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Concrete Goals

Coworking concept Fosbury & Sons sets up shop in a Brutalist Brussels gem
For Belgian coworking start-up Fosbury & Sons, repurposing underused office blocks has become a calling card. Rapidly expanding with new outposts throughout Belgium and the rest of Europe, the young company has strategically chosen historic buildings, designed by relatively unknown modernist architects, to fit out its unique brand of shared workspaces. Fosbury & Sons aims to do away with the old office model and instead offer a much-needed alternative for today’s mobile professional. “We spend half of our lives working in uniform environments that haven’t fundamentally changed in fifty years,” explains Fosbury & Sons cofounder Stijn Geeraets. “Most offices are undervalued when it comes to design and the consideration of experience. But workers are starting to reject this uninspiring sea of sameness.” The challenge of creating new models of working environments within old office towers is not lost on Geeraets and his partners. “We like the idea of using old buildings that have almost completely lost their soul. We’re infusing them with new life and activity that is more sustainable in the long run,” he explains. While Fosbury & Sons’ first office—in Antwerp, Belgium—occupies Léon Stynen’s 1958 WATT-tower, its second location, in Brussels, takes over a whopping 23,000 square feet of a former concrete company headquarters: a distinctly Brutalist tower designed by Constantin Brodzki in 1970. Set along the city’s green periphery, the monolithic building strikes a memorable pose with its peculiar facade, composed of 756 prefabricated oval concrete modules. The convex windows they contain create a three-dimensional texture. Fosbury & Sons tapped local studio Going East to design the layout and interior of both the Antwerp and Brussels complexes. Inside the latter building, the studio worked with the preexisting structure, sculptural shell, and notable architectural details to reorganize the massive space. Its choice of earth tones extends the building’s late modernist aesthetic. Hay, Vitra, Norr11, and classic Danish Modern furniture were also used to drive the overall concept home. Spread across seven floors, a series of “Suite” and “Atelier” private offices, breakout lounges, and meeting spaces can accommodate 600 members. An integrated daycare center makes it possible for them to interact with their children throughout the day. While the Coffeelabs restaurant and lobby bar on the lower floors are best suited for impromptu meetings, Bar Giorgio on the top floor offers sweeping views of the nearby Sonian Forest and provides a space to unwind at the end of the day. Fifteen meeting rooms and a large auditorium are also available for temporary use. Combining amenities from home and hotel, the holistic vision for this project culminates with a rotating art collection. Top Belgian gallerists like Rodolphe Janssen and Veerle Verbakel have been charged with selecting art and limited-edition design pieces that are exhibited throughout the building.
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Thick Skin

Didier Faustino transforms a Belgian bar into a corporeal gathering space
At the convergence of neoclassical architecture, sci-fi film sets, and North African ornamentation is Didier Faustino’s design of the XYZ Lounge in Ghent, Belgium. Unifying the refurnished bar and multipurpose auditorium is what the French-Portuguese architect calls a skin. The metal frame enclosure, clad in low-relief pink marble and interspersed vent grids, is intended to emulate human anatomy. In fact, this chamber acts as the heart of Zebrastraat, a co-living arts foundation. “The main concept for this project was the idea of interstitial communication—how people’s bodies connect in time and space,” Faustino explains. “I wanted to magnify the voids that form in between these interactions, so as to create a level of drama.” Positioned at the core of Zebrastraat’s multibuilding complex, XYZ Lounge functions as a new communal space. Visitors and inhabitants can either pass through or stay for a while. This duality is reflected in all aspects of the interior design and custom furniture concept. Rather than implement a standard linear counter, the architect installed a T-shaped scheme in the bar area, allowing for easier circulation and face-to-face communication. The adjoining auditorium space can be used as a lecture hall, cinema, dance club, art gallery, and restaurant—a frontal podium is conducive to all. In the auditorium Faustino introduced 40 of his Delete Yourself chairs, a conceptual project he developed in 2016. Repurposed and recontextualized in this space, the geometric and monolithic seats come in two variants: angular and circular. Like the letters X and Y in the name of the space, which correspond to male and female chromosomes, the two variations are intended to refer to male and female gender identities. But the Z hints at the name of the Zebrastraat complex. “Part of what I wanted to accomplish with this project was to challenge the standard gender binary,” Faustino reveals. “Though the interior achieves ambiguity as the sum of its parts, certain strategic decisions, like the combination of pink and green color palates, suggest underlying themes.” Whether a public intervention, an exhibition design, an installation, or an architectural project, Faustino and his Paris-based team develop concepts based on the exploration of instability: the interaction between humans and their surroundings. The designer’s ultimate goal is to break habits that have been ingrained into society, culture, and education. With the design of the XYZ Lounge and its interplay between transitory and permanent space, Faustino demonstrates this approach.
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Take a Hike

Studio O+A’s design for the Slack Headquarters puts employees’ heads in the clouds

When Slack CEO Stewart Butterfield approached Studio O+A to design his company’s new San Francisco headquarters, he talked about wanting a design that would embrace the natural beauty of the West Coast, from the Cascadian forests of his youth to the California mountains where he loves to hike. It was up to the designers to figure out how to pack the wonder of landscapes like Joshua Tree and Yosemite into the 132,269 square feet of office space spread across six floors of a midrise downtown building. Sure, you can hear them saying, no problem.

