Weather Balloon Like architecture, the history of sculpture is heavily weighted by permanence, monumentality, and memorial. In the early ’90s, I was reading [Mikhail] Bakhtin and thinking about the grotesque and the carnivalesque— intrigued with the humor and chaos of these spaces and the place of the viewer. I wanted to work larger and manage the weight of sculpture myself. In a eureka moment I sent for a weather balloon. The moment I blew it up, I immediately knew it was the perfect material: ephemeral, erotic, funny, absurd, and huge. A body with flesh and very importantly a body of parts... bulbous parts that all bodies have. The bulging “flesh” subverts common stereotypes: “Big is beautiful” riffs on minimalism’s “less is more.” The inflation nozzles are ambiguous, phallic yet receptive in function. My roots of influence begin with the art of the ’60s’ attitude toward new materials, and the exhilaration of something-out-of-nothing propels me forward. My work reaches for the regenerative pleasure of touch, the fragility of creation, and the spectacle of the body as form. Inflatables evoke both human anatomy and the human condition: the struggle with gravity, the flimsy materials, the delicate stasis between inflation and contraction. Object Lessons is a new collaboration between AN and Façadomy that asks a diverse range of designers and artists to reflect on an object (material or otherwise) that has made a significant impact on their practice. Through personal anecdotes from notable practitioners, the series highlights the myriad ways in which the built environment informs our identities. Curated by Riley Hooker/Façadomy
Posts tagged with "materials":
New tariffs on steel and aluminum proposed by President Donald Trump will have negative effects on the American design and construction industries, American Institute of Architects (AIA) leadership has said in a statement. The Trump administration's plan would impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, something that experts say will have wide ranging effects on both trade and the domestic economy. And while the issue is being hotly debated on the national and international stage, the AIA is weighing in with a striking warning that a rise in material costs could mean major losses for the U.S. economy. "The Administration’s announcement of new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports threatens to drastically increase the prices of many building materials specified by architects. These metal products are some of the largest material inputs in the construction of buildings. Structural metal beams, window frames, mechanical systems and exterior cladding are largely derived from these important metals," AIA President Carl Elefante, FAIA, and EVP/Chief Executive Officer Robert Ivy, FAIA, said in a statement in response to the proposed tariffs. “As creative problem solvers, architects rely on a variety of these materials to achieve functional and performance goals for their clients. Inflating the cost of materials will limit the range of options they can use while adhering to budgetary constraints for a building," they said. "By the same token, the Administration’s proposed infrastructure funding will not achieve the same value if critical materials become more expensive. Furthermore, the potential for a trade war risks other building materials and products. Any move that increases building costs will jeopardize domestic design and the construction industry, which is responsible for billions in U.S. Gross Domestic Product, economic growth, and job creation.”
At this year’s Venice Biennale, the title and theme "Reporting from the Front" charges architects from around the world to present projects that “make a difference” on the front lines of the world’s current challenges. A range of topics—refugee immigration, militarized space, social housing, spaces of education, and more—are addressed throughout the show. Though the discussion varies, one concept seems to pervade the show: the novel or uncommon use of materials. The study of material usage isn't outside normal architectural practice. However at this particular Biennale, the conversation surrounding materials, form, and space is taken to an extreme. This is most prevalent throughout the portion of the show that is specifically curated by head curator Alejandro Aravena. The central pavilion and the Arsenale, the two major spaces of Aravena’s show, are filled with projects that present the literal physicalness of materials. This focus on materials is first evident in the main entrances of both spaces. To discuss waste, and take an inward look at the Biennale itself, Arevena reconfigured thousands of pounds of plasterboard and steel studs from the 2015 Art Biennale. The plasterboard was broken and staked into masonry-style walls; the steel studs hang on end from the ceiling. Continuing into the central pavilion, the space opens up to reveal a soaring brick masonry arch by Paraguay-based Solano Benítez. Rather than a typical brick arch, the bricks were configured into thin members, giving the arch a lightness and seeming fragility. Subsequent rooms engage other materials in similarly unconventional ways. Epic bamboo structures and living plant walls are presented by Colombia-based Simón Vélez and Vietnam-based Vo Trong Nghia, respectively. In an exhibit entitled Mud Work! by Germany-based Anna Heringer, a full scale mud structure is built in the center of the gallery. The material studies continue into the Arsenale. As with a handful of other projects, China-based Wang Shu looks at local and traditional building technologies in a series of brick and tile vignettes. International building consultants Transsolar’s contribution is completely composed of light and a thin vail of artificial fog. An entire space is dedicated to a series of sunlight beams coming through the roof of the building into the dark space. Polish architect Hugon Kowalski works in a material nearly polar opposite of Transsolar’s in his garbage and trash-filled exhibit. In more than one case, small structures are built with board-form concrete or simply stacked bricks. Metal scaffolding is utilized in multiple exhibits as well. As a whole, the show is decidedly tactile. There is a great deal to touch and many spaces have a decidedly strong, yet not necessarily unpleasant, smell. Though not completely devoid of models and drawings, most of these typical modes of representation are presented in the National Pavilions, of which Aravena has much less influence. The significance of this strong emphasis on material practices could be read in many ways. Without a frame of reference outside the exhibition, visitors might focus on a proliferation of traditional building techniques and materials. Considering a broader context though, one could easily question the definition, and engagement, of what Aravena defines as the “front” of architectural issues around the world. If Aravena’s assessment is accurate, perhaps we should be expecting to see more and more architect-designed “vernacular” in the coming years.
