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Panorammma creates alien objects that are pockets of fantasy within the mundane
Wax Alarm Clock, Hero Lamp and Ring Shelf by Panorammma
Image: Courtesy of Panorammma

Panorammma creates alien objects that are pockets of fantasy within the mundane

The Mexico-based design laboratory concocts objects with material and form experimentation at their core, interweaving playful narratives with functionality. 

by Anushka Sharma
Published on : Feb 07, 2024

If one traces the practice of design down to its provenance, an innate inclination towards experimentation—the exhilaration of triumphs and the impetus of failures—will be uncovered at its very core. The pursued product in every design endeavour is certainly utility and function, yet what injects a seam of thrill to the journey is the ability to disassemble, remould and redefine norms—the leeway to transcend the ordinary, albeit in tiny creative pockets. Studios morph into laboratories that yield intriguing concoctions that captivate and surprise, and function becomes fun.

Panorammma is a furniture design laboratory based in Mexico City, aiming to redefine the relationship between humans and functional art objects, one design at a time. Helmed by artist and designer Maika Palazuelos, who is the Design Director, the studio produces designs defined by experimentation with material and forms. The goal of functionality is approached through visual narratives, and new possibilities are conceived as aesthetic proposals. “The nature of Panorammma's pieces is experimental and so is the process of their making. It is very difficult to trace a linear process from conception to production,” says Palazuelos.

Palazuelos established Panorammma as a platform for unshackled design exploration and as an extension of her own personal practice. In domestic objects, particularly in their expression, the artist saw possibilities of transforming the mundane. They can be carriers of artistic discourses in everyday life—a pall of freshness adorning what is deemed regular. Through peculiar escapades, the furniture designers build an oeuvre that speaks of a spectrum of themes, but conforms to none—a contemporary sensibility rooted in past experiences and catering to futuristic visions. Despite their semblance to subversive art objects, these pieces are created, not to merely be seen, but to be lived and used. “I might find a material and think about it often until it makes sense to include it in a project, other times I might meet a craftsperson and get excited about their practice enough to start collaborating with them and test their techniques without a clear goal in mind. Other times sketching out the object in a more traditional way might be the way to go,” Palazuelos tells STIR.

From speakers in the garb of rocks to designs that appear almost alien-like, Panorammma’s creations have enticing stories lingering in their singular forms and narratives.

Ring shelf

This free-standing, asymmetric stone ring alludes to modernist sculptor Isamu Noguchi’s incorporation of varicolored stone segments to form larger structures. The Ring Shelf by Panorammma features variations in form and pattern along with a dynamic arrangement of aluminium sheets within the ring—making the piece open to both conceptual and utilitarian interpretation. This almost portal-like hand sculpted object functions as a space divider while introducing a striking yet balanced presence in any space.

Chainmail Droplet Chandelier

This unique chandelier is a vision of a droplet of light suspended mid air—held securely by a chainmail cocoon. Chainmail Droplet Chandelier is a handmade lighting design that showcases a chainmail web embracing the lamp’s canopy. As the knot gets tighter moving upwards, the chainmail morphs into a rope through which the glass globe is finally suspended. In Chainmail Droplet Chandelier, a contradiction between material and form is conspicuous as the rigid chainmail takes on an organic silhouette.

Fisherman Chair and Hook Candle Holder

The Fisherman series of designs, encompassing a chair design and a candle holder, is one that presents itself as foreign, as if just recovered from the bottom of the ocean on a lost planet. A culmination of imaginative play, these pieces are chasms through which fantasy trickles into reality. The designs employ upcycled electroplating rods, regularly used for submerging metal items into chrome baths. The residue that piles on these rods through the years of exposure to chrome baths results in heavy conglomerates of copper, nickel and chrome. Byproducts of an industrial process ironically give way to organic forms and coral-like textures—paradoxical entities ensue. While the chair reveals narrative paths, the alien hook can hold a candle, an umbrella, a hat or a coat.

Bronze Singing-Stone MDL. C. Speaker

This bronze cast music box, donned in the garb of outdoor rocks, domesticates the shape of a stone found in the mountains near Mexico City. A ‘listening stone for interiors,’ Bronze Singing-Stone MDL. C. Speaker explores connections between sound and sculptural art. When sculpting in stone, it is common practice to press one’s ear against the material while lightly tapping it. The sounds and vibrations speak of the hidden properties in the medium—hollows, interior fractures, hardness, and so on. Bronze casting, a traditional technique that was used to make some of the first metal instruments, lays the foundation for Panorammma’s speaker.

Ball-Foot Chair

The Ball-Foot Chair is a juxtaposition of linearity and surprising playfulness. The furniture design is upholstered with cactus leather, a vegan textile infused with natural cacti fibres produced in Mexico. The chair’s comfortable and rounded seat confabulates with its distinctive spherical extremities. “Appearing like an object left behind by a failed future, the ‘Ball-Foot Chair’ revisits a melancholic hope for utopian visions,” the designer states.

Wax Alarm Clock

This unusual candle holder rendered in stainless steel can be mounted onto the wall as an altar panel painting that folds into a medical cabinet. The candle that houses the metal structure is pierced by nails at different heights marking time intervals, simulating the ancient candle alarm clock. The product design emerges as a contemporary interpretation of ancient ritual and religious practices; as the candle shortens, the melting wax releases the nails onto the cabinet’s metal plate—dropping with loud ‘clings.’

Panorammma's diverse work is almost poetic, traversing disciplines without losing the contemporary sensibility. The objects are ‘activated’ when the users sit on them, eat with them, sleep and wake up with them in domesticity while their behaviour is covertly altered through the designs. Fantasy spills into reality and pseudo props facilitate unusual scenarios in ordinary spaces. Speaking about what is next for the studio, Palazuelos shares, “The future seems to be more closely related to spatial projects. We are having opportunities to work in a more architectural manner, getting full control of the building's design. I am not an architect, nor pretend to be, but I am grateful to get the chance to explore this new medium with creative freedom.”

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