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With Pet Objects, Odami Empathizes with the Inanimate

The design studio’s series of sculptures blur the line between living thing and household item

By Gregory Furgala
Photography by Odami

It started with her. She had been with Odami’s Michael Fohring and Aránzazu González Bernardo for years, but the couple had moved on and replaced her. Reluctant to put her on the street in winter, they let her stay – maybe better accommodations could be found; maybe she’d find a new home. But then something happened that neither of them expected: they started to feel sad about the idea of letting her go, which is odd, because “her” was just their old mattress.

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Fohring and González Bernardo didn’t consciously anthropomorphize their old mattress – sorry, “her” – until they were ready to throw her away. Inconvenient as it may have been, their weathered pile of fabric and foam had become family. Odami’s Pet Objects, a study in form, material and empathy, builds on that dynamic: the empathetic relationships we develop with objects.

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Despite their abstract final forms, Fohring and González Bernardo arrived at each object using both rigorous method and artistic intuition. Over the course of a few years, and through many iterations, they developed a process and series of operations to arrive at each finished product. It starts with a fabric-cast plaster, which is then scanned and digitized. Using computer model- ling, three key operations abiding by three themes may be carried out: the digital object might be cut open; it may be copied, rotated in place 10 degrees and pasted; or it may be merged with a clean shape. Each stage sees the object manipulated and its dimensions altered to create a digital object distinct from its plaster predecessor.

Once done, it’s 3D printed in plastic, coated in resin, then finished with pearlescent automotive paint to exaggerate the varied surfaces and blur the line between object and organic. “There’s a bodily language that instigates these feelings toward them,” says Fohring. “You can connect with them in a different way than you would with a purely geometrically composed object.”

The resulting forms resist mere objectification. Some have contours not unlike musculature, while others foreground their inanimateness. Some feature clearly defined patterns, and others appear to have no repeating elements whatsoever. Some tap into the very human sensations of humour and eroticism. However you read them, though, you certainly won’t want to leave them out in the cold. ODAMI.CA


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