There was something really strange about this picture. Has there been a time travel in both directions, where it’s possible to make a sculpture which then magically transforms into a product? I thought that a car was the most difficult thing to design in terms of complexity, impossible to be tackled with clay, but seeing this, really made an impression. It looked like anything could just be solved by making a sculpture. There I was, fascinated by this clay model and I got interested in the history of the profession of the car designer. And the question that drove it was: How does the designer know when to stop?
© 2019 Johanna Seelemann    Curricilum Vitæ    phone:+491629789049    Leipzig—Amsterdam—Reykjavík    Visual Library
© 2019 Johanna Seelemann

Terra Incognita
x Daniel Rauch

Terra Incognita explores the ultimate tool for car styling — namely industrial modeling clay and comprises a collection of ever-stylistically adaptable products. Commonly used to sculpt ephemeral 1:1 car clay models, this wax-based material is re-purposed in this work to make products that are stable but remain ever-transformable for the user.

Industrial clay inherits the political weight of car design in Germany based on societal and economic dependencies. While the obsolescence of desirability is a driving motor for object evolution and corporate power, it can also tell the story of the human hand in the generation of mass-produced objects through a form of industrial craftsmanship that relies on the age-old art of sculpture.

The wider design ideology today circles around efforts of “sustainability” and mitigation of climate change, including minimalism, cradle to cradle, timeless design, quality over quantity, local production, zero-waste, bio-based materials. However it strikes that many mass-producing sectors, such as the automotive industry, fashion, and consumer electronics, remain in trained patterns while employing the strongest means of obsolescent desirability — that of emotions and aesthetics, style, (user) experience, hence the irrational. 

Through the media of object, film and anthology, this collaborative project is a compilation of stories that seek narratives on aesthetic evolution and urge systemic thinking on adaptation.

The designs of the pieces have been developed in collaboration with automotive designer Daniel Rauch.

Find the Terra Incognita anthology here.

Johanna Seelemann

Design and Development:
Daniel Rauch and Johanna Seelemann

Car Clay Modeler support:
Simon Badstübner, Sabrina Kraus,
Benjamin Werner

Special Thanks to:
Daniele Misso, Birta Rós Brynjólfsdóttir,
Ianis Dobrev, Saga Rantanen

Master of Contextual Design, 2019
Design Academy Eindhoven