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Design student draws inspiration from domestic dilemmas

Posted Monday 17 September 2012

Towel-shaped handles remind the user not to leave wet things lying on the floor.Wet towels left lying on the floor, tubes of toothpaste squeezed in the middle, dishes left stacked up in a sink. They're the little things that can slowly undermine a couple's relationship over time.

Now an MA student from Kingston University has cast a wryly observational eye over the everyday incidents enacted in homes up and down the nation and created a set of reminders to help . Verena Knöbl, For example, a bathroom tile has a toothpaste tube motif on it and the brass handles of a chest of drawers are shaped like towels.

Verena Knobl, MA Design: Product + Space."The causes of divorce aren't always big issues like adultery," Verena from the village of Dechantskirchen in south eastern Austria said. "Sometimes people mystifyingly 'grow apart'. Romantic beginnings fade and small irritations become magnified over time."

At first glance, the symbols appear to be aimed mainly at men - but it was not Verena's intention to target one gender. "There's a bathroom tile in the shape of a shopping bag, which refers to excessive shopping, and my bathroom mirror has the slogan 'When looking for faults use a mirror not a telescope'," she said.

Verena has decorated a traditional Austrian washing bowl in a far from traditional fashion - the couple in the pattern are facing away from each other.

Verena has added rust to several of her motifs, which serves as metaphor for the slow decay of a once-healthy relationship. The bathroom was deliberately chosen as the location of several of the reminders as it is a place where partners could reflect privately.

"I suspect Verena's subject will strike a familiar chord with many," Kingston University's course director for the Design: Product + Space MA Colin Holden said. "She's found a unique way to communicate it and with some humour. Adding rust to an otherwise clean, white ceramic bathroom tile is particularly thought-provoking."

In a break from tradition, the design of this Austrian washing bowl features a couple facing away from each other.Verena has drawn on her personal experiences in assembling the collection. "My own parents divorced when I was five years old. Initially I wanted my project to be something that could help children whose parents divorce but - in the end - I decided to focus more on why break-ups might happen in the first place," Verena added.

"I've called the collection Little Things but the more research I did into the reasons why people split-up, I began to realise that the little things are really the big things."

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