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Propping it Up

Props breathes new life into Zaha Hadid's Contemporary Arts Center
Nearly two decades ago, Zaha Hadid's vision for a building that housed art, but more broadly worked to catalyze an urban redevelopment effort in Cincinnati, was to create a structure that made art accessible to the public. She delivered on her goal as a spatially complex series of stacked galleries piled up high over a tight infill site. Accentuated on the ground level by virtually no threshold between the city and institution, Hadid's Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) has since become defined by it's airy public lobby, an "urban carpet" that transitions seamlessly from sidewalk floor to gallery wall, and Corbusier-inspired stairways that form a vertical street, tapping into a set of galleries floating seemingly impossibly overhead. It is only fitting that a show like Props could emerge in a space that set out to reimagine the idea of what a white box gallery could be. Props is a set of eight experimental sculptures from architecture-trained mixed media artist Lauren Henkin, who has found new productive uses for underutilized space in the 16-year-old building. Her solo exhibition joins two other compatible shows concerned with spatial awareness: Confinement: Politics of Space and Bodies, and Cincinnati-based photographer Tom Schiff's Surrounded by Art. The trio of exhibitions will remain open through March 1, 2020. Steven Matijcio, former curator of the CAC, and the current director & chief curator at the Blaffer Art Museum at the University of Houston curated the work. "Lauren [Henkin] and I wanted to challenge and expand the typical locations of artistic presentation at the CAC," said Matijcio. "By its very nature, Lauren's series of "Props" was meant to skew the habits, conventions, and assignments that coalesce in even the most avant-garde of structures." Each of Henkin's Props is assembled from an ad hoc material palette—concrete, PVC, wiring cable, plaster scraps, and so on. In one case, scrap wood was pulled from the CAC's basement and piles of debris discarded by installers of the concurrent exhibitions. The development of the work relied heavily on photographic documentation, drawing, and visits to the building. Henkin worked between her Maine-based studio, the CAC, and a nearby Kentucky-based fabrication studio. Props intentionally undermines the programming of the CAC's formal gallery spaces. Why have work in the gallery when it can exist outside of the gallery? Lacking any formalized infrastructure for art viewing (lights, art labels, etc.), the work feels at home amid and within the architecture of the building. The pieces dissolve into walls, hug corners, and playfully grow out from the floor. In this regard, the Props do not come off as menacing or insulting in any way. Instead, they feel like discreet, optimistically friendly characters, producing compelling moments of their own that stop us in our tracks. With no labels or signage, there seems to be a real possibility that some of these Props could be overlooked during de-installation and hang around the museum indefinitely. Henkin, whose background is in architecture, says movement is the organizational force underlying Props: "These pieces are meant to be viewed while in motion where the viewer is moving up and around the work." Henkin flips our traditional relationship to art: the work becomes static, while the viewer is set in motion. However, beyond Zaha's stair, Props can be spotted hiding out in spaces less trafficked, like the entrance to the fourth-floor women's restroom or a forgotten corner of a hall leading to a fire stair. Formalized art galleries offer no escape for visitors who become immediately incorporated into the spatial logic of the institution: you must walk up these stairs, and you must view the work in this order. Henkin, Matijcio, and co. offer an alternative to this. You inevitably pass Henkin's work, but it operates as a filter, or primer, for the other work in the galleries. "The element of play, whimsy, and revelry played an important role in the conception and execution of the project. Lauren's sculptural interventions in the CAC are meant to disorient and befuddle, and provoke," said Matijcio. "Some are imposing and seemingly precarious; others are quizzical and slightly comical. Each one is different, but the unifying thread was to reimagine the structure's non-gallery spaces as fertile terrain to reconsider and activate." While this iteration of Henkin's Props likely won't travel elsewhere due to its site-specificity, the show might still have a legacy. The problem that Henkin's show exposes is that austere, raw, underutilized display and circulation spaces of today's art museum do have the opportunity to be more critically used. What would it look like for an exhibition to spill out into these spaces? What trouble would this cause, between issues of security, lighting, and liability? However, what opportunities this could create, to reimagine the broader curatorial flow to the institution! Props beg us to consider and reinvent our normative, intuitive, choreographed movements through the museum, especially in Cincinnati, where 16 years of exhibitions have begun to familiarize and dull this incredibly significant architectural space. In an institution that prides itself as a "non-collecting" contemporary museum showing "work of the last five minutes," Props exist as a welcome sideshow to the CAC's ongoing spirited circus of traveling acts. Henkin reminds us that a white room can fit only so many paintings before overflowing.
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Honed Edge

