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Union: One Design – One Handle

Writer, 2019

Union has been making door handles since 1958. As a leader in the Japanese market for designer door handles, the company approached architect Tsuyoshi Tane to collaborate on an exhibition for Milan Design Week 2019. Presented in a former factory, One Design – One Handle focused on a single manufacturing method: the ancient process of sand casting. Live demonstrations were held in an on-site workshop, while a selection of moulds, tools, materials and castings were exhibited as a living archive in an adjacent space.

As the writer for the exhibition I was tasked with telling the stories behind the 60 items on display. Drawing inspiration from Tane’s archaeological approach to research and thinking, I delved into the company’s archives and interviewed designers — spanning several generations — to develop the key themes for the text. These insights were complemented by visits to the aluminium foundry, where the intricacies of the casting process were revealed.

Presented in a poster-style format, the publication mixed tales of design and production with musings about the act of making and the role of design in everyday life. Enhancing the exhibition experience, it shed new light on the ubiquitous door handle for designers, international clients and visitors alike.

Poster-style publication sharing the story behind each of the 60 items on display.

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