The Studio O+A team came up with a neat conceit: The headquarters would be organized like the Pacific Crest Trail, with each floor mimicking a biome that a hiker would travel through on his or her journey. The lowest floor is covered in the warm brown tones of the Southern California desert, with potted cactuses to match, and successive floors above climb through climes, culminating in a forest-themed level with dappled overhead lighting and birch bark screens. The design is meant to orient workers as they navigate the building, a helpfulness inspired by the ethos of hiking, according to Primo Orpilla, Studio O+A cofounder and principal. “There’s a certain trail etiquette about helping people along the route—it’s about learning and discovery, and we used that as a design philosophy.”

Rather than mimicking nature literally, Studio O+A loosely translated landscape features like waterfalls and mountain lakes into custom details like cascading seating steps and sculptural lighting installations. Circular meeting nooks on the forest-themed floor are inspired by rings of trees known as “fairy circles.” To finish these designs, the team selected materials “you might not expect inside,” said Verda Alexander, cofounder at Studio O+A. “We were able to bring the outside in…with plants and materials like concrete block and gravel.”

The Slack office is an evolution from Studio O+A’s earliest work for tech giants such as Facebook, for which the firm stripped back warehouses to their raw industrial bones. “That was workplace 1.0,” Orpilla said, “and this is workplace 3.0.” While parts of the Slack office do flaunt exposed structural surfaces, overall the design is more additive than subtractive—more focused on building the company’s unique visual identity than creating a tabula rasa.

Such evolution is part of how Studio O+A keeps its designs original, even after working on dozens of tech offices. “We aim to never repeat details; we want the work to be special,” Orpilla said. “People come back to spaces like that.” Not that it’s easy to constantly rethink the way people work. “It does drive us crazy,” Orpilla said, “but it’s a good crazy.” Nothing a nice hike wouldn’t fix.

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Small Spaces, Big Impact

AN Interior explores the best "Small Spaces" from our Best of Design Awards
As land prices continue to rise and supertall skyscrapers flourish, there’s been a resurgence of smaller, more intimately crafted spaces that prize attention to detail over grandiose statements. Accessory dwelling units (ADUs), tiny homes, backyard studios, and obsessively detailed retail and restaurants are blowing up across Instagram and design-obsessed blogs. Whether it’s a self-constructed, modest wood cottage built with knowledge from A Pattern Language; the Olivia Wilde–designed tiny home commissioned by Dunkin’ Donuts; or a Beijing teahouse clad in polyethylene bricks by Kengo Kuma, these small spaces have captured the imagination of the public as well as architects. The reasons should be obvious. They’re photogenic, self-contained worlds that can reveal themselves—and the design narrative—more easily than the average skyscraper. Small spaces bring with them a unique set of challenges and opportunities. The spatial constraints are obvious, but programming and mechanical considerations can hamstring the most ambitious plans. On the flip side, the flexibility, low cost, quick construction times, and required attention to detail can result in truly experimental (and beautiful!) spaces. When The Architect’s Newspaper selected the 2018 Best of Design Awards winners for small spaces, the editors looked for exemplary projects that made the most out of their miniature means. From a mobile espresso bar in Colorado that took home top honors to a cabin perched above the White Mountains region in New Hampshire, the following projects rose above the rest in 2018. Birdhut Studio North Windermere, British Columbia Perched in the temperate forest that blankets the mountains of the Columbia Valley is an A-frame cabin that welcomes both humans and birds. With 12 nesting areas built into the project’s facade, Studio North has designed a fractalized birdhouse that also fits two humans. The 100-square-foot cabin is a passive intervention in the landscape. Nearly all of the materials used to build the retreat were locally scavenged. Lodgepole pine felled by a recent forest fire was employed to build the cross bracing that lifts Birdhut 9 feet off the ground, and the timber for the deck and cladding were taken from an older cabin. Eight-millimeter-thick polycarbonate panels clad both sides of Birdhut and, much like a greenhouse, trap sunlight to heat the interior. The translucent panels also visually dissolve the hut into the canopy. Circular windows on either side of the treehouse provide passive ventilation. Cabin on a Rock I-Kanda Architects White Mountains, New Hampshire You could call it glamping, but don’t call it easy. When Massachusetts-based I-Kanda Architects was tasked with designing a cabin for a family of four on a rocky granite outcropping in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, uneven topography proved both a challenge and an inspiration. Instead of leveling the precariously peaked site, the 900-square-foot cabin cantilevers out atop nine hand-poured concrete footings. Because of the limited amount of granite the team had to build on, a loft area was added, and the cabin’s massing was sloped and carved away to prevent snow buildup, follow the natural contours of the site, and preserve views of the surrounding mountains. A simple material palette of birch planks and sheetrock keeps the interior light and playful even in the dim winter months and lends gravitas to the black wood stove. The cabin’s framing members were precut and assembled on-site, allowing the team to quickly assemble the building despite its complex geometry. Sol Coffee Mobile Espresso Bar Hyperlocal Workshop Longmont, Colorado Designing a mobile coffee bar that would bring high-quality craft roasts to discerning customers on the street was a challenge that held personal stakes for Andrew Michler; he is both the principal of Masonville-based design firm Hyperlocal Workshop and a co-owner of the coffee bar itself. In order to bring the full cafe experience to a 1979 Toyota Dolphin Camper, Hyperlocal had to balance the energy requirements of a fridge, water heater, espresso machine, grinders, and brewers against the truck’s 115-square-foot footprint. Instead of a smoky diesel generator, the team installed three 345-watt solar panels on the truck’s roof—enough to power the mobile coffee bar for the entire day. The camper was wrapped in translucent polycarbonate panels that silhouette the machinery within and cut a unique mountainous figure that makes it recognizable to customers. The barista window was placed at the back of the truck and the floor was lowered to allow employees to interact with customers at eye level. Further, a U-shaped galley counter system was used to optimize barista workflow—Michler claims the truck can serve 50 drinks an hour with “minimal wait times.”
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MALLrats