Ahead of Design Miami, Aric Chen talks sustainability, economics, and China

Aric Chen is the new curatorial director of Design Miami, the premiere show of collectible design, which features the world’s top designers and architects. The show returns for its 15th edition December 2 through 8, 2019, alongside Art Basel, showcasing a body of work that revolves around the theme of environmental sustainability. Until recently, Chen was the lead architecture and design curator at the soon-to-open Hong Kong museum M+. Long before that, he grew up in Chicago with his Taiwanese mother before studying architecture at Berkeley and then design history at Cooper Hewitt. In 2008, he was the co-creative director at Design Fair Shanghai, and served as the creative director at Beijing Design Week from 2011 to 2012. Chen now lives in Shanghai, where he teaches and works as M+’s curator-at-large.

A former Archpaper columnist himself, Chen recently spoke with AN’s products editor Gabrielle Golenda about the current state of design, the environment, and issues affecting the industry, as well as major changes that will shape the field in the coming years.

AN Interior: How is the environmental impact of humanity on the world affecting design?

Aric Chen: When it comes to issues of the environment, I don’t think we can talk about design as solving problems anymore, as we now realize that the problems are too complex to “solve.” That being said, design offers a way to help change behaviors, to mitigate our impact on the planet, and to adapt and build resilience to what we can’t change. It’s prompting us to rethink the relationship between natural and man-made, raw materials and waste, and production and consumption in exciting and promising ways.

How can platforms like Design Miami influence how we think about these issues? How are you addressing sustainability at the show?

Design Miami, and the work it shows, has always been about more than aesthetics and form. To me, what makes a design “collectible” are the ideas that inform it: the experimentation—in terms of these ideas, but also through materials, making, and, yes, aesthetics and form—that it embodies, and the messages and narratives it communicates. The best design speaks to the issues and concerns of its time, so questions around materials, production, and sustainability in our current environmental condition are naturally finding their way into Design Miami through the work of designers who are pushing the boundaries of experimentation and discourse—and, I hope, finding a market to support their work in doing so. As such, I hope we’re contributing to a cultural conversation while also taking practical steps to make the fair more sustainable—for example, by partnering with the advocacy group A Plastic Planet to eliminate single-use plastics from the fair’s food and beverage.

Read the full interview on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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It All Falls Down

