While much of the furniture design industry spent the past ten years playing it safe with a restrained, minimalist approach, a new expressive style has emerged from within its margins. During this period, a vanguard of up-and-coming and established designers broke away from the norm and started reevaluating the fundamentals of form and function. They began playing around with proportion and anthropomorphic details. All of a sudden, a new slew of limited edition chairs and tables were sporting swollen legs, rounded feet, and even animalistic facial features. On view at A/D/O in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, until March 28, Neotenic Design is a capsule group exhibition that surveys this trend. Curated by A/D/O members Justin Donnelly and Monling Lee of design studio JUMBO, the showcase identifies the movement as having close affinities with childlike physical features and the vivid emotional responses that association elicits. As humans, we are inherently drawn to objects with characteristics that resemble these human traits: big eyes, round heads, chubby cheeks, and pudgy extremities. Scientists have proven that our brains respond well to these features as it brings out our instinctual need to nurture and provide affection for less self-sufficient beings. Exhibiting designers and brands—like Pierre Yovanovitch, Konstantin Grcic, Jaime Hayon, Faye Toogood, Sylvain Willenz, Chris Wolston, and Moroso, among others—have tapped into the potential of this emotive trend. There’s nuance in how this diverse group of European and American talents has employed neoteny—the retention of juvenile features—but on the whole, neotenic furniture and lighting design includes three primary traits: thickened forms; soft or rounded terminations; and the use of mono-materials. Ironically, this approach is not new and harkens back to ancient form making. What remains poignant, however, is how this recent trend asks us to reconsider the role of everyday objects; if they’re more childlike in characteristics, we might better find comfort in our domestic spaces.
Posts tagged with "Kids":
Since 2011, New Orlean's The Music Box has been mixing the creative disciplines of music and architecture, and in the process, winning over locals and musicians such as singer-songwriter Thurstan Moore and Wilco. Started by local artists Delaney Martin, Taylor Shepherd, Jay Pennington, the project was born out of the nonprofit arts organization New Orleans Airlift. https://ksr-video.imgix.net/projects/2468154/video-675844-h264_high.mp4 The project, which sees artists and locals create "musical houses," has witnessed numerous iterations over its lifetime. Previous versions having been rebuilt with locations in Tampa, Shreveport, and even in Kiev, Ukraine. Now however, The Music Box team is looking for a permanent home for where architecture intersects music: The Musical Village. The Musical Village would continue the organization's growth within the NOLA community and would open this October. To fund the scheme, a Kickstarter page has been set up with a goal of $60,000 required for the project to become a permanent installation. So far "musical houses" have already been built in the Bywater, only a stones throw away from the projects original site. According to the organizers, the village has its eyes set on becoming a "landmark cultural destination, and a place to grow up in for this city’s children. As an interactive art park by day, and a one-of-a-kind musical venue by night, we know that The Music Box Village will be a site for renewable creativity, learning and play, and a wonderland of awe and inspiration for years to come." Last year, The Music Box hosted the Roving Village, a six-week-long installation that saw more than 10,000 visitors and numerous artists including Wilco, Solange Knowles, William Parker perform in City Park, New Orleans. So far, the project estimates that approximately 30,000 have engaged in the scheme.
Japanse architect Kengo Kuma has been awarded commission to design the expansion for the Hans Christian Anderson museum in Odense, Denmark. Fending off compeition from Barozzi Veiga and Snøhetta, and Denmark's own Bjarke Ingels Group, all of whom remained until the contests latter stages. The project aims to create a new home for the author behind childhood classics The Ugly Duckling, The Emperor’s New Clothes, and The Little Mermaid. In order to achieve this, the museum's expansion will carry a fairytale theme, captured in Kuma's plan for the museum that features a large garden filled with tall trees that are encompassed by circular timber structures. Covering 64,600 square feet, these volumes will house new multipurpose spaces as well as an underground level. A "Tinderbox Cultural Centre for Children" also part of the scheme, will aim to instill a sense of empathy and imagination in visitors, echoing the themes in Christian Anderson's tales while also teaching the children of his work. Odense's mayor Anker Boye, who was also the jury chairman for the competition said: "The proposal has a unique quality that captures the spirit of both Hans Christian Andersen and Odense, has striking international calibre and is locally embedded at the same time. It is a project that I can only imagine taking place here in Odense. But at the same time, it points far beyond anything local or national. It is internationally "Odensean"." Kuma's scheme revolves partly around what the British exhibition design firm Event Communications submitted as a winning proposal earlier in the year. Jane Jegind, Odense's Alderwoman for Urban and Cultural Affairs said that this was an "unusual" procedure, but was one of Kuma's project's strengths. "In planning the project, it was important to us that gardens, building and exhibition design were envisaged as an interconnected whole that clearly captures the spirit of Andersen and brings out the essence of the City of Odense at the same time, she said. The project's funds look set to be finalized by the end of this year, with ground breaking shortly after. Kuma himself will then open both the Olympic stadium in Tokyo and the Hans Christian Andersen Museum in Odense when the two projects are due to be complete in 2020.