Jennifer Bonner's MALL isn't afraid to break out of the box
MALL stands for Mass Architectural Loopty Loops or Miniature Angles & Little Lines, among other variations. Just like its ever-changing moniker, MALL’s work is constantly shifting. Founded by Jennifer Bonner in 2009, the Boston-based studio develops collections of projects that iteratively build from one to the next. As a graduate of Auburn University’s Rural Studio and Harvard Graduate School of Design—where she currently serves as faculty—Bonner channels her love of the American South and uses her teaching to experiment with new typologies and invent new modes of architectural representation. Her colorful, out-of-the-box approach to design is just one of many reasons why she is named one of AN Interior’s top 50 interior architects. AN associate editor Sydney Franklin spoke with Bonner about stepping away from tradition and what’s next for MALL. AN Interior: What would you say are the driving forces behind your aesthetic project? Jennifer Bonner: As you probably noticed from looking at my work, each of the projects are very different formally. At MALL, we begin by working on a conceptual and intellectual project first, and the formal emerges out of these considerations. I am against producing an overall “MALL aesthetic” and much more interested in many architectures. Yet within a single project, the process I’ve set up for my office is to work through many iterations around singular ideas—never discarding any, but creating a cute collection. You can see these collections in the work of Domestic Hats and Best Sandwiches. The latter is a colorful spatial experiment questioning how architecture might stack, in which we are interested in reimagining the extruded midrise office tower. AN: So these collections allow you to explore multiple new typologies? JB: Each of my larger conceptual projects has the potentiality to question paradigms, which is what I’m most interested in. Take the roof forms in Domestic Hats and Haus Gables, a single-family house opening this month made from one of the original Domestic Hats models. I believe the roof plan can be an instigator of space rather than using Le Corbusier’s free plan and Adolf Loos’s raumplan. Here I was looking to expand different roof typologies, which is a topic I dove into while teaching at Georgia Tech. AN: You’re also keen on expanding your use of unique materials, textures, and colors in your formal projects. JB: Yes, I really want to keep pushing the boundaries of materiality. I’m currently working on this through a project called Faux Brick, a distant cousin to the Glittery Faux-Facade study I developed in 2017. In preparation for this year’s Bauhaus Centennial, I’ve studied a pair of houses by Mies van der Rohe in Germany where I argue that authentic bricks are used as a fake structural strategy. In this project, we’re trying to figure out how the rendering and other representational techniques involving bad bump maps and bad meshes might create new faux-brick facades. AN: How has your experience teaching and living in different places like London, Istanbul, Los Angeles, and Boston informed your work? JB: As someone who has one foot in academia and one foot in practice, it has been exciting to absorb all of these cities into the way I imagine architecture. Having grown up in Alabama and recently living in Atlanta, I have decidedly made an effort to work on architecture in the American South. It is not by accident that my first architecture, Haus Gables, is located in Atlanta. AN: For Atlanta, Haus Gables is a really avant-garde residential design. It’s made of cross-laminated timber and features quirky exterior and interior finishes. How were you able to make it so different? JB: It’s completely self-funded without a traditional client—so my partner and I have taken on all of the risk. It was important for me that the design be as radical as possible in my first built work, and not diluted by many external factors. Radical, however, does not mean there wasn’t a fixed budget (which there certainly was). Throughout my career, I’ve worked with several clients associated with the public realm, such as institutions and galleries, but that kind of client is different from, say, a client who wants you to design a house. AN: So you want to design and develop your own projects too? JB: I wouldn’t call myself a developer just yet. But I’ve always been into what John Portman did in Atlanta in the 1960s as an architect who both developed and found financing for his projects. By doing this, he was able to produce a new typology, the super atrium, which I’m not sure he would have been able to accomplish so early in his career if he had faced typical constraints.
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Fractured Antiquity

