I’m a self-proclaimed Droog addict, and have touted the “je ne sais quoi” of the always-engaging and wryly humorous Dutch design ad nauseam. And this bee-made vessel by Tomas Gabzdil Libertiny of Studio Libertiny is no exception. Making its debut at Droog’s booth in Milan, the vase was made by 40,000 bees over the course of one week. Studio Libertiny constructed a vase-shaped hive that the bees then colonized, building a hexagonal comb to encompass the existing form. And in the usual dry yet oh-so-clever Dutch manner, Studio Libertiny calls this process “slow prototyping,” a more time-consuming, yet much more poetic alternative to CNC rapid prototyping.
Beautiful in its ephemeral nature, Libertiny’s “collaboration” with honey bees pushes the boundaries of so-called conventional design by defying mass production and enabling nature to create what would typically be considered a man-made product. In my opinion, one of the tenets of good design is that it should tell a story. Studio Libertiny’s bee vase, like so much other Dutch design, not only tells the story, but does so in an ecologically-derived, natural way that concedes the human manufacturing process to something simpler and more beautiful. The more I look at it, the more I am in complete and utter awe.
We found this quote from Tomas Gabzdil Libertiny via Dezeen:
I have been interested in contradicting the current consumer society (which is interested in slick design) by choosing to work with a seemingly very vulnerable and ephemeral material – beeswax. To give a form to this natural product it has occurred more than logical to choose a form of a vase as a cultural artifact. Beeswax comes from flowers and in the form of a vase ends up serving flowers on their last journey.
At this point I asked myself a question: “Can I make this product already at the place where the material originates?” My ambition to push things further led me to alienate the process by which bees make their almost mathematically precise honeycomb structures and direct it to create a fragile and valuable object – like a pearl. This takes time and time creates value.