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The Architecture Lobby
The relationship between the business of architecture and the nature of architectural work is fraught. Many celebrated firms have been built on the backs of young and often unpaid labor. To call this practice an open secret would be inaccurate. It isn’t a secret at all; for some firms, it’s standard operating practice.

The Architecture Lobby, founded in 2013 by Peggy Deamer, has begun the long and laborious process of addressing these issues. Today, the group has 16 chapters and 450 dues-paying members. (Yearly dues amount to 0.2% of total income, or about $100 for a $50,000 salary.) Recently, I spoke with the Lobby’s national organizer, Dexter Walcott, about the group’s recent efforts, its campaign to unionize the field, the Green New Deal, and the future of work.

MCP: Martin C. Pedersen
DW: Dexter Walcott

MCP: What’s the Lobby working on right now?

DW: The top three initiatives are the unionization campaign, the socializing of small firms, and the Green New Deal campaign. We’re also working to expand the “Not Our Wall” campaign to focus on the detention infrastructure, beyond the physical barriers and surveillance infrastructures.

MCP: So there are both national and local Lobby initiatives?

DW: Yes. There are chapters that are working on issues that are purely local. And then some chapters blur a lot, where there will be a national campaign that has a strong presence in our regional chapters. The “Not Our Wall” campaign, for instance, had a strong presence in the California chapters. The Green New Deal is a national campaign, but the New York chapter has a very strong presence with that.

MCP: Let’s pull a few of these issues out for closer examination, starting with union recognition. What’s your goal here, and how do you see that playing out?

DW: The end goal is to form unions of architectural workers. There are a number of ways that it can play out. One type of union we organize would be a single-issue union, where we would begin to organize architectural workers around a single problem within the profession and organize workplaces to form collective bargaining units around that issue. For instance, something like the eight-hour workday would be appealing in the profession. That covers a lot of the issues with one broad stroke, whether it’s the culture of overwork or the inability of people to have time to take care of themselves or their families outside of the profession. We could organize workplaces under a contract that only has one clause in it that would say, “We’re going to work for eight hours, five days a week.” That’s something that is appealing to the Architectural Lobby at the moment. And it’s so necessary in the profession right now.

MCP: Is your goal to go through the actual process of becoming a legally recognized union?

DW: Not necessarily. We’re more interested in helping workers build collective bargaining units. At the end of the day, the Lobby isn’t so concerned about being the legal entity. We want to see the sector have unions. The unionization working group has put together an amazing pamphlet on the steps to do this.

MCP: So some chapters might, ultimately, be purely local?

DW: Yes. Right now we’re organizing ourselves and trying to understand where the organization has power, and where we can leverage that power. It starts with a belief that we need to get tight around an argument, if we’re going to start organizing other people to commit to it. We don’t want to build an organization that just brings together like-minded people. We must become good at winning contentious arguments. You can’t organize a workplace by assuming, “Oh, everyone who already thinks like me will automatically join my group.” You have to engage in discussions with people who say, “I don’t think unions are going to help our industry”; or ask questions like, “Will that cut my pay?”; or say, “My boss is really good to me right now.”

It’s also important to have conversations with people about preserving things that are good about the profession. We need to reinforce the idea that unions aren’t just for times when everything’s falling apart, but are a way to ensure that things stay great and can get better. But the Lobby’s core position is
Interior Design Media
With a forward-thinking vision for a university bistro, Toronto-headquartered DesignAgency was born. Two decades after serving steak tartar to students, business is booming for founders Allen Chan, Matt Davis, and Anwar Mekhayech, who can rattle off hostel brand Generator Hostels, The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, St. Regis Hotels & Resorts, and culinary brands Nando’s and Momofuku from a high-profile client list. On the books: rollouts for workspace and cultural hub NeueHouse and new Hilton urban hotel brand Motto.

“These days, a designer’s vision needs to be half the business of design and half the art of design,” says Mekhayech. “There are unlimited possibilities when creating a physical space—but process, purpose, and budget lead.” To better hone these three crucial points, DesignAgency is full-service, tackling interior design, architectural concept, strategic branding, and visual communication. Projects around the globe (in addition to offices in Los Angeles and Barcelona, DesignAgency now has full-time designers in Vancouver, London, and Washington, D.C.) are executed by a divide-and-conquer technique—the three partners collaborate on creative, before letting one partner run with it.

Interior Design sat down with the three founders to learn more about that first fateful collaboration, the upcoming NeueHouse rollout, and who is a master at balloon animals.

Interior Design: So, tell us about the student bistro that brought you together.

Anwar Mekhayech: We had no business plan and it was all very organic. I studied engineering and business at the University of Toronto (U of T) but grew up in the family restaurant business. After taking over my parents’ restaurant, I decided to open my own—which I really wanted to design. So, I asked Matt, who has a degree in Landscape Architecture from U of T, to start a design company with me, and he introduced me to Allen, who was studying architecture at Columbia University.

It was all very fast—I graduated in 1997, we formed what was then called Precipice Studios in 1998, and I opened a student bistro at U of T that we designed in 2000. My dad was living in Paris at the time, opening a restaurant there, so the concept became a kind of French-bistro-meets-California-casual-organic—but in 2000, so way before its time. We had DJs playing, and were serving students steak tartar, duck confit, and healthy salads. It was so much fun.

ID: NeueHouse is a big project for you. What exactly does it entail?

AM: We’re renovating the two existing properties and are about to open a third in downtown Los Angeles, NeueHouse Bradbury, which will help explain our design ethos and narrative as we scale the brand to new locations globally. Our design aims for residential and inspiring, balancing private and social, but with a strong emphasis on collaboration and communication. There will be a play of vintage and new pieces across all the projects—and I’m super excited about the art program and the use of plantings.

ID: How do you believe NeueHouse meets current demands in the hospitality market and stands out from the likes of big players like WeWork?

AM: Sophistication and refinement. NeueHouse is more an invited member’s club that centers around working, content, and collaboration than co-working. It has a kind of celebrity following because they started ahead of the curve, in 2012 in New York. So last year, Josh Wyatt entered as CEO, and immediately brought us onboard. We worked with Josh on Generator Hostels and have a great relationship with him. Together we’re adding the food and beverage hospitality angle—the restaurants, bars, and patios because that’s what we are good at—building off the original concept based on bringing likeminded people together by Rockwell Group. We’re also ramping up the amenities where possible, for example spa-like showers and changing rooms for people commuting by bike or spending extended amount of time on site.

NeueHouse has several different types of membership. Netflix, for example, is a tenant in Los Angeles, with their own private studio floors on the upper levels. Actually, DesignAgency’s Los Angeles studio is also in NeueHouse—we moved in just a few months ago.

ID: What have you completed recently?

AM: We developed the design language and ethos for Momofuku spaces and recently
Interior Design Media
Rana Beiruti is director of Amman Design Week, a nonprofit design fair that was founded in 2016 and is now in its third edition (it became a biennial in 2017). This year’s theme is “Possibilities” and over 200 exhibitors from 13 countries took part. The event was held in three different parts of the city, with the main show, curated by Bahraini-based architect Noura Al Sayeh-Holtrop, in the “hangar,” a renovated 1930s building in Ras El Ain that used to house the electricity generators that powered the then burgeoning city; the Crafts District; and new to this year, a neighborhood of galleries called Jabal Al Lweibdeh.

Interior Design: Tell me about the theme for this edition of Amman Design Week?

Rana Beiruti: It’s “Possibilities” and it came about as a reaction to the hopelessness felt in the face of current global issues such as climate change and the political discourse, which in Jordan, for instance, comes with an attitude of ‘throw your hands up in the air.’ The theme of was a way for us to say that through design, we can dream up new possibilities for the future.

ID: Where is Amman Design Week positioned in the region and how does it differ, in your view, from other design weeks like Dubai, Beirut, etc?

RB: Dubai Design Week is an international-facing event where the world comes in, participates and showcases, while Beirut Design Week has always had a link with Europe, particularly France, and has a bit of a European feel. In Jordan, we’re sort of in the middle. We’re not an oil-rich country, we don’t have many natural resources from which to build a strong manufacturing sector, so designers here are innovating within limited means, with locally made and locally found materials.

ID: How about some examples?

RB: The design studio Twelve Degrees made a bench out of crushed palm leaves as a possible alternative to wood, while Omar Sartawi created an edible replica of Ein Ghazal, one of the oldest sculptures in the world that was found in Jordan (and is currently in the Louvre Abu Dhabi). In this instance it has been made out of jameed, a dried yogurt that is part of our national dish of lamb, mansaf. We also have designers making magical things happen out of something as simple as gravel or sand. Instead of being about fancy tables and finishes or crystal chandeliers, “Possibilities” is about research and about a rawer understanding of design, of materials. It’s about how we live, what our architecture looks like, and how we use the earth and the landscape to produce the things we consume.

ID: Is this trend of looking within, to your own context and geography, something recent? Or has it always been fostered by Amman Design Week?

RB: It’s been intentionally part of our essence from the beginning because it would be difficult for us to do a design week that is alien to the existing context. The pieces produced respond to local needs, use local materials, and promote the work of local initiatives. This kind of support is important in the face of a context where import taxes and government regulations limit the capabilities of designers to prototype here, and to work with different materials. One of our designers wanted to import silicone and it took them six months just to get it through customs. Under the theme of “Possibilities” people looked to the materials we do have, like stone, and natural fibers.

ID: On a related note, is there any industry or manufacturing in Jordan? And is the situation changing?

RB: Manufacturing is one of the weaker industries in Jordan. Jordan is a very young country and there was a strange shift where we went from a nomadic and sparsely-populated society to one with Wi-Fi and iPhones—there was no industrialization period in between. The barriers to importing and finding the tools and resources you need to manufacture locally are big, as I mentioned, so people end up manufacturing abroad and importing the finished products. It’s made us a very consumer-oriented instead of a producing society. I think now we are seeing that designers are working in a more hands-on way as a result, and starting to become makers themselves to resolve this situation.

ID: What was new compared to the last edition?

RB: This year we created an entirely new exhibition entitled ‘Future Food/Future City,’ which reclai
KTGY Architecture + Planning
With a rapidly aging population, an inward flux of new urban residents, and developmental pressures forcing displacement and homelessness on growing numbers of people, housing design finds itself at a critical nexus in the United States.

And while many architecture firms are surely working on innovative housing projects, few have dedicated teams focused on pursuing housing innovation from an integrated, transformational perspective. KTGY Architecture + Planning is one such firm, however. The R+D Studio at KTGY exists to "explore new and emerging ideas related to building design and technology," with an eye toward integrating new housing developments into their surroundings, re-thinking existing design paradigms, and prototyping cost- and time-saving construction approaches all the while expanding the realm of housing design to include co-living arrangements, contemporary senior housing models, and supportive housing.

We talked with Marissa Kasdan, director of KTGY's R+D Studio, to discuss how well-designed housing can serve more people, the changing nature of domestic spaces, and to highlight innovations coming out of her team's work.

What is the focus of KTGY’s R+D Studio? And of your position?

KTGY’s R+D Studio was created as a dedicated effort focused on furthering KTGY’s vision, “to move the discourse of architecture forward by continuously searching for better.” With that goal in mind, the R+D Studio explores new and emerging ideas related to building design, shifts in residential demographics, and trends in the way people live. My role, as director of the R+D Studio, is to maintain the focus of the studio in a way that also supports the design efforts of the various studios within KTGY. I coordinate with studio leaders from KTGY offices across the country and look for opportunities to develop design concepts that support the building types and market segments we serve.

The R+D Studio seems to pursue an integrated approach that considers design, urban-scale considerations, and constructability issues simultaneously. Can you share an example of a project (or an approach/idea) that has most benefited from this arrangement?

The Skytowns concept considers how townhome unit plans in a high-rise configuration could maximize building efficiency while minimizing elevator stops and shared circulation space, all while providing multi-level unit layouts in an urban setting. On every other level, the townhome units recapture the corridor area as unit area, increasing the overall building efficiency to nearly 90%. The inherent nature of the multi-story units creates a unique opportunity for vertical variation along the high-rise façade.

One of your research focuses revolves around expanding the definition of co-living. How is the research coming out of the R+D Studio informing the design of unit plans for this type of housing?

Initially, we developed a co-housing concept to address urban affordability for young professionals trying to manage their rents, leading to the development of an 11-bedroom, 11-bathroom prototype unit. Since then, we have discussed with many of our clients and other interested individuals the opportunity to apply the benefits of shared living in new ways to help address a variety of issues and serve a wide range of demographics.
Sylvie Rosokoff / Sylvie the Camera
The founder of Madame Architect speaks with RECORD about the value of mentorship.

Julia Gamolina, who works in business development for FXCollaborative, founded the website Madame Architect in May 2018, after having published interviews with women in the profession on SubteXXt, the digital journal of gender-equity organization ArchiteXX, beginning in 2015. Since then, she has interviewed some 150 women in the profession, with more than 50,000 unique visitors to the site. The 28-year-old graduate of Cornell’s architecture program spoke with RECORD about her goals for Madame Architect and the value of mentorship in work and life.

You were born in Russia, immigrated to Canada at age 8, then moved to the U.S. when you were 14. How has mentorship—and specifically working with and looking up to other women—played a role in your life and career?

It’s been huge. When we immigrated, my mom told me, “I will offer you the guidance that I can, but I’m also new here—there are some things that I won’t know.” So as a young kid, then throughout high school and college, I felt very comfortable asking my teachers for advice. I’ve always had different mother figures in my life, and advisors in my professional world, and I think immigration is really what triggered it.

So was Madame Architect a natural extension of seeking out guidance?

Yes. I found that, after graduation, that built-in system of mentorship no longer exists. I started to look for my own advisors. Writing about them wasn’t originally part of the plan at all, but once I found women who were so generous and energizing to me, I thought, I have to share this. I pitched ArchiteXX, and it published my first Q&A, with Vivian Lee, a principal at Richard Meier & Partners.

How do you identify your interviewees?

One of the biggest goals of Madame Architect is variety—the full gamut of age, focus, background, location, everything—but it started with women who had leadership roles at firms, purely for guidance on how to get there. After the first few, I thought, I’m talking to women at the peaks of their careers; what is it like to speak to someone in the trenches?

What common themes have emerged?

People talk about being open and nimble, and saying yes when unexpected opportunities arise. While I was working on my thesis and about to start looking for jobs, I watched all these commencement speeches by people like Steve Jobs and Oprah Winfrey, who send the message to find what you want to do and just do it. I had started my career with that mentality, and it was extremely frustrating, because things took longer or didn’t work out as I expected. I thought I was doing something wrong. But having interviewed more than a hundred women now, no one has ever said, “Set your eyes on the prize and go for it.” And, in fact, everyone has said, “Be open, you don’t know what’s coming, but surprises are good, and you’ll learn a lot by trying different things.”

What has surprised you?

Almost every single woman I have talked to who has her own firm founded it when she had her first baby. That’s really mind-blowing to me. Seeing who my followers are has also been surprising. A lot are younger women and new mothers, but I also have men writing to me all the time. I didn’t think I would hear from men at all when I started, and while it’s still more women, it’s more balanced than I expected.

