With 800 million active users and 95 million photos and videos shared each day, Instagram is affecting our visual perception like no other platform. Users distribute literally millions of photos, spreading trends, popularizing places, and ultimately, influencing built and designed environments. Although it is still early for major buildings to outwardly reflect Instagram’s impact, architecture is rapidly becoming saturated from the inside out. Philippe Maidenberg, known for his interior work in hotels across Paris and the UK, including the Holiday House London, is very aware of how social media has altered clients’ expectations. “Clients have shifted from thinking about design to envisioning new ways of life,” he explained. “Hotel owners want public spaces that are more alive and more comfortable than ever before; office owners want spaces that look like hotels. The standards are getting higher and higher for the greater good.” In New York, firms like Paperwhite Studio and Home Studios have made veritable reputations from crafting “Instagrammable interiors” for restaurants such as Jack’s Wife Freda, Cha Cha Matcha (Paperwhite), and Elsa, Ramona, Sisters, and The Spaniard (Home Studios). Rich, memorable colors, personal touches—down to the custom sugar packets—and dramatic moments such as sweeping brass lamps and neon signs all apparently contribute to the restaurants’ Instagram popularity. Maidenberg believes the portmanteau “Instagrammable” merely means photogenic: “In reality, every space inside a project has to be ‘Instagrammable.’ There is a similar way of thinking among architects, directors, and photographers. On the top of their minds, they’re always considering, ‘What will visitors see when they see the building? When they go inside the building? How can we surprise them?’” Obviously, the basic notion of creating photogenic architecture is not new. It can almost be simplified to a 21st-century version of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown’s “ducks” versus “decorated sheds” in Learning From Las Vegas. But although there are definite parallels to postmodernism replacing modernism and maximalism writ large in pastel whimsy replacing high-minded minimalism, new equivalent definitions of ducks and decorated sheds remain murky. Somewhere in this vague category is the plethora of “museums” that opened in 2017. More pop-up galleries than actual museums, these repositories of vibrant mise-en-scènes provide opportunities for snap-happy visitors to create totally next-level selfies to share with their friends. The most notable are the Museum of Ice Cream (New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Miami), the Color Factory (San Francisco), and 29 Rooms (Los Angeles and Brooklyn). And by notable, we mean that going up against museums such as the Louvre, the Tate Modern, and the Museum of Modern Art, the Museum of Ice Cream landed the tenth spot on Instagram’s “Most Instagrammed Museums” list in 2017, and its Los Angeles location alone claimed the sixth top spot in “Most Instagrammed Museums in the U.S.” Legitimate museums have taken note, crafting photo-worthy installations and creating hashtags to promote sharing across social media. “It’s a level of feedback that we have never really had before,” said Andrea Lipps, assistant curator of contemporary design at Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum. “People do use the hashtags, and then we notice the trends of where people are taking these photos and how they are accessing the information and what they are interested in. It’s become a really valuable tool.” But those whose work is on display may see it differently. Brooklyn-based artist and designer Sebastian Errazuriz believes that the best name for these spaces and our new era of obsessive image sharing is “prop art.” “It is very disappointing to see work being misused as a prop for a self-portrait because when that happens, it stops being seen,” Errazuriz said. “And when more content is created just to be shared and to function as a prop, more people will see that as successful content to create and will emulate it.” At the same time, Errazuriz learned to harness the power of Instagram early when he created the entrance installation for the Collective Design Fair in 2013: a series of box fans that had “Blow Me” written across them in neon. “The ‘Blow Me’ fan, if you see it just by itself, is a funny association that is provocative and sexual in nature. But, when I get commissioned to design something like an entry piece in an art fair, I am essentially being told, ‘Go, Sebastian, do that thing you do, do the monkey dance, show me something impressive.’ So, in this case, I made a fan that literally blows them away. It takes a lot of balls for the artist to say ‘blow me,’ and it takes a lot of balls for the client to tell everyone to ‘blow me.’ Then, it has the neon pink which is the cliché of every art fair and was designed as a square precisely to be as Instagrammable as possible. It generated more press than the whole fair combined; and I did the monkey dance and it undermined the effects of the fair.… It was all about distilling enormous amount of stuff in one thing.” Errazuriz was also concerned about the implications of the Snapchat x Jeff Koons Balloon Dog in Central Park. “There is a very real risk of corporations like Snapchat taking over the digital art space and dictating new representations of what art is, like Jeff Koons’s Balloon Dog,” Errazuriz said. “So when I saw that, everyone in my studio stopped what we were doing and in 24 hours managed to recreate an exact replica of the dog, tagged it with graffiti, uploaded it, geotagged it to the same destination, submitted it to Snapchat, and sent out the press release. I think it generated a lot of interesting articles about public space and the notion of virtual vandalizing.” This is the inherent irony in Instagram: Even as designers and architects decry its influence, they are aware that they rely on it. Consider OMA: When it updated its website in 2014, the firm opted to change its landing page to an Instagram feed with software that picked up the geotagged images in a certain perimeter around OMA’s buildings and projects. “We’ve discovered that amateur pictures tell a different story,” said OMA partner Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli. “There are a lot of unexpected surprises and beautiful moments that are not as present in staged photography.” Shifting the power of perspective to boundless viewers creates possibilities, but also engenders limitations. The art, design, and fashion worlds have already begun to chafe against the effects of shortened trend cycles, altered client demands, and distorted design priorities. Will architecture follow suit? #maybe.
Posts tagged with "Jeff Koons":
The long awaited opening of The Broad designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, in collaboration with Gensler, is scheduled for September 20 in Downtown Los Angeles. In anticipation of the big day, the museum released details about the inaugural installation that will fill the 35,000 square feet of column-free gallery space on the third floor. https://youtu.be/glR3YgJa7_4 [Video: Another of Yayoi Kusama's installations in the Infinity Mirrored Room series.] Curated by founding director Joanne Heyler, the rather chronological show will feature artworks by the heavy-hitters of the twentieth century drawn from the postwar and contemporary art collection assembled by philanthropists Eli and Edythe Broad: Jasper Johns, Robert Rauschenberg, Ed Ruscha, Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, John Baldessari, Mark Bradford, Jeff Koons, Barbara Kruger and Kara Walker. For fans of immersive experiences, the first floor will feature one of the Broad’s newest acquisitions, Yayoi Kusama’s Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away. The mesmerizing, cosmic chamber filled with an uncountable number of LED lights drew crowds around the block when it was exhibited David Zwirner Gallery in late 2013. Other recent works comment on the issues and crises facing contemporary culture and the built environment. Takashi Murakami’s 82-foot-long painting—a reflection on Japan’s recovery from the catastrophic 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Robert Longo’s 2014 charcoal drawing Untitled (Ferguson Police, August 13, 2014), depicts police protests in Ferguson, while Cairo (2013) by Julie Mehretu captures the atmosphere and social unrest the Arab Spring in a large-scale, architectural, ink-and-acrylic drawing.
The Getty Trust announced last week that it will give its J. Paul Getty Medal to Frank Gehry. This is the third time the Getty will hand out the award—established "to recognize living individuals from all over the world for their leadership in the fields in which the Getty works"—and the first time it will go to an architect. Past winners include Lord Jacob Rothschild, Harold M. Williams, and Nancy Englander. Gehry's building achievements, which have "changed the course of architecture," according to Getty CEO James Cuno, make him an obvious choice for the prize. But it's his collaborations with contemporary artists that made him an exceptional fit, said Cuno. "He was a central figure in the contemporary art world in Los Angeles in the 1960s and 70s, working closely with Billy Al Bengston, Larry Bell, John Altoon, Bob Irwin, Ed Moses, Ed Ruscha, and Ken Price. And he continues to work closely with artists, including Claes Oldenburg and Jeff Koons, for whom he has collaborated on deeply sensitive installations of their work,” noted Cuno. The award will be handed out at the Getty Center in September.
