“We thought your neon green floor would be worse. It is actually not that bad.” my cousin commented when they first came for a visit. I broke the standard — white walls and wooden floors — of domestic spaces by covering my main room in a wall-to-wall neon green carpet.
People thought I was insane. Almost everyone’s home still has a wooden floor and white walls. “You can find hardwood floors as early as the 17th century, when parquetry was developed. They became commercialised in the late 19th century. The white walls are part of the Modernist ideology, assisting in what Reyner Banham once called ‘Gestapo-style luminous environments’ which paradoxically were meant to convey the noble aspirations of a new world,” says Dan Handel, head of the worldwide know research centre Carpet Space investigating the global relationship between carpet and architecture. Basically, how the carpet works and not only how it looks.
"Have you ever had a relationship with a carpet?"
My theory that the likeness of the carpet could be revisited always suffered. The history of carpets, for example in North America, is a wild one. In the beginning of the century people at the airport in Portland adored the teal-coloured 80’s patterned carpeting, and were so opposed to its replacement, that they set up Instagram accounts - still a thing back then - posting photos of personified pieces: the carpet wearing a hat and taking pictures with travellers. Have you ever had a relationship with a carpet?
I did. I remember when 2020 was cancelled, also the Venice Biennale, and we realized that a new choreography was necessary, also within the exhibition space of the German Pavilion. It had to be planned and improvised at the same time. I wondered how empathy could be translated spatially and be provided by design, particularly in the form of a game. The popular German board game ‘Mensch ärgere Dich nicht’ -Which means Man, Don't Get Angry- came to my mind. The goal is to save your pegs by moving them over the field to your color section. But players are thrown out of the field if other players land on them. So the objective is to avoid other players.
“Mensch ärgere dich nicht” is both a game and an attitude. Translated into a carpet, it becomes a game board for spatial interaction. The level of humour is an appropriate implementation for human behaviour. Choreographies are never fixed or finished and always have to adapt to their time. And just like my neon green carpet, people today are used to it.
- THINGS MIGHT
Edition 108 of "Things Might", a column about the designed environment and how it sometimes becomes, often hurts, occasionally explodes and usually takes by Matylda Krzykowski, CEO of Total Space Global.
Sketch on the floorplan of the German Pavilion in Venice for a carpet design titled ‘Mensch Ärger Dich nicht’ by Matylda Krzykowski