Soft Office

Hella Jongerius from the exhibition My Soft Office at at MoMA New York



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The Origin of the THING

“…the old word “Thing” or “Ding” designated originally a certain type of archaic assembly. Many parliaments in Nordic and Saxon nations still activate the old root of this etymology: Norwegian congressmen assemble in the Storting; Icelandic deputies called the equivalent of ‘thingmen’ gather in the Althing; Isle of Man seniors used to gather around the Ting;the German landscape is dotted with Thingstatten and you can see in many places the circles of stones where the Thing used to stand. Thus, long before designating an object thrown out of the political sphere and standing there objectively and independently, the Ding or Thing has for many centuries meant the issue that brings people together because it divides them.”

- from the Introduction to the catalogue of Making Things Public– Atmospheres of Democracy, MIT Press 2005 (edited by Bruno Latour & Peter Weibel)

via Objective Correlative


My friend Anthony introduced me to FAVs. In Ghana there is a tradition of celebrating the life of the recently departed by seeing off the dead in a 'Fantastic Afterlife Vehicle,' a FAV. The coffin is representative of the life led by its occupant such as an object in the form of ones occupation or possibly ones interests. All in all they are a celebration of the virtues and the life force of the person's existence. What a beautiful way to be remembered.

The above coffin belongs to the artist Emanuel Okine who was a master teacher of movie poster painting. The coffin was sculpted by Nii Anum and painted by D.A. Jasper one of Okine's students. The image is from the book: Extreme Canvas: Movie Poster Paintings from Ghana by Ernie Wolfe III



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Adolfo Natalini

The Netherlands 1997-2001

The Netherlands 1996-2002

The Netherlands 1995-2000

The members of Superstudio (previous post) eventually parted ways and notably one of their founding members Adolfo Natalini went on to design and execute actual buildings. This was a major departure from his radical past with the group which emphasized the power of communication and ideas over practice. His later work has been critiqued for abandoning these early revolutionary ideals to practice a self-described 'anti-modern' aesthetic. To me this seems a natural evolution from a youthful protest to responsible action.

"Today, architecture has been homogenized by a cynical and useless experimentalism: the only possible reaction is a return to order or, better, tradition (the consolidated patrimony of successful experiments). I wish to counter the utopia of globalization with harsh local realities and a great longing for beauty." - Adolfo Natalini

I showed Natalini's work to my architect grandfather and devoted follower of modernism. His response, "that's not anti-modern, it's advanced Nazi." Ha. I can see the validity in his comparison, somehow both parties interest in order and tradition has met somewhere in-between their polar philosophical extremes.

Life without Objects

Superstudio was an architecture group founded in Italy (1966-1978) by Natalini, Torrelado di Francia, Alessandro, Roberto Magris and Piero Frassinelli. Coming out of post-war Italy the group rejected the revivalist reconstruction of their cities. New buildings emerged with poor construction and unjust social divisions. Superstudio critiqued this environment by "highjacking the language of architecture" through photo-montage, collage, drawings, and videos. Most of their designs were never built as they were impossible and more effective as satirical and playful solutions to the consumerism of design.

Here Supersudio's reflective architecture proposes a reversal of the consumerist action of tourism by encasing the Golden Gate bridge in a mirrored cube.

"Continuous Monument" is a photo-collage series in which a gridded superstructure extends across the surface of the world.

The group designed a collection of archetypal furniture in white laminate printed with a continuous grid. The intent of the black on white grid was to create a neutral surface allowing these everyday objects to take background to our lives.