PLAN 83: Article
Objects By Architects

One of Several Recent Exhibits at SA+P’s Keller Gallery

A recent exhibit at SA+P’s Keller Gallery offered a sampling of the range of small-scale objects that architects are now producing with the benefit of rapid prototyping technologies that allow them to produce objects on demand rather than in bulk.

With the middle ground between one-off objects and mass production so narrowed, the architect-designed object can act as a calling card for designers, as well as a gift or a prototype, at the same time that the Internet makes it much easier for them to sell their designs directly to consumers. These changes in the economics of production and distribution give designers room to play and take risks in a way that producing a building rooted to a singular site does not.

Emphasizing experimental items and the agility of working at a small scale without a client or set of programmatic limitations, the exhibit included such objects as a series of table lamps based on vein formation in leaves; hand-cut wooden shelves inspired by Danish folk design; tables mimicking the geometry of trees, developed with an algorithm to grow one-of-a-kind branching objects; and an easy-assembly modular wall hook system puckishly described as a coat rack for people who hate coat racks and wall art for people who hate coats.

Opened last fall as a new space for special exhibits, the Keller Gallery is part of the continuing development of common spaces for the Department of Architecture. A vest-pocket space at about 200 square feet, it shows a steady stream of faculty, student and experimental work, including work from alumni and friends. The redesign of the space – it had been a fabrication lab – was carried out with a generous donation of materials and labor in kind from Shawn Keller, principal with C.W. Keller & Associates, an architectural millwork, furniture and design firm.

In addition to Objects by Architects, ten other exhibits have been mounted since the gallery’s opening, including Trans Trash, presenting a range of approaches to the problems of waste management; Queer|Body|Architecture, highlighting the intersection of queer identity with the built environment; Patterning by Heat, an exhibit of responsive textile structures by PhD candidates Felecia Davis (SA+P) and Delia Dumitrescu (Swedish School of Textiles); and The New Normal, a series of projects conceived as part of a nine-day competition in which MArch students worked quickly between conceptual design and rapid prototyping processes to realize models for a pavilion design.

The Keller Gallery is coordinated by Sarah M. Hirschman (MArch’11), who also curated and designed Objects by Architects with the help of Mariel Villeré, Clay Anderson, Tyler Crain and David Costanza. Located on the fourth floor of Building 7 near the Steam Café, the gallery is open Monday through Saturday, 9AM to 6PM.

Posted December 2012