The Design of Collaboration

Merano, Italy 2020-21

Studio Other Spaces's first institutional solo exhibition, 'The Design of Collaboration' at Kunst Meran Merano Arte in South Tyrol, Italy, was on display from September 2020 through January 2021. The show offered a tour through SOS's working methods and featured the studio's strong emphasis on collaboration. By way of virtual reality, visitors were invited to enter digital models and designed spaces, while original prototypes and mockups from the archive counterbalanced the digital component of the show with tactility, materiality, and physical presence.

In contemporary architecture, many steps of the design process are made in the digital world, whether by connecting with collaborators in video conferences, working on parametric models, or CNC production. The design process is visualised in computer renderings and virtual reality settings. For 'The Design of Collaboration,' virtual reality allowed the visitor to step into a new layer of the design – wearing the VR headset, one was able to go beyond the limitations of video projections and TV screens, immersing oneself in a 360-degree view and moving freely within the design. The exhibition space and the project itself came together in one physical experience.

In another part of our show, physical sketches, material samples, and prototypes developed for the design of Lyst Restaurant inside Fjordenhus in Vejle, Denmark, were on display. During the design process, Studio Other Spaces held workshops with the Lyst kitchen team under Daniel McBurnie, as well as restaurant owner Morten Kirk Johansen, and developed a design language for the interior that was inspired by the way McBurnie had created the menu. There were no drawings, and there was no digital planning. Instead, prototypes were made from the materials themselves, and the objects were created through a hands-on process. Just like in a kitchen, where select ingredients come together to form a dish in elaborate and exploratory ways, high-quality raw materials and similarly exploratory production techniques gave shape to the furniture, lighting, and utensils.

To emphasise Studio Other Spaces' interest in a globalised exchange of ideas and inspiration while also focussing on local production and knowledge, the museum's atrium housed a large-scale model of 'Common sky,' a roof structure that SOS is currently working on for the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York. The model was developed in close collaboration among SOS architects, the studio's long-time collaborator Herwig Bretis at ArtEngineering, the client's design team in Buffalo, and, finally, the building construction specialist Frener & Reifer in Brixen, who produced the sculpture on display. The entire process took place in the digital world, while the physical model was produced locally.

Client: Kunst Meran Merano Arte
Location: Merano, Italy
Date: 2020–21