An inspiration seeker at 360 degrees, indeed. Which explains why this young designer (born in 1984) decided last year, despite the blessing of a steady job straight after his graduation from the Design Academy, to form a small cluster of individuals who share the same ‘melting pot’ approach to creation: anthropologists, technologists, craftsmen.

“I created Commonplace (his studio) as a way to work loosely with individuals whose skills I admire and do not possess,” he says.

His concept is a wooden cabinet originated from an understanding of the contemporary value of ancient furniture typologies such as the Cabinet of Curiosities. In the late 16th and early 17th centuries, when these were in great fashion, the world was considered to be divided into god-created and man-made objects.

By providing storage space for both natural items and heavenly artefacts, the cabinets attempted to nurture a unity. “When I read about this I was totally taken,” recalls Stam, “I was myself struggling with divided realities, the physical and virtual world!

"Hence, the idea of creating a contemporary version of the Cabinet of Curiosities to integrate digital and physical items of one’s personal archive was born.”

Stam’s cabinet consists of sixteen storage drawers for physical objects and sixteen for digital items. A rather limited amount of space, and purposefully so. “The project plays on my inability to make choices when it comes to storing things electronically.

"It takes such little space that one is tempted to keep it all. The result is a life characterised by a useless information overload, though in which nothing really matters because it all does!”

The sixteen drawers for digital items are not actual physical spaces but engraved patterns that, when decoded by use of an electronic device, allow it to connect immediately to a server.

“The patterns are ‘data matrix’ codes,” explains Stam, “a standard universal type of 2D barcode with information embedded directly in it.

"Digital data (in this case a link to content on a server) comprised of 1s and 0s is turned into a pattern of black and white squares that can be instantly recognised by any standard barcode reading program, now freely available on most computers, camera phones, and other portable devices.

"To store any picture, video or music to the cabinet, the user has to upload the file through a website and decide which place it will have in the cabinet (codes 1–16), while to retrieve content it is sufficient to wave any device equipped with barcode reading software in front of the drawer: the content, be it picture, video or music, will instantly pop up.”

An interesting concept that forces us to re-think the actual value of information and to make choices about what matters and what doesn’t. And that, above all, is able to produce a handy, functional, high-tech solution packaged in a poetic design, purposefully retro-looking albeit with a contemporary twist. 

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