A Monumental Inflatable Installation by Pneuhaus Celebrates Interconnectivity in Vibrant Color
A spectrum of glowing light pulses through 23 inflated columns that ascend from the ground in Pneuhaus’s (previously) new public installation, illuminating an invisible world just beneath our feet. For Grove, the Rhode Island-based design collective drew inspiration from an ancient biological structure known as the mycorrhizal network. Often referred to as the “wood wide web,” the underground system is characterized by a complex symbiotic relationship between certain types of fungi and the roots of trees, enabling them to communicate with one another and share nutrients.
Grove‘s inflatable, branching arches invite visitors to gather and wander through a colorful, forest-like installation, drawing parallels between the web and the support networks communities rely on to nurture unity and growth. “Nature builds in relationships,” Pneuhaus says, “(and) for Grove, we followed that lesson to create a transportive space designed to excite and support community gathering.”
Grove was designed for BLINK Cincinnati to mark the festival’s return following cancellations due to the pandemic. To construct the complex, organic shape, Pneuhaus utilized a unique algorithm inspired by the way slime molds move around in search of food. “Integrating this kind of living logic enabled us to design a form that expresses a truly root-like connectivity,” the team says. They also teamed up with Smooth Technology to incorporate vibrant lighting and interactive animations.
Watch a video below of the collective’s studio process made by Joe Walsh, and explore more on Pneuhaus’s website and Instagram.
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Meticulous Flat Lays of Vintage Toys and Miniatures Celebrate the History of Play and Design
“There’s a feeling I remember which has to do with the seriousness of play, when you were completely absorbed in playing a game with your toys and fully believed in the world you’d created, and it really mattered,” Jane Housham says. “I look longingly back at that imaginative space.”
A writer, artist, and self-described accumulator, Housham continually returns to the engrossing joys of childhood through a vast collection of found objects. Stickers and plastic doll hands, a pantry of non-perishable goods, and a menagerie of animals on wheels are the catalysts for her flat lays. Precisely categorized by color, shape, or theme, each composition highlights the varied styles, functions, and contexts of similar items and becomes a useful and approachable entry into the history of design. “If I’ve acquired a new (to me) little object, that often nudges me to revisit the category it belongs to—a new tiny seahorse or radio will subtly alter the pre-existing set, and the arrangement is always fresh in any case. Seahorses and radios are particular favourites of mine,” she says.
Housham’s mother was a dollhouse enthusiast and passed on her love of miniatures, which inspired the artist to keep a box of treasures as a child that she would frequently sort and arrange. That early experience is the root of her current practice, which is the result of rummaging through massive stores—she estimates there are thousands of objects in her possession at the moment—of vintage toys and tiny items.
Because many of the pieces in her collection are antiques and sourced secondhand, sometimes they’re rusty, scratched, or broken, and a considerable number are made from plastic. Housham adds:
I’m not really interested in new plastic things as I don’t want to encourage the continued spewing out of unnecessary plastic bits and pieces, but I like to save old plastic toys and other secondhand bits and bobs and to celebrate their colours and the ingenuity of their design. Although it’s now understood to be so bad for the world, plastic was a beautiful material in its heyday.
Housham shares a trove of miniature finds and color-coded compositions on her Instagram, Found and Chosen, and sells prints of the flat lays on Etsy. As she amasses more objects and engages with the childhood curiosity and imagination she so deeply values, she does find herself asking one recurring question: “Where will all this collecting end, I wonder?”
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A Traditional Ukrainian House Outlines a Home Away from Home in Antarctica
Off the west coast of the Antarctic Peninsula within an expansive archipelago sits the island of Galindez where the Ukrainian Vernadsky Research Base annually hosts twelve scientists and welcomes more than 4,000 tourists during the summer months. One of the first things visitors encounter is an unsightly, defunct fuel tank perched on the shore that the National Antarctic Research Center wanted to tidy up, so they asked the Kyiv-based architecture studio balbek bureau to envision and repurpose the site into an inviting “home away from home.”