What misconceptions do you think people have about women working in architecture?

So many women are so tired of being asked what it’s like to be a woman in the field. They deal with the same challenges that come with different stages of life, for everyone, in every field. They no longer want to be thought of as “women architects”—they just want to be thought of as architects. That has probably been the most consistent feedback from the interviews.

You publish a lot of content—around 10 stories each month. Do you see this becoming a fulltime job?

I actually really like having my feet in practice. I don’t design at the moment, but I like being on the ground in the collaborative environment of a firm. So for now, at least, it’s good for me to do both. But monetizing something like this, having a business plan and all that—oh my God [laughs] . . . Not my skill set.
Debra Hurford-Brown
For many architecture and design schools across the United States, 2019 marks a shift in institutional leadership. From Charlotte to Berkeley, new deans will assume the helms of some of the country’s most challenging—and exciting—programs. The deans will have the opportunity to shape design pedagogy and practice in significant ways, potentially guiding how academic institutions teach and address issues related to the built environment for years to come. But in an era of collaborative learning and community engagement, what does deanship look like? AN asked eight of the country’s new deans about their plans for the future of their schools and their discipline. Here’s what they have to say:

Respondents’ answers have been edited and condensed in some cases.

Vishaan Chakrabarti
University of California, Berkeley College of Environmental Design


A former principal at SHoP Architects, Vishaan Chakrabarti is a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation and the founder of the New York-based Practice for Architecture and Urbanism.

The Architect’s Newspaper: What is your vision for the school moving forward?

Given the spatial nature of our three existential challenges—climate change, social inequity, and technological dislocation—I believe that schools of architecture are as relevant today as law schools were during the civil and equal rights era. I am keenly interested in exploring with students, staff, and faculty the questions of how to reconcile the demands of professional practice—which takes decades to do well—with the understandable impatience of many students to radically and immediately change our world in light of the environmental, intersectional, economic, and political crises in which they have come of age.

How is your new school different from your previous institution, Columbia University?

Because [Berkeley] is public, it serves disproportionately large numbers of first-generation college students, Pell Grant recipients, and other diverse groups relative to most private institutions. More broadly, Berkeley is part of the Pacific Rim and therefore exists at a healthy distance from the Eurocentric framework that still dominates many design schools.

Harriet Harriss
Pratt Institute School of Architecture


Before assuming her role at Pratt, Harriet Harriss was the head of the postgraduate program in architecture and interior design at the Royal College of Art in London, where she explored new models of design education addressing gender imbalances that exist at many institutions.

What is your vision for the school moving forward?

The tradition of parachuting in architectural visionaries ready to superimpose their agenda and aesthetics upon an unsuspecting faculty—with little regard for the established expertise within a school of architecture— is no longer viable. The vision I have is the one I intend to co-design with the talented and dedicated educators, students, and administrators at Pratt Institute School of Architecture… What’s needed is a dean who is willing to facilitate, enable, and empower, who is committed to ensuring talented students’ and educators’ work gets the recognition and exposure it deserves, and one who will work toward ensuring the work is realized across an expanded field of professional practices and public contexts.

Who would you consider a role model dean and why?

Architecture’s habit of focusing upon an individual’s contribution over that of a collective does not reflect the reality of architectural practice or education. Instead, we need to recognize the achievements of collectives in shaping the most successful spatial outcomes and increase our capacity for collaboration in order to respond effectively to challenges ahead.

What would you make your school’s mascot?

Do we need mascots? Or actions that lead to meaningful impact?

Branko Kolarevic
New Jersey Institute of Technology Hillier College of Architecture and Design


Previously a professor and administrator at the School of Architecture, Planning, and Landscape at the University of Calgary, Branko Kolarevic is a designer and educator with experience at multiple universities across North America and Asia.

How i
Interior Design Media
Playful graphics in bold colors cross disciplines to become striking art and custom furniture pieces by Emily Alston. “I really like the idea of functional art—which is basically furniture,” laughs the British designer, who draws from a background in graphic design and illustration. With the unforgettable moniker of Emily Forgot, also the name of her design studio, she has collected a diverse roster of clients since graduating from the Liverpool School of Art & Design in 2004. Notable among them: prestigious London cultural institutions the Victoria & Albert Museum and Somerset House, hotel chains Mondrian Suites and CitizenM, retailer Selfridges, and furniture manufacturer Herman Miller.

This fall, at The Interior Design Show (IDS) in Vancouver, running September 26-29, Forgot will debut “A Sense of Place,” an installation based on the shapes and architecture of Canadian Modernism. In parallel, 13 of her pieces will be for sale with 50 percent of proceeds benefiting education program Out in Schools. Interior Design sat down with Forgot to learn more about her boldly colored wooden relief pieces, the favorite pastime she indulges all around the world, and why little has changed in some areas of her life since the age of six.

Interior Design: We understand you recently wrapped up a residency program.

Emily Forgot: That’s right, with de Bijenkorf, a department store chain in the Netherlands. I created a series of furniture and domestic objects inspired by the de Bijenkorf stores and the Bauhaus movement—so a table, chair, rug based on a Marcel Breuer staircase, and a set of three mobiles. The program, called Room on the Roof, is organized to coincide with the centennial of the Bauhaus movement and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Eindhoven de Bijenkorf store, designed by Italian architect Gio Ponti. The pieces will be used in window displays.

ID: Can you share a little more about the IDS installation and what else is upcoming for you?

EF: For IDS, I'm making some colorful wooden relief pieces for “A Sense of Place,” an installation and entrance hall feature. Similar to others I have made, these reliefs will be based on architectural or interior spaces that I quite like, with relevancy to location. Therefore, I've been researching a lot of Canadian architects and architecture and visiting some Vancouver-based spaces. I then reinterpret and abstract them for the relief pieces.

I am also working on a maze for the hotel chain CitizenM that will be open to the public during the London Design Festival, also in September, and a series of assemblage pieces and prints which will be exclusively for the Victoria & Albert Museum shop.

ID: What gets your creative mind energized?

EF: Travel is really important. As an example, this past February I did a project for Stay One Degree, a vetted-member-only holiday home rental website. They sent me out to the Canary Islands in Spain, to Tenerife, to be inspired by one of the villas they have there and then also by Tenerife itself. For them, I also created a unique series of colorful wooden pieces. A film was made to document the trip and the making of the pieces It was a really nice project and made me think a little bit differently about my work, which always has inspiration coming from a sense of place. Travel doesn’t have to be about getting on a plane and going somewhere, it's also about going to the library and picking up some old archive magazines.

ID: How do you believe the British design culture helps enable your vision?

EF: With social media and the internet being so much a part of our creative lives, things feel a lot broader. You can uncover an amazing restaurant in Australia or a new kind of furniture brand in New York. I gain inspiration from all around the world and don't think my work necessarily has a particularly British feel. But then again, I do really like a lot of British design; it's quite playful and there is a little bit of humor.

ID: In what kind of home do you live?

EF: I've recently moved with my partner into a 1960s home with quite a lot of original features. It’s near the sea, about an hour outside London, and is a huge ongoing project. My partner, Von, is an illustrator and artist as well, and we have a studio in the house that we share. Although some people just think that’s crazy, it
W Dubai-The Palm
“Textiles and color have formed the basis of our work since the very beginning.” So states Paola Lenti of her namesake company, which she founded in 1994 in Meda, Italy, and today produces fabrics, rugs, architectural structures, and furniture for indoor and outdoor use, employing a staff of 100.

Born in Piedmont in 1958, Lenti studied graphic design at the Scuola Politecnica di Design in Milan, and then went on to work as an art director for various fashion companies, where she would create displays and environments, designing rugs and such herself. Eventually, she went out on her own, making small glass and porcelain objects but switching to felt rugs, which she says represented the true start of her self-named brand.

Materials research and sustainability have been guiding forces since day one. In 1997, she began working with designer Francesco Rota, a collaboration that has produced some 70 collections and is still going strong. It was 2000 when they turned their focus to outdoor, aiming to create furnishings that are as attractive and comfortable as those for interiors. That same year was when her younger sister Anna came on as managing director, overseeing administrative and marketing aspects. Now celebrating its 25th anniversary, the company they’ve forged is synonymous with innovation but also with the handmade, global but also local (except for a few items, Paola Lenti products are all made in Italy). Here, Lenti the older expounds on inspirations, recent projects, and upcoming endeavors.

Interior Design: What inspires you?

Paola Lenti: Nature, for its simplicity, clarity, and unexpected texture and color combinations. I remember, as a child, my entrepreneur father would take me along when he went to the countryside to paint and teach me to appreciate all the surrounding beauty. My passion for color was born with me. Another childhood memory is receiving a book of colored collage paper and cutting up and combining the dark orange and dark turquoise pieces. Each time I start selecting colors for a collection, I recall cutting those pieces.

ID: How does color play through your col­lec­tions?

PL: We focus on it not only for individual fibers but also in the fabrics we weave from those fibers, and for the collections and the ways they work together. Even our solid fabrics often have more than one color of thread woven in.

ID: What are other constants?

PL: Research and development, finding increasingly better materials in terms of both ecological sustainability and durability. We have propriety materials that do both, such as Rope and Twiggy.

ID: Which designers have you collaborated with?

PL: At first, it was only Francesco. But now we work with a handful, such as Francesco Bettoni, Victor Carrasco, Claesson Koivisto Rune, Vincent Van Duysen, Marella Ferrera, Marco Merendi, Nicolò Morales, and Lina Obregón. I prefer to concentrate on just a few people for a closer collaboration. Marella and Nicolò had pieces debut at this year’s Salone Internazionale del Mobile in Milan.

ID: How long have you participated in that?

PL: From 1995 to 2002, we were at Salone. From 2003 on, we’ve been part of the Fuorisalone off-site. This year, we returned to Fabbrica Orobia, where, with Bestetti Associati, we created a series of modern environments to contrast with the enormous 1920s warehouse using partitions made from materials such as glass, ceramics, lava stone, and fabric pieces, all of which are now part of the collection. We also had indoor and outdoor furniture introductions this year by Bettoni, Van Duysen, Obregón, and Rota.

ID: Any projects abroad?

PL: Yes, Torno Subito at the W Dubai-The Palm hotel. The chef is Massimo Bottura of the famous Osteria Francescana in Modena. The mood there is completely different, more formal and serious, whereas the Dubai restaurant is playful and colorful, recalling the joyful Italian Riviera of the 1960s.
OMA
What is a social stair? Remember back in 2001, when OMA/Koolhaas and Scheeren completed the Prada Boutique (now called Prada Epicenter) on lower Broadway in Soho? It features an amphitheater-like stair leading from the ground floor down to the basement. This stair can be used as a stair, taking you from one level to the next. It can also be used as bleacher-like seating. And when it is not accommodating seated human beings, the amphitheater part of the stair can be peopled with ranks of mannequins outfitted in Prada fashions. Though not the first of its kind, the Prada stair is the archetype of the 21st-century social stair. The social stair connotes a style of 21st-century sociability: cool; hip; spontaneous; diverse, yet connected; and youthful. As such, it has been transformed into a symbol: an icon of collective identity that suggests it has the power to make you cool, hip, awesome (and maybe even young) — just by being in its presence. The 21st-century word associated with this phenomenon of implied magical bonding is “meme” (rhymes with “mean”). My authoritative source on 21st-century forms of knowledge, Wikipedia, tells me that “meme” means a unit of conduct that you can internalize and imitate in order to represent yourself to others as embodying the desirable associations — cool, hip, awesome, young — affiliated with the meme/form. So now you know: The social stair is a magical meme. It possesses the power to confer a social identity, linking you to a community that you want other people to see you as belonging to.

The Wikipedia entry on memes has a whole section on architectural memes, an indication of the potency that buildings possess to shape the attitudes, opinions, and conduct of the people who occupy, or simply pass by, them. The Wikipedia entry also identifies the foremost theorist of architectural “meme-ology” as Nikos A. Salingaros, professor of mathematics at The University of Texas at San Antonio, and author of “A Theory of Architecture” (2006).

Houston, in the past four years, has experienced a population explosion of high-profile social stairs. The expansion and reconstruction of the University of Houston Student Center South (2015, EYP and WTW); the Midtown Arts and Theater Center Houston (2015, Studio RED and Lake|Flato); the Moody Center for the Arts at Rice University (2017, Michael Maltzan); the Glassell School of Art of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (2018, Steven Holl and Kendall/Heaton Associates); and the Kinder High School for the Performing and Visual Arts (2019, Gensler) all have public spaces configured around social stairs. Do the people who frequent these buildings actually hang out on the social stairs, embodying the forms of contemporary sociability depicted in architectural renderings? Or is this even a relevant question? Doesn’t the very existence of the social stair demonstrate that the building comes equipped with the necessary spaces for shaping cool, awesome, etc., subjects and bonding them into a community?

In his book “The Architecture of Neoliberalism: How Contemporary Architecture Became an Instrument of Control and Compliance” (2016), the British architectural historian and theorist Douglas Spencer decodes such memes as the social stair; long refectory-like communal work tables; internally exposed trusses, ducts, tile block walls, and concrete floor slabs; and interior glass partitions to argue that these are not simply constituents of a currently fashionable style of architecture but the material and spatial building blocks of a social system based on the exaltation of economic markets. What Spencer finds notable about the effort to shape people’s (and especially architects’) self-conceptions and their ideas about community is how often Neoliberalism operates through soft means (and soft memes) — architecture, fashion, advertising images, architectural renderings — rather than through rules, creeds, and the formation of political or religious belief structures. The rhetoric of self-direction and workplace democracy, the absence of hierarchy, the ability to bring your pet to work — are visually portrayed in memetic images of happy, attractive, racially and ethnically diverse groups of young people working at their laptops or texting on their cellphones, spontaneously generating innovation even as they break from their co-work perches on social stairs to grab a healthy fusion snack at the nearest
Interior Design Media
During Salone del Mobile 2017, a flurry of Instagram posts propelled designer Marc Ange’s sheltered daybed, Le Refuge, boldly rendered in pink, to fame. Springing from a wood base, his fabricated palm trees sheltered an inviting retreat with their deftly layered leaves. “My universe is made up of Los Angeles's influence on my European cultural structure,” says Ange who praises Italy—the land of his birth—for “its lyricism, majesty, pride, and decadence” and France—the country where he was raised—for “its perfectionism, depth, and melancholy.” He now lives in L.A., where, he says, his visual imagination is inspired by the light and contrasts.

In 2008, with the decision to expand from the luxury car design arena, Ange founded studio Bloom Room, which now has outposts in Los Angeles and Paris; a client list that includes the likes of Louis Vuitton, Nina Ricci, Ferrari, Prada, and Zadig & Voltaire; and projects including private homes and Dar Simons, a restaurant opening in September in Marrakech. Most recently, during Salone del Mobile 2019 in Palazzo Cusani, a historic 17th-century palace in Milan, Ange presented new furnishings in the exhibition “An Extraordinary World.” Interior Design sat down with the designer to learn more about his new pieces, how inspiration can come from a childhood fear of spiders, and where to find a spa retreat within a ghost town lost in the mountains.

