing the “Plup” bottled water container. Soon after he was attacked by environmentalists left-to-right. The issue was that the round (and as musician Ville Valo described “erotic and quirky“) container did not meet the returnable bottle industry standards. Hense Plups where deemed non-returnable to shops, by Palpa the "Finnish Returnable Container Company”. So, unlike with standard bottles which you get 20cents per bottle when returning to the shop (which are then grinned to shreds and remade into new bottles), people where stuck with their round and quirky Plup flasks.

10cents from every Plup sold was redirected for environmental organizations working to protect the Gulf Finland. But environmentalists argued that consumers purchasing Plup bottles where doing more harm then good.  I think that at the time the product was misunderstood. As Lindfors himself stated the bottles where not meant to be recycled.. They where meant to be owned. To be refilled and reused indefinitely.

Bottled water is undoubtedly the most ridiculous commodity you can consume in a country like Finland, with fresh water running trough every tap. Lindfors made a strong statement with the Plup.. It was not about the water at all. It was only about the design. People could buy a design object for 2,50€ and use it indefinitely. It is design which places design markets in an awkward position. If every product out there would be made form the same ideological mindset.. The market value of design as a collectable would drop and consumers would soon have nothing to consume (The only thing left to invest in would be performance art..). As a statement Plup made a mockery of the bottled water industry in general.. For a while it made selling water in small bottles seem like a dump idea.

If someone out there still has a Plup in use please let the world now about it! I guess it was the marketing which caused Plups to flunk. Not to say Lindfors and friends didn’t try. Here is a video backed up with top of the line dancer (now singer) Jorma Uotinen and jackass Bam Margera.