GRT Architects has designed a bold interpretation of classical details in tile
GRT Architects, a Brooklyn-based firm founded by Rustam-Marc Mehta and Tal Schori, has developed a classically inspired cladding template dubbed “Flutes and Reeds.” The off-the-shelf product is designed as a modular system of triangular concrete tiles that are arranged in varying increments and grid formats—imagine Gio Ponti’s midcentury Blu Ponti ceramic tiles with protruding elements. If the tiles are set in a conventional manner, they resemble the relative formality of Greco-Roman column detailing over an expansive triangular matrix. According to GRT Architects, “Greek columns can be thought of as modules or tiles in a way. Their proportions have fixed rules; there are options for surface embellishments, base and top details. From that small set of instructions comes literally centuries of architecture—from the most austere to the playful acts of virtuosity.” In effect, this straightforward classical detailing can serve as plug-and-play components for contemporary design. The tiles, as a result of their standardized size, can be rotated and arranged to create unique patterns or erratic islands across surfaces. In total, GRT Architects has designed more than two dozen tile variations for four standard patterns: Single Flute, Triple Flute, Single Reed, and Double Reed. Over the last half year, GRT Architects has collaborated with Kaza Concrete—a Hungarian concrete manufacturer specializing in bespoke accent walls—to debut the product at both the Clerkenwell and Milan Design weeks. Kaza uses a mixture consisting of fiber-reinforced concrete, marble powder, and a broad range of powdered pigments. The mixture is subsequently poured into a cast to imprint detailing and harden. In both circumstances, Kaza Concrete assembled, designed, and fabricated the installations to highlight the possible layouts of GRT’s panels as well as the materiality of the manufacturer’s polished concrete. Notably, Kaza Concrete’s installation for the Milan Design Week was fashioned to resemble the base of a monumental column, laid out with a wildly irregular and fractured surface treatment. Flutes and Reeds has been on the market since June, and it is currently being incorporated into GRT Architects' design of a family home and studio in Duchess County and the renovation of a rectory in New York’s Harlem neighborhood.
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Buon Compleanno!

Bar Basso, the historic heart of Milanese design, gets new birthday lights
On the occasion of Bar Basso’s 51st birthday this October, the designers of Gabriel Scott presented a new lighting installation, the first addition to the famous Milanese watering hole’s interior since 1967. AN Interior contributor Jordan Hruska sat down with the bar's owner, Maurizio Stocchetto. AN Interior: How has the design of Bar Basso changed over the last 51 years? Maurizio Stocchetto: Bar Basso was founded in 1947, but my father, Mirko Stocchetto, took it over in 1967. He kept most of the furniture of the previous owner, including wood paneling, mirrors, chairs, and the iconic neon sign outside. AN: Explain the history of how your father created the infamous Negroni Sbagliato and his overall vision for the bar. MS: In the 1960s, cocktails in Milan were hard to come by. Oddly enough, they were popular in Venice, Cortina, and Florence—mostly in the lounges of the big hotels. My father brought an old-school experience he gained by working at hotel bars to a small street corner in Milan. One day, while making a Negroni, a cocktail traditionally made with Campari, red vermouth, and gin, he substituted sparkling wine for gin, claiming that he picked that bottle by mistake. He finished the drink anyway. I‘ve never known if it was true, but the name Sbagliato, which means “mistaken,” caught on. AN: Why do you think designers were initially attracted to Bar Basso as a place to gather in the 1980s? MS: Bar Basso attracted many creative people starting as far back as the 1960s. I think it’s because of its unpretentious atmosphere. Joe Colombo and many architects from Politecnico, the Milanese University of Architecture, were already regulars in the ’70s, but I was too young to notice them. The first designers that I personally met were James Irvine, Jasper Morrison, Marc Newson, Stefano Giovannoni, and a few others working in the [Ettore] Sottsass studio. This community started to grow spontaneously more or less at the same time as the Salone del Mobile brought more visitors to town. After our first “British Invasion,” we started to attract Scandinavian designers, design journalists, and assorted manufacturers. AN: How has your knowledge of design changed since Bar Basso has become an informal hub for designers? MS: The sheer proximity with designers has given me an awareness of how much effort lies behind any design piece, even for objects that we always take for granted. AN: Thousands of designers around the world have a very intimate connection to Bar Basso. Why did you choose Gabriel Scott to design your new lighting? MS: Gabriel Kakon and Scott Richler, owners of Gabriel Scott, contacted me last March in order to organize an exposition of their lamps during the Salone del Mobile in two of our windows. We hit it off and agreed to develop the bar’s first-ever installation to celebrate our anniversary. AN: How did they develop the lighting installation? MS: Gabriel and Scott proposed installing versions of their Myriad and Welles light fixtures with custom satin copper fixture finishes, which give off an alabaster glow that evokes the color of the Negroni Sbagliato. AN: What are the plans for Bar Basso in the next 51 years? MS: Stay alive and stay in business!
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She's a Brick Hus

Take a deep dive into Olafur Eliasson's first completed building

Fjordenhus in Vejle, Denmark, is the first completed building by artist Olafur Eliasson and architect Sebastian Behmann. Together with Studio Olafur Eliasson, the duo have created a thoughtfully conceived and crafted structure in the bay of a Danish fjord. In their earlier architectural collaborations—like the curtain wall design for the Harpa Concert Hall in Reykjavik, Iceland—their work has displayed an attention to detail, composition, materials, and craftsmanship that carries over into this unique commission.