Interior Design: Can you tell us a little about the new pieces you presented in “An Extraordinary World,” your exhibition in Milan this past April?

Marc Ange: Following my creative instincts, this collection naturally took the direction of a fantastic universe, bathed in memories of childhood, repressed fears, or forgotten dreams. I presented a new version of Le Refuge—the very first piece of my collection, which I launched in 2017. This piece—a sheltered bed called Le Refuge de la Nuit—is the expression of the memory of an emotion that I felt in my childhood when I imagined that a forest was growing in my room to protect me from the real world. I chose super foamy white fabric from the new collection of Dedar, which I love because it’s like a cloud. For the base I chose terrazzo tile because it’s something that is very old, with history, something Italian. The Les Araignées upholstered seating collection of armchairs and now a sofa probably represents my buried fear of spiders, which was among the things that a refuge could protect me from.

Lampes Refuge is a floor lamp in aluminum—that’s very light and easy to use—with a marble base. For the marble, I chose a lot of different colors—yellow, some pinks, some greens, some grays, some brown. I went to these different caves north of Tuscany to choose the stone.

ID: What else have you recently completed recently?

MA: We have just finished three bottles of perfumes, for three big luxury brands, each very different from the others. This type of project is very interesting because these small glass objects must represent a complete universe. Every detail of these bottles tells a story—precise, chiseled—which must touch a certain part of the collective unconscious, and stage the brand without betraying its context and its history. These are difficult and exciting exercises.

ID: What’s upcoming for you?

MA: For an Italian luxury brand, I am preparing a residential furniture collection with a very strong identity, which will launch during Design Miami in December. It will be a kind of romantic and modernist bestiary, carved in exceptional and precious materials. In addition, at Salone del Mobile 2020, I will present a new residential furniture collection, which will be a summation of all I have done so far.

ID: How do you believe your unique background in automobiles and fashion helps enable your vision?

MA: Having a varied background allowed me to understand the mysteries of creation. Indeed, the creative process, before the physical development, is the same—be it a car, a luxury product, a piece of furniture, or an interior. I also think that specialization ends up creating habits that cause creative paralysis. Touching different universes allows you to constantly recharge your batteries.
Gabriela Marks
Fostering a more inclusive profession is everyone's job.

As the 2019 President of The American Institute of Architects, I have had the honor to learn from and listen to colleagues from across the nation and around the world. Those interactions have reinforced what I always knew: Our similarities, as people and as professionals, far outweigh our differences.

We don’t all speak the same language, come from the same family background, or share the same cultural heritage, but we do share a commitment to advancing our communities and our societies through the power of design.

Today, architects are finding ways, both small and large, to improve the profession’s environmental stewardship of the built world. In the years ahead, we must commit to leaning into this effort. I am proud of the clear direction of the board, Strategic Council, and members to seize the leadership moment presented by climate change, and I look forward to sharing the first steps in AIA’s years-long effort to lead on this issue.

However, leadership in the 21st century takes more than noble ideals and a clear vision. Today it requires the inclusion, innovation, ingenuity, and leadership of everyone.

As a profession, we are becoming more diverse, but it’s taking place slowly—especially in comparison to the society we serve.

For example, 46 percent of students enrolled in schools of architecture are women, up from 25 percent in 1985. In 2016, women accounted for 36 percent of newly licensed architects. That’s substantial progress, but we have a considerable way to go. After all, women make up 51 percent of the total population and 56 percent of all college students.

On the issue of race, progress has been harder to achieve, especially concerning African Americans and Hispanics. Currently, about 13 percent of college students identify as African American and a little more than 18 percent identify as Hispanic. In contrast, African Americans account for roughly 5 percent of architecture students.

Further along the career pipeline, roughly 19 percent of new architects identify as nonwhite. These statistics stand in sharp distinction to prevailing national demographic trends. For example, 39 percent of millennials self-identify with a race or ethnicity other than white, about double the share of the baby boomer generation at the same age. And according to census data, 48 percent of Gen Z (post-millennials) identify as nonwhite.

To help facilitate and advance the critical conversations needed to expand the pipeline of women and minorities into architecture and to retain them throughout their careers, AIA’s Guides for Equitable Practice, created in partnership with the University of Minnesota and AIA’s Equity and Future of Architecture Committee, continue to facilitate necessary discussions about fostering a more inclusive profession.

I am convinced that as we expand the definition of who is an architect, we will extend what architecture can accomplish. As firms and schools conduct critical conversations to better understand and eliminate the barriers and biases that challenge underrepresented groups in the profession, we will dramatically improve, impress, and ultimately inspire the society we serve through diverse design thinking.

To lead, we must be more diverse—as diverse as the population we serve. All of us have a critical role in ensuring that the talent and perspective of everyone, without regard to race, age, socio-economic background, or gender, is included in our effort to create a more equitable, compassionate, and environmentally responsible built world— and, by extension, society.
Interior Design Media
A holistic approach to nature and wellness drives Matteo Thun’s built projects. The award-winning Italian architect and Interior Design Hall of Fame member co-founded the iconic Italian design and architecture collective the Memphis Group with Ettore Sottsass in 1981, before striking out on his own, forming Matteo Thun & Partners in 2001. Thun’s happiest designing something new, he admits, and his firm’s creative eye, honed out of a headquarters in Milan and an office in Shanghai, is behind a long list of high-profile hospitality and healthcare projects spanning the globe.

Most recently, summer saw the reassembly of Thun’s temporary beach structure, Cala Beach Club on the breathtaking Emerald Coast of the Italian island of Sardinia. Situated at Hotel Cala di Volpe in Costa Smeralda, a playground for the rich and, at times, famous—many of them yachting enthusiasts—Cala Beach Club is an environmentally sensitive structure only accessible by foot or boat. In summer it hums with private parties, with clientele seduced by the stunning natural landscape. Interior Design sat down with Thun to hear more about the Cala Beach Club, what toy kicked off his imagination at a young age, and which project reachable solely by cable car he considers a career turning point.

Interior Design: What was your overall design goal for Cala Beach Club?

Matteo Thun: Cala di Volpe is a beautiful beach in Sardinia. We wanted to create a shady oasis just between the woods and the sea. Restaurant, bar, and treatment rooms have been designed to melt within the landscape, to respect the charm of this special place.

ID: What was particularly challenging about this project?

MT: This property is reachable only by boat or on a path through nature. Since it serves only for the season, we designed a removable structure that is easily to assemble and dismantle.

ID: What materials did you use and why?

MT: The structure unites with the beach vegetation, terraces value the inclination of the land, and views are open to the sea. We only used natural materials that integrate with the surroundings, such as chestnut wood and bamboo. All colors are natural and warm.

ID: What else have you completed recently?

MT: We like to bring nature inside and believe in concepts that emphasize an overall healthy lifestyle as a main approach. Healthy architecture and interior design guarantees physical and mental well being, allowing a relationship between humans and the environment. In Obbürgen, Switzerland, the Waldhotel at Bürgenstock Hotels & Resort, which opened at the end of last year, is a space for wellness and medical services. It’s made from local stone and wood, and nature will take over in a few years so that the building will melt with the mountain. As with most of our projects, we also designed the entire interior.

Another recent project is the new headquarters for Davines, an Italian beauty company dedicated to sustainability and based in Parma, Italy. Here, we grouped traditional rural shapes and innovative volumes around a greenhouse that serves as a restaurant for the employees. Maximum architectural transparency with a minimum amount of masonry elements provides every working station with a view of the green areas.
Jasso
This Mexico City practice aims to " transform space into place."

Firm name: Rozana Montiel Estudio de Arquitectura
Location: Mexico City
Year founded: 2009
Firm leadership: Rozana Montiel
Education: B.Arch., Universidad Iberoamericana, Mexico; M.Arch., Universitat Politécnica de Catalunya, Spain
Experience: Diego Villaseñor Arquitecto y Asociados; and has taught in different universities in Mexico City and at Cornell University.
Firm size: 10

Mission:
We transform space into place. Placemaking is the result of seeking formal content in context, changing barriers into boundaries, shifting spatial perception, approaching the landscape as the program, re-signifying materials, working with temporality, and holding beauty as a basic right. More than an aesthetic decision, beautiful design is an ethical stance impacting people’s lives.

First commission:
My first significant commission was the Void Temple in 2011, a landscape intervention that touches all the themes that concern me as an architectural designer: public space, social fabric, re-signification of simple materials, re-signification of tradition. This land art piece sits amid pine woods and blends with the site topography; it consists of a white concrete wall forming a 40-meter (131-foot) circle that serves as a haven containing the macro-cosmos within the micro-cosmos. The project was part of a collaboration with Dellekamp Arquitectos on a 117-kilometer-long (73-mile-long) pilgrimage route in Jalisco, Mexico.

Second favorite project:
At the 2018 “Freespace” Venice Biennial, we presented our book HU: Common Spaces in Housing Units (Mexico City: Arquine, 2018), which compiles the research and findings of three of our most important public space projects. The book, which advances a new design methodology, collects in a series of post-it graphic aphorisms our observations and solutions for common spaces. The book is one of my favorite projects because it involved a great deal of reflection about how we design and the role language plays in building.

Biggest career leap:
When I began to receive commissions for public projects. It was then that I realized the urban responsibility that architects have when designing collective living spaces. Also, in 2017, I won the Moira Gemmill Award for Emerging Architecture given by The Architectural Review in London. It was an important turning point in my career not only because the prize validated my studio’s approach to architecture, but also because it has funded my research.

Biggest design challenge you’ve overcome:
Every project at our office is a research opportunity that brings a new design challenge. We approach architecture as a form of “willing simplicity” that integrates more with less.

Special item in your studio space:
Our green roof terrace. It keeps us grounded and sensitive despite being on a fourth floor. It connects interior and exterior in an organic way: We can be at the heart of an urban center and yet stay connected to each other through nature.

Design aggravation:
Stale atmospheres. For me, disharmony in a place begins through the sense of smell. If a space has a moldy or stuffy odor, something was poorly designed.

Bad taste in design is not about how things look, but how all spaces and materials come together in an atmosphere. And smell is a tell-all aspect.

Recent inspiration:
I visited the Musée Fragonard d’Alfort in Paris and was fascinated by its écorchés (figures depicted in art showing muscles without skin) and cabinets of curiosities. These cabinets evoke the manner in which architects “make room” through spatial design: Architectural order creates readings and narratives that can only be decoded in space.

Most urgent policy change:
Public space development in Mexico City. Most of the public space interventions lack a long-term vision, due in part to the three-year cycles of political administrations. There must be a way of shielding aspects of policy from political change. Currently, we just get snapshots of progress with no cohesive long-term effect.

Favorite rule to break:
Playing by the rules to their ultimate consequences is the best way to break the rules.

What are you reading?
I love to read several books at a time. I am current
Jobe Corral Architects
Texas is known for its harsh climate—something that Camille Jobe and Ada Corral, principals of Jobe Corral Architects, keep in mind when they are sketching out plans for the mostly residential architecture and interiors projects out of their headquarters in downtown Austin. Previously practicing independently as architects, Jobe and Corral joined together five years ago to form one of the rare women-owned-and-operated architecture firms in the United States. Most recently, the duo completed River Ranch, a modern house in the Texas Hill Country built employing traditional rammed earth construction. Interior Design sat down with Jobe and Corral to learn more about River Ranch, why they have debates about front doors, and the clear division that drives their creativity.

Interior Design: So, tell us a little about the River Ranch project.

Ada Corral: The clients were really in love with the land. After an arborist came and talked about the big oak trees on the site and how it was all very rooted and connected underground, we came up with this idea of using traditional rammed earth construction. The rammed earth is a conceptual way of tying in the love of the land and the connection with the earth. Having a building that is sheltering and protected was also important. Our solution is an almost U-shape, with expansive glass in the direction of the view.

Camille Jobe: For River Ranch, the rammed earth is made of decomposed granite, Portland cement, and water. It’s a dry mix that is poured into forms in ‘lifts’ of about six to twelve inches and then rammed down to compact it. This layering process is what gives it the striated appearance. It has been done for thousands of years and was an easy yet sound construction method because it requires no heavy machinery and can be done incrementally. The rammed earth was really the boss of this project because once we created these walls, they sort of ran the show. There is not a single space where you don’t see them—so we had to be very particular about texture and color, warmth and coolness next to these super striking and very distinctive walls.

ID: How did you choose the furnishings, which have a Scandinavian feel?

CJ: The project began with a collection of pieces that we called ‘artifacts,’ which the client had gathered from around the world over time. We started thinking about filling the space solely with items that were just as well-crafted—where you could see the connection, detail, and materiality—and make each one of these pieces a new artifact. So, all of the new furniture either has a notable providence story—in terms of where it came from—or appeal in the way it was assembled. For example, in the living area, the pink leather and wood sling chairs are from a company called Fenton and Fenton and are made in Indonesia.

ID: What’s coming up for you?

CJ: In collaboration with a branding company in Oregon, we’re doing the architecture and interior design for a young company headquarters in Austin. It’s a large commercial space that we’re figuring out how to make look like home.

We also have a fun project that is literally three toilets. In Austin there’s a trail that goes around Lady Bird Lake, and up and down the trail are these little boutique, sculptural restroom projects by different architects. We've admired the previous restrooms that have been out there so we’re really excited about it. Ours will be of terracotta tile, concrete, and steel, and to create the sink we are reusing a concrete pipe.

ID: How do you work together as a team?

CJ: I am the big-picture person and Ada is the detail person.

AC: So, it is very clear.

ID: In what kind of homes do you live?

AC: We're actually neighbors and live on the same street about five houses down from each other in the same style of post-World War II residence. There was a shortage of wood at that time, so the houses were built out of concrete blocks instead of wood framing. As such, they are both very simple mid-century concrete block houses. After we started our partnership, we brought the houses into the office and designed additions for both of them at the same time.

ID: How did your childhood play a role in your creativity today?

CJ: My dad and everybody on his side of the family are civil engineers and my mother w
Interior Design Media
“I didn’t have that visiting-art-gallery kind of upbringing,” reveals Paul Cocksedge. Not that this deterred the British designer from jumping thoroughly into the creative arena himself. Since co-founding Paul Cocksedge Studio with fellow Royal College of Art (RCA) alum Joana Pinho in 2004, Cocksedge has earned international recognition for product design, architectural projects, installations, and sculptures, and completed work for the Victoria & Albert Museum, Swarovski, BMW, and Hermès, among others. Some of the studio’s more attention-grabbing projects include a furniture collection created from drilled-out sections of the concrete floor of the space he was getting evicted from, an interactive lighting installation which invited people to kiss under mistletoe during Salone del Mobile, and a living spiral staircase bursting with greenery and social breakout spaces for the Ampersand office building in London.

This September, for London Design Festival 2019 (LDF), Cocksedge will unveil “Please Be Seated,” a large-scale feat of engineering with no obvious joints or structure fabricated from repurposed scaffolding planks. The installation will be the biggest yet in both budget and size commissioned by LDF headlining partner British Land. Interior Design sat down with Cocksedge to learn more about the LDF installation, what intriguing philosophy he has when it comes to choosing furniture for his own home, and to hear the revelation of a long-kept secret from his college days that he is only now confessing.

