University of Michigan, Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning
advisors: Glenn WILCOX & Wes McGEE.
suckerPUNCH: Describe your project.
Rebecca BRAUN & Tyler SMITH: It has always been the work of the designer to make sense of technological change, to be in control of the perceptual effects new industry has on a culture. . . .
The radical architecture and furniture coming out of the 1960s, particularly in Italy, was a direct commentary on the age of mass production and industrialization occurring in Europe and America. By sampling form, color, material, and manufacturing techniques, architects and designers like Ettore Sottsass and Alessandro Mendini worked on challenging popular perceptions of familiar things and spaces through their designs. Their work positioned the designer as the interpreter of technological change, the means by which a culture could engage new technology. This project continues this line of exploration for the contemporary moment in the digital age, working through ideas of how to gain aesthetic control over digital fabrication techniques in service of producing a human response to novel assemblies. The design proposes incongruous relationships between materiality, technique, scale, and form in order to delay a clear perception of the 1:1 construction. By pairing formal techniques of curved folding with rigid sheet stock, finished metal with pleather fabric, domestic upholstery details with CNC machined parts, the construction references things and spaces beyond its immediate setting. Somewhere between a couch and a space frame, the project works on new opportunities opened by digital fabrication, considering strategies of recombination and diversification towards the production of a single object.
sP: What or who influenced this project?
RB & TS: Toilet Paper’s 1968 photographs by Maurizio Cattelan & Pieropaolo Ferrari; Richard Sweeney’s work in curved folding; Verner Panton and Ernesto Neto; and critics at the University of Michigan including Glenn Wilcox, Wes McGee, Anca Trandafirescu, and Thom Moran.
sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
RB & TS: Reading: a collection of essays on Ettore Sottsass edited by Ronald Labaco; a collection of essays on Alessandro Mendini edited by Peter Weiss and Juli Capella; and Jesse Reiser and Nanako Umemoto, Atlas of Novel Tectonics.
RB: Listening to Rubblebucket.
TS: Listening to J. Roddy Walston and the Business.
sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
RB & TS: area.architecture; Endemic; Thing Thing; The LADG; The Bouroullec Brothers; Bureau Spectacular; and Matter Design.
Additional credits and links:
Special thanks to Jeni Nguyen for her mad skills as a model.