Children from a school in the West Village love the High Line and they have a giant model to prove it. Carol Levitt's second grade starchitects-in-training recently finished their wood-block coup de grâce detailing the story of the famed elevated park - past and present. The model shows the transition from railroad line in the 1930s to abandoned field of weeds (featuring actual plants) to the High Line we know today. The kids paid extra attention to detail and demonstrated engineering prowess with structures spanning the High Line, including a tin foil Standard Hotel. Other landmarks in the model include the Chelsea Market and Pastis (maybe the only time you won't have an excruciating wait for a table).
"The children in my group feel as if the High Line somehow belongs to them," Carol says, "They joyfully take their parents, grandparents, and friends of all ages to the High Line and tell them the story. The children followed the approval of the Rail Yards with cheers. How extraordinary that they studied the High Line as it grew and will continue to grow. They see themselves as being the future of the High Line—which they will indeed be."Looks like the High Line will be in good hands for years to come! [ Via High Line Blog. ]
Between Frank Lloyd Wright’s private homes, Louis Sullivan’s original skyscraper, and Henry Hobson Richardson’s asylum, Buffalo, New York has more famous and historically important architecture than most cities in the country. Now Buffalo is working hard to churn out its own starchitects—starting in high school. The new Architecture and Design Academy at the International Preparatory School at Grover celebrated its grand opening this week on Buffalo’s west side. The public school’s Discover Design Program, which commenced in the fall with 20 ninth-graders, aims to “engender architecture and design literacy and academic excellence through rigorous curriculum in an effort to prepare students for higher education.” The Discover Design students will receive a basic liberal arts education and practice in the graphic arts, as well as opportunities for mentoring, internships and summer programs with several architecture groups. Looks like we know where Cooper Union’s class of 2018 is right now.
“It doesn’t seem like it, but everything connects with each one perfectly,” said Gabrielle Sunderland, 12, squinting happily toward the hot July sun. Around her were piles of weather- and germ-resistant foam blocks in sundry shapes and sizes. The blue pieces are the signature element of David Rockwell’s Imagination Playground, which opened Tuesday on Burling Slip near the South Street Seaport. A designer of theaters, high-end restaurants, and Broadway stage sets, Rockwell found his own children bored by the playgrounds of Lower Manhattan. So he set out to create a playspace where kids could use their own imagination, just as he once did. “Playgrounds are the places where kids can learn how to be a community and create their own worlds, but the ones we visited were all too linear,” he told AN at the opening. “That gave me the idea of a different kind of playground.” Gabrielle and her friend Ajda Celebi, 10, were industriously showing off Rockwell’s central strategy: providing kids with loose pieces that promote unstructured play. The girls set two rectangular blocks together with a noodle on the side and a ball on top, creating something like a giant teapot. They liked the fact that the playground allows them to make structures entirely “out of your own creativity,” as Ajda put it. The project got its start after Rockwell persuaded Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe with a drawing on a lunch napkin, and then spent five years researching progressive learning theory and child development. He also helped round up funds for the $7.5 million project, which included a $4.5 million grant from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation and $3 million from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection for the relocation of two water mains and a sewer line into the adjacent street. Rockwell also teamed with nonprofit playground designer KaBOOM! and together they developed Imagination Playground in smaller portable versions, tested and tweaked after trial tours in Washington, D.C., New Orleans, Miami, and New York. But the first permanent site for the concept is designed pro-bono on a former parking lot at Burling Slip. Comprised of a large multi-level deck in the shape of a swooping figure eight of reclaimed Indonesian teak, the new playground is essentially an empty space for the array of 350 props. Situated in a landmark district, the landscape does include some features that recall the surrounding area’s nautical past, including reused benches from Coney Island, barrels, and burlap bags. The west end is the sand pit, consisting of sloping wooden ramps and four wooden masts made by a shipbuilder, each connected by ropes and pulleys. In the center stands a crow’s nest atop a red, circular structure housing bathrooms and a storage space for the blocks. At the east end, a rounded amphitheater for storytelling overlooks an ankle-deep pool with pipes and canals that enable the control of cascading water. A staff of city workers trained as “play associates” oversees the action, as with all Imagination Playgrounds. According to Benepe, Burling Slip is the start of a new era of New York City playgrounds, where Rockwell’s sponges will replace worn-out monkey bars, swings, and jungle gyms. “The next step is to look at playgrounds that are underperforming and need renovation in central Brooklyn and the South Bronx, and apply the concept,” he told AN, adding that these might come with a different set of materials. “Here we had a flexible budget, but we could take a traditional Parks Department playground budget, and use these approaches.” For his part, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg described the project as a tremendous success. “It is always amazing to see what children choose to create when they are fully using their imagination,” he declared. As for the little pirates, they too gave the playspace top grade. “It’s all big and blue and bendy,” Gabrielle said, while balancing a cog on top of a cube tower. “It’s a lot of fun!” And Ajda added, “The new West Thames playground where I live is really cool, but this one is more fun, because you can do anything here.” With that, she eagerly returned to helping the other kids dam a cascading water flow in the pool area. To everyone’s joy, the jets of water created unexpected rainbows against the blue afternoon sky.
