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)
At Benjamin’s recommendation I went the last week to the glorious exhibition, Interwoven Globe at the Met. My favorite idea in the exhibition is showing the epic Jean Jacques Francois La Barbier’s Suite of Tapestries Depicting the Four Continentsand corresponding furniture in a singular room. This brings to mind the excellent thinking of architectural historian Robin’s Evans work, The Developed Surface: An Enquiry into the Brief Life of a Eighteenth-Century Drawing Technique, where he charts the evolution of furniture that was designed for the wall of the room and then how it began to float into the room as the 18th century moved on.
It’s very difficult to teach students to think conceptually and not thematically. I always like to show very seasoned practitioners who are working in a conceptual manner and not just decorating with a theme, like decorating for Christmas or Halloween. My go to for students is the work coming out of Studio Toogood. This recent project for Hermes, mining their history of tannery work is powerful, visceral and is even evident in the floor plan. See Dezeen’s great coverage of the project.
Some more research brought me to this wonderful piece of furniture. Designed by none other than Charles Dickens to establish his very special mode of reading his work. The table mirrors the speaker posture.
In this next image note the metal frame surrounding Dickens, evidently this was wired with gaslight and would illuminate him while speaking, this too was designed by Dickens. Managing your image quite well Mr. Dickens.
In the early 1980′s Westwood was the place to hang out in LA. Then there was a gang related shooting one night – and the exodus left a permanent mark on the area. Now the Hammer Museum (located in Westwood) has decided to take matters into their own hands and build an arts community around themselves. For the month of November they filled empty storefronts (no shortage), donated by the property owners to this project, with artisan vendors. Calling it Arts reSTORE LA: Westwood. Some spaces like dosa’s (pictured – my photo) were impeccably turnedout – others more temporary. There was a wide range from crafty stuff to high art (in case you were looking for a $15,000 Barbara Kruger for a Christmas present). We’ll see if it takes…my reporting is a bit late – I caught the last day -but stayed tuned – I’m sure ArtsreSTORE LA will “pop up” again.