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The Incidental

The Incidental is a socially-constructed map, newspaper and souvenir. A feedback loop made out of paper and human interactions - timebound, situated and circulating in a place, reprinted every night.

BERG worked as part of the team producing a unique service for the world’s biggest furniture and design event: Salone del Mobile in Milan 2009.

The British Council usually maintains a presence there, promoting British design and designers through an exhibition. That year, they had decided they would rather present some kind of service offering rather than a physical exhibition in a single venue.

Daniel Charny, of Fromnowon contacted us early on in the project, when they were moving the traditional thinking of staging an exhibition of to something that was more alive, distributed and connected to the people visiting Salone from Britain whilst also connecting those around the world who couldn’t be there.

From the early brainstorms we came up with idea of a system for collecting the thoughts, recommendations, pirate maps and sketches of the attendees to republish and redistribute the next day in a printed, pocketable pamphlet, which, would build up over the four days of the event to be a unique palimpsest of the place and people’s interactions with it, in it.

Åbäke, a collective of graphic designers who came up with the look and identity of the finished publication, alongside a team from the British Council ventured out to Milan to establish a temporary production studio for The Incidental, while BERG provided remote support from the UK and the technology to harvest the Twitter updates, blog mentions and Flickr photos to be included in the edition, overlaid on the map to be produced overnight.

This rapidly-produced thing then becomes a ’social object’: creating conversations, collecting scribbles, instigating adventures – which then get collected and redistributed.

As author Warren Ellis points out, paper is ideal material for this:

“…cheap. Portable. Biodegradable/timebound/already rotting. Suggestion of a v0.9 object. More likely to be on a desk or in a pocket or bag or on a pub table than to be shelved. More likely to be passed around.”

The Incidental is feedback loop made out of paper and human interactions -  timebound, situated and circulating in a place.

Here’s the first edition from the Wednesday of the event:

There’s some initial recommendations from the British Council team and friends, but the underlying abstracted map of Milan remains fairly unmolested.

Compare that to the last edition on Saturday, where the buzz of the event has folded back into the artifact:

blog-pic-2

The map now becomes something less functional – which it can probably afford, as you the visitor have internalised it – and becomes something more emotional or behavioural: a heat-map-like visualisation of where’s hot and what’s happened.

The dual-role of The Incidental was as both service and souvenir.

The Incidental went on to be reprised at The London Design Festival, and garnered a nomination for the Brit Insurance Designs Of The Year

Posts on The Incidental from the blog