AN rounds up our must-reads for this fall
Fall—and nearly-winter in some parts of the U.S.—has reared its ugly head again, and AN has prepared a list of books to hunker down with as the weather turns. Impress your relatives on Thanksgiving by brushing up with these books on edible architecture, living as a digital citizen, squatting, and Ezra Stoller. Architecture of Appropriation: On Squatting as Spatial Practice Edited by René Boer, Marina Otero Verzier, and Katía Truijen Het Nieuwe Instituut MSRP: $28.75 Centered around the urban life of the Netherlands, this new book brings together a non-author-based approach to discussions surrounding spatial takeover by city residents. The documents, photos, and stories of these squatters transforming their city and spaces through a grayscale of ownership and legality, assert an argument that squatting is a form of architectural practice: an alternative to our contemporary housing systems.  Avant-Garde in the Cornfields: Architecture, Landscape and Preservation in New Harmony Edited by Ben Nicholson and Michelangelo Sabatino University of Minnesota Press MSRP: $40.00 An unassuming yet magnetic town in the cornfields of Indiana, New Harmony has been home to two iconic utopian settlements, the Harmonists and the Owenites. However, the Cold War years ushered in a new sort of spiritual “living community,” one to which many renowned artists and designers contributed—from Philip Johnson to Richard Meier.  This book surveys not only the history of New Harmony but the social and preservationist forces that kept it on the map. The role of modernism in the American imagination, as well as the cornfields as a blank canvas for many starchitect-type figures, make for powerful imagery and archival material, cleverly organized for clarity as well as surprise. Cyberwar and Revolution: Digital Subterfuge in Global Capitalism By Nick Dyer-Witheford and Svitlana Matviyenko University of Minnesota Press MSRP: $17.23 In an increasingly digitized moment, technology is not only empowering us but implicating us, as explained by partners Dyer-Witheford and Matviyenko. The adverse psychological effects of social media are well published, but technology and its leanings into a subconscious “cyberwar” over the internet have brought entire countries into the fold, including the United States, notably amidst allegations of Russian interference in the presidential election.  As professionals often pushing the boundaries of technology, architects should be aware of the impact of technology on their practice, work culture and academia. As creatives working toward the creation of a marketable product with technology as a tool, architects may find that this book opens awareness into the subtleties of the web.  Eco-Visionaries: Art, Architecture and New Media After the Anthropocene Edited by Pedro Gadanho Hatje Cantz MSRP: $35.14 Gadanho begins this book with a question: “Are we just secretly yearning for an endless summer?” An endless summer for the few, the privileged, those whose money or upbringing situated them in the technological havens of the developed world and its iPhone app-coordinated climate controls.  Architects, artists, and designers are thinking beyond this bubble, though, and timeliness in the efforts of built environmentalism in the 21st century has led to some of the most adventurous experiments in egalitarian ecological thought yet. Eco-Visionaries is asking and drawing up the big questions and projecting the messages of artists around the world telling us to wake up.  Le Corbuffet: Edible Art and Design Classics By Esther Choi Prestel MSRP: $26.14 While Ina Garten might label you low-brow for not crushing your olive oil from scratch, photographer Esther Choi’s cookbook of celebrity pun recipes will bring the high-brow clout of art and architecture into any kitchen. From Rem Brûlée to the Robert Rauschenburger, there is a recipe for everyone’s favorite artist, and some you can test your friends with. (Anri Dammi i Colori Sala(d)?) Modern Management Methods: Architecture, Historical Value, and the Electromagnetic Image By Caitlin Blanchfield and Farzin Lotfi-Jam Columbia Books on Architecture and the City MSRP: $25.19 An X-ray look at the UN Building, a structure iconic in its metaphors of organization and management, directs the new narrative of this book. Dense with images of x-rayed architectural details, the new book adds to the arguments made by Beatriz Colomina in her work, X-Ray Architecture, and is inspired by the document archive by Frau Anja Kramer of the Weissenhofmuseum im Haus Le Corbusier—a standardized set of information existing to correct the eventual and inevitable repair, replacement, and maintenance of a built environment. Modern Management Methods recontextualizes the active archive of architecture by experimenting with a new narrative of archive and visual media. Read the full AN review here. Signal. Image. Architecture. By John May Columbia Books on Architecture and the City MSRP: $18.00 In this slim volume, MILLIØNS cofounder John May tackles the culture of digital images that architecture is immersed in and simultaneously creating. Dipping into philosophical pondering, Signal. Image. Architecture. explores how an experiment in images is shaping how we perceive ourselves, our world, our politics, and our aesthetics. These are questions that are unique in that we are already living their effects, but that we have no idea how to interrogate them.  Ezra Stoller: A Photographic History of American Modern Architecture By Pierluigi Serraino Phaidon MSRP: $87.69 In a monumental visual homage to the power of architecture under a lens, this largely black-and-white coffee table tome leaves nothing out. A pioneer in the use of photography to inform the world’s knowledge of architecture and design, Stoller brought the greatest American experiments to life. This collection of over 450 images documents the prolific output of the photographer, spanning subjects from the desert of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen West to the Nordic woods of Alvar Aalto’s Villa Mairea.
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Mon Chair(ie) Amour

Pierre Yovanovitch explores the theme of love at New York gallery R & Company
Pierre Yovanivitch summoned a sea of red textiles, upholstery, and whimsical graphics at R & Company's White Street location in Manhattan for an exhibition that debuts his latest lighting and furniture collection. From November 6, 2019, to January 4, 2020, the gallery space will be taken with LOVE, a showcase of over twenty new works fashioned by ceramists, woodworkers, glassmakers, and iron artists. LOVE draws from Yovanovitch's iconic aesthetic vocabulary, referencing contemporary and historic French decorative arts, peppered with his hallmark handmade touches and humor. As told by the French interior designer, the exhibition unfolds in as a story that runs through reoccurring motifs like fantastical hands, lips, and Jean Arp-like shapes. Sprinkled throughout, these visual throughlines are seen in upholstered stitching, sconces, chair silhouettes, and so on. As one passes through each space, there's a deliberate intimacy to the scale, textures, and material palette—one that is soft to the touch and perfect for the smallest of gatherings. Furniture pieces featured in the exhibition include a number of chairs and luminaires adorned with body part motifs. These works carry flirtatious names. Two big and small bear-shaped armchairs—complete with hand-stitched hands embroidered by Lesage Intérieur—are aptly dubbed Daydream Mama Bear and Daydream Papa Bear. In a somewhat lewd tone, the bed frame is titled Take Off, as if alluding to salacious uses of this furniture typology. Even better, a suite of textiles called Lust with lip and hand patterns includes a bedspread, embroidered with a face, two eyes, and luscious lips. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Budding Brood

