Jessica Lagrange Interiors LLC

See AIC Show Chatter Talk For New Take On Design

What do texting, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook have to do with Chicago luxury interior design? Plenty, as we can attest from the way we work today. We use these tools to interact with clients and sources, plan and execute projects and showcase our results—all instantaneously. They have indelibly changed and accelerated the way we work today, which is why we are so interested in Chatter:  Architecture Talks Back, on view in the modern wing of the Art Institute of Chicago (AIC) through July 12.

John Szot Studio. Still from Architecture and the Unspeakable, 2012. © John Szot Studio.

Jessica watched this exhibition take shape; she serves on the board of directors of AIC’s Architecture & Design Society, which helped fund it. Interestingly enough, while the show substantiates that speed makes a tremendous impact on the way designers work today, it took about two years for AIC Neville Bryan Assistant Curator Karen Kice to bring this innovative exhibition to fruition given all the research, groundwork and gathering exhibitions require.

Bureau Spectacular, by Jimenez Lai, assisted by Senaid Selcin and Frank Gossage. Cartoonish Metropolis, 2011. © Bureau Spectacular.

Karen Kice conceived this show as she made studio visits to architects. Architecture is a perpetual conversation between the present and the past, explains Karen.  But she noticed that as the architects discussed their work—particularly the younger ones—they referenced the huge volume of thoughts and images that they are exposed to in real time on social media and influence their work. It was clear to her that all this shared content changes the way they see architecture.

24 printers pull architecture-related tweets from Twitter feeds in “Murmur Study” by Christopher Baker.

So does this huge body of digital communications change how architects and designers work today?  If so, how?  And are these technologies divorcing younger practitioners from history? Those are the heady questions that led Karen Kice to mount Chatter:  Architecture Talks Back. And these questions are just as relevant to architects as interior designers. To do our jobs effectively, we are all dependent on a deep understanding of design history and its many theories and principles.

Stan Allen’s New Maribor Art Gallery site model (front) with Cave Painting VIII / White Noise from Another Past by Jimenez Lai (behind). © AIC 2015

In her research, Karen Kice traced the relationship between architecture and digital media, which she says started to impact design in the 1990s. She found that today’s younger practitioners see images, often of the same project, through different social media vehicles—which is definitely true for the JLI design team.

“We all see these images at different times and in different ways and have different paths to a project,” she notes. 

Mimi Zeiger and Neil Donnelly, #platform project detail, 2012-2014. © The Art Institute of Chicago 2015

That's where chatter comes in: communication is instantaneous, fragmented, constant and ultimately influential. Architects are talking back, but “they are not divorced from history,” concludes Karen Kice. “If anything, this is a paradigm shift. But rather than breaking away from history, this generation is embracing it more than what we have seen in previous ones.”

Fake Industries Architectural Agonism with MAIO. Model images from Rooms: No Vacancy, 2014. © Fake Industries Architectural Agonism with MAIO.

In “Chatter,” Karen Kice showcases formative works by five nascent architectural firms that embrace contemporary technologies yet still engage with history. The diverse range of intriguing—and often breathtaking—objects, images and models she has assembled, include hand- and robot-made drawings, graphic novels, digital simulations and more. They are powerful proof points of her premise that the way architects work has changed a lot, but still builds on history.  But most significantly, she also notes, “chatter can be empowering.”  We think so as well, especially since our team ‘chatter’ adds dimension and range to our work.  

Erin Besler, Low Fidelity detail of installation, 2012. © The Art Institute of Chicago 2015.

 A salon at AIC on Saturday, May 16th from 2-4 pm will feature three exhibition participants and offer more insight on Chatter: Architecture Talks Back. The exhibition catalogue will also be launched at this event, with a signing following the program.

05 May 2015

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