Once they convinced their client, Kirk Kapital, to build its headquarters in the water of an underutilized shipping port, they created a cylindrical concrete structure as a reference to the area’s surrounding grain silos.

The building is composed of four intersecting concrete volumes arrayed around an open public space and faced with nearly a million custom-designed bricks. The four-story volumes morph in elevation from ellipses to circles, and out of these are carved porous openings that dramatically frame views of the fjord. Built atop a man-made island with a basement foundation, Fjordenhus looks like a medieval rampart as imagined by Louis Kahn. But up close, its exterior walls are a pattern of endlessly and beautifully textured color.

The designers created 15 different hues of unglazed brick, added a smattering of blue, green, and silver glazed bricks, and then meticulously laid them out in digital drawings to create a patterned composition for the entire building. The brick colors were selected to reflect their immediate surroundings (more blue at the top of the building and gray for the stairwells), and they are meant to embody the changing weather and light conditions of the site. The torqued elliptical forms are intended to create a series of dynamic, flowing spaces that are “constantly calibrating to allow the user to trust themselves,” according to Eliasson, as they enter and pass through the building. The artist cited Erwin Panofsky’s criticism of neoclassicism and how it prescribes the inhabitation of buildings as an example of what not to do in designing architectural space. Eliasson wanted to move away from classical hierarchical planning to a more democratic, participatory architecture that he considers a hallmark of Danish democracy.

The building is entered from the quay by a footbridge that leads into a circular public space with three of the artist’s sculptures and a mirrored ceiling piece that reflects the light of the fjord back into the occupied public space.

A circular elevator that features dramatic top and bottom lighting, along with a surrounding stair that rises on splayed armatures, take users up into workspaces fitted with furnishings, lighting, built-in cabinets, and interior stairs all designed by the firm. The placement of furniture is purposefully haphazard so that users “democratically” negotiate their own paths through the space, giving them co-authorship of the building. 

In addition, Eliasson designed table and floor lamps made of deep green glass and metal, as well as built-in lighting that is equal parts functional lighting and sculptural object. Lower floors have elegant, circular concrete pads with coffered lighting overhead. The top floor has a globular, faceted sculpture placed below a skylight that throws sunlight over the space. In addition, the rooms have a series of Eliasson-designed fixtures elegantly cobbled together from a hanging LED light fixture that casts light upward through a glass lens, creating a pattern of concentric circles on the ceiling.

This unique practice is based on an artistic sensibility devoted to materiality, craft, and an understanding of form, developed through Eliasson’s years of experimentation as a trained sculptor. As a result, it is a challenge to more traditional architecture practices. Furthermore, the designer’s insistence on the necessity of creating a democratic, user-controlled space means Fjordenhus comes as close to a contemporary Gesamtkunstwerk (or total work of art) as we have yet experienced in the 21st century.

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Hardware the Wild Things Are

Finely detailed hardware that people can't keep their hands off of

These finishing touches add a glimmer of light and polish to any project. Rendered in gold, silver, bronze, and glass, this is hardware that is meant to last.

Top: Brass Pull Bar Buster + Punch

Right to left: Flex Knob Belwith Keeler

Tab Edge Pull Atlas Homewares

Vale Knob Belwith Keeler

Atlantic Knob O&G Studio

Hollywood Hills Cabinet Bar Baldwin Hardware

Clockwise from top: U-Shape Pull INOX Voile Pull Klodea Chrome Knob Elisabeth Norse Interiors Loop Pull Atlas Homewares Hollywood Hills Knob Baldwin Hardware

Background: Adamo & Eva cotton velvet Dedar

Clockwise, starting at top: Flex Knob Belwith Keeler Atlantic Knob O&G Studio Art Deco Pull INOX Vale Knob Belwith Keeler Newport Rosette with White Knob Grandeur Hardware

Hollywood Hills Knob Baldwin Hardware

Vale Pull Belwith Keeler

Circulaire Rosette with Coventry Knob Grandeur Hardware

Background: Splendido velvet Dedar

Top to bottom: ESOR Pull Sugatsune

Nouveau Handle Häfele

Flex Knob Belwith Keeler

4 Off Center Pull Atlas Homewares

Vale Pull Belwith Keeler

Nouveau Knob Häfele

Ultra Euro Pull Atlas Homewares

Clockwise from top:

Clear Fluted Crystal Cup Pull Nostalgic Warehouse

Gather Vase Good Thing Grab Bar Newport Brass Cheetah Glass Square Knob Atlas Homewares Carre Tall Plate with Baguette Amber Crystal Knob Grandeur Hardware

Clear Crystal Cup Pull Nostalgic Warehouse

Horn Handles Viking Handles Leather Handles OCHRE
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Like Chilean Miners...