The center commissioned the project in November 2021, three months before Russia invaded Ukraine. Originally scheduled for installation in early 2022, the war forced the firm to postpone until last month, when the piece titled “Home. Memories” was successfully constructed. Conceived as a welcoming sight for resident researchers and travelers, the piece adopted new layers of meaning in the wake of Russia’s aggression, highlighting Ukraine’s distinct culture and history amidst the ongoing assault. balbek bureau’s design is based on a traditional, rural house, incorporating a thin, metal frame around the tank that resembles a pencil sketch, “as if someone, reminiscing, draws their childhood home from memory.”
Along with being a “visual treat” for visitors, the project had significant practical concerns because of its extreme location. The installation had to be easily assembled, resistant to severe weather conditions, and safe for more than 3,500 penguins living on the island— “who love to disassemble constructions into bits used for nests.” The structure had to be able to withstand winds of up to 90 miles per hour, sub-zero temperatures, and around 300 days of precipitation each year.
Complementing the geometry of the outline, a miniature exhibition of resin “time capsules,” or souvenirs from around the country, are on display and include a sample of UNESCO-listed Kosiv painted ceramics, a fragment of an embroidered shirt known as a vyshyvanka, and a lump of coal from the Donetsk region. “We believe that the war will end in our victory, and Ukrainians will create new memories from the safe haven of their home,” shares co-founder Slava Balbek. “And all the way in Antarctica, for researchers and tourists alike, our house will continue to stand strong, a true memento of Ukraine.”
Explore in-depth documentation of the process from start to finish on the studio’s website.
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Craft Design Photography
Brilliant Botanical Cyanotypes Adorn Kellie Swanson’s Upcycled Garments
Artist and photographer Kellie Swanson imprints jackets, jeans, and other garments with the rich blue of cyanotypes—an early form of photography that uses UV light to produce monochromatic prints—as part of her burgeoning clothing line KSX. With grainy textures that complement the weave of fabrics, the brilliantly hued wearables feature natural specimens like ferns and flowers found around Swanson’s home in Bozeman, Montana. All of the garments are secondhand, and the artist sources most from thrift stores and vintage shops, ensuring KSX takes a more sustainable approach in an industry infamous for its waste.
Swanson began the upcycling project in 2020 as a way to re-engage her creative practice, and it’s since yielded several collaborations and collections, which sell incredibly fast. The next shop update is set for later this month, so keep an eye on Instagram to snag a piece.
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A Circular Monument of Rust-Colored Stone Rests Atop Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts
A walkable sculpture now marks the eastern entrance of Xi’an’s Qujiang Museum of Fine Arts, providing a hidden space with natural light and open air in the midst of the bustling Chinese city. The project of Shanghai-based architecture firm Neri&Hu, “The Urban Monument” is built with terracotta-colored travertine and comprised of four sections that allow visitors to seamlessly pass from street to interior to outdoor gathering space. Located south of the towering Giant Wild Goose Pagoda, the immense project similarly references local ancient culture and is designed to mimic an illuminated clay lantern.
Neri&Hu maintained the underground museum’s original stairs to draw in pedestrians and lead them to a sunken piazza, and a latticed facade allows sunlight to brighten the inner walkways. In addition to the galleries, a massive amphitheater with concentric benches for seating sits at the top of the structure, which also holds public restrooms, a restaurant, a lounge, and retail space.
Completed in December 2021, “The Urban Monument” is one of many of Neri&Hu’s architectural projects that play with geometries and light, which you can explore on its site.
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Traditional Glassblowing Methods Suffuse Kateryna Sokolova’s Modern Vessels with Historical Spirit
It is often said that glass is a “slow-moving liquid” because it lacks of the molecular structure of true solids. Like oversized water droplets on the verge of slipping off the edge of a branch or a table, Ukrainian designer Kateryna Sokolova’s sculptural vessels draw on the medium’s natural malleability. GUTTA, a series of vases and carafes, draws on a rich tradition of glass-blowing in Ukraine and evokes a sense of paused time, as if the pieces are frozen in motion. “Through the curvaceous shape of the vases, I wanted to convey the mysterious power of nature and a sense of rhythm,” she says.
Sokolova’s designs are produced in Lviv by artisans who practice ancient glassblowing techniques, imbuing the modern forms with a historical dimension. GUTTA vessels are on view at the contemporary design fair Collectible in Brussels this weekend, and you can find more of the artist’s work on her website. (via Le Journal Du Design)
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