Mäander (2012)

Authenticating a Coat Hook

Does seriality ascribe or erase meaning? The underlying ethos of the industrial is long since pervaded by a Warholian ‘multiple’ aesthetic. Do we still refer to means of production, crafted or Chinese, as designators of authenticity? Is usefulness relevant in an age of ‘fetishistic consumption’? What might be the lowest common (object) denominator to discourse these ‘state of the art’ questions – a coat hook?

The setting for production photographs of the BOLLES+WILSON Meander (Mäander in German) coat hook is a wholesome foundry, a traditional workshop in the sense of Marx or Fourier. Brass casting is underway. The craftsman exercises what Richard Sennett refers to as ‘embodied knowledge’. There is always an element of magic in one concave metal object guzzling its fill of another (molten) metal and then giving it up, a newborn ‘thing’. As Barthes would say ‘… the mythology of metal participates in the myth of fire …. sublime element ….its god is Vulcan’.
But the good craftsman is a poor salesman, unable to explain the task that absorbs him. In an age of specialization special departments have been set up to box, mythologize and market – a domain shift from ways of ‘doing and making’ to ‘ways of interpreting and using’. The coat hook in question is a BOLLES+WILSON design, one of the new Iserlohner Haken (hook) series. Other designs are by the Berliners Sauerbruch + Hutton, also Jan Kleihus, also London’s Plasma Studio.
The BOLLES+WILSON hook is available in shiny copper, dull bronze or matt grey steel. Its name is MEANDER on account of its additive nature, and that’s what it does, across the wall. Its horizontal upper surface gives measure, a datum that would in extreme circumstances circumnavigate an entire room – the sort of functional Dado the Shakers would have understood.
The individual hook is not entirely self-explanatory. It manifests the sort of quirky irregular form that has given BOLLES+WILSON a bad name among those German colleagues who like their rationality on the surface. In the case of the MEANDER hook the rational is embedded and embodied in its additive nature, the way one hugs the next (incestuous mating twins). In fact the more the better (we shall here abandon the sexual analogy). An extended MEANDER line is quietness itself and functional in the extreme. Each component has two peripheral hooks. As with the alchemy of their origin there is also an essential metaphysicality enacted by the functionally engaged coat hook. Having shed their occupants, a line of coats are, by this most elementary of devices, spared the indignity of circuming to the force of gravity, of falling to the floor.
A new generation, toddlers in three under construction BOLLES+WILSON Kindergartens, will grow up cognisant of the symbolic transfer encoded in this haptic piece of moulded metal – from alchemical production, to supporting their little anoraks, to what might be termed a ‘Ruskenesque re-invigoration of the sensate object’.

Iserlohner Haken Series for HSI Hermann Schwerter Iserlohn, 2012