Boxes (3), 'Cohndom box', Vending machine series, plastic, Susan Cohn, Melbourne, 1995
Designed and made by Susan Cohn (born 1952) at Workshop 3000 in Melbourne in 1995. Susan Cohn is well-known in Australia for her use of industrial materials and processes in her jewellery and metalwork, and for her interest in designing for reproduction. In this design, Susan Cohn has sought to explore the idea of designing for production through reproducing the same form in a number of different materials and with a number of different decorations. She has added to the meaning of the work by making a pun about the design process (reproduction) through the function of the box as a container for condoms. The 'donut form' has been a constant design form for many years, ranging from a series of donut (sic) shaped anodised perforated aluminium bracelets in the 1980s to a series of installations using aluminium donut forms as floor pieces and in vending machines in the 1990s. The design was a response to the theme of 'Production/Reproduction', one of the exhibitions associated with the 1995 Jewellers and Metalsmiths conference in Melbourne in July 1995. Susan Cohn was the winner of the Makers Mark [Jewellery gallery] award for this exhibition, selected by Massimo Morozzi.
She chaired a session at the conference on the same theme, ie: 'Jewellers and metalsmiths (indeed all craftspersons) may argue that, since industrialisation, roles have changed. Things for day to day use are now mass-produced. The industrial designer develops the ideas and the objects are made by machinery. So, craftspersons, whose role is confused, have tended towards one-off 'art' production. Do they need to? Isn't it time to do some refocussing, to rethink the market and cultural production. The selected members exhibition Production/Reproduction attempts to address this issue by posing the question, 'Can production pieces have the same value, relevance and impact as the one-off piece?' (extract from JMGA conference brochure, 1995). See other statements in file about philosophy and intent.
Made by Susan Cohn in her studio Workshop 3000 in Flinders Lane, Melbourne. This workshop was established by Cohn, initially with Marian Hosking and Harry Rowlands in 1980 as a place to work, and to provide an access space to others. She has also offered traineeships to emerging jewellers and metalsmiths (total 17 to date). The design has been made in several versions: The Vending Machine Series (in plastic) for $1.00-$1.50 depending on the quantity; the Pressed Metal Series in 4 types; and the Donut Pendant Series (to be worn as jewellery) at $250. The plastic components were injection-moulded by an outside industry to moulds of Cohn's design; the metal parts were press-moulded in Cohn's workshop. She made these early pieces herself, but she employs two recent graduates to carry out production work.
First exhibited as a set of the Pressed Metal Series, with adjacent Vending Machine Series, at the Production/Reproduction exhibition at Gallery 101, 101 Collins St, Melbourne, 3-15 July 1995. This was an exhibition of selected members of JMGA, and Cohn won the Makers Mark Award for this design. Curator was Rhys James; see review in Craft Victoria Spring 1995, by Jenny Zimmer, p 22-26. The works also have a connection to a concurrent solo exhibition of Cohn's, Reflections, at the Anna Schwatrz gallery (see catalogue essay by Peter King).