AN interviews six emerging designers to watch
Who are the names you need to know? Who are the designers to watch? These six up-and-coming talents in architecture and design should be on your radar. Alda Ly New York City Alda Ly likes a good piece of custom millwork. “I like to think about the purposefulness of each cut,” she says. Her namesake practice is built around a similar mission. “We’re pursuing end-user research to develop a more human-centered approach with our designs.” For Ly, both qualitative and quantitative data are imperative to design spaces that break the molds of conventional architectural programs. She designed the Wing’s private women-only professional clubs for flexibility, knowing that users might be recording a podcast on one day, and on another, working solo on their laptops. In this way, she sees herself beholden not only to the client, but also to the client’s stakeholders. Ly has made a name for herself by designing shared spaces, from incubators to offices and apartments. Most recently, the firm designed Bulletin, a store merchandising products from female-led brands that features a social area and a venue for live programming. “There are an infinite amount of situations you have to plan for, but a key point is knowing how to make people feel comfortable.” –Jordan Hruska Brian Thoreen LA/Mexico City “I didn’t really know what I was doing,” said Brian Thoreen. Reflecting on the first show where he unveiled his namesake furniture company at the Sight Unseen outpost during Collective Design in 2015, he admitted: “I was thrown in the deep end—I didn’t even know how to price the pieces.” Since then, Thoreen has gone on to show his works several times at Design Miami, create custom commissions, and be the subject of the first solo exhibit at Patrick Parrish. All of this was born out of his new focus on furniture and a recent move to Mexico City—both of which he was able to fully commit to after leaving his L.A.-based architecture practice, Thoreen+Ritter. In the context of “being somewhere else,” Thoreen now finds himself collaborating with local artists, including Hector Esrawe and Emiliano Godoy on a sculptural series of metal furnishings accentuated by hand-blown amorphous orbs of glass. The material will continue to be at the heart of his future work in a new studio, which he formed with Esrawe and Godoy to continue to collaborate their collaboration on glass and metal projects. As for his own studio, Thoreen also plans to design installations, spaces, and architecture where he can continue work with local artists. –Gabrielle Golenda CAMESgibson Chicago CAMESgibson is a Chicago-based partnership between Grant Gibson and the fictitious late T.E. Cames. Gibson, also a professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) School of Architecture, works at multiple scales, from small residential rehabs to a popular community arts center. The practice is not limited to conventional built work. Some of the office’s exhibition work includes a 20-foot-tall quilted column installed in the Graham Foundation foyer and a skyscraper design in collaboration with Skidmore, Owings & Merrill at the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial. In each of its projects, a playful sensibility fills spaces with color and soft forms. A recent project involved converting a laundry room into a cool ethereal lounge for the UIC basketball team. Deep blue tones and carefully controlled lighting brand the space instead of the typical kitschy, logo-laden locker rooms of most teams. It is this approach to cleverly transforming spaces, whether they are institutional or private, that sets CAMESgibson apart from the average small practice. –Matthew Messner Material Lust New York City Partners in life and partners in practice, Lauren Larson and Christian Lopez Swafford are indifferent to mass production timelines and trends. Together, they work with artisans to conjure otherworldly objects that cross the boundary between sculpture and decorative art, producing a series of furniture with true grit. Known as Material Lust, their Lower East Side-based company was officially established in 2014 but began long before that. It has been producing works that reflect the historical context of design, including the Alchemy Altar Candelabra inspired by pagan and alchemical symbolism; and the Fictional Furniture Collection of gender-neutral, monochromatic children’s furniture inspired by surrealism. Now the pair is venturing into lighting with their new sister company, Orphan Work. As the story goes, it began when they found lost designs from the Material Lust archive and after they visited Venice’s Olivetti Shop, by Carlo Scarpa. The result? A collection that is somewhere between Scarpa’s richly layered forms and the couple’s unapologetically “metal” aesthetic, with nods to both the musical genre and the material itself. –GG MILLIØNS Los Angeles Los Angeles–based MILLIØNS dubs itself an “experimental architectural practice” that liberally explores space-making as a “speculative medium” that can be manifested in any number of objects, structures, or experiences. Founded by Zeina Koreitem and John May, the growing practice recently designed a communal wash basin that aims to reintroduce shared social interactions into the act of bathing for an exhibition at Friedman Benda gallery in New York City. In the show, a 3-D printed mass reveals itself as a fluted drum containing a sink and a slender, brass spigot that is approachable from all sides. Though better known for writing heady treatises and engineering glitchy, digital media works that use televisions and closed-circuit cameras to create new spatial dimensions, MILLIØNS has some more grounded works on the way. A forthcoming, Graham Foundation–supported exhibition designed and curated by the duo that aims to revitalize the experimental spirit of modernist housing, for example, is headed to L.A.’s A+D Museum early next year. MILLIØNS also has several brick-and-mortar projects on the way, including a retail storefront in Manhattan and a lake house in upstate New York. ­­–Antonio Pacheco Savvy Studio NYC/Mexico City Savvy Studio, an interiors and branding firm with offices in New York City and Mexico City, has been busy this summer with an array of projects popping up in New York. It has just launched a Tribeca seafood restaurant (A Summer Day Cafe) which features a beachy interior with light woods, primary-colored metal accents, and of course, nautical stripes. The studio also redesigned Alphabet City mainstay Mast Books using plywood to elevate the space, making it a “gallery of books, rather than simply another bookstore.” And by combining interior architecture with visuals befitting a fashion campaign, Savvy Studio developed branding language, communications, and interiors of the rental offices and showrooms for the Mercedes House, a Hell’s Kitchen luxury condo designed by TEN Arquitectos. Founder and creative director Rafael Prieto points out that there are “no specific boundaries” between branding and interior design. “The reason we do both is based on our interest in creating and designing experiences, and being able to make an impact in every interaction.” For Savvy Studio, their multifaceted practice is about making sure each space or branded element is simultaneously “emotional, aesthetic, and functional.” ­–Drew Zieba
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(It's a bubble)

