Ephemeral design and counteraffordance

Conteraffordance create an ephemeral artwork. Image credit: Roberto Casati, Paris, May 2015.
Conteraffordances create an ephemeral artwork. Image credit: Roberto Casati, Paris, May 2015.

Affordances, affordances, affordances! When one of the authors of this blog had his apartment renovated, he had to make sure that the baby grand piano he cherished – impossible to move out of the otherwise emptied place – was sufficiently protected against dust and shocks. Thick layers of padding, blankets, and cellophane wrap guaranteed a first barrier against the inevitable accidents. But once we contemplated the result, the piano proved a perfect top for dropping the occasional drill, hammer, can of beer, and saw. Large and horizontal, strategically situated at the entrance of the room, it afforded too much to the workers – and too much cannot be resisted, not even by saints. We worked out a solution together, which consisted in creating a small, roof-like structure made of cardboard boxes and woodsticks; once more padded, blanketed, and cellophane wrapped. The roof is just too pitched to afford support. The result is aesthetically pleasant, the red, shiny, strange-shaped piano welcomed the team each day, and the team in turn left it undisturbed. It was a moment of art – we created an ephemeral work of art, about which conversations turned, day after day.

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