The Unofficial Archive

Design & Chaos by Itay Ohaly

Design & Chaos

Photo by Astrid Zuidema

Open any newspaper and its contents convey chaos in all areas: nature, politics, the economy, traffic — everything. Instead of fearing chaos, Itay Ohaly suggests embracing it. After all, Chaos Theory postulates that future outcomes within a known system remain unpredictable, so why worry about controlling the uncontrollable?Ohaly therefore decided to introduce chaos to design. In his exploration of non-linear creative processes, he systematically deconstructed and re-shuffled various stages in design. In one series of experiments, he asked different designers to each make a separate part of a single chair. Only when all the pieces were finished and built did the final design present itself — surprising all participants. He also involved different people in various design phases, asking them for simple actions (drawing, combining, cutting) without letting them know what the purpose was. The eventual outcome became a desk.
Finally, he brought several production phases together. Instead of waiting for the paint to dry first, he assembled a freshly-painted table and chairs immediately. This resulted in smudged chairs and a stained rug marking where the pieces of wet furniture had lain. With Design & Chaos, Ohaly thus not only reveals myriad new design possibilities, he also exposes a set of methods more in tune with the confused jumble of modern reality.

Itay Ohaly