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How do you find your ideal balance between designing a utilitarian object and formal exploration or discovery?
Taking an idea into materiality is always an interesting bridge to cross. Most of our ideas are intended to sculpt an immersive spatial experience, creating a moment that wants to capture your curiosity and lets you be with what you see, hear and feel. Each project leads to a new discovery, each manifestation is part of an ongoing dialogue with our process and how it unfolds in different places, materials and context.
The idea of utilitarian rarely crosses our minds, but maybe the work fills a need of taking time to experience a site, space, color and light.
How do you concern yourself with commercial issues related to market research and retail placement?
We don’t concern ourselves with commercial issues related to market research, but several of the institutions we work with are very aware of the demographic of their audiences and supporters. When we collaborate with an institution, for and not-for-profit, we always hope to attract new audiences and raise awareness for their mission.
For example, in 2017 we teamed up with Elizabeth Corr of Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) to create “White Wanderer,” a sound and light installation. This installation became a platform to connect with the complex issue of sea-level rise and climate change, and was named by the New Yorker as one of the sounds that defined 2017. Inspired by the positive feedback, “White Wanderer” has become a multi-year commitment and we look forward to present its next iteration, in collaboration with composer Katherine Young, Experimental Sound Studio and NRDC in Millennium Park January 31 through February 2.
This year we collaborated with Iker Gil, founder and editor in chief of MAS Context to create “Geometry of Light,” which first took place at the Mies van der Rohe-designed German Pavilion in Barcelona and recently at the Farnsworth House in Plano, Illinois, using laser levels to draw a connection between two iconic buildings.
We hope interventions like “Geometry of Light” not only offer a contemporary lens to view the familiar but contribute to expand audiences and raise appreciation for those sites.
Is there something else about your practice?
Creating interventions with landmarks for almost a decade now, the next phase of our career is to make work that can exist independent of a specific site. Besides architecture, we are inspired by observing nature. We love color and light and constantly explore ways to capture its ephemeral qualities. In recent years we have worked with Volume Gallery and enjoy defining new ways for our ideas to become tangible yet remain experiential and immersive.
Designed Objects feature page design by Anna Mort at Thirst
Designed Objects editor Rick Valicenti at Thirst
Rick Valicenti has led the Thirst design studio since its founding in 1989 and has established himself as one of the most visionary designers in the country, winning the 2011 National Design Award from the Cooper Hewitt, Smithsonian Design Museum.