New York gallery fair Salon Art + Design seeks to attract a younger audience
Taking over New York's Park Avenue Armory for its eighth edition this November, prestigious gallery fair Salon Art + Design is seeking to draw in a younger collector base. Though exhibiting galleries have been charged with presenting more affordable pieces, this year's offering of both vintage and contemporary wares promises to elate all tastes. A far more restrained and arguably refined offering than other somewhat boisterous gallery fairs that dot the annual calendar, the Salon Art + Design (November 14 to 18) brings together a highly select group of 56 collectible and vintage design galleries from around the world. Taking center stage this year are Paris's Galerie BSL—presenting Pia Maria Raeder's wonderfully ornate yet organically-formed Stardust benches and mirrors—newcomer WonderGlass—the independent practice's Venetian-inspired glass sculptures—and Cologne's ammann// gallery—showing new large-scale prints by famed Swiss architecture photographer Hélène Binet. New exhibitors this year include galleries from Russia, Brazil, and Lebanon. Objects range from an ancient bust circa 1000 BC to the newest trends including work made from a 3D printer. Other notable exhibitors will include Demisch Danant, Friedman Benda, Gallery FUMI, The Future Perfect, David Gill Gallery, Giustini / Stagetti, Cristina Grajales Gallery, Heller Gallery, J. Lohmann Gallery, Maison Gerard, Todd Merrill Studio, Sarah Myerscough Gallery, Nilufar Gallery, Patrick Parrish Gallery, Priveekollektie, Adrian Sassoon, Twenty First Gallery, and more. Read the full show evaluation on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Radical Recollection

Friedman Benda recaps Gaetano Pesce's defining moment
A revelatory presentation of the experimental designer Gaetano Pesce is on view at Friedman Benda through December 14. Age of Contaminations is a carefully selected historical sweep provides a close reading of the idiosyncratic designer’s practice over 27 crucial years of the Italian architect's career, beginning with the asymmetrical, modular Yeti Armchairs (1968) and concluding with the otherworldly Ghost Lamps (1995), where recycled paper and polyurethane has been molded into a vaguely figural silhouette. Referencing an early peak of Pesce’s career, the title Age of Contaminations is borrowed from the artist’s installation in The Museum of Modern Art’s historic 1972 exhibition Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, where the designer conceived works for a post-apocalyptic future where humans have settled into subterranean cities to escape an unidentified fallout on the surface. The exhibition is accompanied by a fully illustrated e-catalog available for free on the gallery’s website, wherein leading authority on craft and design history Glenn Adamson provides a chronological survey and impassioned critique of Pesce’s career. Perhaps the most interesting designs on view are the least aesthetically pleasing: Dacron-filled fiberglass cloth chairsGolgotha (1972)—resemble the functional version of a Piero Manzoni painting, and the garish, slick palette of his Golgotha Table (1972) provides a visually grating yet conceptually transcendent testament to Pesce’s Roman Catholic upbringing. The designer’s relentless openness to experimentation and earnest resistance to a consistent style is manifest in one of the more striking works in the exhibition is the monumental Moloch Lamp (1971), deftly placed behind one of the gallery space’s pillars, allowing it to make an even more powerful impact once visitors are confronted with it in closer proximity. Pesce’s most famous design, the Up5 (Donna) chair and Up6 footstool make a requisite appearance just beneath the lamp’s intense metallic glow. The chair, which resembles the breasts or buttocks of the female body, is tethered to its spherical footstool, mimicking a prisoner’s ball and chain. A recent demonstration by the feminist group Non Una Di Meno (Not One Less) during Milan design week expressed explicit opposition to the design, yet Pesce insists that the work was intended to emphasize the restrictions of femininity in order to spur debate, rather than uphold traditional values pertaining to gender. Read the full show recap on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Fair Trade

