An Enchanting Addition to the American Museum of Natural History Houses the New Gilder Center within a Massive Geological Cavern

May 3, 2023

Grace Ebert

A woman stands with a child overlooking the atrium of the gilder center

Kenneth C. Griffin Exploration Atrium. Photo by Alvaro Keding. All images © AMNH, shared with permission

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.


The undulating exterior of the Gilder Center illuminated by light at dusk

The Gilder Center. Photo by Iwan Baan

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.


Three floors of the cavernous stone interior of the Gilder Center atrium

The Kenneth C. Griffin Exploration Atrium. Photo by Iwan Baan

Kids play with the interactive honeycomb sculpture

The Hive in the Susan and Peter J. Solomon Family Insectarium. Photo by Alvaro Keding

A crystalline structure lines a wall encased in glass along a hallway

Yurman Family Crystalline Pass and the link to the Allison and Roberto Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals. Photo by Alvaro Keding

Patrons sit in a library with walls lined with books

The David S. and Ruth L. Gottesman Research Library and Learning Center. Photo by Alvaro Keding

Visitors look at collections encased in glass

The Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Collections Core. Photo by Alvaro Keding

Two photos, both of the cavernous stone interior of the atrium

Left: The Kenneth C. Griffin Exploration Atrium. Right: Sightlines from the third-floor bridge. Photos by Iwan Baan

Visitors walk up the staircase of the atrium with cavernous stone like expanses above

The staircase in the Kenneth C. Griffin Exploration Atrium. Photo by Iwan Baan

A child peers down at a butterfly dispaly

Magnifying glass stations in the Davis Family Butterfly Vivarium. Photo by Denis Finnin

Collections encased in glass are shown at the back of a cavernous space

The second floor of the Louis V. Gerstner, Jr. Collections Core. Photo by Iwan Baan

A cavernous stone interior passes from a hallway to a room

Fourth-floor bridge links and connections. Photo by Iwan Baan




Art Craft Design

Traditional Design Meets Modern Function in Natura Ceramica’s Elemental Earthenware Vessels

April 27, 2023

Kate Mothes

Two ceramic vases made from old oak singles and gray clay.

All images © Natura Ceramica, shared with permission

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.


A ceramic vessel made from old oak singles and gray clay.

Two ceramic vases made from old oak singles and gray clay.

An abstract ceramic vessel that has a stony texture.

Abstract vessels made out of clay.

Two ceramic vessels that loosely resemble lava rock, one in white and one in black.

A ceramic sculpture that resembles a large stone with a textured interior.

Two earthy-colored vessels with abstract oval shapes on their exteriors.

A large panel featuring oak shingles.



Design Food Illustration

Voxel Shops and Food Stalls by Shin Oh Tuck Traditional Malaysian Culture into Nostalgic Renderings

April 24, 2023

Grace Ebert

A digital voxel rendering of a tiny cubic food stall

“Nasi Lemak,” 126³ Voxel Hawker Stalls. All images © Shin Oh, shared with permission

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)


A digital voxel rendering of a tiny cubic shop

“Biscuit,” 126³ Tiny Voxel Shops

A digital voxel rendering of a tiny cubic food stall

“Bak Kut Teh,” 126³ Voxel Hawker Stalls

A digital voxel rendering of four tiny cubic food stalls

Top left: “Bakery,” 126³ Tiny Voxel Shops. Top right: “Economy Rice,” 126³ Voxel Hawker Stalls. Bottom left: “Char Kuey Teow,” 126³ Voxel Hawker Stalls. Bottom right: “Kopitiam,” 126³ Tiny Voxel Shops

A digital voxel rendering of a tiny cubic food stall

“Dim Sum and Bao,” 126³ Voxel Hawker Stalls

A digital voxel rendering of a tiny cubic tailor's shop

“Tailoring,” 126³ Tiny Voxel Shops

A digital voxel rendering of a tiny cubic shop

“Sundry,” 126³ Tiny Voxel Shops



Art Design

Rick Salafia’s Wildly Shaped Aluminum Rulers Measure Impractical Proportions

April 19, 2023

Grace Ebert

An aluminum measurement instrument shaped in a circle with a central whole

All images © Rick Salafia

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.


