An Enchanting Addition to the American Museum of Natural History Houses the New Gilder Center within a Massive Geological Cavern
A sculptural addition to the American Museum of Natural History encases the New York institution within a cavernous structure that captures the immensity of deep, geological time. The project of Chicago-based Studio Gang, the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation is a massive, dramatic space spanning 230,000 square feet with sweeping exhibition halls, a research library with a ceiling evocative of a gilled mushroom, a theater, and a five-story atrium filled with natural light.
Similar to the museum’s Central Park West entrance, Milford pink granite cloaks the exterior, and the undulating cliff-like facade features windows of fritted glass, a porous material that reduces glare, energy costs, and most importantly, the risk of bird collisions. The interior of the center mimics a hidden cave with walls that appear eroded by wind and water to reveal round, asymmetric openings, all of which are made with textured shotcrete, concrete that’s sprayed on an armature of rebar and metal mesh and then shaped. Designed as a system of loops to connect parts of the new wing with the existing building, the center’s structure allows visitors to seamlessly flow from one space to the next.
Many of the previously hidden collections and research labs are visible to the public for the first time, alongside the robust butterfly vivarium with more than 1,000 specimens, an interactive honeycomb that descends from above, and approximately four million fossils, skeletons, and other objects. Between the exhibition spaces are curved passes decked with their own displays, including a 19-foot recreation of a crystalline vein in Arkansas’s Ouachita Mountains as shown below. “The architecture taps into the desire for exploration and discovery that is so emblematic of science and also such a big part of being human,” said Jeanne Gang, founder of Studio Gang, in a statement. “The building invites you on a journey toward deeper understanding, sparking your curiosity and helping you find the amazing organisms and knowledge inside.”
In the making since 2014 with several setbacks, the Gilder Center officially opens on May 4, and you can find more of Studio Gang’s organic designs on its site.
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Art Craft Design
Traditional Design Meets Modern Function in Natura Ceramica’s Elemental Earthenware Vessels
Harnessing the rich, organic textures of soil, stone, and timber, Ukrainian artists Andriy and Olesya Voznicki of Natura Ceramica create voluminous ceramic vessels and sculptures. Based in Amsterdam, the duo draw inspiration from natural phenomena like the changing seasons, patinas and aging, and elements like fire or earth. The pieces mirror the shapes and textures of boulders or lava rock, suggesting both beauty and resiliency and influenced by a concept called bionic design, which mimics characteristics and adaptations in nature.
While many pieces are presented series—such as Gonta, which often features old oak shingles nestled into cushion-like clay forms—each piece is unique. “The inspiration for the vases comes from both ancient Carpathian architecture and modern bionic design,” reads a statement. “The use of old shingle roofs that have their own history adds a sense of nostalgia and a connection to the past.”
Find more on the Natura Ceramica website and Instagram.
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Design Food Illustration
Voxel Shops and Food Stalls by Shin Oh Tuck Traditional Malaysian Culture into Nostalgic Renderings
Illustrator Shin Oh nestles childhood memories of visiting traditional Malaysian shops and food stalls within tiny three-dimensional renderings, placing the immense affection she feels for such spaces in small confines. Part of two companion series titled 126³ Tiny Voxel Shops and 126³ Voxel Hawker Stalls, the digital works are made with voxels, or volumetric pixels used for building in popular video games like Minecraft and Roblox. Whether depicting a bakery or dim sum stand, Shin constructs each stall uniformly with two walls and soft color palettes “because nostalgic memories are warm, and hawker stalls always give me fuzzy warm feelings as they serve affordable and great food,” she says. The “hawker centre is hot and stuffy, too.”
126³ Tiny Voxel Shops was the first of the pair, which Shin created for a group exhibition in 2021. “During the pre-production phase of this project, I had conversations with my mother about the shops that we used to visit back then,” she shares. “I listed down as many shops as possible and filtered the list down to ten shops I think have unique visual characteristics that people can immediately recognize when they see them.” Included are both ubiquitous and rare sights, like a tailor’s studio and a well-stocked biscuit store. “There is no modern-style décor in this shop, no bright lights, no air-conditioning. One uniqueness about traditional biscuit shop is having lots of aluminum tins and glass jars, literally stacked from floor to ceiling,” she says.
