Basel, Switzerland–based Manuel Herz Architects has designed a 1,550-square-foot carpet installation for this year’s Swissnex San Francisco conference that uses humanitarian texts as stylistic and educational motifs. The project, named Rights on Carpet by the Swiss architects, combines the complete texts from human rights-related declarations with brightly-colored, geometric patterns and symbols.
The carpet specifically highlights the 1864, 1906, 1929, and 1949 Geneva Conventions, the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1966 Convent on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights.
The carpet—meant to be occupied shoeless—features texts within collections of rectangular frames that are organized in a series of concentric circles. This scheme is meant to gesture toward Muslim prayer rituals. This aspect of the carpet’s design, according to a press release announcing the installation, is meant to highlight “the activity of sitting in groups and debating and learning about a common topic … exactly what takes place in mosques.” The text of the latter three documents mentioned above is displayed in the circular regions while the Geneva Conventions texts make up the interstitial spaces along the carpet.
In an email to The Architect’s Newspaper, Herz said:
At a time when these rights and values have been questioned, and even been grossly undermined, when politicians are openly considering withdrawing from declarations of human rights, and when an appeal to these treaties seen as dated, derided as an expression of political correctness, or even mocked as a symptom of weakness, it has become more important than ever to remind ourselves of the actual wording of these treaties, and to bring their source texts back into our general consciousness. The carpet thus starts to trigger and feed discussions and debates around the topic of humanitarianism. It becomes an architectural device for curating the exchange between people.
The carpet will be on display at Swissnex San Francisco through May of 2017.