Interior Design: Could you share a bit more about your upcoming installation at LDF, “Please Be Seated?”

Paul Cocksedge: We were asked to think of something to place in a wonderfully proportioned square near Liverpool Street for the duration of LDF. Our piece is a very curvaceous form that is very technically advanced in terms of how it is made. It consists of three rings or three waves of wood, continually flowing forms, which give you a place to sit and interact, with performance space and shelter. In the end it’s completed by people, who are the last ingredient.

ID: Why scaffolding planks?

PC: British Land is a developer, and when you are walking around the streets of London you see the metal scaffolding and the wood planks, which are a part of their process. You can’t reuse scaffolding planks as scaffolding because they have to comply to health and safety requirements. However, there’s a very innovative interiors company, White & White, that we are collaborating with. They have established a business of collecting all of these pieces, cutting them, sanding them, and repurposing them into floors and walls. The wood is full of texture and tone of color and it’s a very beautiful material to work with.

Although when you are repurposing wood, there’s always a very important consideration: You don’t want people to look at it and think, ‘Oh this is a recycling project.’ That is definitely not how this will look. The repurposing story is the secondary message, after the creation of the form.

ID: What else have you completed recently?

PC: At the Norman Public Library Central, in Norman, Oklahoma, we are just about to complete a 45-foot-high wire metal sculpture, “Unbound.” Oklahoma has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. I’ve never seen a landscape like that before, with the changing weather, the light. It’s a new library and we were invited to pitch for—and then won—the competition for an outdoor sculpture. This is the first time we have done something permanent on this scale. The sculpture has a lightness of touch to it, and really looks like it is suspended in space. Set against a beautiful landscape and the building, it’s a structural, mathematical kind of riddle that we have solved in what we think is the most elegant way.

We also recently completed a small piece of temporary architecture for Art Basel Hong Kong, a lounge for Hong Kong developer Swire Properties, which was holding talk programs with the RCA. It needed to look really beautiful and well-detailed, and yet function in many different ways, from relaxing cafe to presentation space. It was really a fast project that came out better than I was drawing or imagining.

ID: In what kind of home do you live?

PC: I just bought a Victorian house, which is about 100 years old,
DLR Group
Michael Graves’s famous Portland Building is undergoing a renovation so extensive, it may be de-listed from the National Register of Historic Places.

On a recent afternoon outside the Portland Building, the massive copper Portlandia statue sitting atop its entrance was still encased in scaffolding—the marine goddess’s outstretched hand poking the edge of its white plastic sheathing—as part of an ongoing $195 million renovation and reconstruction.

Despite being a famous landmark designed by architect Michael Graves, and one of the first major Postmodernist buildings in America, the building (owned by the City of Portland) was ultra-value-engineered when it was constructed in the early 1980s, and leaked practically from the start. A few years ago, the city decided renovation was critical if it was to have any functional future.

Although it’s on schedule to reopen at the end of the year, an audit critical of the renovation process is assuring that this seemingly always-controversial design story adds another chapter. City Auditor Mary Hull Caballero found a lack of transparency as the budget has grown to $214 million, and that equity grants to improve the diversity of the construction workforce had not been spent.

Perhaps most notably, the June 12 audit noted the city was “on track to meet the baseline renovation goals but will fall short of other aspirations.” In particular, “the exterior design chosen to address water leaks will result in the circa-1982 building’s delisting from the National Register of Historic Places.”

That actually remains to be seen, for de-listing is a lengthy process that would only commence after construction is complete. But the audit is a reminder of how much this major work of Postmodernist architecture is being transformed. Indeed, the city’s most recognized building has now been given an entirely new facade in a different material. An aluminum over-cladding will completely cover the original painted concrete (which was not removed because it serves in a structural capacity).

The Portland Building’s darkly shaded windows, which contrasted against the cream-colored facade paint, have been replaced with clear glass to add natural light on the interior. Its ground-floor loggias, meant for retail, will now become part of the lobby, glassed in for further light.

While the changed glass unmistakably alters the building’s exterior, it’s the over-cladding that has particularly drawn preservationists’ ire—much as the changes proposed in 2017 by architecture firm Snøhetta for the postmodern AT&T Building in New York City did (those were later nixed as the building was given landmark status by New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission).

“If you cover the character-defining features, how is that historic preservation?” said Kate Kearney, president of the Oregon chapter of Docomomo, an organization that advocates for the preservation of modern architecture. “Personally, I don’t think that holds up. I just find it very odd that these high examples of an architecture movement are really being altered or completely erased from our architectural heritage.”

The audit’s release included a written response from Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler which disputed some of the financial findings, arguing that the equity grants were always intended for release at the end of the project and citing a series of City Council briefings on budget changes. But the matter of the Portland Building’s National Register listing and potential de-listing is left unaddressed.

When asked whether there was any explicit requirement that the listing itself be maintained, auditor Tenzin Gonta, who works under Caballero, cited project records “that reference historic integrity being part of scope. Each references the listing on the National Register as background about the building but not maintenance of that status as a specific goal.”
Interior Design Media
Juan Montoya, the acclaimed interior designer and Interior Design Hall of Famer, is well known for his eclectic approach to his craft, refusing to be wedded to any particular style or period. Initially he was labeled a minimalist, but over his 40-plus-year career his work has evolved dramatically. Montoya's eye for juxtaposing textures, colors, and volumes began at an early age in his native Colombia, and was later refined during his formal training at an architecture school in Bogota and Parsons School of Design in New York. Today, examples of his work can be found the world over.

Throughout his career, Montoya became somewhat of a collector, too. Many of his elegant pieces have found their way into the debut 1stdibs and Christie's collaboration. The collection, entitled "Christie's for 1stdibs," is currently exhibited at the 1stdibs Gallery in New York City. This means the approximately 100 pieces of furnishings and decorative items, curated by Montoya, will be available to collectors without them having to wait for an auction. Some of the pieces were designed by Montoya himself, including several petal-form side tables.

Interior Design: What is your first memory of design?

Juan Montoya: At age seven, with my mother's approval, I decorated my room with an orange wool fabric (curtains, bedcovers, and tablecloth). The chair was upholstered in a black-and-orange plaid with a black wool fabric as contrast.

ID: What motivated you to launch your design career in the U.S.?

JM: After architecture school in Bogota, I came to New York and graduated from Parsons School of Interior Design and then I went to Paris and Milan for three years. Upon my return, I decided to open my own firm.

ID: What projects have you completed recently?

JM: I’ve recently completed a pre-war 6,000-square-foot apartment on Fifth Avenue in New York, and I’m just completing a 20,000-square-foot apartment overlooking the water at the Surf Club designed by Richard Meier in Miami. I’m also finishing a beach house on the water in Water Mill on Long Island, and quite a large cabin in Lake Tahoe, as well as a modern house in Pound Ridge, New York.

ID: What is upcoming for you?

JM: A historic landmark house in upstate New York is ongoing, and an apartment on the West Side [of Manhattan] overlooking the river.

ID: What is your biggest design pet peeve?

JM: When projects aren’t finished to perfection and they are too matchy matchy with no surprise.

ID: Do you have a design object in your home that is particularly important to you?

JM: The vintage manual juice press that I use every morning.

ID: What differentiates art from design?

JM: Is there a difference? Good art and good design go hand in hand.

ID: Do you practice any kind of visual art yourself?

JM: I am designing sculpture and sculptural installations in my country retreat upstate. I also enjoy landscaping.
Dan Arnold
Complex and beautiful geometries take on sculptural form in the hands of Mario Romano. His particular brand of poetry is rooted in the language of construction. Specializing in digital fabrication yet heavily inspired by nature, Romano’s Santa Monica, California, art/design studio has pioneered architectural systems that combine parametric modeling software with CNC machining to create facades that undulate like ocean waves or emulate bird feathers.

His latest venture is M.R. Walls, large-scale interior surfaces developed in collaboration with Corian. Panels are carved with intricate and endlessly variable gradient patterns informed by a giraffe’s spots, wind-blown reeds, and other earthly touchstones. These monolithic pieces bond seamlessly and are impervious to water, bacteria, and mold. Better yet, walls can be fabricated locally from digital files, reducing lead times and transportation costs. Blending elaborate organic motifs and cutting-edge technology, Romano’s work demonstrates that the wonder of the natural world never goes out of style.

Interior Design: Your houses are known for their wild exterior shapes. Where do your ideas come from?

Mario Romano: They start from sketches and a very abstract inspiration. Then I flesh out the concept, working from the outside in. I think about creating a sculptural object that just happens to be habitable. A straight-up and boxlike structure can feel domineering, whereas organic shapes are more becoming, feminine, approachable, and inviting.

ID: How does technology affect the surfaces you create?

MR: Digital fabrication is an emergent discipline. I explore the bridge between design concept and manifestation: How do you realize a computational design in the physical world and ensure the result is reliable, functional, and priced accessibly? CNC machines are the core route, currently.

ID: What’s your process for designing and building?

MR: The digitally created house can be realized almost at the click of a button. Every piece is labeled, etched, marked, and thought out, and then gets produced on a machine. The pieces fit together puzzle-like using an assembly map, which renders the construction of these complex structures user-friendly. All the houses I designed were built by local carpenters and framers utilizing open-source construction.

ID: That seems at once extraordinarily complicated and very straightforward.

MR: There’s something beautiful about organized complexity that attracts us to incredible landmarks—whether a constellation, the Grand Canyon, or the way a tree grows. We used to think that nature was random and chaotic; now we know it’s driven by an incredible logic—one we can experience but are only just beginning to understand.

ID: Nature is obviously a big source of inspiration for you.

MR: I think it is for everyone. That’s where wonder comes from. It could be the color of someone’s eyes or the shape of a face or a body that gives us that first charge of attraction. Beauty is of incredible value; we’re driven by it, but it’s often underappreciated.

ID: What sparked M.R. Walls?

MR: I wanted to expand the design language of the wall surface. The only existing option was tile: the same shape repeated, with grout lines dictated by that form. You’re trapped by the shape of this one mass-produced object. In contrast, with M.R. Walls, unique pieces fit together to create an uninterrupted design experience that extends over a large area. People want something they haven’t seen before, that evokes mystery and intrigue. When you see a large-scale object, you wonder how it was created. No one thinks that when they see tile. This is what attracts people to marble slabs: They want a continuous slice of nature on the wall. Bookmatching stone is like putting the mountain back together—inside the house.

ID: What led to collaborating with Corian?

MR: Practice, experimentation, testing, and research. Ultimately, we developed a patent-pending software platform linked with low-level robotics; assembly is embedded into the design so there’s only one way to install the product. We then asked which material could perform the role. I also wanted to make the product accessible and affordable. With Corian solid surface, I could bond pieces to make one monolithic slab. Co
Ben Kumata
This San Francisco–based practice aims to "use architecture to address social, ecological, and economic issues that often sit outside a building’s footprint."

Firm name: The Open Workshop
Location: San Francisco
Year founded: 2013
Firm leadership: Neeraj Bhatia
Education: B.Arch., University of Waterloo; M.Arch., MIT
Experience: Eisenman Architects, Coop Himmelblau, Bruce Mau Design, Teeple Architects, OMA, and ORG
Firm size: Four to six

Mission:
We aim to use architecture to address social, ecological, and economic issues that often sit outside a building’s footprint. In essence, we engage architectural form in territorial issues.

First commission:
Roosevelt House

Favorite project:
The “New Investigations in Collective Form” exhibition hosted at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, in San Francisco, allowed us to reflect on our practice and see patterns emerging across a variety of projects.

Second favorite project:
The Garden of Framed Scenes pavilion in Viseu, Portugal, was a smaller project, but it reminded us how collectivity can be formed and framed within a larger environment.

Origin of firm name:
The name of the office emerged from late Italian novelist Umberto Eco’s treatise The Open Work (Bompiani, 1962). For Eco, an “open work” is strategically designed to be incomplete, allowing an individual to incorporate some final missing piece. Although Eco’s treatise did not address architectural practice, it offers a promising way to address political and environmental indeterminacy and instability in our field. Our studio uses the template of Eco’s treatise to understand the subject as both the collection of distinct humans and the dynamic environment that they inhabit. For us, “open work” suggests that designers maintain control and precision through the structuring of permanent frames that require individual meanings, interpretations, and/or transformative environmental qualities to complete the project.

Architecture hero:
I am inspired by British architect Cedric Price’s work—for its range, transcalar nature, and interest in questions of indeterminacy and adaptation. His time-based approach that spanned from systems to objects is highly relevant for our contemporary challenges.

Modern-day architecture hero:
Rahul Mehrotra tackles social and economic issues through multiple scales and lenses. He is able to connect questions of urbanism and sociology to those of form and aesthetics. The range and quality of work is astonishing. Further, his research, advocacy, and collaborative process is inspiring as it expands where and how architectural agency can be manifest.

Design tool of choice:
Foam wire cutter—its speed allows for a highly iterative process that can also be precise.

Memorable learning experience:
The start of my post-professional degree at MIT coincided with Hurricane Katrina. MIT responded with several classes devoted to efforts of rebuilding, examining water-based urbanism and highlighting the problematized relationship between architecture, infrastructure, and the natural environment. Embedded in that negotiation are deeper questions of class and race divides that architecture often attempts to normalize or control. These issues became the core of the Open Workshop’s work. In particular, we ask how this negotiation might unfold to empower local people as well as the environments they live in.

Greatest challenge in running a successful practice:
Of course money and clients are always the largest challenge. More specifically, however, a key challenge is aligning the type of work tied to our deeper interests and research—on urbanism and the public realm—with the reality of opportunities for young offices.

Today, architects should be discussing:
Questions of architectural agency. I think all architects share a goal around this theme, but position their agency in very different realms and for very particular audiences. Given that the largest issues that we confront—namely economic inequality and environmental fragility—are largely spatial in nature, I would love more discussions in unpacking our agency in addressing these challenges.

On your reading list:
Omnia Sunt Communia: On the Commons and the Transformation to Postcapitalism by Massimo De Angelis (Zed Book, 2017); Perspectives on Commoning: Autonomist Prin
SAW // Spiegel Aihara Workshop
Within architectural practice, navigating through blind spots in the design process is something many studios work through. In Dan Spiegel and Megumi Aihara's case, SAW's mission is to approach these moments of design obscurity by focusing on their passions for architecture, landscape architecture, and design. With their goal of designing both for the inside and outside, Spiegel and Aihara use object materiality and scale to produce potential outcomes in spatial design.

From their stunning residences to the integrative urban-scaled projects they design, SAW uses their interdisciplinary approach to develop highly technical yet subtlety beautiful landscape and architectural works. For this week's Studio Snapshot, Archinect chats with Spiegel and Aihara about their experience in running a practice and the strategic risks they take when designing for the ever-changing environment.

How many people are in your practice?

7-ish

What prompted you to start your own practice?