An aluminum measurement instrument with segments jutting out on the left and right sides

An aluminum measurement instrument shaped in an angular twist

An aluminum measurement instrument with bowed edges

An aluminum measurement instrument with a central segment appearing to be cut and spliced

An aluminum measurement instrument with wide curved edges

An aluminum measurement instrument shaped like a croissant

An aluminum measurement instrument with crisscrossing lines

An aluminum measurement instrument shaped like a semi-circle

An aluminum measurement instrument with what appears like loose markers



Art Design

A New Book Celebrates the Playful and Imaginative Interpretations of Working ‘Out of the Box’

April 17, 2023

Grace Ebert

A diorama of a four-story building with the top three floors filled with books and shelves and the bottom a large black tank

All images courtesy of Tom Buchanan, shared with permission

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.


A book opens to a spread featuring text and two smaller photos of wooden sculptures on the left and a boxy sculpture on wheels with branches emerging from the top on the right

A collection of small blue dots arranged by size in a gradient within a wooden frame

A drawer that opens to reveal smaller wooden and cardboard boxes and some are painted with grave waves

A book spread with the left page saying "earth" and "2" and the right page showing an intricate cut paper forest that's backlit by soft light

A miniature concrete building that reads "hotel" built on a pedestal in front of a parking lot

A book spread with the left page featuring text and three boxy constructions and the right page showing a photo of an orange and white device with an attena

A wooden sculpture on wheels with innumerable rusty nails jutting out

A white frame that gradually expands toward the right. Small figurines are seating inside

Two Out of the Box books, one stacked on top of the other



Art Design

Recycle and Renew: Future Materials Bank Archives Hundreds of Projects that Emphasize Sustainability

April 6, 2023

Kate Mothes

A figure reaching out to touch a canopy made of green plastics.

Katesi Jacqueline Kalange, part of the series ‘Nature Invasion,’ recycled plastic. Photo by Framez and Wavez, Magezi Photography, and Vanessa Mulondo. All images © the artists, courtesy of the Future Materials Bank

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.”


A textile fabric made from plant roots.

Zena Holloway, detail from the series ‘Rootfull,’ root-based textiles. Photo courtesy of the artist

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.


A series of vessels and trays made from recycled pine needles.

Gaurav MK Wali, ‘Cheer Project,’ recycled pine needles. Photo courtesy of the artist

A canopy over an exterior stairwell made from recycled plastics.

Katesi Jacqueline Kalange, part of the series ‘Nature Invasion,’ recycled plastic. Photo by Framez and Wavez, Magezi Photography, and Vanessa Mulondo

A textile made from plant roots.

Zena Holloway, detail from the series ‘Rootfull,’ root-based textiles. Photo courtesy of the artist

Two photographs of natural earth pigments sourced from soil.

Leah Fanning, earth pigments made from rocks, soil, and minerals. Photo by Natural Earth Pigments

Three pendant lamps made from 3D printed recycled ceramic waste.

Hanneke de Leeuw, ‘Remake/Reprint Ceramics,’ recycled ceramic waste. Photo by Tessa Spaaij / Coudre Studio

Numerous ceramic tiles with pigments being tested that are made from recycled metals.

Agne Kucerenkaite, ‘Ignorance is bliss’ tile series, recycled metal pigments on ceramic tiles. Photo by Studio Agne

A fabric of biodegradable sequins made from cellulose.

Elissa Brunato, “Bio Iridescent Sequins,” cellulose. Photo courtesy of the artist

Two images of sequins made from cellulose.

Elissa Brunato, “Bio Iridescent Sequins,” cellulose. Photo courtesy of the artist

A stool made from recycled limestone dust.

Sakeb collective, “Kabes stool,” recycled limestone and sawdust. Photo by Haifa Zalatimo / AM Qattan Foundation and Mohammad Sabla

Two images showing hard material that has been made from tree bark to create bowls and platters.

Evelina Kudabaite, ‘GIRIA’ homewares series made from tree bark. Photos by Mantas Astrauskas



A Colossal


Sailing Ship Kite