What's the state of inflatable architecture?
There’s been something of a renaissance lately in inflatable architecture. In the past few years alone, this ephemeral typology has been at Collective Design Fair, Performa 17, and the Park Avenue Armory. Inflatables emerged in the 1960s as a means of expressing dissatisfaction with established cultural norms about life, work, and society. They were seen as potentially revolutionary structures that allowed for experimentation with space in order to influence social, psychological, and physical cognition through the built environment. Inflatables were originally invented by the U.S. military with Cornell aeronautical lab engineer Walter Bird to deploy radio antennae in 1948. Bird, often referred to as the father of the field, is credited for taking this military technology and popularizing it in 1959 by collaborating with Paul Weidlinger on an inflatable roof for the Boston Arts Center Theater. In the ’60s and ’70s, when techno-optimism about the future reached its peak, Buckminster Fuller proposed a massive dome over Manhattan, while Frei Otto envisioned one to shelter 40,000 people in the Arctic Circle. What came next in "inflatotecture" was symptomatic of the counterculture era, which viewed it as a way to construct space for dissent and experimentation while taking advantage of lighter, stronger construction methods and new audiovisual technologies. Ant Farm, a San Francisco–based architecture studio, designed inexpensive and disposable structures out of vinyl for counterculture “happenings,” and anyone attending them could buy the group’s Inflatocookbook, a comic detailing step-by-step how to make one’s own enclosure (a practice common among collectives to disseminate information and design about inflatables). Other contemporaries included the U.K.'s Archigram, Italy's Archizoom, and Germany-based Haus-Rucker-Co.—all of whom envisioned inflatable architecture as a way to explore theories about spatial production, social organization, and consumption. Experimental inflatable architecture continues to be a form that designers use to examine contemporary social problems and to radically play with form and space for its own sake. The following projects stretch the medium to its limits, showing how the next generation of inflatables can generate new experiences. Jesse Seegers Looking to practice new forms of architecture outside of the traditionally accepted profession, New York-based designer Jesse Seegers employs the term “spatial practice,” a framework to create structures that draw from architectural knowledge but are equally related to other disciplines. For example, the Potlatch Pavilion was an ethereal inflatable for a gift exchange party, referencing the Pacific Northwest indigenous American tradition where one’s status is derived from how much you can give away, rather than how much wealth you possess. Here, the inflatable was deployed to “construct alternative systems of political economy.” Seegers’s recent projects include a temporary yoga space called Yoga Dome, which premiered at the opening of Sky Ting Yoga; an installation at a Pioneer Works exhibition on Ant Farm; a concert backdrop for musician SOPHIE’s live tour; and an inflatable landscape for musician Oneohtrix Point Never’s M.Y.R.I.A.D. concert at New York’s Park Avenue Armory. In 2017, Seegers helped French, Los Angeles–based architect François Perrin bring Reyner Banham and François Dallegret’s 1965 conceptual drawing The Environment Bubble to life as a site-specific installation for dance workshops in Brooklyn Bridge Park and Central Park as part of Performa 17. Alex Schweder “An inflatable space in process speaks to the bodies we have. It’s a fleshier, time-based architecture,” said Alex Schweder. The self-proclaimed performance architect began working with inflatables in 2005 at the American Academy in Rome, where his first blow-up installation, Sick Building Sequence, encapsulated feathers floating inside of a translucent plastic “room.” Since then, his inflatables have traversed Collective Design Fair, Tel Aviv Museum of Art, the Venice Architecture Biennale, Tate Britain, and Performa 17. These include a “room” with photosensitive fur, an inflatable hotel inside of a cherry picker, a floor-to-ceiling mass that collapses and expands into and away from itself, and a spiderlike robot that inflates and deflates to reconfigure space on a dance floor. What’s next? Schweder is working with a team of international artists on a traveling show that responds to László Moholy-Nagy’s Mechanized Eccentric, which will debut at the Bauhaus 100th anniversary next year. Seattle Design Nerds Formed in 2014 as a volunteer nonprofit organization dedicated to designing for the public realm, the group is officially the Seattle-based chapter of the international Design Nerds Society. Known for their inflatables, Seattle Design Nerds is a multidisciplinary collab started by Jeremy Reeding and Trevor Dykstra. The pair works with other local architects, designers, and artists on public interest projects to “make Seattle a little more awesome.” True to their mission, Reeding and Dykstra’s first inflatable was a large-scale installation for the 2014 Seattle Design Festival Block Party, a pop-up space shaped like a giant monster and filled with random objects for play. The team veered into the conceptual realm with The Gas Trap, a performance work where a car's tailpipe seemingly fills the inflatable to illustrate our dependence on gasoline. Last year they dreamed up an installation at the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park composed of eight cuddly, inflatable orbs that change color when bopped. For the 2017 Seattle Design Festival Block Party, the group envisioned an illuminated inflatable mural crafted by visitors at the event with Velcro pixels. Their latest work for Cooper Hewitt’s Design with the Other 90% features a giant egg-shaped inflatable that will debut at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Discovery Center in Seattle in mid-September. Nicolas KK A young Nicolas KK grew up in Brazil in a family of hot air ballooners. From these beginnings, he developed an innate understanding and appreciation of the form. Putting his “family stuff” to good use, he started making his own blow-ups while studying industrial design at the Maryland Institute College of Art. That trajectory has continued through collaboration with digital, audio, and light artists in a shared studio in Bushwick, Brooklyn, called Future Space. Inspired by the inflatables of the 1960s and ’70s, Nicolas KK produces experimental structures by applying his expertise in computational design. His digitally driven experimental performance pieces create “dynamic” qualities and always include a programmable element that directly responds to existing digital infrastructures or naturally occurring biomimetic systems. Nicolas KK plans to study Integrative technologies and architectural design research at the University of Stuttgart in Germany, where he will continue to work with inflatables and collaborate with other artists on projects that respond to the emerging computational environment. In December, New York's New Museum will debut his work in an online exhibition described as “the original live desktop theater internet television show.” Pneuhaus Matt Muller, Augie Lehrecke, and Levi Bedall spearhead the Rhode Island-based design collective Pneuhaus dedicated to the mastery of all things inflatable, specifically spatial designs, temporary structures, contemporary art, and large-scale installations. It all started at Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) in 2014 when Muller and Lehrecke designed a handful of different inflatables inspired by Art Farm’s Inflatocookbook. The university hired them to continue to explore those ideas and design a space for the school’s annual design conference. Soon after, Beddall joined Muller and Lehrecke when they got their first professional commission to design-build and perform a circus for the RISD Museum. Since then, the trio has imagined transient spaces for Spotify, Burning Man, and Brown University. Ranging from inflatable fabric prisms built around the fundamental properties of light to inflatables outfitted with pinhole cameras, their growing list of projects develop as iterations of previous works. Their most recent project, Compound Camera no. 2, is a new iteration of the pinhole camera inflatable dome as a giant tunnel at the LUMA Projection Arts Festival in Binghamton, New York.
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Get with the times