AN Interior takes a deep dive into the back channels of design world barter culture
The independent design scene takes care of its own. As in medieval guilds, talents band together to address pressing issues, such as copyright infringement, and share resources. These communities develop out of schools, geographic proximities, shared commercial platforms, and, perhaps most important, common interests. Within these tight-knit networks, individuals trade work and services among themselves, letting practitioners build collections while building communities. Barter culture is still going strong. “It’s out of necessity and born from a desire to live with the things you want,” Brooklyn-based designer Aiden Bowman said. “Often, when you have to ship a piece for a show or photoshoot, it becomes a lot more convenient to trade it for something else you might want, rather than pay to ship it back. It boils down to neither designer nor photographer having the funds to purchase each other’s work.” The in-kind economy extends across disciplines. Bowman and partner Josh Metersky founded object-based practice Trueing in 2016. Firmly rooted in the New York architecture and design industries, the duo has forged strong relationships with many of the city’s leading creatives. The pair’s Brooklyn apartment includes a number of works that reflect these connections, like a sconce by lighting designer Bec Brittain. “When we were a small company, we would weigh on friends to provide us with props for our first photoshoots,” said Brooklyn-based designer Nick Cope. “As collectors of art and design, we also enjoy the privilege of bartering with our friends so that we can surround ourselves with beautiful objects that we couldn’t otherwise afford.” For him and his wife, Rachel, founders of the Brooklyn-based wallpaper brand Calico, bartering is a great word-of-mouth way to drum up new business, but the duo sees it as more than just self-promotion; bartering is also a way to appreciate other talents. Bespoke Calico prints feature prominently in lighting designer Lindsey Adelman’s downtown Manhattan studio, while Adelman’s luminaires likewise appear in the Copes’ upstate weekend home, joining ceramics by BDDW and custom furnishing by Huy Bui and Ladies & Gentlemen Studio. Read the full exposé on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Do You Even Lift?

Stock-a-studio fashions a modular gym for Materials & Applications
Over the last century, the fitness club building typology has evolved from the introverted warehouse to an exhibitionist storefront, encouraging passersby to imagine themselves carrying out the newly-aestheticized forms of exercise on display. When invited to create an installation within a storefront gallery in the shadow of L.A.’s Dodger Stadium on Sunset Boulevard, one of three spaces in the city owned by Materials & Applications, the Michigan-based stock-a-studio developed a flashy gym that takes the concept of showing off one’s performance to a new level. The installation, evocatively titled [ a kit of these some parts ] x budget gym ], is a dense accumulation of shims, foam padding, tape, sandbags, vacuum-formed panels, pulleys, and ratchet straps framed by a neon green structural steel system. What at first seems sculptural is made apparently interactive, first by witnessing a few brave visitors curious enough to push and pull its loose elements, then by a sign near the door stating “the gym is available for public use by appointment.” Between now and January of next year, “the project will serve as a meeting point for exercise-based activities, such as weight-lifting, trainer-led workouts and as a hydration station and meet up point for hiking and biking groups,” according to stock-a-studio. While its assembly may recall the convoluted, “efficient” office gym in Woody Allen’s film Bananas (1971), the installation is far less prescriptive, inviting its users to appropriate its network of platforms and counterweights as they see fit. The installation is equally a study of finance, adaptation, and “the excessive production of sheer stuff.” Funded by the Taubman College of Architecture & Urban Planning and the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Emergency Grant, the materials for the project were either off-the-shelf or transported to the site by exploiting ambiguities in air travel regulations to come under budget, while demonstrating how an architectural project can be created ”out of loopholes in consumer cycles.” Additionally, the majority of the materials were not altered in the making of the installation, allowing them to be reconfigurable both on-site and at different locations while reducing waste in the long run. After the installation closes in January of next year, its elements will, in fact, be available for event-rental in Los Angeles and Ann Arbor, Michigan.
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Desktop Design

