Beautiful Snarkitecture

10 Years of Snarkitecture
SNARKITECTURE PROJECT IS ABOUT OPENING UP THE POSSIBILITY, LEAVING THINGS AS OPEN QUESTIONS FOR PEOPLE THAT ARE COMING TO VISIT IT. THERE’S NOT NECESSARILY ANY PRESCRIBED MEANING — TO SAY IT’S ABOUT THIS OR ABOUT THAT — BUT HOPEFULLY, IT ALLOWS YOU TO WONDER.

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Perched on a quartz topped column, beneath the crumbling, paint peeled dome of an 18th Century palazzo in Milan, Alex Mustonen is thinking about his legacy. Or rather, the legacy of his design firm, Snarkitecture, whose 2018 has been a banner year. They’ve celebrated their 10 year anniversary, published their first monograph with Phaidon, and have plans to mount a career spanning retrospective at Washington DC’s National Building Museum, opening this Fourth of July.

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The moody Italian palace doesn’t just serve as a dramatic backdrop for ponderous self reflection. The trio, Mustonen, Daniel Arsham, and Benjamin Porto, have just installed their latest Salone del Mobile project there, a collaboration with quartz manufacturer Caesarstone, that explores water in its various states. It takes the shape of an ethereal amphitheater circling a terraced fountain of quartz. On top, planetary spheres of ice drift and creak, melting into the running water only to rise again as steam. It’s the latest in a sprawling roster of projects — 75 of which are detailed in the book — that Snarkitecture have dreamed into life during their decade-long tenure. They’ve morphed museums into massive, giggling ball pits (The Beach, ongoing), choreographed a ballet of over sized balloons during a gala at the New Museum, and filled the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York entirely with pure white styrofoam, which they then invited viewers to watch as they excavated it with chisels and icepicks

 

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It’s often said the core genius of Snarkitecture’s projects are their simplicity. For a union that formed in the cerebral confines of New York’s Cooper Union (Mustonen, in architecture and Arsham, art, attended at the same time, while Porto joined the firm later on), their installations and interiors strike straight to the heart of what brings us the purest kinds of joy. There’s an unabashedly innocent jubilation involved in doing a cannonball into a ball pit, marvelling at pirouetting balloons, or digging an endless hole to nowhere. In conceiving their much celebrated work, Snarkitecture are like children, having been gifted with the most expensive and high-tech of toys, instead choosing to make a fort from the box. Or, in their case, the packing foam.

Cereal sat down with partner Alex Mustonen to talk about the past ten years, plans for the future, and what’s inspiring them now.

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From Cereal

Beautiful Stahl House

Stahl House, completed in 13 months and costing $37,500, further demonstrated Pierre Koenig’s flair for working with industrial materials, particularly steel, glass and concrete.

Stahl-Landscape1-The image is instantly familiar; the house, all dramatic angles, concrete, steel and glass, perched indelibly above Los Angeles, with Hollywood’s lights resembling a circuit board below it. Inside, two women sit, stylish and relaxed, talking casually behind the monumental floor to ceiling glass walls. One of the world’s most iconic photographs, Julius Schulman’s Case Study 22 beautifully captures the optimism of 1950s Los Angeles, and the striking beauty of architect Pierre Koenig’s masterpiece, Stahl House. The classic L shaped pavilion, cantilevered above Hollywood on Woods Drive, was built in 1959 after being adopted into the Case Study Program, an experimental residential design initiative that commissioned architects to create model homes in the wake of the 1950s housing boom. Stahl House, also known as No. 22, was the wild one, conjured up by the man who purchased the plot of land at 1635 Woods Drive in 1954 for $13,500 and sealed the deal with a handshake. C H ‘Buck’ Stahl was a dreamer, who, along with his wife Carlotta, set about finding the right person to bring his vision for an innovative and thoroughly modern home to life.

Stahl-portrait1-chairstahl_portrait2-pool.jpgBuck was a former professional footballer who worked as a graphic designer and sign painter. He spent his first few years as a landowner hauling broken blocks of concrete to the site in attempt to improve its precarious foundation. He and Carlotta ferried their finds, load by load, back to Woods Drive in the back of Buck’s Cadillac, hopeful the reinforcements would prevent the land from sliding. Buck’s dreams for the house began to take shape over the following two years, and eventually, he made a model of the future Stahl House. His grand designs, however, were promptly rejected by several notable architects.

