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Tibor Uhrín. Cut With the Grains

The best way how to approach Tibor Uhrín´s work is simply to cross /cut/ it. He did it himself when he crossed the boundaries of the highly functional design and decided instead to experiment with the form of the everyday objects. He makes reference to the expressive and emotional aspects of the creative process and the need to constantly experiment in a technology and construction. The field of his imaginative creations most of which are functional everyday objects ranges from tableware /bowls, various containers/ to furniture /chair, table/. Tibor Uhrín designs the individual pieces and executes them in a way that is durable, timeless and memorable as an alternative to the mass consumption.

Tibor Uhrín initially trained in an industrial design and only later turned to furniture design. He gains his inspiration from the major figures of the 20th century design such as Aalto, Pye, Krenov or Wirkkala and a Slovak folk tradition. His work can be best described in the terms of David Pye as a „workmanship on risk“ and is characterized by the reflective approach. Tibor Uhrín not only does the prototypes himself but loves to find new construction methods designing machine tools as well. The use of technologies and the process of design itself are always subsumed within the final product.

He works along the limits of the material most often of wood, metal but also of plastic. Later his interest and curiosity grew about the hybridity. He started to combine luxurious with cheap like expensive wood and a recycled plastic constantly trying to find the new forms of expression (Pet containers, 2010). Of particular significance is his experimentation in bent and pressing wood working with the flexibility of the material like in his bowls Rollmops (2002) where he used a green wood bending. In the process of wood binding he often uses wooden nails but sometimes also less conventional way like sewing. By playing with words and expression, he adds another dimension to his mainly furniture designs. He chooses the names with humour and they invite us to reflect upon them like in  The Table for Hale and Bopp (1998), Pressed Shelf (1999), A Coat Hanger for Three Veterans (1999) and more recently in his Monoplane Table (2011) or in the stools Ballfix (2013,2014). 

Uhrín´s early career started in 90´s with the toys and wooden construction sets (Gringo, 1993). Soon it turned out that a biomorphic design is the aesthetics that the designer favours. This included not only his lively design but would transcend into his land art projects. Utilizing this knowledge he was able to solve technical problems concerning the flexibility of wood and used irregular curved forms. His nature-inspired patterns and shapes display natural materials, undulating lines and transferred reliefs from landscape such as waves, furrows or water line like in the Drifting Bowl (since 2013) evoking the irregularities of furrows and cultivated wavy fields. Constant search for new landscape-inspired shapes resulted in many original designs: Venus’s Trap bowls (since 2004), Butterfly collection (photo and message stands, 2007).Works that merge organic and geometric include the wooden bowls Fossil (continuously since 2007), variations of the aluminium bowls Venus’s Trap executed in a wood and bound by sewing or in the bowls pure in shape and well balanced employing a décor of forms in a tribute to Wiener Werskstätte works. Many other imaginative creations came to follow including colourful bio bowls and vases Bionic (2014)

Tibor Uhrín also writes on design, tradition and technology. His recently published book Drevo, dizajn a tradícia (Wood, Design and Tradition, 2012) appeared in a Slovak publishing house of the Centre for Folk Art Production (ÚĽUV, Bratislava).  With his design and writing Tibor Uhrín engages and entices an observer’s imagination and emotions.


 Zuzana Labudová