While encountering digital creations, especially objects and aligned pieces of design, I often tend to glance through the comments they have received online. As some relay vehement objections while others share support, one reaches an elemental inquiry: What is the intention of digital designs that may, or may not, ever get realised?
While we are at it, let us also question whether there is a stringent need to search for deeper meanings behind said digital creations—does this curiosity and ensuing questioning render that digital piece of design more meaning or intention? Does it prove difficult for us to accept these online creations if we don’t find a purpose behind them? Is it necessary for these figurative depictions to have intricate narratives and impressive aesthetics that illicit some reaction, shaded by promises of realisation?
For digital creator Daniel Lepik, authenticity is more important than anything else. Working across the realms of 3D, art direction and product design, Lepik’s creative oeuvre distils non-intrusive aesthetics into striking designs, underscored by his creative philosophy of trusting oneself while trusting the process. His latest venture is a digital design series called the Offshore collection, an oceanic abstraction comprising three modern sofa designs, one chair design, a lounge chair, and a lighting design, unified by a pleasingly sinuous aesthetic. “The offshore wind is what produces some of the most beautiful, clean waves that have inspired the forms of this collection,” expounds Lepik, on the purely digital collection, “meaning there are no physical designs or prototypes (for now). (Offshore) subtly captures the spirit of the ocean, revealing itself in the flowing curves, soothing textures and the calming essence of each piece,” he adds.
Comprising the 'Memento' sofa, 'Panoply' light, ‘Plateau’ sofa, 'Quintet' sofa, 'The Hold' lounge chair, and the 'Vestige' chair, the Offshore collection was conceived on the premise of "exploring emotion through form," an investigation into the visual phenomenon of our experiential, natural world that both informs and inspires these conceptual designs. Offshore aspires to envision a space “where furniture transcends its purpose and becomes an expression of beauty, serenity, and the enduring power of nature,” Lepik points out.
“In large part, the inspiration, as well as the name of the collection, came from spending lots of time in the ocean. The name ‘Offshore’ comes from a specific wind direction, accompanying me on some of my most memorable moments in the water—the idea of working on this collection came to be when I lived on the coast of Portugal, in a small town while spending as much time in the ocean as possible. Captivated by the stunning forms of the waves as well as the breathtaking gradients of sunsets reflecting across the surface of the water, I felt urged to capture it in my work,” the contemporary designer reiterates.
The calming oceanic influence also renders the vibrant and glossy colour palette of the lighting and furniture design collection, consisting of pulsating blue shades of water, soft whites of burnished underwater pebbles, and the vivid orange gradients of sunsets that soak up the sea. The latter is best reflected in the ‘Panoply’ light featuring a flat top resembling a vinyl resting atop a smooth cylindrical neck. The clinically clean aesthetic flows into ‘The Hold’ lounge chair, imagined as an unblemished white balloon held in place as a seat with a skeletal black frame; the pleasingly rounded and supple edges of the ‘Plateau’ sofa rendered in calming aqua blue, a magical sheen dancing off its smooth surfaces; the sea spray white ‘Vestige’ chair with its curvilinear form topped by a concave, ocean blue seat; and the symmetrical ‘Memento’ sofa that remains uninhibited and confident, courtesy its sunset orange skin and protruding petals, sharing a visual language akin to the smaller ‘Quintet’ sofa’s more organic form.
Presumably, as a creator active in the realms of 3D, art direction, and product design, Lepik’s creations and processes uphold a distinctive nature, wherein each discipline flows and influences each other from time to time. “Coming from a background in 3D allows me to approach product design in a completely unique way. There isn’t as much consideration for the physicality of things in the design phase. I am able to quickly iterate and come up with interesting forms that speak to me, and only then will I try to find a way to integrate these forms into the final product,” the product designer explains.
Expounding on the creative process of crafting this contemporary design collection, the 3D artist says—“The most interesting part of the process might have been designing the ‘Quintet’ sofa. The shapes of the sofa were organically simulated using a physically accurate engine in 3D software and took countless hours of research and development to arrive at the forms I was imagining.”
"(The collection) was created to exist in the digital realm. This allowed the freedom to explore complex forms using untraditional workflows. The use of physically accurate simulation methods in 3D software allowed the art direction and the design of the forms to come about seamlessly while maintaining a sense of organic flow. This collection will continue existing purely in digital form, for now,” he continues.
The Offshore collection engages in a viewer’s perception by communicating through its abstraction and reduction of colours, shapes, and obvious aversion to strict lines. What if we were less focused on wanting to inquire whether these works are real are not, whether they have the potential of being turned into actual pieces of design, and instead, appreciate their presence as is? The ideological disparity between the real and virtual remains.
But, by shifting our perception towards what is, we encounter a digital world of creations that may liberate us from questioning and critiquing just for the sake of it. It is not wholly wrong to do so. Yet, perhaps, there is also a vast opportunity to cultivate a healthy space, a diverse, open-minded, and imperative one, that simply speaks to the viewer, and lets them enjoy these creations without the added layers of pseudo-intellectual interpretations or ultra-complex narratives. Is it not worth delving into that liberated approach every so often? Would this perchance, result in creators feeling less judged, and in turn, let them explore more, learn more, and create more, uninhibited? This brings us back to Lepik’s creative plan, which is to simply, keep creating.