This description is typical for Shin, who shares insights into her process and the objects she chooses for each space. Her ongoing series of open-air hawker stalls continues this approach with information about the dishes served from each kiosk. Bak Kut Teh, for example, translates to “meat bone tea” and is a broth with Chinese herbs and spices, pork, mushrooms, tofu, cabbage, oil rice, and fried dough known as youtiao, and Shin’s rendering of this stand includes various pots and friers used for making the dish. Although each space is imagined, the idea is to use such commonplace and easily interpretable items to create scenes that are understandable across cultures. “People can recognize the stalls from the objects even without having to understand the signboard or read the captions,” Shin shares. “In my opinion, food connects every human together, and it conquers all, from language barriers to cultural differences. I hope it’s the same for this foodie series.”
You can find more from both of the collections on Instagram. (via Present & Correct)
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Rick Salafia’s Wildly Shaped Aluminum Rulers Measure Impractical Proportions
With dramatically bowed edges, coiled shapes, and fragments jutting in opposite directions, Instruments by Rick Salafia defies many standards of measurement. The ongoing series, which currently comprises more than 200 works, disregards the one-foot rectangle in favor of a playfully diverse array of shapes. Semi-circles stretch like a croissant, ends expand into wide, asymmetric forms, and a segment stretching just a few inches breaks free from the rest of the metal tool. While the pieces in Instruments take on impractical shapes and proportions, the individual inked lines and numbers remain relatively uniform, evoking the systemized nature of a typical ruler.
Salafia produced each work in an edition of three and has some available in his shop. You can find more from the series on his site.
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A New Book Celebrates the Playful and Imaginative Interpretations of Working ‘Out of the Box’
A new book from London-based artist and curator Tom Buchanan revolves around what he terms “box art.” Encompassing what has “evolved, been created within, or even escaped from a box,” the 336-page compendium draws together more than 500 assemblages, collections, dioramas, miniatures, and other works that play with and reenvision the limits of the humble container.
Titled Out of the Box, the volume features a wide array of mediums and styles from enchanting paper dioramas by Hari & Deepti to Ben Young’s sleek glass sculptures mimicking pools and seas to Wolfgang Stiller’s charred matchstick figures. The book is organized by the four elements—earth, water, air, and fire—and highlights the narratives that emerge from physically collecting and displaying objects, especially as life becomes increasingly digital. “We live, arrange, watch, and rest in death in boxes, and this collection is a testament to the absurdity and wonder that is life,” Buchanan says.
Out of the Box is published by Eight Books and is currently available in the U.K. Find more from Buchanan on his site.
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Recycle and Renew: Future Materials Bank Archives Hundreds of Projects that Emphasize Sustainability
Fashion designer Stella McCartney’s latest collection made headlines with a form-fitting jumpsuit composed of iridescent, scale-like sequins made entirely from plant-based compounds. Lauded for her longtime interest in sustainable fashion, the designer collaborated with Radiant Matter, a studio founded by Elissa Brunato dedicated to producing “naturally shimmering biomaterials.” Engineered from renewable cellulose, the biodegradable material provides an environmentally conscious alternative to mass-produced plastics. It’s just one of nearly 400 remarkable projects archived in by the Future Materials Bank.
In 2020, the Jan Van Eyck Academie in The Netherlands saw an opportunity to respond to the global shift toward sustainability. The Future Materials program was established to position “art, design, and other creative practices in relation to the climate crisis, environmental breakdown, and their manifold effects,” tapping into artists’ and designers’ penchant for experimentation. Through researching and proposing renewable alternatives to unsustainable practices, the program aimed to open up discourse and set “a framework that embraces a diversity of practices and allows for a multitude of voices.”
Placing an emphasis on the availability of different materials around the world, the archive showcases substances and resources found in a range of climates and various industrial processes. In Uganda, Katesi Jacqueline Kelange repurposed polyethylene bags, plastic strips, and second-hand clothes to create lightweight woven shelters and costumes for public performances that draw attention to the need to move away from the manufacture of products that rely on fossil fuels.
Ubiquitous yet unexpected organic sources appear in textiles, such as seaweed, human hair, or plant roots. Intricate fabrics made of roots by Zena Holloway (previously), for example, are grown inside beeswax molds; nature does all the work producing the lacy detail. Matter that seasonally sheds onto the forest floor and would normally rot on the ground, like tree bark or pine needles, can be gathered and processed into modern tableware. And items like pendant lamps, vessels, or stools can repurposed from limestone dust or ceramic waste—industrial byproducts—into functional objects.
The Future Materials Lab was launched in collaboration with the Material Futures Masters course at London’s Central Saint Martins and facilitates “an ecologically mindful approach to material choices.” Find out more about the program on the Jan Van Eyck Aademie’s website, peruse the Future Materials Bank for inspiration, and follow on Instagram. You might also like Phillip Lim and Charlotte McCurdy’s sequins made from algae.
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Editor's Picks: Design
Highlights below. For the full collection click here.