The Graham Foundation invited fourteen design offices to examine the category of the architectural manifesto for their exhibition “Treatise: Why Write Alone?” At a recent public program hosted in conjunction with the exhibition, Kyle Reynolds, co-founder of Chicago-based design firm is-office, and Thomas Kelley and Carrie Norman of architecture collaborative Norman Kelley, spoke about their practices and offered a snapshot of what’s to come in their publications.
“We are putting forth an attitude rather than a manifesto,” Reynolds said. His office pursues any idea it finds compelling rather than adhering to one plan. Reynolds’ talk was smart, informative and often funny. His talk speculated on the origins of Studio Gang’s Aqua Tower and touched on Tumblr pages that poke fun at overly curated apartments.
Norman Kelley’s interests were notably different, with both speakers referencing a variety of historical precedents. Among examples that inform the firms’ work are children’s books and pre-Renaissance art. “Wrong Chairs,” a work Norman described as “probably the truest project we had,” entailed updating the stately Windsor chair with whimsy; the resulting hybrid sporting diagonal seat posts and mismatched legs.
The talks—wide-ranging and experimental—elaborated the premise of the exhibition, which suggests that interesting ideas get generated when creative minds collide. (Kerry Kardoza)
“Treatise: Why Write Alone?” on view through March 28 at Graham Foundation, 4 West Burton Place