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Designer, Ola Mirecka. Photography by Rasmus Laurvig
25th August 2017

Water: Q&A with Ola Mirecka

Inspired by the calming nature of running water, Ola Mirecka's new project Fontanna combines handmade ceramics with electronics to create an interactive water fountain. At upcoming aquatic-themed show Water, which opens at Peckham’s Copeland Gallery during LDF, visitors can give Fontanna a test drive, using the calming stream to quiet festival-weary brains.

Whether it’s Space Odyssey-style corridors or rows of Google servers so large our brains don’t compute, when we picture technology it’s often clinical, robotic, un-human. But Polish-born, Denmark-based designer Ola Mirecka is trying to change all that.


Functioning somewhere between design, art and performance, Ola’s practice hinges on converting her playful – and somewhat surreal – illustration style into 3D objects, from wooden spaceships to vegetarian sausages. More recently Ola has been incorporating technology into her work, fusing her hand-drawn aesthetic with hidden electronics. Sensitive Dog, for example, is a super-cute perspex pup fitted with a capacitive sensor so that when you stroke its fur it merrily wags its tail.
Sensitive Dog, Ola Mirecka

Using similar technology to Sensitive Dog, Fontanna combines two of Ola’s new interests – the aforementioned electronics and Ancient Greek ceramics. Ahead of Water, which opens on 19 September, we caught up with this inventive designer to find out more about how Fontanna works and what it is about fountains that’s made her imagination flow.

Tell us a little bit about your project for Water.

Fontanna is an interactive fountain made from ceramic and electronic elements, which allows the user to play with water, relax and enjoy its calming sound. The fountain reacts to human touch using a capacitive sensor that controls the water pump. Touch activates the pumps and motors and changes way the water flows. The electronics are hidden behind the ceramics so you don’t see them at first. I want to create a surprising effect, using the contrast between the rough material and the new technologies.


What is the inspiration behind Fontanna?

With my piece, I want to explore the motion of water and how users interact with it. Fountains originally were purely functional objects, used as a part of Ancient Greek aqueduct systems for delivering drinking water. Nowadays fountains are a sign of luxury. Throughout history have been used for decoration, to celebrate their builders, represent heroic scenes or create miniature versions of the garden of paradise. The sound of falling water is relaxing and calming. Looking at falling water relaxes your eyes in the same way as looking at fire.

LAVA Lemons and Volcanic Activity, Ola Mirecka. Photography by Wai Ming Ng.

How does Fontanna relate to other projects you’ve worked on?

Like most of my work, Fontanna explores the idea of turning my drawing and illustration language into real 3D objects. It has a handmade feel and hand-illustrated style. Recently I have been working on a series of red and black ceramic vases that explore the aesthetics of Ancient Greece but are illustrated with stories from modern life. Simultaneously I have been developing my skills in designing electronics and programming so that I can apply motion and interaction to objects. Fontanna is a combination of these two aspects.

Build and Destroy by Ola Mirecka
Visit Water at Copeland Gallery from 19 – 24 September. For more info visit www.waterexhibition.co.uk

Want more Water? Read interviews with Andy SheenDean BrownFernando LaposseUnit Lab, James Patmore and Henrik Nieratschker
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