'Do you speak Design?' Salone del Mobile Milano 2023 to probe in its renewed edition
by Jincy IypeFeb 17, 2023
•make your fridays matter with a well-read weekend
by Dhwani ShanghviPublished on : Aug 25, 2022
In 1977, the Incontri Internazionali d'Arte and Italian architect Piero Sartogo organised an exhibition called Roma Interrotta at Trajan Market, calling for the proposal of a contemporary intervention on a section of Nuova Pianta di Roma. Known in popular discourse as “Nolli’s Map”, the Nuova Pianta Roma was Giambattista Nolli’s 'New Plan for Rome' and was commissioned by Pope Benedict XIV as a means to demarcate the 14 traditional rioni (a traditional administrative division) of Rome. In this figure-ground representation of Rome, Nolli defines the built and open spaces of the 14 districts of the Italian capital. This archetypal Postmodernist Roma Interrotta brought together architects from around the world to display their contemporary figure-ground plan of Rome. Indian architect Samira Rathod’s design exhibition, Dismantling Building = A Kit of Parts showcases this idea of a fundamental figure-ground representation through formal explorations as seen in the plan.
Displayed at Chemould Prescott Road in Mumbai, the aim of the furniture collection is to excavate an ‘ur’ architecture, defined as the earliest, primitive built unit. The inception of the exhibition comes from the idea of beauty. In a conversation with STIR, Rathod explains, “Beauty has always been the core of my philosophy. And when I say beauty, I don't mean decoration. I just think this whole intrinsic idea of how do we make things that are beautiful and therefore more sustainable by virtue of this beauty.”
Emerging from “a retrospective view of the ‘built”, the form of each furniture is extracted through a process of distillation, leaving behind only shapes. Rathod elaborates, “I have looked at concepts that are objects, that is art, that is nature - to make architecture, so I thought, what if I flipped it? And I actually looked at architecture because it was anyway processed and made forms out of that - which were objects. We kind of flipped that. My buildings are made of lots of little elements and we realised that we could do an exercise of deconstructing our own buildings and finding the elements that went into it. When we started deconstructing the building, we found that each building had about 1000-1200 parts. And we weren’t deconstructing into doors, windows, floors, staircases etc, we started looking at it in a very abstract way. We were looking at planes, textures, and surfaces, and started getting flat shapes. If you really start breaking up architecture from its formal understandings, then it begins with a very simple non-contextual shape. Remove the context from it, remove culture from it, remove people from it, remove logic from it. Then you are left with shape. And each time you cut the building differently you get different shapes. This is how the concept of Kit-of-parts came about. And it became extremely engaging because the iterations were endless.”
This dismantling of the solid - the modernist ‘ur’ - further unveils “fragments, shards, splinters and swirls”, that are devoid of any scale, dimension or materiality. The communication between each of these fragments is an exploration of the relationship between ground, solid, void, form and space - moving away from the laws of physics, conventional forms, and from overt representations of any kind of furniture design. Additionally, each piece is an opportunity to understand how different materials interact together, without diminishing the value of either. Mild steel is married with Corian and Ain wood in the Movie Camera, a 72 inches tall light installation, while Bhadran, a table of sorts, manifests an alliance between concrete, terrazzo and teak wood.
The resultant form of these explorations, both material as well as formal, lies somewhere on the spectrum between object and furniture, art and function. Rathod continues, “I was working at it as if it was art. I don't think our focus was on function, in so much as - should it be child-friendly, can one eat on it, can one place things on it, can one work on it? You can, if you want to. Corbusier’s buildings are very difficult to live in, but they were beautiful. As long as it has a narrative it will be appreciated. I think the exhibition was talking about this narrative - of architecture being abstracted into pure form, which we don't see in buildings. We still look at our buildings as a grid that has to be extruded into vertical form. The masters achieved this abstraction a generation back, but I think through this exhibition, I was really able to get an audience and talk to them about it through the work - and for me, that was really very important. It was a breakthrough.”
Since the early 20th century exhibitions have been spaces of knowledge generation as they have provided a platform for artists and architects alike, to theorise, to experiment and to share their explorations. Throughout the course of modern architecture, exhibitions along with magazines and expos have contributed to the expansion and development of modernity. The Great Exhibition, The Werkbund Exhibition, the Weissenhofsieldung, the Case Study House Project, the American National Exhibition, Venice Architecture Biennale, Deconstructivist Architecture - are all instances of this phenomenon. “For the first time, I felt that the exhibition was really something that liberated me. I was experimenting at many levels, with joinery, works, and magically everything just flowed and fitted together. There was really no resistance. There was really no hindrance. I was not struggling in any way. And, and maybe that just had to happen, I believe in the world coming together to make things work.” concludes Rathod.
Dismantling Building - A Kit of Parts traverses a similar path. It is playful yet formal, it is explorative yet grounded, it is an installation as much as it is furniture, and it has materiality without tangibility.
by Samta Nadeem, Zohra Khan Jun 02, 2023
Speaking with STIR, the biennale director discusses how the event challenges the traditional biennale model and why there is a need for connections to pull people closer to design.
by Jincy Iype May 30, 2023
STIR unpacks five major brand rehauls that spell evolution and cater to the ‘phygital’—Nokia, 7UP, Amazon’s Prime Video, Nordoff and Robbins, and Disney’s Freeform.
by Zohra Khan, Samta Nadeem May 26, 2023
STIR visits the newly opened galleries of the centre, and peeks into an immersive collection of photos and installations that narrate some of the most fascinating stories.
by Preciosa Lighting May 23, 2023
The Czech decorative lighting brand conceives a new innovative lighting design, dubbed Crystal Grid that exudes the magic of crystal and light.
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