It really started with the simple desire to just do projects – to design physical things to be built. The idea that this would become a practice was something of an afterthought. But as we began to work together more and more, we realized there were some strange disciplinary blind spots, especially for smaller projects. The first step was relatively obvious for us: combine our backgrounds in architecture, landscape architecture, and design the inside and outside. But as we got a little deeper into it, we started confronting complicated notions of operating across different time scales – the entropy of the objects against the proliferation of the ecologies. We started to wonder, when is the project actually complete? When construction ends? When it’s occupied? When the trees have matured? When the building finally crumbles? These are questions that probably aren’t well suited to singular projects as we initially intended, but could be better (and, perhaps, only) pursued through the arc of a practice.

What are the benefits of having your own practice? Staying small?

It has allowed us to take on strategic risks and unusual challenges since the stakes seem more manageable, or at least knowable. Every project starts as an affirmative choice, and this acknowledgment of wanting to do something can make even the smallest project meaningful and exciting. Plus, we can play whatever music we want in the office.

Is scaling up a goal?

Sure, but not a primary goal. We’re working toward taking on more public work to engage broader constituencies. Dan’s undergraduate work was in Public Policy, and there is still a strong ambition within the practice to use design towards community solutions. And, often, bigger problems require more bandwidth. But we think we can be more flexible about what the scale of an office is if we let go of a bit of organizational autonomy. So far, when we take on a big or complex project, we’ve been more interested in teaming up with trusted collaborators than immediately growing. That said, we’ve grown every year, so it’s clearly a bit of both.

What have been the biggest hurdles of having your own practice?

The professional becomes personal. And that’s more than just about perception – it’s about finances, time, recreation, everything.

Do you have a favorite project? Completed or in progress.

In a sense: we’ve recently taken to calling a series of vignettes we’ve collected across a range of projects “Other Objectives.” It’s essentially a series of narrative crossgrains that run throughout our work on projects of all types and scales. More than anything else, it’s an attempt to refocus intent through the lens of outcome. We often half-seriously liken it to Schrödinger’s Cat (both alive and dead until the box is opened); our objectives are defined by how the work is viewed at a particular moment in time. Conditions change, projects are used and misused, things break, plants grow, and buildings crumble. We realized that it’s possible for a design process to be totally appropriate, but for the resulting thing to somehow be misaligned. We’ve become comfortable with loosening our grip on a singular, pre-determined objective, and rather designing for a range of possible outcomes.

With a project like "Other Objectives" did it help you r
Thomas Hawk/Flicker
Why don’t architects often consider the ethics of what they do? Thomas Fisher’s new book, The Architecture of Ethics, digs into this topic in great depth and with engaging insight. At the recent AIA convention in Las Vegas, I sat down with Fisher—former dean of the University of Minnesota College of Design, and now a professor in urban design at the school, as well as director of the Minnesota Design Center—to talk about his book and the ethical dimension of designing and building in the context of contemporary practice.

MJC: Michael J. Crosbie
TF: Thomas Fisher

MJC: The book’s title is The Architecture of Ethics, but isn’t your focus more on the ethics of architecture?

TF: I was trying to argue that architects have something to bring to ethics by virtue of how we work. We constantly deal with conflicts—undersized budgets, difficult sites—and we try to get to win-win solutions. We’re always looking for ways to accommodate differences. And that’s an important part of ethics: Understanding how our actions impact other people, how we think about problems and arrive at solutions that do little or no harm. The architect’s design mind brings a particular approach to ethics, and the title reflects that.

MJC: Right now seems like a good time for this book; we’re living through an ethically challenging time. How much did our current social/political climate prompt you to write it?

TF: In the introduction I write about political leaders—not just in the U.S. but in Turkey, North Korea, Russia—who are reflecting questionable ethical behavior and what that says about our culture. On one level, it’s making us realize that our system of government has holes that have rarely been exploited because we’ve always assumed that a president would act ethically. There has also been a lot of attention on unethical business practices—as we saw in the home-mortgage debacle—that have had major consequences. It’s made a lot of people realize that ethics matter.

MJC: Why do we tend to prefer to critique architecture primarily using aesthetic or pragmatic yardsticks, and rarely in regard to ethics?

TF: In the 19th century there was a divorce between ethics and aesthetics. Critics and writers like Oscar Wilde said you can’t have this overlay of ethics on aesthetics, because it confuses art with morality, condemning art as questionable if it was morally shocking. So ethics in art were not considered. In architecture programs, we didn’t even teach ethics for most of the 20th century, so it’s not surprising that architects wouldn’t know much about it, beyond a discussion you might have in a professional practice class. Now the National Architectural Accrediting Board requires instruction in ethics, as is the case in business, medical, and law schools. They realize that all professionals need to have some education in ethics as these questions arise in the conduct of practice. Ethics and aesthetics haven’t been reunited, but the environmental and social justice movements have infused architectural design with ethical considerations.

MJC: Most architects don’t give serious consideration to ethics in their design work. Why not?

TF: The revision of AIA’s Code of Ethics requiring members to discuss the environmental impacts of a project with the client really gets at that. In the past, architects have been wary to have such discussions because it questions the power of the client to do whatever they want, because they have the means to do so. Architects have been designing for people with power and money for a very long time. It’s easier to talk about aesthetics, function, or the pragmatics of a design, because it doesn’t question a client’s power.

MJC: “The pursuit of happiness” is a very strong idea in American culture. How do architects balance serving clients—in their “pursuit of happiness” through architecture—with the greater good of the community?

TF: In ethics, “the pursuit of happiness” is often misunderstood. Utilitarian ethics states that you strive to make the greatest number of people happy; the 18th-century philosopher Jeremy Bentham promoted “the greatest good for the greatest number.” But ethics is also about understanding how others view the world, and how our actions affect the lives and welfare
Jiaxi Yang Zhu Zhe
It’s been a busy year for Interior Design Hall of Fame members Lyndon Neri and Rosanna Hu of Neri & Hu. Fresh from a successful showcase at Milan Design Week 2019, where they collaborated with brands that included Artemide, Poltrona Frau, Agape, and Stellar Works to extend existing collections and established associations with Molteni& C, Paola C, and Riva 1920 to create new products. They are also already knee-deep in a long list of on-going projects that include hotels in London, Taipei, Ibiza, and Doha; resorts in Thailand and Moganshan, China; and a contemporary Art museum in Kuala Lumpur. In addition, they recently gave up their 10-year-old space for a larger office that’s strategically located in the center of Shanghai, adding on a gallery space, cafe, wood workshop, and many more communal spaces for the expanding team.

In the 15 years since they established their design practice, the husband-and-wife team have grown both as an inter-disciplinary architectural design practice, as well as leaders fronting a new era of design in China. But at the heart of it, their core values have remained the same. “The role is simply to represent the culture ‘as is’ in an authentic way, not to pretend to be someone else, or from another time, or try to be something we are not,” says Neri. Adds Hu: “There's a big desire in us to tell the world China does a little more than just ‘copy.’” Here, the designers share their thoughts with Interior Designon the driving forces behind their design practice, the importance of investing in research, and the secret to a successful partnership—both inside and outside the office.

Interior Design: How do the collections that you recently exhibited in Milan tie into your current practice?

Lyndon Neri and Rosanna Hu: The new collections allowed us to do two things—extend our existing collection with brands we have worked with before and allow us to do typologies that we have not really worked on before, like a foyer bench and bed for Molteni&C, tabletop accessories in glass with Paola C, and simple shelving for Riva 1920.

ID: How do you strike the balance between building a new Chinese design identity and having a global approach to your practice?

LN: The traditional Western architectural practices form the basis of our education, but culturally we are very much Chinese and there are influences, particularly in our work that’s located in China.

RH: Our multi-cultural experience gives us a keen insight on identity and issues of cultural representation, so that works into our design thinking. We see a lot of signs and symbols in everything in our environment. We like to play with those notions, either in form or experience, to create meaning in design.

ID: What has been the biggest driving force behind the design practice?

LN: We believe in architecture and design as a powerful cultural force. The functional aspects are less interesting for us, although as professionals that's the prerequisite—your design must work on a very realistic level.

RH: We believe in the subtext over the obvious and the poetic over the utilitarian.

ID: What is the importance of research in your design DNA?

LN: We think that designers and architects often get so caught up with designing so fast and so intuitively that it’s almost borderline acceptable for us to not spend a lot of time thinking. We need to have some time to think about what we’re drawing, because we could be extremely facile and be very good at what we do and what we draw—to a point where it could be quite beautiful, and seductive, and very convincing—but is it enough?

RH: We have a responsibility in everything we design. We have to ask ourselves, what is the meaning behind the things we do? Research, in this case, becomes very important because it tells us certain things that help us rethink the whole process of design.
Christa Holka
London's queer community needs architects and designers to help them create new social spaces, says Ben Campkin, co-author of a report charting the decline of LGBT+ venues across the city.

Campkin's research, carried out with Laura Marshall for the UCL Urban Laboratory, found that London's LGBT+ venues were fast disappearing – down by 58 per cent in just 10 years. This research is the basis of an exhibition on show now at Whitechapel Gallery, Queer Spaces: London, 1980s - today.

Campkin, who is also professor of urban history and theory at The Bartlett, is calling for architects and designers to take a more active role in supporting the city's queer community, as well as other marginalised groups.

"There's an opportunity for architecture and design to play a more prominent role in some of these campaigns that are happening around queer space," he told Dezeen.

"It's important for any professional in the built environment to think of social inclusion, especially in relation to people who have legally protected minority characteristics, because they're not necessarily the ones that are benefiting from development," he continued.

"There's always a need to proactively address those groups."

Campaign for new LGBT+ community centre

There have been no non-commercial LGBT+ venues in London since the closure of the London Gay and Lesbian Centre in Farringdon, an initiative by the Greater London Council, which was open from 1985 until the early 1990s.

Meanwhile gay clubs, pubs and bars across the capital have closed as a result of property and rail development.

Campaigners have been trying to address the issue – last year a group raised over £100,000 towards a new LGBT+ community centre in east London. But Campkin believes they need architects to get involved.

"At the moment you have campaigns for new community centres and spaces that could really benefit from architectural knowledge and design, as a way of addressing the challenges of contemporary development," Campkin said.

"A lot of these activists have been engaging with queer space through writing, architectural-listing applications, as well as these direct-action campaigns," he explained.

"There's a role for professionals to share their knowledge of these structures, laws and the planning system, to be able to maximise the potential of these cultural spaces to have a value beyond queer communities."

Problems facing new LGBT+ venues

Campkin told Dezeen that a lot of the challenges facing the LGBT+ community are different now than when the first community centre opened in 1986.

"A lot of these spaces in London that have been open since the 80s or the 90s are in buildings that would need to be radically retrofitted in order to be accessible for people with disabilities for example," he said.

"There are different pressures on people now. We are more aware of issues around mental health and how that relates to sexuality and gender. There's more attention to trans groups and whether or not they’re being provided for."

Campkin said that, while there are plenty of events being put on for London's queer community at large, more marginalised groups are finding it difficult to come together.

"A lot of the more formal, licensed premises are owned by white, gay men, whereas if you look at the more marginalised communities, they find it more difficult to establish places," he stated.

Big development often behind venue closures

The Queer Spaces exhibition brings together archives of past and present LGBT+ venues, to trace how the pattern of closures relates to the wider development of the city, and to measure the impact on the community.

Exhibits include newspaper clippings and fliers from parties, community meetings and events, as well as video interviews with community members.

There is also a rainbow flag from the Joiners Arms, a legendary east London venue that was closed when its building was controversially redeveloped into luxury apartments.
Interior Design Media
EDIT Napoli, a new fair created to support and promote independent design and craft, launches on June 6th in Naples, Italy. Focused on the rise of the designer-maker figure, the debut will feature 60 exhibitors—among them well-known and emerging designers as well as established producers and manufacturers—who all have one thing in common: they favor quality over quantity and have a practice rooted in making. Interior Design spoke to the two women behind the project, Domitilla Dardi and Emilia Petrucelli, about the city of Naples, the event, and alternatives to globalized, standardized products.

Interior Design: What does Naples represent to you compared to other Italian or international cities?
Domitilla Dardi: It is the only truly international Italian city. It was the capital of Italy before Rome was and has an urban structure that brings to mind both the great European metropolises of Paris or Madrid with their wide ‘boulevards’ and the small Italian art towns. And then it also has the port and the sea. Naples is one of the Mediterranean capitals and its geographical situation makes it perfect as a crossroads for exchange and cultural encounters. It is no coincidence that it has always been the only Italian city, along with Venice, that is a real reference point for international contemporary art. They are both gateway cities between East and West.

ID: What was it about the city that inspired you to create this event?

Emilia Petruccelli: As a city, Naples never leaves people indifferent. There is too much sameness and standardization in the world and I believe that we need more cities like Naples, where you can breathe and cultivate difference and independent ideas. The people who will come to EDIT Napoli are looking for something different, something unexplored.

ID: When did you get the idea for EDIT Napoli?

DD: Emilia came to me two years ago with two very clear ideas: that we should launch a new fair and we should do it in Naples. Together we understood that instead of focusing on sectors like collectible design and design galleries—which already have endless venues and events—we should focus on the world of small batch production, craftsmanship, and the designer-maker. Today this figure is more relevant than ever. We need products that have an identity.

EP: We wanted to create something that was curated, but where people could still be surprised. An event with purpose and clear economic intentions. I believe that independent design has to do business in order to survive.

ID: Why was it important, in your opinion, to launch EDIT Napoli?

EP: Because the retail world is moving and changing fast, from the internet to the commercial and industrial strategies of flagship brands. It needs to innovate and to do so it needs specific places in which it can reflect this change and address it. EDIT Napoli proposes being that place.

DD: Because a fair dedicated to this market segment didn’t exist. We have done a lot of research in the run-up to the event, but the fair won’t be about prototypes or concepts; it will be about real products for the real world.

ID: Who do you want to reach, convince, convert with EDIT Napoli?

EP: We aim to reach and connect international buyers, architects, designers, shop owners, interior designers, all the different strands of the design world basically. The ambition of EDIT Napoli is to become an international reference point for authored design, which thanks to the push of the fair we hope will experience sustainable growth within a few years.
Brigid Arnott
Cultivating a dialogue between architecture, community, and context, James Fraser, director of Makers of Responsive Architecture (MORA), designs homes inspired by landscape.

It’s not uncommon for an architect to think of their work as their “baby,” but when James Fraser speaks of “nurturing” his buildings, he’s not just talking about giving birth to a creation.

“Through the design process, it’s almost like we have an embryo that we are bringing to life,” James says. “It will have its own personality and sense of the world. All we do is act with care and allow it to be the best thing that it’s going to be – almost like we’re raising it to be a good citizen in the built environment, to be good to the people who inhabit it, and to give them a sense of joy and connection.”

James completed a big part of his early career in London, where he spent some time working on the refurbishment of Royal Festival Hall by Allies and Morrison – in particular, the auditorium. “I was struck by how the architecture is so dynamic. Practically the whole auditorium responded to the various needs of the acoustics and the performance and production requirements,” he says. “It made me really interested in how buildings can have a life that is responsive.”

