timeoutbudapest_geppetto download Magyar interiors group Geppetto creates “design without stress”. Tibor Sáringer homes in on walls with ears, breathing flowers and cloud nine for daily life.Pinocchio’s master, Geppetto may have breathed life into wood but this Geppetto, one of Hungary’s most inventive and innovative design studios, has given it brains. 12 years on, currently a group of seven, Geppetto has been experimenting to empower interior design with materials that know something other than their prosaic function to create clever but functional household items, stunning and user-aware furniture, and smart personal and public spaces that respond to what’s happening in them.It’s also a long shot from woodwork. Currently on the agenda is a wall, a “sound-driven thermo chromatic surface”, to be precise, which utilises an interaction between sound and heat to display an ever-changing space of movement and colour in synch with the volume of noise in the room. The surface is equipped with tiny microphones and heating pads that activate thermo chromatic pigments of various colours around them – the noisier the room, the more intense the change of colours and the more dynamic the shapes they create in the process. If anything, this gives a new meaning to a wall with ears.An almost unlikely launch, Geppetto, officially established in 1996, started out as a home renovation project. Brothers Márton and Máté Elek moved into their first apartment, and designed and refurbished a home their friends adored and wanted. By word of mouth, the brothers earned work to design and build lofts in Budapest’s high ceiling apartments, and as the pool of ideas expanded, so did the learning curve. “My father is an engineer, my mother a painter and photographer. We were brought up thinking that when you think up something, you can also make it. Plus I have a background in IT, I also have a degree from the technical university, then I studied sociology and I even managed a band”, recalls Márton Elek. “As we were testing the boundaries of interior design, we sponged knowledge from carpenters, welders, everybody. We’d get on their nerves and then in the end, some would admit that they actually learnt something new in the trade they’d thought they knew.”Geppetto now comprises three areas of focus: product design, interior design and G-lab, a futurology division. Their first furniture was born out of a Singer sewing machine. Their signature egg cup, a delicate construct of three spoons bent to accommodate an egg, emerged as Elek’s brother Máté was fiddling with small spoons in a welding workshop, waiting for a solution to create a brochure holder. Their lamp, its shade a comforting soft red, closes and opens by a zipper to allow for more or less light and ambience control. “It’s not all furniture: at the moment, we’re working on a pre-natal device that attaches to the stomach of pregnant women to play stimulating music to the foetus”, Elek reveals.As the team encountered various client needs and requests, their scope too broadened in the direction of full service home creation. On display in the shop is a kitchen module, ideal for a small bachelor pad: the work station is compact but satisfies all basic kitchen needs, while the whole unit opens and closes like a cupboard, with its doors sliding into invisibility into the sides to reveal the kitchen, or covering the whole unit, hiding it behind a pleasant wooden surface. For bespoke briefs, the team first gets to know the client’s lifestyle, observing the tiniest revealing detail, to “find out what they want and need, and why they started a home creation process”, Márton Elek explains. “One of our projects took us to Islington, in the UK, to overhaul a four-storey terraced house, complete with furniture. We’re also busy converting an ex-Soviet abandoned underground ammunition storage network into apartments in the Czech Republic. It’s a complex commission from wiring and appliances to interior design”.While Elek claims they love all their work, the most sensational developments come out of G-lab, which borders on soft architecture to make buildings more liveable. Besides the wall with ears, Geppetto also invented a wall with breathing flowers. Designed to aerate rooms, the venting is channelled through quasi flowers in the wall, whose petals open up as more air is circulated. So far so simple – the wall however senses how many people are in the room and controls the air flow accordingly, creating a dynamic wall sculpture as the room load changes. Another room device, Cloud, is a modular system of ultrasonic humidifiers to wrap objects in a mist.“We take inspiration from smart materials to create something that know something”, Elek concludes. Times and materials have changed but Geppetto’s magic remains.Geppetto design studio, Perc u. 6., Budapest, Hungary, 270 0107, www.geppetto.hu. Consultancy by appointment.