Morpholio brings Board software to desktop with expanded pro-features and VR
Morpholio, the architect-turned-developer-run company known for its Trace app that blends augmented reality, digital hand drafting, and other architectural tools on portable devices, has brought its interior design program, Board, to desktops for the first time.  Coming on the heels of the new Mac Catalina operating system update, the desktop version of Board leverages the new MacCatalyst developer tool which allows for translating iOS apps to desktop more simply.  Board, which is intended to apply a mood-board logic to technical interior design problems, has been designed for not only professionals but to make home design easier for average consumers. That said, with Board for Mac, Morpholio hopes to “take advantage of the unique properties of the desktop environment," says Morpholio co-founder Mark Collins in a press release from the company, “which is essential for professional work.” The desktop app will include mood board “super tools,” such as layer control and magic wand selection and deletion, as well as a feature called “Ava,” which creates spec sheets for clients and contractors. Ava gives automatic suggestions to match color and forms, and libraries of products from larger companies like Herman Miller and Knoll and smaller designers like Eskayel. It will also include new export features and provide further compatibility with Adobe and Autodesk products (as well as Pinterest). In addition, while Board for mobile already has AR features that allow for furniture to be placed in space at scale, the desktop version will allow for VR integration. “A typical furniture catalog would rely on still images,” says Morpholio co-founder Anna Kenoff, “but Board allows you experience expertly rendered models, created by the storytellers at Theia Interactive. You can view and spin around your favorite furniture pieces and experience them in every dimension. You can zoom in to stitching and materiality and feel the shade and shadows on their forms.” Additional viewing and presentation features will be built in as well and Board will take full advantage of Catalina’s updated Dark Mode for those who prefer to use it. When Apple released MacCatalyst, they definitely had creative professionals in mind,” says Kenoff of the recent Apple release. “They wanted to amplify the power of mobile apps by combining them with the precision capable on a Mac. Few architects and designers work exclusively on a laptop, desktop or tablet. We hope to make our apps available wherever designers are working.”
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Upstream Publicolor

At-risk teens get critiqued by top architects during Publicolor’s Summer Design Studio
On October 1st, the nonprofit Publicolor hosted its annual Summer Design Studio critique at their Manhattan office. The middle and high school students were tasked with reinventing the hospital experience as their design problem and developed solutions (at a variety of scales) to address the needs of nurses, physicians, patients, and families. The students were joined by a distinguished jury of New York City architects, designers, and artists including Thomas Phifer, Jonathan Marvel, and Kitty Hawks. The Summer Design Studio (SDS) is a seven-week work-study program where at-risk teens focus on literacy and math through the lens of design, while also taking S.A.T. prep classes at Pratt Institute and engaging in community service activities. The goal of the program is to prepare students to return to school in the fall with a head start, as recent research shows that low-income students who don’t have access to organized activities actually lose about two months of reading achievement over the summer. This loss adds up over the course of their education. The projects exhibited ranged from an urban farm to keep patients in the geriatric ward active and healthy, to a fully coded app that free's patients from paperwork by digitally sending your encrypted information ahead of time while you drive to the hospital of your choice. Some proposals were to the scale of an individual body, such as the “the stepper upper,” a pull-out step stool that allows children to step on to reach the sinks in pediatric departments. Others were more at an urban scale, including a medical pop-up in subway stations to aid those who get sick on the train. Eighth-grader Mariana, said of her urban farm design: "We had to do research on incurable diseases like Alzheimer's and dementia and we had found out something called the mind diet, which is basically a bunch of fruits, vegetables, and nuts that have vitamins, minerals, and enzymes that could help prevent the diseases." The group’s project description explains further: the wheelchair-accessible garden allows residents to participate in caring for the garden, feeding the fish, caring for the worms, and making a difference in the lives of all the patients in the hospital. Publicolor’s founder, Ruth Lande Shuman, said of the program’s success, "This was a stellar summer for our 110 struggling students who grew enormously both socially and emotionally, learned a lot of technical and computer skills (including Rhino), and developed the self-confidence to speak with poise about their work." A full list of the critics is as follows:
Thomas Phifer, Architect; Jean Phifer, Architect; Henry Myerberg, Architect; Robert DiMauro, Lifestyle Commentator; Kitty Hawks, Interior Designer; Lily Gunn Townsend, VP Collection, Michael Kors; Michael Shuman, Architect; Tom Geismar, Graphic Designer; Jonathan Marvel, Architect; Tucker Wiemeister, Industrial Designer; Peter Ragonetti, Industrial Designer; Hannah Bruce, Artist; George Ranalli, Architect
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LOOP DE LOOP