James also acknowledges the collaborative process that is required in order to bring a building to life. “At the start of a project, I really like not knowing what the solution is going to be,” he says. “Listening well to the owners, and giving a sense of ownership to the builders and anybody who is bringing their expertise to the building [is important] … Through this creative coming together, a problem presents an opportunity.”

After nearly two decades of experience working for architects including Brian Suters, Peter Stutchbury and David Boyle, James returned to the Central Coast of New South Wales, where he’s originally from, to set up a life and practice immersed in the natural setting of the area. He started his practice, Makers of Responsive Architecture, three years go with the idea that “architecture is something that is born and then responds.” His projects include alterations and additions to old coastal cottages and new houses on bushland sites.

One such house is the Killcare Beach Bush House, which was awarded a Commendation in the Residential Architecture – Houses (New) category at the 2018 NSW Architecture Awards.

The house, located on one of the last remaining vacant sites on its street, held a beautiful stand of angophora trees that the clients wanted to retain. “It’s a beautiful characteristic of the site that we really wanted the building to be in dialogue with,” says James.

Sitting at the edge of Bouddi National Park, the house was proposed as a “journey through landscape” on a steeply sloping site. The two-storey dwelling is set on a concrete platform with a garage and entry pavilion below at street level. From the street, the pathways through the house direct the occupants to a reinstated native garden and a courtyard, and then terminate at the upper living area, which offers a view toward Putty Beach and the Pacific Ocean.

The concrete platform relates to the sandstone outcrops of the area, while the form of the steel-and-glass building above relates to the bending and twisting shapes of the banksias and angophoras. “The materials are very spare, it’s just steel, glass and concrete with plywood joinery. The details in the plywood joinery also reflect a similar language that kind of relates to the unpredictable shapes of the angophoras.”

James draws most of his inspiration from nature. “A lot of my work now is [focused on enabling people] to connect better with each other and better with nature,” he says. “I think we can live with a lot less and often we’re happier when we have less.”

James likes the idea that his buildings might “find a simple place and make ordinary people happy. “ He says that people value details, like the moment the sunlight comes in from the west for ten minutes before it disappears again. “There are all these really joyful things that are better than having extra bathrooms and three-car garages. That’s when design can delight and is victorious in the outcome.”
Architect Magazine
"Accessible design is just good design–design that supports all users of all abilities, ages, and cognitive and sense acuity."

Founder and managing principal of Seattle-based architectural consulting firm Studio Pacifica, Karen Braitmayer, FAIA, has earned the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award for her significant contributions to accessible design. Here she responds to our architect's version of the Proust questionnaire.

What is your greatest achievement?
Raising a strong and confident daughter.

What is the most memorable moment of your career?
Receiving the call from President Elefante with the news of the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award!

What was your most rewarding collaboration?
My business partnership with my co-founder of Studio Pacifica.

When did you first realize you wanted to specialize in accessible design?
I can’t say there was a defining moment when I realized I could make this my life’s work, but at each step, it felt right to keep going.

What is the greatest challenge right now in the field?
The lack of research funding to enable increased anthropometric analysis of people who have disabilities—research that would create the basis for more accurate and functional dimensional criteria so that our build environment would better serve the needs of all users.

What is the most promising recent development?
Technology provides the most promising changes for people with disabilities and the most inadvertent barriers at the same time. As an example, autonomous vehicles pose great potential for creating accessible means to get people to disabilities to school, work, and around the community while at the same time being potentially silent and hazardous to those who are blind or deaf/blind.

What’s the one thing you wish more people knew about accessible design?
Accessible design is just good design–design that supports all users of all abilities, ages, and cognitive and sense acuity. Architects should be designing for all humans to thrive in their buildings.

When did you first realize you wanted to be an architect?
The first day in studio when I laid out all the cool tools and realized, this is going to be fun!

What jobs did your parents have?
My dad was an executive and my mom was a community volunteer.

What would you have been if not an architect?
Bored silly.

What keeps you up at night?
Liability issues. Did we catch all those barriers?

What is your favorite building?
Here in Seattle, the Chapel of St. Ingnatius on the Seattle University campus.

What is your most treasured possession?
My hearing aids.

What is your greatest extravagance?
Travel and yarn, lots of yarn.

When and where were you the happiest?
The evening I married my husband on the shores of Lake Union.

What is your greatest fear?
Not finishing. Anything.

Which talent would you most like to have?
To be a better cook.

What’s the last drawing you did?
Self-drafted sweater pattern.

Which living person do you most admire?
Judy Heumann.

Which book(s) are you currently reading?
I just finished Michelle Obama’s Becoming.

Who is your favorite hero of fiction?
Inspector Armand Gamache of the Louise Penny mystery novels

If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be?
To exercise more often.

What’s the one question you wish we had asked (and the answer to that question)?
What two words would you use to describe yourself? I’m a problem-solver and a maker.

What does winning the Whitney M. Young Jr. Award mean to you?
I hope this award elevates the need for accessibility in the built environment and reminds AIA members of their power to better our communities for people with disabilities.
Interior Design Media
Italy’s first design museum just made its debut—and it’s about time. Launched during Salone del Mobile last month and located on the ground floor of the La Triennale di Milano, the Triennale Museo del Design Italiano has a permanent collection of 1,600 pieces. To mark the opening, architect Joseph Grima, the director of the new museum, curated its first permanent exhibition, “Museo del Design Italiano—Part I: 1946-1981.”

Before he took on this new role, Grima served as editor-in-chief of Domus magazine and director of New York-based art and architecture organization Storefront for Art and Architecture. Currently, he is also creative director at the Design Academy Eindhoven, an illustrious position that has him jetting off to the Netherlands one week each month. While born in the United Kingdom, Grima has lived most of his life in Italy, where he moved with his family at the age of 10. He now resides in Milan in an apartment carved out of a former factory workshop—a historic building he renovated, which also houses the design research studio he co-founded, Space Caviar.

Interior Design sat down with Grima to learn more about the new museum and the exhibition, what makes one of the oldest pieces selected stand out, and the ideal late-night hangout during Salone del Mobile.

Interior Design: Why do you think it took so long for Italy to get a design museum?

Joseph Grima: The process was likely more difficult and daunting precisely because Italy is so central to the history of design. In telling one’s own story—something I was keen to do in as simple a form as possible—it can be difficult to achieve a critical distance. Many of the exhibitions organized on a temporary basis in previous alterations of the Triennale Museo del Design Italiano ended up investigating quite specific angles and aspects of the history of Italian design, which may or may not have resonated with a broad audience. In Italy, the general culture of design is so extensive and so detailed that the idea of simply exhibiting the classics is almost controversial. As if, we know this already—we want to see something new. However, focusing on the new is what the rest of the Triennale does.

ID: How did you select the products in the permanent exhibition?

JG: The permanent exhibition is based on the Triennale’s permanent collection, which has about 1,600 pieces in it. The idea was to translate a selection of objects from the permanent collection into a timeline that tells the story of Italy. The objects in the exhibition are produced from the late 1940s onwards, so the post-war era. The exhibition ends with the emergence of post-modernism and the Memphis Group—the design and architecture group founded by Ettore Sottsass in 1980—as a new phenomenon. Walking through time, you can see how the idea of furniture itself evolved and how different materials and concepts emerged. That’s all in a very long linear space—one of the most beautiful spaces in the Triennale.

Our hope is that we are able to both expand the square footage dedicated to displaying the permanent collection and the collection itself—continuing with acquisitions that fill in any gaps.

ID: Could you name a notable item among the oldest pieces in the permanent exhibition?

JG: The Visetta sewing machine (1949) by Giò Ponti for Visa is to me emblematic of Italian design in general. What made historic Italian design great is that it's a form of design that really touched people's lives. It wasn't applied simply to luxury objects, it was a form of democratization of access to beauty. The fact that Ponti was designing very utilitarian objects is a great example of what makes Italian design unique.

ID: What about one of the newer pieces?

JG: The exhibition ends with the Casablanca cabinet (1981) by Ettore Sottsass for the Memphis Group, which may be the most iconic piece of the Memphis collection. Ending with Ettore Sottsas, one of the great figures, was an intentional, highly symbolic choice. In 1982—the year that Memphis really took off—begins a chapter of Italian design now getting a lot of visibility. At this turning point, Italian design became much more internationalized.
Luke Walker
“Creating dynamic environments which embody the human presence drives me,” reveals Nassia Inglessis. It is with this ambitious undertaking that the Greek designer and engineer, founder of experimental design studio Studio INI, unveiled a kinetic outdoor installation during NYCxDesign, New York’s annual celebration of all things design taking place this month. On view May 17 through the end of the summer, the immersive “Urban Imprint” will swallow up the entire courtyard of creative space A/D/O by MINI in Greenpoint, Brooklyn.

Born in London of Greek parents, and with a childhood spent in Athens, Inglessis now splits her time between the two capital cities. In London, she has a studio at the prestigious art and cultural center Somerset House. Athens is where she develops prototypes and enlists fabricators. Interior Design sat down with Inglessis to learn more about her installation, her thoughts on the struggle to find personal identity in cities, and the unique place in India where you can observe a dance between body and matter.

Interior Design: What is your intention with the ‘Urban Imprint’ installation?

Nassia Inglessis: The work I do questions how we perceive and interact with our physical environment. With ‘Urban Imprint,’ I examine how we can reconstruct and reimagine the physical fabric of our urban environment. I say ‘fabric,’ but it is really quite synthetic with predefined boundaries. We navigate our cities in a design that someone else has imposed on us. It is as if we've been poured into a vessel of concrete and glass.

Whereas in a natural environment, you immediately become part of its ecosystem—our movement is in relation to changes around us. You leave your imprint as you walk through grass or tread a path through the forest. Instead of being something that we must adapt to, can an urban environment be something that adapts to us? That’s what I’m reconsidering with ‘Urban Imprint.’

Taking over the courtyard of A/D/O, we reconstructed it into a space that really comes alive once the human element is within it. When the visitor enters, the space takes form and shape around his or her presence and movement so that they inevitably leave their own imprint. The space created is both unique to the visitor and unique to the moment. The space also draws in the imprint of all the other visitors.

ID: What kind of materials is it made of?

NI: We take what are familiar structural elements—but usually static and quite rigid—and give them malleable form, new abilities, and new behaviors. That means we are using steel, but with computation design and digital fabrication tools such as laser cutting, we are making it movable and formable in three dimensions. Then we are using glass as a means of enhancing the perception of the transformation. A mix of concrete and rubber creates a skin to the environment which isn't rigid.

ID: You also intend the installation to be a ‘forward-looking approach to notions of personal identity in cities.’ Can you explain that?

NI: Well, if you think about our cities, we are in an urban environment that remains unresponsive to our presence, an environment that we must adapt to. In that kind of environment, the notion of self is sort of a muted self. This is why we live so much through digital platforms. There we can reinvent ourselves, and the notion of self feels boundless, with endless possibilities. On the other hand, this digital world is untethered to our natural instincts, which is in the physical environment, where often things can be triggered and we can experience things in all their richness.

I feel that creating the experience of an urban environment which does respond to your presence, which takes form in relation to you, is something that can be a starting point for reconsidering how they are made. Those that are adaptable could evolve.
Sophie Mathewson
Arielle Assouline-Lichten founded her multidisciplinary design firm Slash Objects six years ago, the same year she began her petition to the Pritzker Prize for laureate status for Denise Scott Brown. (The committee had shamefully ignored her in 1991 when honoring her husband and business partner.) Since then, design and activism have gone hand-in-hand for Assouline-Lichten: Her Slash Objects line of furniture projects joins bold, clean lines with an emphatic focus on recycled, reimagined, and reinvigorated materials.

This year, she’s receiving an award of her own—though it’s not her first laurel, by far. After graduating from NYU, she earned a Master of Architecture from Harvard with commendation, studying under Toyo Ito. She went on to work at Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG), Kengo Kuma and Associates, and Snøhetta before serving as Principal of OfficeUS at the Venice Biennale. Last year, her Coexist Collection won Best in Show at the NYCxDESIGN Awards presented by Interior Design. This year, she’s again in the spotlight as recipient of Bernhardt Design and WantedDesign’s American Design Honors.

Clearly, she’s busy. But Assouline-Lichten took a few minutes off her packed schedule to talk with Interior Design about following in her mother’s footsteps, the appeal of rubber, and the state of the design fair ecosystem.

Interior Design: When was the first time you really noticed the design of an object or space?

Arielle Assouline-Lichten: Well, my mom is an architect, so I grew up with her pointing things out. You kind of never think you’ll follow in your mother’s footsteps, but then somehow inevitably you end up here! All of our trips were about dissecting spaces. Once you have that lens it’s hard to remove. She was very pedagogical and wanted to show you what she can see. That was always a background.

ID: What made you decide to follow in her footsteps?

AA: I ended up at an architecture firm doing graphic and interactive design in Denmark, BIG. That’s kind of an outlier office anyway, in how they work. My previous conception of architecture was very different—and probably more accurate! But I really wanted the skills the architects had, making 3D objects. That’s where the revelation came: There was this moment where I realized that there was this whole other realm of built objects.

ID: Which you now tend to make of rubber. What’s the appeal?

AA: I’ve wondered that myself! It started when I discovered it while working on this interior architecture project. What I love is that it’s creating this new project from, basically, waste. The idea of it having a new lifecycle is very appealing to me. I want to see rubber through, to see all the things I can make it do. And then do that with other materials as well.

ID: What’s your studio like?

AA: I like a space to feel very organized before starting a project. And then I make a huge mess! But in order to really get thoughts flying it has to be super clean, everything in its place, all the chemicals lined up and all the boxes labelled. Then we start playing, and hopefully come to a productive conclusion. My happy place is walking into a studio when everything’s clean and put away. It’s rare!

ID: What are you showing at WantedDesign this year?

AA: Well, the idea with the show is to contextualize the new daybed within the Coexist collection and its intersecting of different materials and geometry. I want to situate everything together and make it feel like a comprehensive overview.

ID: And there’s no hardware in the pieces, is that right?

AA: It’s true for most of the pieces. They play with balancing weight distribution and being thoughtful about how the parts are connecting. Of course, some parts are welded together, but the assembly is four pieces that come together and notch into place. We think a lot about sequence of assembly. I really like to think in the most pared-down methods possible, so the concept of the materials meeting becomes about intentionally fitting pieces into one another.
Getty Images/Pier Marco Tacca
AD sat down with the artist ahead of the U.S. release of the documentary Walking on Water, about the installation of floating piers on Italy's Lake Iseo

There are few artists in the world whose work can be likened to architecture the way world-famous Bulgarian artist Christo’s can. Since the beginning of his career, in the early 1960s, he has created monumental installations in public spaces that are mounted for a short period of time and then disappear forever. For decades, Christo and his late wife and collaborator, Jeanne-Claude, executed seemingly impossible projects, like wrapping Berlin’s Reichstag and Paris’s Pont Neuf in yards of billowing fabric or building a 24.5-mile fence made of fabric that ran across Sonoma and Marin counties in California. Ahead of the U.S. release of the documentary Walking on Water about Christo’s 2016 installation the Floating Piers on Lake Iseo in Italy and his talk at the 92nd Street Y in New York on May 22, AD caught up with the artist to discuss his process.