Stahl-Landscape2-view.jpgCarlotta recalled Buck continually telling prospective architects “I don’t care how you do it, there’s not going to be any walls in this wing.” Until they hired Pierre Koenig in 1957, an ambitious young architect determined to build on a site nobody would touch, it seemed unlikely the house would ever exist. Pierre described the process of building Stahl House as “trying to solve a problem – the client had champagne tastes and a beer budget.” He was interested in working with steel, and despite being warned away from it by his architecture instructors, possessed great aptitude for it. He’d experimented with a number of exposed glass and steel homes before he created Case Study 21, or The Bailey House in 1958 and 1959, and his skill for designing functional spaces with simplicity of form, abundant natural light, and elegant lines would eventually make him a master of modernism. Stahl House, completed in 13 months and costing 37,500 USD, further demonstrated Pierre’s flair for working with industrial materials, particularly steel, glass, and concrete. The project put him on the map as an architect with an incredible eye for balance, symmetry, and restraint. The 2,040 m² house was, as Buck insisted, built without walls in the main wing to allow for sweeping 270º views. Three sides of the building were made of plate glass, unheard of in the late 1950s, and deemed dangerous by engineers and architects. This design feature required Pierre to source the largest pieces of glass available for residential use at the time. With two bedrooms, two bathrooms, polished concrete floors, and a very famous swimming pool (a fixture in countless films and fashion editorials) Stahl House was an immediate mid century icon.

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Although there has been some dispute over Buck’s influence on the design in the years since he died in 2005 and Pierre Koenig’s death in 2004, some experts who have seen Buck’s original model agree that his concept informed the direction the Stahl House would finally take.

“I dismissed it as typical owner hubris at the time,” architect and writer Joseph Giovannini told the Los Angeles Times in 2009. “The gesture of the house cantilevering over the side of the hill into the distant view is clearly here in this model. But it is Pierre’s skill that elevated the idea into a masterpiece. This is one of the rare cases it seems that there is a shared authorship.”

Today, Stahl House is still owned by the Stahl family. Though it remains a magnet for film crews and photographers the world over, for Bruce Stahl, Buck and Carlotta’s son, who grew up there with his siblings, it was simply part of a typical, happy childhood. “We were a blue collar family living in a white collar house,” he said. “Nobody famous ever lived here.”

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Credits: Lucy Brook
Photos: Rick Poon

Beautiful Villa Savoye

As a monument to modernism, the building possesses a poetry and sensitivity full of idealism. The careful composition of living space and intention to harness natural light, not to mention the building’s iconic aesthetic, still define modern architecture.

villasavoye_landscapeThe Villa Savoye, built in 1929 in Poissy, a rural area outside Paris, was Le Corbusier’s answer to a French country house. Given relatively few constraints by the Savoye family, Le Corbusier designed a building to embody the architectural theory he had evolved in practice and in his book, Towards an Architecture 1923. He was inspired by both the classical forms of ancient Greek architecture and the modern technologies that were shaping the world such as automobiles, airplanes and ocean liners.

villasavoye_landscape2.jpgThis project was the last in a series of private homes known as the ‘white villas’ built by Le Corbusier and his cousin and partner Pierre Jeanneret, which introduced a new form of luxury in which space itself, and its capacity for leisure, were the valuable commodities.

Of these, The Villa Savoye perhaps best embodies Le Corbusier’s architectural manifesto, the five points of architecture. The first, pilotis – slender pillars which raise the building off the ground, opening up more space for gardens and cars, made possible the second, a façade free of its usual load bearing function. Walls were no longer supporting structures but ‘membranes.’ This allowed the unimpaired design of the third, an open plan interior, and the fourth, ribbon windows to flood the interior with maximum light and to illuminate it evenly. A sliding window system patented by Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret was intended to offer superior ventilation, as well as give access to the fifth, a flat roof which could serve as a terrace. A curved solarium crowns the structure, the brightest increment in the layered design. This symbiotic relationship of these five features gives some insight into what could otherwise be a somewhat alienating notion of Le Corbusier’s, the famous concept of a house as ‘a machine for living.’

villasavoye_landscape3-outdoor.jpgUnfortunately the Villa Savoye presented its residents with its own host of problems, despite its pioneering design. Each autumn, as the windows ushered in a warm vista of seasonal colour, the family would write repeatedly to Le Courbusier, begging him to make ‘habitable,’ what proved to be a damp and chilly building. They complained of ‘raining’ in the hall, on the ramp and in the bathroom. The loud drumming of rain on the bathroom skylight kept them awake at night, heat escaped through the long stretches of glazing and the heating system was both insufficient and a further cause of flooding.