London’s Universal unveils new NYC office with an interactive installation
On the heels of opening their first U.S. office in Manhattan, London’s Universal (formerly Universal Design Studio) unveiled a performance-based installation at A/D/O/ by Mini in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. The participatory On Loop underpins the firm’s research and development-driven methodology, a process of collaborative experimentation to design unique spaces that interact with their users. In a sort of "formal-exercise-slash-performance-piece" hybrid, the installation underscores this ethos with a set up that asks visitors to experiment and co-create.  On view through the duration of this year's Archtober, On Loop highlights the design process with an unassuming setup. Fashioned from inexpensive materials—plywood, plexiglass, and masking tape—a half-painted loop and semicircular shelf circumscribe a round table and stools. Inspired by the Surrealist game Exquisite Corpse, where a drawing is arbitrarily finished by multiple artists, visitors are encouraged to participate in an on-going evolution of infinite accidental outcomes. In this context, masking tape is randomly placed on a plexiglass square on a spinning tabletop slide carrousel-like display. Over the 31 days On Loop remains on display, the “finished” works by individuals will contribute to a collective display on the installation’s surrounding shelf.  Universal will continue to activate its New York presence with a series of workshops co-led by local artists, designers, and makers. With the same premise as On Loop, the programming will ask visitors to participate in a similar Exquisite Corpse-like performance in different mediums. Including a clay, sound, drawing, writing, motion graphics, and food, the curious selection of medium-focused workshops can be found on the dedicated A/D/O/ Eventbrite page At their new location in the Manhattan wing of design agency AKQA, Universal will focus on continuing to collaborate with local architects, designers, and artists on various projects. When asked, they took particular interest in the hospitality typology—citing previous projects like the London Ace Hotel and Stockholm’s At Six Hotel. The design duo will operate on a bi-continental basis; codirectors Jason Holley and Paul Gulati will continue to work with founders Edward Barber and Jay Osgerby in London and at AKQA in New York.
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Sensual Skyscrapers

Design firm turns Hudson Yards towers into sex toys
New York-based design studio Wolfgang & Hite is taking a more intimate approach to critiquing the development boom in Hudson Yards. The studio’s newest project, XXX:HY, casts the controversial West Side development in a whole new light. A self-described “luxury real estate dildo experience,” the project presents a series of pink silicone sex toys modeled after Hudson Yards’ most iconic sites. Wolfgang & Hite specializes in interior architecture, exhibition design, and art production. In the past decade, the firm has completed a number of commercial, residential, and studio projects from Atlanta to Copenhagen. While the phallic undertones of skyscrapers may be old news, the inspiration for XXX:HY came from one particular comment by architectural critic Ada Louise Huxtable in 2008. In a Wall Street Journal review of Hudson Yards proposals, the 87-year-old Huxtable remarked that “Skidmore, Owings and Merrill's most conspicuous contribution is a pair of skyscrapers that look, in profile, alarmingly like sex toys.” While Huxtable never lived to see these buildings in all their not-so-subtle glory, Wolfgang & Hite has paid a grand tribute to the late critic by reducing SOM’s skyscraper (known as 35 Hudson Yards) to Huxtable’s interpretation—a hot pink silicone dildo. The collection includes a clitoral stimulator modeled after Diller Scofidio + Renfro’s The Shed as well as a ribbed butt plug mimicking Thomas Heatherwick's Vessel. All items were created at 1:100 scale and fit neatly into a base formed from a similarly scaled model of the entire 28-acre development. “There’s a lot to love in NYC’s recent building boom, but the city and developers have been jerking each other off for decades, so naturally we wanted to join in the fun… Masturbation is a great metaphor for the latest wave of development in New York City,” Wolfgang & Hite said in a statement about the project. “Architects design dildos all the time. We wanted to put these buildings to the test.” In a move to make its statement even more provocative, Wolfgang & Hite has gifted a full set of XXX:HY prototypes to the New York City Department of City Planning and Stephen M. Ross, chairman and founder of The Related Companies. "Sex does the body good. After the fiery criticisms of Hudson Yards this year, we thought city officials might need a healthy outlet for working through some of that guilt,” the firm said in a public statement.