This interview has been edited and condensed for length and clarity.

Architectural Digest: How did fabric become so important in your work?

Christo: The projects have many other materials, but the fabric is the principal material to translate this nomadic character of the project. The projects have this nonstop energy, but we have all kinds of material—steel, cable—but the fabric gives this fragility and temporary movement that will be gone forever and never come back. This material can be folded, can be installed very fast, can be removed very fast. We know that it’s very fragile, very sensual, and very free and can be installed in a few hours.

AD: You once said you’re not a painter, a sculptor, or an architect. Do you consider architecture a form of art?

Christo: Yeah, it is a form of art. Certainly some works, of course, they’re directly architecture. The wrapping of the Reichstag is like architecture; the wrapping of the Pont Neuf is like architecture. They’re structures wrapped with moving fabric. Some projects are closer to urban planning. They’re temporary by only the decision that we want to keep them 14 days, but if you have an enormous amount of funds and money to maintain it, you can keep it that way. They’re not performance; they’re really built by the necessity that we get permission. And because they’re also built by professional people, they’re not built by performance artists. They’re built by real engineers who build bridges; they’re done by construction workers. They’re not artists or some kind of nonprofessional.

AD: So is the decision to keep them ephemeral a practical decision?

Christo: An aesthetic decision because they’re also designed for the particular season of the year. You know, like "The Gates" project in the winter because in the winter we have no trees. In the summer, Central Park is like a forest. And each of these projects are designed with the way I like to use the landscape. Like for example, "The Floating Piers" was a project in the summertime [because] we have the longest day of the year in late June, so this is when the project was realized.
Eric Luse for the San Francisco Chronicle
Art Gensler, FAIA, FIIDA, RIBA, founded Gensler in 1965 and is credited with turning the design of interiors into a multi-disciplinary global practice with more than 6,000 professionals in 48 offices around the world. Twenty years ago, Byron Kuth and I cold-called Art and invited him to lunch at Mama’s on Washington Square in North Beach. We sought his advice on how to grow our practice. He didn’t know us, but he accepted. He was very generous and helped us to strategize on diversifying project types, which was a challenge given our experience and small practice at the time.

Today, Kuth Ranieri Architects and Gensler are five years into a joint-venture design partnership on San Francisco Airport’s Terminal 1, with the first seven gates due to open in July of this year. We’re also working with Gensler on a second project, the Golden State Warriors’ Chase Center in San Francisco, as associate interior architect for the main and theater lobbies, as well as associate architect on the arena’s esplanade, a retail street that wraps its base. For arcCA Digest’s theme for this quarterly issue, “Staying In Business,” Byron and I sat down with Art once again so we could share his sage advice with our colleagues.

—Liz Ranieri


Liz Ranieri: How has the firm weathered the ups and downs of the economy?

Art Gensler: We’ve been through a number of major downturns. We have diversified practice areas. That means that we do retail and hospitality and sports and workplace and office buildings and education. We’re starting to do a little housing. The diversification helps through the up and down cycles of the economy.

We learned that if we’re really good at helping our clients and build long-term relationships, they need us when they’re going up and they need us when they’re going down. We also have master service agreements with about 200 companies, where they just pick up the phone and say, “Do it.” We’ve already negotiated the contract, the deal and the structure.

We have tried to create a firm that will go on forever as a permanent business partnership. We’re not a partnership, we’re a corporation, but for all intents and purposes, we act like a partnership. To accomplish that, you need to have a flow of people that step into senior roles and take on total leadership.

We are in the fourth generation of leadership at the firm. I started it, and four of us actually ran it. Then a group of six was running it, and now five. With transition, people go through two years of training before they take over. They are shadowing the leaders.

We have two co-CEOs, which helps because then it’s not just one person with the whole load. And they can balance each other. You need somebody to talk to.

Nobody likes to let good people go because of a downturn. We’ve learned that if you’re going to do it, do it early so the people can get to other places where they can find jobs.

Another important thing we did was to create diversified locations, so that we’re not all sitting in San Francisco or New York. We’re now in 50 locations. I’m not suggesting that all firms should become multi-office. But diversify the services or the geography. For example, don’t just focus on residential, but maybe on residential and civic buildings or museums. Have at least one secondary market for counter-cyclical markets.

Liz Ranieri: When you wanted to open in a new location, did you wait until you got work there?

Art Gensler: Yes. We would finish one major project there. Then a team is sent in, to make that project terrific and to make a statement in the community. They come to know the building department, the contractors, and all the things that you need to know about a community. Because we don’t buy firms, we have to transfer our own people into those places. And then we hire local people from around the country or world.

We go in on a major project, or a major client says, “I need you here.” We know their standards, their approach, how they do things. We know how they pay their bills and what their contract requirements are and how they work with contractors. And so it’s easier for them to work with us in their far-flung offices.

We think of ourselves as a one-firm firm. That’s a concept that McKinsey & Comp
Interior Design
“From a very young age, I understood that I had a kind of over-sensitivity to atmospheres,” admits Jasper Morrison. In his desire to influence them, the British designer has become one of the most successful industrial designers of the modern day. Emeco, Flos, Vitra, and Mattiazzi are among his high-profile clients, while the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum and the Museum of Modern Art in New York are just two of the prominent museums around the world highlighting his work.

In Morrison’s latest collection, a limited-edition cork furniture series launching during NYCxDESIGN this week, faulty wine bottle corks rejected during the production process find new life. To present the collection, Morrison turned to gallery Kasmin in New York—a union which also celebrates a lifelong friendship. In 1970s England, the SoHo gallery’s owner, Paul Kasmin, was a schoolmate. On view May 9 through June 29, “Corks” unveils Morrison’s first complete series in the material, with a chaise longue, chairs, stools, bookshelves, and a fireplace. Interior Design sat down with Morrison to hear more about the new cork collection, recent Milan launches, and what London restaurant personifies his design mentality with celeriac and a boiled egg.

Interior Design: Why cork?

Jasper Morrison: I have done a few things in cork before and came to understand what a great material it is, both to the touch and in terms of what it does for the atmosphere of a room. It is difficult to do anything big industrially with it, because the material cost is quite high, the machining cost higher, and it needs to be hand-finished—so it really only works for limited production.

ID: What’s the design concept behind the cork pieces?

JM: The process is rather sculptural as the pieces have to be machined out of large blocks of cork. It's very different from designing things for mass production, which tends to be more about structure than volume. The concept is really just about finding good shapes to make each piece of furniture work well. The material suggests its own formal language, but you need to make sure there's the right balance of softness and tension in the forms. The repurposed corks come from a producer in Portugal. The primary product produced by cork is still the wine bottle stopper, and they grind these up and form them into blocks under pressure with a glue. I've known about this material for many years and have used it for a few smaller pieces, which were economic enough to be made in quantities.

ID: What else have you completed recently?

JM: Some new chairs as usual—at any one time I'm always working on at least four or five chairs. At Salone del Mobile this year, I presented a slightly sculptural solid wood chair called Fugu for the Japanese brand Maruni.

For Emeco, a company I have been working with very closely for the last five years or so, I did a cleaning-up job of a few of their heritage pieces—a chair, armchair, and swivel chairs from 1948 known as the Navy Officers collection. When I first saw them, I nicknamed them the ugly sisters. We really had to rework and fine-tune them to make them more appealing for today's market. From the proportions and thicknesses of structure to upholstery detailing, they really came from another era, when things were done in a very different way. I guess they were made to last, but they were a bit over-the-top in terms of structure.

We also just completed a big collection of tableware called Raami for the Finnish brand Iittala.

John Vorhees. Alfred A. Knopf Publishing
Paul Goldberger has a new book out, released just this week, entitled Ballpark: Baseball in the American City. Taking a page from the Ken Burns playbook, the book looks at a particularly American building type as a lens for looking at the broader culture of cities. Goldberger’s premise is a good one: Ballparks do parallel, to a remarkable degree, trends in American urbanism. They start as escape from the city, then the city builds up around them. Post–World War II, they escape to the suburbs, then decades later return to the city. Today, privatization of the public realm and real estate development are driving the agenda. Recently I talked with Goldberger about the new book and a whole slew of magical ballparks, both living and long gone.

Martin C. Pedersen: MCP
Paul Goldberger: PG

MCP: Let’s start with two questions: Why does a Pulitzer Prize–winning architecture critic write a book about baseball stadiums? And for those not interested in baseball, why do ballparks matter?

PG: We could talk for half an hour on the second question. But I’ve always found there’s something magical about a baseball park, about the way it’s both city and country woven together in the most miraculous way. I remember as a kid, the first time I went to Yankee Stadium, being blown away by the most beautiful lawn I’d ever seen in my life, and I grew up in the suburbs, where there were lots of lawns. But I’d never seen one like this, and it was right in the middle of the Bronx. That juxtaposition was powerful for me.

In 2009, when I was at the New Yorker, David Remnick asked me to write about Yankee Stadium and Citi Field, both of which opened that year. As I researched the piece, I realized how the history of baseball parks is also the history of American cities. It’s a mirror to how we’ve viewed our cities and what we think about them. Baseball parks are a significant part of the public realm; they’re a public experience, in an age when so much is pushed toward private and virtual experience.

MCP: Early in the book, you write about the golden era of baseball stadiums. Talk about some of those ballparks.

PG: The early years of the 20th century are when the idea of the ballpark as a civic building emerges. The ones I highlight are Crosley Field, in Cincinnati; Tiger Stadium, in Detroit—a terrible loss; Wrigley Field, in Chicago; Fenway Park, in Boston; and Ebbets Field, in Brooklyn, which was probably the most tragic loss of all.

MCP: So much mythology grew up around Ebbets Field because so many authors have written about it. Toward the end, though, it was a failing ballpark. What makes it one of the greatest baseball stadiums ever?

PG: The mythology is deeply intertwined with the history of the team, which was incredibly colorful, and an amazing group of fans. So the stadium had a sort of astonishing personality. It was intimate but had a certain aspiration to grandeur at the same time. It emerged out of a time when baseball was a commanding presence in Brooklyn. Baseball was almost an indigenous local sport, with a lot of teams, and a lot of smaller ballparks—Washington Park, and many others—all culminating in the great cathedral of Ebbets Field, which opened in 1913. But it’s also true that by the 1950s, Ebbets had become incredibly rundown. It was always cramped and awkward. It emerged out of a time when we built wonderful public places that, paradoxically, never had enough public space in them. It’s not unlike the way the old Broadway theaters are today.

On the other hand, Ebbets Field had an energy that came from a certain degree of compression. It’s the same way that if you have a dining room table that seats eight people and you squeeze in 10, and they all like each other, they’ll have a better time. Ebbets had that quality and just enough monumentality to give it some architectural airs, but not enough to ever get in the way of the game. Like all great public places, it had a kind of harmonic balance to it. But there’s no question a lot of the myth comes from the people in it—most of all, of course, the team on the playing field.
DesignIntelligence
2019 is the 25th Anniversary of DesignIntelligence/Design Futures Council. To celebrate this milestone, we wanted to honor Jim Cramer, the organization’s founder, and Dave Gilmore, the organization’s president and CEO. In this piece, we’re talking with Dave about what drew him to DesignIntelligence, how he got involved, his vision for the future, and some new initiatives.
DesignIntelligence (DI): What drew you to DesignIntelligence and the Design Futures Council?

Dave Gilmore (DG): I had attended several AIA events over the years. I was intrigued by the industry and all that the industry was trying to do, and I wanted more, but I couldn’t get it through those events because they’re just so big. I wanted something more meaningful.

I was interested in what the design community had to say about some of the world’s biggest problems. Not design challenges per se, or even construction challenges, but social and global issues around economics, population, the environment, food scarcity and distribution. It seemed that DesignIntelligence published quite a bit about these things and convened their Design Futures Council as a rallying point for diverse thinkers to gather around ideas, possible solutions, and maybe start creating collaborative relationships, even among competitors.

DI: How did you get involved initially with DesignIntelligence and Design Futures Council?

DG: I began attending DFC leadership summits so that I could get the publications. These were intense events; they lasted a day and a half, and we were not just sitting in a seat listening to lectures. We were challenged at a table to deal with a problem together, and there was interaction—six or eight people arguing in a positive way through issues to find solutions. They were all C-suite executives—managing partners, chief operating officers, chief financial officers. That was in and of itself intriguing to me, because you usually don’t find context where C-suite people roll up their sleeves collaboratively and work through problems. That resonated with me.

DI: How have you seen the organization grow and change over the years since you’ve been involved?

DG: Jim Cramer had been leading this organization for more than 20 years, and Jim, like me, is a road warrior. He put in thousands upon thousands of miles every year traveling the world for this. And he was looking to pass the baton. So we began to spend more time together, and it made sense.

Three and half years ago I was invited in and made an investment that would allow the organization to continue its work, its mission. I saw DesignIntelligence as a powerful organization, and its power was in its influence. I really felt it was under-optimized, because it was still a smaller voice in a very large industry. I had aspirations to make it a very loud, large voice in a large industry.

I would say that over the last three years, we’ve dramatically expanded the influence of DesignIntelligence by formalizing our focus. We’ve done that through creating four distinct yet interdependent entities, and we call them the Design Futures Council, which of course has always been in place. Then we formalized DesignIntelligence Research, DesignIntelligence Media, and DesignIntelligence Strategic Advisors. These four entities are very distinct but interdependent in how they serve the architecture/engineering/construction industry, affectionately referred to as A/E/C.

We are making inroads to move Design Futures Council’s influence from a smaller elite group to a larger leadership group. We’ve increased our membership categories and the types of members. We’ve also expanded the membership categories beyond just architects to engineers and construction professionals, and we are moving into the building owner space and the developer space. In combination, I would say that today across our membership, we now represent more than 450,000 people across the U.S. in A/E/C. That’s an exponential growth of representation. We established DesignIntelligence Australia, and it’s growing at a rapid pace, and we’ve spent quite a bit of time in the UK with firms who have become members of the North American Design Futures Council. Canada is also home to several of our most prominent members, and we’re honored to have their contributions and exceptional perspectives. So, the Design Futures Council has grown dramatically beca
AECbytes
Paul Seletsky, AIA, an independent Digital Design consultant who was one of the pioneers in the application of AEC technology in architectural practice, shares his experiences and insights in this Profile.

"...it's human nature to want to choose the winning horse when selecting tools as critical as BIM, but without competition, new software that could truly impact our practice simply won't see the light of day."

What is your educational and professional background?
I graduated with a B.Arch. from Cooper Union in 1982 and then went to Italy, working for two years as a designer for Vittorio Gregotti Associati in Milan. Our documentation back then was done in pencil and ink.

Returning to New York in 1984, I joined Emery Roth & Sons to learn construction drawings. Documentation was produced in ink on mylar, with notational errors corrected using a chemical eradicator. Roth had one of the first CAD systems, McDonnell Douglas GDS, the precursor to Revit. In my role there, however, I did not get to work with it.

