Now I’m seeing the “plan effect” popping up everywhere. This years winner of the Turner Prize was announced last week. Laure Prouvost won for her installation Wantee, part of the “Schwitters in Britain” exhibit at the Tate. The image here (from her web site) is of “The Wanderer” 2012. Based on a work by artist Rory MacBeth who has translated a Kafka novella. What it seems would be a very orderly plan if it were right side up – descends into chaos when upside down.
I’m so inspired by finding the work of artist Sarah Morris, whose latest show is at the Petzel Gallery. Her subject matter, the rhythm, forms & identities of particular cities, (this time, Rio de Janeiro; others included Chicago and D.C.), and her media for inquiring into, and addressing herself to these - parallel works in film, and in paint-on-canvas – isn’t exciting only on account of those features’ inherent attractions. By showing us how a complex and variegated set of interests can be treated simultaneously, and ambidextrously, without losing focus, she opens up a whole set of possibilities for working across multi-media. A great object lesson for our (or at least my) ADD-prone life in design.
Up through Dec 21st
I have been entranced by the world of McDermott and McGough. I had heard tales of them as young dandies of the Lower East Side and Williamsburg and they have recently resurfaced, one living a rigorous 19th century life in Ireland and the other in the modern limbo of the 1940′s. I admire the seamless quality of life and work.
So school is almost finished up, holidays are looming and its time to get excited about a creative winter. Looking at the work of designer Bertijan Pot gets me going. Known for his sugar veined lamps made with Mooji when he was just out of school; Bertijan is arriving as designer who is in Ray Eames league. Observe the charming, witty room he made for the design festival at Villa Noailles.
Continuing with the theme of “in praise of the plan”. Do Ho Suh’s experiential sculpture entitled ‘Home Within Home Within Home Within Home Within Home’ creates a 1:1 replica of two of his homes – his childhood home in Korea wrapped by his first home in the U.S.. In addition to addressing themes of textiles as shelter, and home and migration (Ms. Edelkoort take note) – I will speculate that he measured their floor plans and elevations - ”working backwards” to create a new space. I love that the inner childhood home floats above you. Currently exhibiting at Korea’s National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Gwacheon he has brought his private space back to his home country to roost inside the very public space of the museum – as artifact.
This week I am installing the SVA Interior Design Student show. This year we hoped to illustrate how the program is poised in the overall design debate of is the floor plan useful? Are three dimensional renderings all we need? To answer these questions I looked closely at the writings of one of my teachers at Bennington, Robin Evans, a brillant historian and giving educator; he really has defined what a drawing means in the built enviroment. To follow is my exhibition essay. Let me know what you think. Annie
Architectural historian Robin Evans first contention in his ground breaking essay Figures, Doors and Passages, was that the floor plan was a narrative devise. Marching the reader through a building designed by Raphael and discussing his paintings side by side with the spatial ideas, Evans orchestrates an argument that the floor plan should be read as a form of social mapping; privacy, etiquette and intrigue can be read in the plan. The placement of the doors in particular is a tool for examining social constructs. This essay is true to Evans’ training as an architect, proclaiming that the deep renaissance poché is where the meaning of the space occurs. It’s not until his essay The Developed Surface that he betrays the dogma of architectural theory and speaks about the furniture in the room. Evans charts the movement from the furniture being drawn as a wall construct, a developed surface that is part of the singular wall composition. He says that by the 1820’s the furniture had floated into the room and was beginning to be described as a consequence of the floor rather than the wall. In Evans’ essay The Developed Surface: An Enquiry into the Brief Life of a Eighteenth-Century Drawing Technique, he points to Sir John Soane’s Pitzhanger Hall and announces what will be the 20th century’s great spatial struggle. The drawing has the mannered plan at the center, elegant elevations with deep shadows rendered for spatial articulation surrounding the plan, and at the top a perspective rendering that Evans proclaims: “The pressure to gain full-bodied three dimensionality is so strong that the section on the fourth side thrusts back into perspective.”
Evans activity as a historian in these two essays ushers in the next 20 years of design debate. If this need to draw inside the space like a computer rendering is so primal, so evident as early as the renaissance, AKA the invention of perspective, why did modernism kidnap us into the room of abstraction? What Evans illustrates is that this new mode of drawing – the hyper rendered perspective – is actually centuries old. Sir John Soane wanted to render the exact built environment as much as avant garde architect Neil Denari (who tried to draw with the precision of a computer, computer well before the computer was thus capable).
Interior design is the discipline most primed for Evans’ posture. Illuminating Evan’s argument is an attempt at assessing the work at SVAID and illustrating how the pedagogy is precisely current as well as deeply rooted in tradition. By distilling the students work down to two elements in this exhibition, the plan and one rendering, I have revealed the plan to be of Evans social mapping and the rendering to illustrate the aspiration of the space. This pairing of drawings (as with Sloan’s composite drawing) also maintains that the two are to be read together as a conversation. Without one there is a danger that only the image or surface of the space will be built and as Evans contends, drawings requires some “extra ingredient of utility or function.” The students work shows the deep commitment of the plan as the social map or as Corbusier opaquely contends, “The generator”, and therefore it’s these future interior designers who can aptly orchestrate the “full bodied three dimensionality” that is illustrated in Evans’ historical arguments.
Though she’s clear to describe herself as a designer, it’s not hard to believe that Hella Jongerius began her career in carpentry. Whether in her installations or the objects she designs for them, the process of making is as much a visibly important factor as the often more ethereal or abstract themes in her work. This new material, coming to the Design Miami show courtesy of the Paris Galerie Kreo is exciting as much for what it doesn’t do, as it is for what it does: What it does is make the erstwhile, functional object,”table”, a fun and physical essay – in color, (primary, secondary & tertiary), texture, (slick & careful), and material (tinted, translucent layers of resin). What it doesn’t do is hit you over the head with what might have been a very heavy object: dense in conceptual inquiry (utility or delight?), thick in unfulfilled opportunity (so many more iterations possible!). At the end of design, though, what matters most is problem-solving. And after all the visceral & intellectual amusement, this table stand up.
(From Dec 4 – 8 in Miami)