Sneaker and/or design aficionados take note: Nike released a new high-top model, called 'Dazzle,' on December 13, with snowboarding footwear to follow. While the shoes will definitely stand out in a crowd, that was not the original purpose of the Dazzle graphic. Developed by designers to foil World War I naval surveillance systems, the patterns were meant to confuse, not camouflage. Wikipedia explains the Dazzle camouflage concept:
Dazzle camouflage, also known as razzle dazzle or dazzle painting, was a family of ship camouflage used extensively in World War I and to a lesser extent in World War II and afterwards. Credited to artist Norman Wilkinson, though with a prior claim by the zoologist John Graham Kerr, it consisted of complex patterns of geometric shapes in contrasting colours, interrupting and intersecting each other. Unlike some other forms of camouflage, dazzle works not by offering concealment but by making it difficult to estimate a target's range, speed and heading. Norman Wilkinson explained in 1919 that dazzle was intended more to mislead the enemy as to the correct position to take up than actually to miss his shot when firing.More recently, the high seas have been graced by a contemporary version of the high-contrast optics. In 2013, industrialist and art collector Dakis Joannou commissioned Jeff Koons to detail his 115-foot yacht, Guilty. Perhaps Nike's next collectible shoe will dazzle in color.
The California AIA's biennial Monterey Design Conference is on the next two days—September 27th and 28th—at Asilomar, the glorious Julia Morgan– and John Carl Warnecke–designed center on the Pacific Ocean in Pacific Grove. The conference will feature lectures by Thom Mayne, Marlon Blackwell, Thomas Phifer, Kengo Kuma, and AN board member Odile Decq. But first up this morning was Greg Otto from Buro Happold who presented various Happold projects that were created using a multi-disciplinary approach and discussed design and legal issues around responsibility and how these "stress traditional design assumptions." Otto also discussed his ongoing New York projects with Jeff Koons who wants to make large steel structures look "like marshmallows." Next a Pecha Kucha–type session on Technology Serving Design where German Aparicio, CCA and UCLA professor and AECOM architect, presented his "informedCITIES" digital data research on urbanism and how it can be applied to design. Aparicio has done fascinating urban metrics research on pre- and post-earthquake Christchurch, New Zealand. It's great to be at an architecture conference that does not just discuss local or regional issues but brings in the world's most important designers to present work of high quality and offers a 6:00a.m. "restorative wake-up Yoga" session sponsored by Academy for Emerging Professionals.
When preliminary designs for the third and final section of the High Line were revealed, the designers presented several options including flowerbeds and amphitheater seating for the Tenth Avenue Spur, an offshoot of the park that stands above the intersection of 10th Avenue and 30th Street. The design team’s aim is to make the Spur one of the main gathering spaces in the park. Now, with the proposal of a massive installation by artist Jeff Koons calling for a suspended locomotive over the park, the Spur may become exhibition space as well. Koons’ Train, a full-scale replica of a 1943 Baldwin 2900 steam locomotive, would be suspended above the High Line by a crane. The sculpture would be constructed from steel and carbon fiber, weighing in at several tons. Visitors to the park could stand directly below the 70-foot-long sculpture and stare up at the locomotive as it spins its wheels, blows its horn, and shoots out steam several times daily. Train has some history with the High Line; there was an effort in 2005 to install the piece in a plaza at West 18th Street and 10th Avenue but the space available would not permit installation. In 2008, Director of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) Michael Govan began studying the feasibility of installing the piece in conjunction with LACMA’s expansion, and talks with the City of Los Angeles are ongoing. But while LACMA managed to haul a 340-ton rock from a mountain quarry through the streets of LA, it seems their Train may have left the station. Both the museum and Koons have expressed support for installing Train at the High Line regardless of the outcome in LA, so the possibility of a trans-continental Train still exists. Arnold, a German fabricator, is conducting engineering and fabrication studies, taking into account public safety and cost. The piece is estimated to cost at least $25 million to build and install. Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line, explained on the Friends of the High Line Blog, “Our top priority is to build and open the rail yards section of the High Line. In order for this idea to become a reality, we would need to determine a way to safely integrate Train into the rail yards design, and find private support from a single funder to build it.”