In 1987, I joined the Port Authority of NY/NJ, spending ten years in the public sector. In 1990, I did receive the opportunity to work in CAD and learned Architrion, MicroStation and AutoCAD; eventually being named their first CAD Manager. I also began setting up PCs, Mac, Windows and CAD, a small network and a pen plotter—learning "in the trenches." After seven years there, I returned to the private sector.

HLW Architects hired me in 1997 as their IT director. I built a staff of eight people and installed a network of servers and routers across four offices globally. I gradually came to regard this work as too laborious and costly, and falling outside the core competency of an architecture firm. In 1998, Revit came out and they demonstrated their software to us. BIM had arrived and I immediately saw it as a game-changer.

In early 2001, I joined my cousin's startup company to develop an early iteration of the smartphone. Nine months later, I was hired as Director of Technology by Davis Brody Bond Architects. There, I decided to outsource IT, leasing a new phone system, all printers and plotters, and eventually MS Office (but not AutoCAD). My colleagues gently teased me as "Mr. Outsource." In 2003, we began using BIM, trying ArchiCAD on one project, followed by another in what was now Autodesk Revit.

I began to write and lecture about BIM, describing what I foresaw as its impact on architecture and construction. In late 2001, I became chair of the AIANY Technology Committee, and for the next 14 years curated a monthly lecture series about AEC Technology's impact on practice, culminating in a symposium held in October 2012 called Bits+Mortar. The event featured a two hour conversation between Frank Gehry and Nicholas Negroponte, founder of the MIT Media Lab.

In 2005, SOM New York sought to fill a new position, Digital Design Director, and hired me. A senior partner and I created a new department called the Digital Design Group, recruiting 25 architects as AEC technology gurus and BIM mentors. Over the next five years, we created two student research programs, tested environmental analysis software, created our own massing study tool, and held in-house lectures with AEC Tech luminaries. It was an exciting time.

In late 2010, I journeyed outside New York to work for KieranTimberlake in Philadelphia, then spent a few years selling online AEC software and BIM training. In 2017, I happily moved back to New York. I spent 2018 focused inward, exploring what I wanted the last thirty years of my career to look like, since I don't intend to ever retire.

What is your current role? What are the main projects you are involved with?

I'm currently an independent Digital Design consultant in New York, seeking new clients. I greatly enjoy the environment and interaction of working in an architecture office, so if anyone out there is interested, feel free to contact me at pseletsky@gmail.com.

When and how did you get interested in AEC technology?

In 1983, I was sitting at my desk in Milan, drawing the seating floor plan for a redesign of Barcelona's Olympic Stadium. I was using a beam compass that must have been at least 3 feet long. It was at that moment that I said to myself, "Someday I'm going to be doing this on a computer so I can focus more of my time on design versus the mechanics."

How much of what you do today is related to AEC technology in some form?

Ninety-five percent analyzing client needs and deploying solutions, and five percent lamenting BIM software churning
Slack
A conversation with Kristy Tillman, who is all of us.

Slack is the ubiquitous digital tool that’s making our workplaces virtual. Thanks to its hyper-efficient chat room software, telecommuting has never been easier. Which is why it may come as a surprise that Slack is paying particular attention to its physical office design, too. Kristy Tillman is Slack’s head of workplace experience design, and she is thinking about how people at Slack work beyond the Slack window itself.

Tillman is also a judge for our 2019 Innovation by Design Awards (get in your entries by May 10!). And so we sat down with her to talk about her career, her role at Slack, and what it’s like to use Slack at Slack.

Fast Company: So you spent some time at Ideo, you build a millennial investment brand with Mass Mutual. Then you wind up at Slack. You started in their communications department, but quickly landed this gig around the workplace. So . . . what do you do? What questions are you asking at Slack?

Kristy Tillman: Right now I think about a couple of things: How do we build standards around buildings and offices? What experiments have we tried in architectural phases to tweak and make offices better for our employees? How do we service our guests and our employees from a design-thinking perspective? That’s been really, very challenging for me.

We have a big workplace vision we’ll be able to start to make and understand how our employees are really using our spaces and operations. One of the big things I’ll do in the next quarter is our first workplace foundational study where we’ll survey the entire global workforce and get a system of analysis . . . what new phases we need to build? What new services we need to offer as we scale?

FC: There’s a certain irony of being at Slack, this digital business company, and focusing on built environments, no?

KT: It would be a lost opportunity if we didn’t–if we said we’d change the way people worked digitally, it would be a lost opportunity to not be interrogating ourselves internally! It’s my opinion, and I think lots of people’s opinion, that one of the best ways to sell Slack will obviously be having an internal culture that is a shining example. And I think that one of our advantages will be we use Slack [as an example], here’s how it affected us, here are the processes we put in place, workflows we have, innovations we use, to make operations more efficient, handle security, or triage medical emergencies. [I want to] be the best example of a culture when people come to visit us.

FC:
KT: Honestly, things that the Workplace team works on have the best ability to leave an indelible mark on Slack. The workplace teams in most companies are not tasked with this type of work. They’re more like facilities, make sure the lights are on, we have lunch. So any way you can contribute to operational efficiency is [hugely important].

Maybe I’m an optimist. I believe there’s not some objective future we’re trying to get to. The future is whatever we make it. So in that sense, there’s not this lofty goal we’re trying to reach. We’re just incrementally trying to make our workplaces better for our people . . . that doesn’t make it more difficult, if anything it makes it more easy.
Hayley Young
McConnell has been involved in creating some of Seattle's iconic buildings

Steve McConnell literally helped build Seattle. McConnell joined Seattle-based architecture, planning and design firm NBBJ in 1990 and has served as managing partner of the entire organization since 2006.

McConnell has directed the design of several of Seattle’s most significant projects, including the world’s largest LEED Platinum-certified building campus, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation; Seattle’s federal courthouse; and Swedish Medical Center. The company’s recent work includes the $60 million headquarters for the Seattle Opera and the Amazon Spheres.

NBBJ, which was founded in 1943, moved its headquarters from the SODO neighborhood to South Lake Union more than a decade ago. It employs about 700, has 10 offices around the world and has done work in upward of 30 countries. McConnell, who lives on Mercer Island, says he unwinds by hiking “on very steep trails.”

I like to say NBBJ is the ultimate team sport. We are not a constellation of satellites or disparate offices. It’s about a team of leaders enabling a culture to thrive.

We’re making sure there’s the right kind of North Star, but also not overcontrolling. I like the expression, “Let go to lead.”

In terms of dealing with conflict? Empathy, empathy, empathy. Conflict can be a source of new ideas. We call it leading change.

Commercial architecture is in many ways the building blocks of a city. How do we manifest a bottom line that’s far more than just financial?

Any clients we want to work for want to be better at what they’re doing. If they don’t, we don’t want to work with them. It’s a mismatch.

The environments that we occupy, both indoors and outdoors, can affect creativity, communication and the health of patients. We begin with the premise of enlightened climates.

About the Spheres, from the leadership of Amazon came the idea that, wow, if we’re in a conservatory, we feel really good. We think better. So that in a way is something the client needs to come to the table with. It’s a discovery.

We took a big step into Pioneer Square when there was really nothing there.

It was clear the city, for it to grow, was going to move north and we could be a catalyst. More than that, we had an opportunity with our partner, Vulcan, to design South Lake Union and be a tenant, be a part of that energy. Nobody has a crystal ball, but there were a lot of smart people thinking of the properties available.

The thing that emotionally pulled us over here was the adventure. There’s this Northwest ethos, a sense of entrepreneurialism, adventure, taking risks, that outdoor spirit. There’s a sense of the frontier. That’s part of the ethos of our firm.

A large, complex project is usually going to take a few years. But if we go into an existing property and build a corporate workplace for a hot new tech firm that has a hundred people, that can happen in months.

I like to say that design firms like ours are interesting leading indicators. The folks that are commissioning us are looking down the road two, three, even five-plus years for a hospital project.
Robert Gerhardt, courtesy of The Museum of Modern Art, New York, Furniture, Mid-Century Design
Juliet Kinchin, dressed in black accented by pops of color from her necklace (a find at the MoMA Design Store) and ruby-red square bracelet, walked through The Value of Good Design exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, pausing at an armchair designed by Hans Wegner in the 1940s as if seeing it for the first time. But this was hardly Kinchin’s introduction to the object in front of her—she curated the exhibition.

As Curator in the Department of Architecture and Design at MoMA since 2008, Kinchin has organized design retrospectives ranging from Counter Space: Design and the Modern Kitchen (2010-11) to Century of the Child: Growing by Design 1900-2000 (2012) and held faculty positions at The Glasgow School of Art and at The Bard Graduate Center for Studies in Design in New York. Positioning objects in ways that create new dialogue is her forte.

The Value of Good Design runs through June 15, 2019 and features household objects, furniture, and appliances from the late 1930s through the 1950s when the U.S. emerged as what Kinchin calls a “design superpower.” It also spotlights MoMA’s Good Design Initiatives, which served as an incubator for innovation at the time. After the walk-through, Kinchin shared some insights into her curatorial process with Interior Design, including her earliest design influences, addressing inclusivity in exhibitions, and the joy of re-purposing vintage curtains.

Interior Design: What does ‘good design’ mean today?

Juliet Kinchin: The words ‘good design’ are always going to conjure up different things for different people. And something that was considered good design in the 1950s doesn’t necessarily hold up nowadays. Good design should reflect technological advances and the social conditions or aspirations of each generation. It goes without saying that most people don’t want to live in the past or dress like our parents and grandparents. Having said that, some objects and core values do seem to have stood the test of time—generally those which combine eye appeal, functionality, and affordability. This was a combination of values that MoMA curators, like Edgar Kaufmann Jr., were trying to seek out at mid-century. What’s perhaps different is the way we are now thinking more about sustainability and the ethical dimension of the way things are made and sold.

ID: Why choose to explore the value of good design through mid-century pieces?

JK: The second world war and its aftermath brought design into focus as a tool for engineering change, whether social, technological, or economic. It was a time of tremendous experimentation, innovation, and idealism in the design of everyday objects and, from 1945 at least, a time of optimism about creating a different, more egalitarian future. I think we are all hungry for that kind of optimism and innovation right now. ‘Good Design’ at mid-century was an international phenomenon and in our exhibition at MoMA we wanted to show the commonality of approaches and thinking in different parts of the world, and the networks through which so many designers and manufacturers moved freely.
Cedrick Arenales/Cobra Branding Studio
The name of this firm is "a Spanglish mashup of the hands-on and the cerebral."

Firm name: Taller Ken
Location: Guatemala City, Guatemala; San José, Costa Rica; New York City
Year founded: 2013
Firm leadership: Inés Guzmán and Gregory Melitonov
Education: Guzmán: B.Arch. and M.Arch., Universidad del Diseño de San José, Costa Rica; Melitonov: B.S., Skidmore College; M.Arch., Yale University
Experience: Prior to founding the practice both Guzmán and Melitonov worked for Pritzker Prize laureate Renzo Piano, Hon. FAIA, as architectural designer team for the new Whitney Museum of American Art in downtown Manhattan and the headquarters building for the High Line.
Firm size: Seven architects and one Labrador-boxer mix

Mission:
Our practice is focused on playful design with social and cultural relevancy. Incorporating a multitude of voices, our work goes beyond merely elevating elements of design to creating an architecture with broad appeal.

First commission:
We were asked to renovate a single-story concrete-block building in Guatemala City for a menswear brand. The resulting concept store contains retail areas for clothing, home furnishings by local artists, as well as a gallery, café, toilets, and service spaces. The exterior for this project was a particularly interesting opportunity for us—it is inspired by Spanish Colonial architectural heritage of the area, specifically the sculptural openings and the thick stucco walls. We used molded fiberglass panels to give the appearance that the entire project is shrink-wrapped.

Favorite project:
For the same client, we created a 4,500-square-foot café and event space located on the most heavily trafficked highway in Guatemala. To draw attention of passing traffic at various speeds, we took inspiration from commercial roadside icons. The exterior was conceived of as a four-sided billboard, a provocative 50-foot-tall neutral cube studded with colorful car chassis. The goal for the project was to blend human and industrial scales. Both the exterior and interior are conceived to reflect a playful, yet critical approach to urban sprawl and sustainability. The scale of the exterior is paired with a lush, highly detailed interior—a pastiche of technical and traditional elements. Exposed steel structure, skylights, and louvers are expressed to emphasize the building’s systems. Reclaimed rainwater is collected in bright blue tanks to water 15-foot palm trees which partition the open floor plan. The floor is made from a patchwork of cement tiles, new and recycled building material from local exterior patios. These elements combine with custom millwork and furnishings, vibrant color palette, and tropical vegetation to create a space that is at once familiar and refreshingly unexpected.
Oliver Wainwright.
Oliver Wainwright is arguably one of the world's most influential architecture and design critics. He writes chiefly for The Guardian and has also written for a range of publications including Building Design, Architects’ Journal, Icon, Domus and Frieze. He has also won a number of awards for his extensive reporting on the housing crisis and the planning system. Ahead of his sell-out Robin Boyd Centenary Address during the 2019 Melbourne Design Week, he talks to ArchitectureAU editor Linda Cheng about the link between financial markets and the shape of our cities.

Linda Cheng: Your talk is titled “Form Follows Finance.” Where does this phrase come from and why is it relevant to architectural practice today?

Oliver Wainwright: It’s a play on the modernist rallying cry, “form follows function.” Increasingly architecture is not the product of functional needs, but the financial forces that are driving development. Form Follows Finance was the title of a great (1995) book by American historian Carol Willis, charting the birth of the skyscraper in Chicago and New York at the turn of the last century, and it has since become quite a well used phrase to describe how money shapes our cities.

LC: How did homes become financial assets?

OW: Homes began to be conceived as financial assets a very long time ago – since the enclosures of the 18th century, when common land was privatized – but the rapid “financialization” of housing is a phenomenon of the late-20th century. An important United Nations Human Rights Council report in 2017 defined financialization as: “structural changes in housing and financial markets and global investment whereby housing is treated as a commodity, a means of accumulating wealth and often as security for financial instruments that are traded and sold on global markets.”

It goes on to say the financialization “disconnects housing from its social function of providing a place to live in security and dignity and hence undermines the realization of housing as a human right. It refers to the way housing and financial markets are oblivious to people and communities, and the role housing plays in their well-being.”

Essentially it is about the fundamental shift of housing from being primarily a means of shelter, to an instrument for accumulating wealth.

Several major factors came together in the 1990s: a sudden surge in global population growth; the explosion in buy-to-let lending; rise of mortgage-backed securities; “golden visa rules” which allowed foreign investors to receive citizenship in exchange for investment in property; and the entry of China and Russia into the global economy, producing a global elite seeking a safe home for their cash.

As the banks stopped lending after the 2008 financial crisis, developers and local authorities have been forced to look elsewhere for funding. They turned to sovereign wealth funds, pension funds, and Chinese-owned construction companies etc. All of these global institutional investors are looking for a safe return on investment: their concern is with profit maximization rather than the wellbeing of local communities.