Höfer Goods is a new product series which is rooted in stories, materials and skills that are particular to the village. Villages have always been a place of intensive production, from agriculture to meat and dairy production, gardening, fruit and vegetable processing etc. Today the meaning of agriculture and associated products have declined dramatically, but the village remains a rich resource for numerous materials, craft and labour skills and creative thinking.
Höfer Goods wants to offer a space to consider village production today and to translate and transform existing resources into new products, together with the support of a professional product designer.
During the next couple of years this will lead to a new series of products which will be unique to Höfen, and which combine narratives and knowledge from the past with ideas and production methods from the present.
The project so far
The women in the village meet once a month for coffee and cake, and during one of those afternoons in November 2004 the idea for the project was discussed for the first time. The concept is similar to a project called Park Products, which was realised by Kathrin Böhm and Andreas Lang for the Serpentine Gallery, London, where local resources (social, cultural and material resources) were, together with users and visitors of Kensington Gardens, translated into new product. The products were later bartered from a roaming stall in the park.
In spring 2006 the UK based, German born product designer Angelika Seeschaf, who grew up in a rural environment herself, started to think about product ideas that came out of the first meetings with the women.
It was important, that in the first year of the project the link between village and product would be obvious.
The villagers are called “the frogs”, related to a frog pond that next to entry to the village. The pond doesn’t exist anymore, but the nickname remained. The first products of Höfer Goods will relate to frogs and frog stories, both literally and more abstract.
We chose porcelain as the material for the first products, hence its high production value and a regional link to porcelain manufacturing.
At the same meeting the idea was born, to collect photographs that show photographs of Höfen and the village. So far the majority of households in the village have contributed with more than 200 images. The photos are shown in an exhibition parallel to the launch of the new products.
During a ceramic-collage workshop in July 2006, various household items were brought together with frog shapes to experiment with new product ideas and functions. Three ideas, out of the numerous different ones, were developed in feasible products and prototypes.
The first product reflects ideas around frog, frog pond and water, and the famous (at least in Germany) frog in a bottle. It’s a porcelain frog climbing out of a bottle, but its one foot is still stuck inside, and its leg becomes a cork to close the bottleneck. The frog will be sold with different liquids produced in the village, from elderflower juice to apple wine.
The second product takes the story of the frog that fell into a cream pot as a starting point. In order to escape the pot, the frog is kicking away like mad, and slowly turns the cream into butter. Once the butter is solid enough, the frog takes a big step and gets out of the pot, only leaving the footprint.
The product is also made from porcelain and is a mix between a cream spoon, a butter knife and a frog-footprint stamp. It will be sold together with fresh butter made in Höfen.
<iframe src="http://www.internationalvillageshop.net/embed/butter.spoon/smallshow" scrolling="no" frameborder="0" width="161" height="142" style="border:none; overflow:hidden; width:161px; height:142px; margin: 10px 10px 10px 0px;" allowTransparency="false"></iframe>
The third product has to do with Halloween, not that Halloween would be a typical frankonian tradition, but it becomes more and more popular amongst the kids in the village. This year they can turn their rounds covered in black capes with huge white frog skeletons on their back.
Manfred Frey, who works a designer for the local porcelain manufacturer Kaiser Werke in Bad Staffelstein has been tremendously helpful and supportive and made the moulds for the final products. The objects were produced by Klette Porzellanguss in Küps.