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 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 Googie Architecture

Union 76 Gas Station

The dramatic upward-curving roof is one of the most iconic examples
of Googie architecture that still stands today.

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What looks like a flying carpet anchored to the ground with pillars at
the intersection of Crescent Drive and Little Santa Monica Boulevard in
Los Angeles is actually a functional gas station. It’s also one of the most
iconic examples of Googie architecture in the world.

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The dramatic upward-curved canopy decorated with red square tiles was
originally designed in the 1960s by architect Gin Wong to be a part of the
city’s airport, but when that plan was changed, it ended up as a Union 76
gas station. When the fluorescent lights that follow the curve are turned on,
Jack Colker’s 76 station, as it is commonly known, goes from flying carpet
to embellished spaceship.

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It was completed in 1965, right around the time when the eye-catching
Googie style was extremely popular in California. Inspired by the SpaceAge,
fast cars, and jets, Googie style buildings contain steel, plastic, and neon,
twisted into crazy shapes and designs. Several of these whimsical creations
were demolished in the decades that followed but there are still handful of
them scattered around the Golden State.

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Atlas Obscura

Beautiful Upside Down House

“What if I should fall right through the center of the earth…oh, and come out on the other side where people walk upside-down?” – Lewis Carroll, Alice in Wonderland.

And now something weird for your Friday. You wouldn’t think the world would have so many upside down houses, but it does. People have built them for all kinds of reasons, from starting up a tourist attraction to commenting on the absurdity of politics.

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Upside Down House in Usedom, Germany: Designers Klausdiusz Golos and Sebastian Mikiciuk have a very nonchalant approach to this tourist exhibit, saying, “We didn’t do it for a reason. We just wanted to do something different.”

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Upside Down House at the Old School House Museum in Lee Vining, California: Part of an outdoor exhibit at a roadside museum in California, this tiny shed gets top billing as the “legendary upside-down house!”

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Wonderworks in Orlando, Florida: They bill themselves as “Central Florida’s only upside down attraction — an amusement park for the mind, featuring over 100 interactive exhibits.”

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Upside Down House in Poland: Daniel Czapiewski, an entrepreneur in Poland, built this house to comment on the insanity of contemporary politics (and bring in tourists as well).

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Casa de Cabeca para Baixo in Rio: Don’t know too much about this upside-down house, except that it’s located in Cabo Frio, Rio de Janeiro, and the Flickr member who took the photo says “They are reforming it. It’s a Showroom from a house-construction shop.”

Beautiful Lithography Stones

n 2011, while the REI store in the Puck Building in Manhattan’s SoHo district was undergoing renovation, workers made an unexpected discovery. Hidden behind one of the walls of the cellar were more than 100 lithography stones from the building’s days as a printer. They are now on display on the store’s lower floor.

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The historic building got its name from the magazine Puck, the first wide-reaching humor publication in the United States, which was
founded in 1871 and moved to lower Manhattan in 1887. It shared the space, in a mutually beneficial relationship, with its printer, J. Ottman Lithographic Company. Their shared headquarters was the largest building in the printing district at the time.

J. Ottman Lithographic Company printed many things beyond the Puck magazines, including theatrical posters and board games. Among the works now hanging on the REI wall are a high school diploma, a certificate of election, and a mortgage bond. Some of the litho stones are in rougher shape than others.

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Most of the writing and images on the stones is “backwards,” standard practice so that the final print is the reverse of what is seen on the plate or stone. Some, though, were prepared for offset printing, which involves an additional
step between the plate and the final product. The inked image, prepared “forwards,” or as it would be seen in the final product, is first transferred to a rubber blanket, reversing
the image once, and then to the final surface, setting it right.

Puck continued to operate out of the Puck Building until 1918, when it ceased publication. It was known for beautiful, full-color lithographs and sharp political satire. Statues of the magazine’s mascot, Puck, decorate the outside of the building. J. Ottman Lithographic Company shuttered around the same time.
Other printing companies, and even another satirical magazine, have called the building home since the original tenants left.

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During REI’s renovation, a deliberate effort was made to repurpose materials from the original building. Fixtures from the steam engine that powered the presses are on permanent display, including two flywheels and the governor. Nineteenth century I. P. Frink chandeliers, newly fitted with LED lights, help light the main floor.

 Source: Atlas Obscura

Beautiful Bauhaus

Most people attribute Germany’s Bauhaus
school, founded by Walter Gropius,with being
all about minimalist design, paring down
architecture to its most non-essential elements
whilst being beautiful at the same time.
What is overlooked is the fantastical costume
parties of the 1920s. Not only were they good
at designing furniture and everything else in
between, their costumes were just as sculptural
and flamboyant. The Bauhaus shindigs were
outright competitive. Imagine dancing around
in one of these with Wassily Kandinsky,
Paul Klee, Piet Mondrian, Laszlo Moholy-Nagy,
Mies van der Rohe and Marcel Breuer.

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Bauhaus costumes by Oskar Schlemmer (1925)
Photos by Karl Grill via The Charnel-House

The parties began as improvisational events,
but later grew into large-scale productions
with costumes and sets made by the school’s
stage workshop. There was often a theme to
the evenings. One party was called Beard, Nose,
and Heart, and attendees were instructed t
show up in clothing that was two-thirds white,
and one-third spotted, checked or striped.
However, it’s generally agreed that the
apotheosis of the Bauhaus’ costumed revelry
was the Metal Party of 1929, where guests
donned costumes made from tin foil, frying
pans, and spoons. Attendees entered that
party by sliding down a chute into one of
several rooms filled with silver balls.

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Bauhaus costumes by Oskar Schlemmer (1925)
Photos by Karl Grill via The Charnel-House

 

 

Beautiful Sculpture

Nestled in the hills just south of Napa, CA
is the fabulously fun Glashoff  sculpture gallery
and garden in Suisun City, CA. Be sure to check
it out if you are ever in Napa. Phillip Glashoff
continues the tradition of the lifestyle he was
born to on his northern California ranch.
His real passion is creating sculpture out of
scrap metal. The results dot the landscape
of the ranch; herds of steel sculpted cattle,
giant banjos, and archways made of street signs
just to name a few of which must be hundreds.

My favorite is the wind-up toy car that sits atop
a pole in the middle of the sculpture garden.
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The kangaroo is made entirely of
recycled bolts.
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Charming figure do the landscape including
a cowboy and his horse.
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Candyland game sculpture made of
recycled metal and steel materials
candyland

This charming TP Lady holds all
your toilet needs and towels.
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Dancing Girl
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Sculpture Garden – Great place to wander.
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Beautiful Blue

I’m a total fan of blue lately, the deeper and more saturated the better.
I especially like the playful nature of this kitchen back splash.
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