Norman Jaffe's Long Island home gets a modern restoration
Norman Jaffe’s iconic Long Island houses were designed in the 1970s and ’80s, when the island’s East End went from a beach getaway of primarily small, nonwinterized summer bungalows to a posh resort of gigantic, ostentatious mansions. Though Jaffe was displeased with the change, it’s hard not to think his houses unwittingly anticipated or precipitated the shift. Along with Andrew Geller and Horace Gifford, Jaffe made the island a leading location for experimental architecture. His material palette of weathered wood, taken from the farmhouses of the area, along with his bold, striking forms, created the Hamptons look. The literal flatness of the island and its extraordinary quality of light, bouncing off the surrounding sea, provided the perfect tableaux for a holiday architecture that wanted to stand out and be seen. By the time Jaffe drowned swimming off of a Hampton beach in 1993, he had designed more than 50 houses on Long Island. While some have been torn down, there are still dozens that dot the region and are beloved and carefully maintained by their owners. In 2014, his Schlachter beach house in Bridgehampton was restored by a respectful owner. More recently, Jaffe’s own 1986 house has received a careful modernization that shows perfectly how to update and at the same time improve an iconic work of architecture. Nick Martin of Martin Architects, a Hamptons-based architect and builder, found the house for a client and set to work redesigning and restoring it. The original residence was a single structure, but over time, Jaffe added three additional outbuildings surrounding a swimming pool, like so many other farm compounds on Long Island. Martin removed a seldom-used second-floor balcony in the main house, merged the space into a new master bedroom, enlarged the living room by joining it with the original foyer, and added new public and private entry points on a north/south axis with the pool. In order to capture the special light of the Hamptons, he dramatically enlarged the windows facing the swimming pool courtyard. As in most modernizations of older houses, the kitchen and bathroom received the most upgrades. The house is now the definition of the perfect Hamptons summer home in 2018. Its striking shingled facade, with a large sloping roof and prominent central chimney cleared of an overgrown pergola, now stands out without overwhelming its site, as so many contemporary Hampton houses do today.