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Much of this was perhaps due to the fact that the technology involved was not fully developed at the time. As a monument to Modernism, the building possesses a poetry and sensitivity full of idealism. The careful composition of living space and intention to harness natural light, not to mention the building’s iconic aesthetic, still define modern architecture. Nonetheless, the discomforts they had suffered ultimately led the Savoye family to decide against restoring the property after the 2nd World War, when it was seized by German forces. About to be demolished by the local authorities to make way for a school, the building was rescued by architects and academics including Le Corbusier himself. Now a museum, restored closely to its original state, Villa Savoye is one of 17 of Le Corbusier’s buildings declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Credit: readcereal.com/

Beautiful Interiors on a Budget

Ikea isn’t for everyone but if you are looking for a soft minimal look without spending a lot, Ikea gets the job done. Some inspiration from Ikea’s blog Livet Hemma (Live at Home) today, with two very different living room looks. The first is a soft minimalism style living room created by Susanne Swegen. Inspired by her love of mixing Japanese and Finnish aesthetics, the space features a soft color scheme and lots of warm wood. The two-toned walls provide a lovely framework for the room, while mirrors are used to play with light and reflections. I absolutely love the recessed desk area with vertical shelving. Such a great use of space!

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The soft pink Söderhamn sofa styled against the raw concrete creates a beautiful contrast of textures in this living room setting.

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Styling by Susanne Swegen  / Photography by Andrea Papini and Emily Layefor Ikea Livet Hemma

Beautiful Amazing Kindergarten

Today, I present one of those projects that takes your breath away. It is designed by Emmanuelle Moreaux and it’s a beautiful kindergarten full of color, a stimulating environment where kids can let their imagination run free. Every child should be so lucky to go to school to attend a learning environment like this.

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I love the use of color, a common feature that runs throughout the space. The school, Creche Ropponmatsu, is located in a residential area in Fukuoka, Japan. Emmanuele Moreaux designed this crazy, whimsical project – color is common theme throughout many of her projects. The result is amazing. Emmanuelle designed the architecture, interior space, logos and graphical signage, with a vision to open a new kindergarten where children can grow up freely in mind and body. Running behind the colorful grove, this kindergarten gives opportunity for children to raise rich sensibility by feeling many colors wherever they are.

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THREE-DIMENSIONAL COLORS AND ELEMENTS
Color is apparent in every corner of the space. 22 colors were used in the 63m height trees on the façade. The branches appear to wrap the entire building, protecting it, perhaps, from the less colorful world outside. Collections of color jump out at one glance. On the facade, there are 22 colors used in 63 multi-colored trees of 4 m in height extend the branches rhythmically and wrap the building. While giving full-sized glass with a feeling of openness, by wrapping it with colorful trees, gives a sense of distance to the outside. Inside, 200 colorful boxes in 25 colors are lined up on the wall, where each one of them belongs to every child to stock their personal goods. Every time children use their own tools or get changed, they find and pick up the box of their color.

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The stairs which connect the 4 floors is also full of colors, 18 different tones in fact. This creates an environment where kids are surrounded by diversity inside, outside and in common zones. Stimulation with colors and shapes is crucial for kids at this age – experts claim that color helps kids to develop their sensitivity and individuality.

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DETAILS IN THE LOGO
Colorful trees on the façade have been also included in the logo, a perfect representation.

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Learn more about her colorful projects here 

Beautiful Colorful Interiors

Check out this crazy wonderful colorful home, full of painted walls, bold rugs, and inspirational details. It features a stairwell with with a color clash of blue and lilac pink walls, and loads of art. But it’s that gold panel detail that really sets it apart. It’s all a wonderful way of mixing old with new while maintaining the original architecture and charm.

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One major detail to note in this home is the use of black instead of white to ground all the colorful choices and also bring a sense of drama to the space. The gorgeous herringbone wood floors, and quite a few furnishings are in the black or dark grey realm. It’s so rare to see black used with loads of color in a home – it’s refreshing.

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The blue continues into this sitting room where modern lighting gets swapped for antique venetian chandeliers. There really are no design rules in this home – it’s very much a case of the ‘buy what you love, and it will work theory.

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While the stairwell reigns supreme, this happy pink kitchen with geometric aqua tile is definitely a close second. The clean design keeps the pink from feeling to precious. The cubbies are a nice alternative to open shelving, and the sleek lighting on either side of the window is perfect.

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Beautiful Kitchen Design

I am loving this little kitchen with dark grey and black cabinets. Love the sleek new black stainless steel, fingerprint-resistant appliances with a rich, matter look.

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The great thing about black and dark grey is how dramatic it is, and how it helps make everything else around it pop. And adding black appliances to the mix gives things a seriously seamless look!

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Check out Whirlpool’s newest line of black appliances here