AN contributor Christina Chan sends this wee report from Irvine: Pretend City is populated entirely by kids--this mini replica of a city is Irvine’s newest children’s museum. The 28,000-square-foot facility, which just opened its doors to visitors, has taken over a decade to come to fruition. Philanthropists Alexandra Airth and Sandra Peffer are behind the new mini-metropolis. The museum includes interactive learning exhibits geared for kids up to eight years of age.The city includes a farm where little ones can learn about the food they consume, a ATM for financial learning, a café with mock ovens and menus, and a beach that will teach about the effects of pollution. And for budding architects, there is even a construction site where kids (and perhaps grown-ups, too) can build structures with wooden planks.
Friend of AN Ryan Lafollette sends this dispatch from the Windy City. Recent graduates of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago’s (SAIC) architecture and design programs are facing a challenging job market. For those employers looking for new talent, as well as for enthusiasts of design who couldn’t make it to the Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan, SAIC’s department of Architecture, Interior Architecture, and Designed Objects is currently showing its graduate design exhibition, Making Modern. While the scope of the projects vary greatly, each promotes sustainable design and living practices, and includes student work featured in Milan. Aiming to reduce costs associated with building air conditioning by up to 20%, Matthew Stewart designed and developed a system of precisely oriented brise-soleil using waste wood from lumber processing and building construction. Slightly more whimsical but with broad implications in the developing world, Taikkun Li created Tibetan prayer wheel generators, fashioned using old bike tires and fan motors, allowing tourists to lessen their impact on an already strained electrical grid. Daniel Sommer attempts to eliminate excuses about cycling to the office. He designed a compact folding hanger and garment bag system that easily slips into your existing messenger bag or carryall. In a competitive market, these innovative, cost-cutting, and energy-efficient designs may give these young practitioners that much needed leg up. Making Modern will be on display in SAIC‘s Sullivan Galleries, located in the Louis Sullivan designed Carson Pirie Scott & Co. Building, 33 South State Street, Seventh Floor, Chicago, through July 25.
The Architectural League's Beaux Arts Ball 2009 this Saturday night has a dress code, but not the kind you might expect. “No stilettos please,” warns the invite, because in addition to the standard drinks and dancing, this ball features a vast factory where guests will be “building, binding, stitching and printing.” The night’s theme is MANUFACTURE, and the venue is Gowanus’ Old American Can Factory, a sprawling 19th-century complex recently repurposed as a working space for creative industries. Some of the artists-in-residence will be on hand inviting guests into their studios and demonstrating how to use the machinery. (“Free materials will be available; feel free to bring your own,” urges the invitation.) It may be hard to picture, but the Architectural League has a strong track record of pulling off art installation/ fancy-dress-ball mashups. Last year’s Beaux Arts Ball boasted giant inflatable bubbles; 2007’s had a mylar lounge and a fog room. And if you’re not feeling industrious, you can always head over to the courtyard for food and drinks, with DJ Chris Annibell/Afrokinetic spinning and Wingspace Theatrical Design lighting the night. Beaux Arts Ball 2009: MANUFACTURE. Saturday, June 6 9:00 PM – 3:00 AM+ (Note: manufacturing space closes at midnight) The Old American Can Factory 232 Third Street at Third Avenue Gowanus, Brooklyn 11215 Tickets are still available, $25-250.