You asked, and we extended the Early Bird Special Registration pricing for the Chicago edition of the Facades+ PERFORMANCE conference an extra five days! But act fast, as the discount ends today at midnight for good. Discover the latest high performance building technologies that are revolutionizing the next generation of facades at Facades+ PERFORMANCE! Join AN and Enclos as we present the latest installment of our groundbreaking conference series October 24th-25th at the Mies van der Rohe designed Illinois Institute of Technology campus in Chicago. Be there as leading innovators from across the AEC industries gather to share the cutting-edge strategies and technologies that are redefining performance. Expand your career with our exciting series of symposia, panels, and workshops, and work side-by-side with the industry’s leading professionals. Register before midnight tonight to catch our Early Bird special and save on this incredible opportunity. Space is limited, so act fast! Join our Materials Panel on day one of the conference to learn how to apply the hottest breakthrough materials technologies to your next project. For a preview of the discussion to come, check out this exciting white paper provided by Facades Plus panelist and VP of Sage Glass, Dr. Helen Sanders, in which she explains the cutting-edge technologies and sustainable applications of dynamic electrochromatic glazing. With representatives from SOM, GKD Metal Fabrics, and YKK-AP, this panel is not to be missed. Head over to the full Facades+ PERFORMANCE site to view our highly anticipated roster of presenters and explore the thrilling schedule of workshops, panels and symposia. See you in Chicago!
On Monday at the Society for Information Display’s Display Week trade show in Boston, Corning Inc. launched their new high-performance, paper thin, cost effective, and fully flexible Willow Glass. Capable of being manufactured with efficient roll-to-roll processing, like that used for newsprint, and processed at up to 500° C, Willow glass is sure to usher in a new wave of development in displays, lighting, and flexible solar cells. Corning, known for their Gorillas Glass, uses their proprietary fusion process to make Willow glass a mere 100 microns thick, about the same as a piece of standard copy paper. While thin and flexible, Willow glass maintains the look, feel, and hermetic qualities of standard glass, allowing it to be used with organic light emitting diodes (OLED) and other oxygen and moisture sensitive technologies. The glass can be “wrapped” around devices and structures, allowing for potentially immersive viewing experiences with curved displays. These characteristics provide clear applications for ultra-thin touch screens and future innovations in the form and shape of display technologies, while Corning is encouraging designers and inventors to seek out other potential applications for Willow Glass.
Reminiscent of the ever-so-popular jelly shoes of the 1980s, and more recent incarnations such as Marc Jacobs Rubber Ballet Flat Shoes which debuted in 2007, Italian furniture powerhouse Kartell, internationally renowned for modern furniture design in plastics, and young Italian fashion label .normaluisa recently released a shoe collection of plastic ballerina flats aptly called “Glue Cinderella.” Combining Kartell’s innovative technology with .normaluisa’s youthful design sensibility their latest collaboration offers classic style with an edgy vibe. In a statement released about the new partnership, Lorenza Luti, the company’s 30-year-old marketing and retail manager and mind behind the project said, “Kartell is not merely a design company, but an authentic lifestyle brand. It has been the leading brand in experimentation with plastics for sixty years and has made transparency its trademark. Consequently, when I started to think about a range of shoes, it was natural to give the product our imprint.” Giving the shoe its imprint is just what Kartell did. Made from an injection-molding technology that allows for the creation of two-tone shoes combining transparent and opaque materials, the shoe is available in a variety of shades including neutral beige, deep blue, white, red, violet, green, and crystalline. For $135, you can slip into a pair of your own. The sticky slippers are on sale now at Kartell flagship stores and select boutiques in New York City and throughout the world.