Lisa Ertel and Jannis Zell are designers and artists who visualize thoughts around matter and time as well as nature and culture. They materialize the veiled histories, modes of representation, and conditioning of everyday objects through artistic and design-based approximation. Along recurring walks in urban and rural landscapes, they try to suss out the pervading spirit of a particular place—its genius loci—from which they test out rituals of creating, informed by its actants and its mysteries. Together they collect nonhuman artifacts, or biofacts, to bring back to their studio. These objects and traces become part of a growing Wunderkammer that the designers plumb for associative shapes and images.
Slowly, collected souvenirs begin to blend in with the studio’s interior, and a dialogue between inside and outside emerges. Raw materials become tame or assume domestic functions as they adapt to their new surroundings, while mundane tools and objects suddenly appear wild or animate. Through experiments mimicking surface and substance, the designers question the stability of our material habitat.