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Table Cloth in Los Angeles, California by Ball-Nogues Studio
April 7th, 2012 by Sanjay Gangal
Article source: Ball-Nogues Studio
Table Cloth was a performance space in the courtyard of Schoenberg Hall at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in Los Angeles. Ball-Nogues Studio designed and fabricated the installation. The project was a result of ongoing research into the reuse of temporary structures and installations.
A collaboration between the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design, the Herb Alpert School of Music, and the UCLA Design Media Arts; Table Cloth served as an integrated set piece, backdrop, and seating area for student musical performance and everyday social interaction. It was made of hundreds of individual low, coffee-style tables and three legged stools. Each of these household items is a unique product (no two are alike), fabricated specifically for the installation by Ball Nogues. The public took home the tables and stools after the run of the installation. The tables and stools linked together collectively to form a “fabric” that hung from the east wall of the courtyard. Where Table Cloth met the ground, it unrolled to form an intimate “in the round” performance area. Visitors could sit on the tables and stools within this area.
“Tables are places for social interaction,” explained Ball-Nogues. “Dining tables, specifically, facilitate organization and communication within the typical American home. We see this project like the cloth adorning a dining table; however, at Schoenberg it will adorn the courtyard, an important social hub, and will facilitate community at the scale of the University.”
Used for a variety of activities, from musical practice to performance, dance to lecture, and from casual conversation to academic discussion; it embellished the courtyard throughout the summer of 2010. Because of the work’s size and the materials used, its presence within the space helped to reduce reverberation and alter other acoustical phenomena.
The processes of designing manufacturing, assembling, and dismantling the performance space are examples of a unique design and manufacturing methodology that moves beyond and constructively critiques the three “R’s” of sustainability – recycling, reuse, and repurposing; processes that typically down-cycle material into less valuable states. After the structure served its function as a performance space, the components comprising the installation were dismantled to become smaller scaled household commodities, – tables and seating. This process, referred to as “Cross Manufacturing” by Ball-Nogues, is an integrated design and manufacturing strategy that harnesses digital computation and fabrication technologies to make architectural scaled installations that become collections of smaller scaled products. The items were immediately available and given away as consumer goods, once the installation was dismantled. This approach moves beyond recycling and reuse.
By using a consumer good as its basic building block, the project expands and critiques notions of “green” architecture. As a visual concept, the installation serves as a symbolic gesture of sustainability and a poetic reminder that the buildings and temporary pavilions we construct are impermanent: frozen moments in an ongoing flow of products and materials. Outside of its environmental considerations, the Table Cloth dramatically re-contextualizes consumer products – symbols of mass consumption and standardization– into alternative gestures of hope and one of a kind manufacturing.
Table Cloth was the site of performances hosted by the Herb Alpert School of Music through the summer of 2010. Please see the Herb Alpert School of Music Website to confirm dates and start times.
Spatial installations represent a growing phenomenon within our culture. There is a new demand for “instant” architecture. We see this in entire environments which become advertisements, like subway platforms; stage sets; window displays; and event spectacles. They have become forums for the production of architecturally scaled structures and spaces that exist for only a limited period. Our installation explores the making of structures which produce very little waste when their usefulness as architecture is complete. While there is an increasing interest among artists architects in recycling and repurposing their urban scaled creations, our project moves beyond this approach to consider life cycle through the development of a “cross manufacturing” strategy. Cross manufacturing is a design and production approach that considers objects as part of a continuum. After the structure has served its use as a performance space, the components comprising the installation will be dismantled to become smaller scaled commodities, immediately available as coveted products – in this case tables and seating. Unlike recycling, which down-cycles material into a less valuable state, this scenario foresees small products made from the parts of a larger product (the installation itself).
“Diversified series” is a fitting description for the resulting products rather than the “standardized series” that typically results from a mass production approach. Each of the tables and seating elements will be fabricated using industrial methods but will still be unique, contrasting the anonymity inherent in most industrially manufactured goods. At the end of the life of the installation, the approximately 500 tables and stools, no two alike, will be given away to the UCLA community.
By using a consumer good as its basic building block, the project expands and critiques notions of “green” architecture. As a visual concept, the installation serves as a symbolic gesture of sustainability and a poetic reminder that the buildings and pavilions we construct although seemingly timeless, are actually impermanent: frozen moments in an ongoing flow of products and materials. Outside of its environmental commentary, the installation dramatically re-contextualizes consumer products – symbols of mass consumption and standardization– into alternative gestures of hope and one of a kind manufacturing.
Ball-Nogues Studio is an integrated design and fabrication practice operating in the territory between architecture, art, and industrial design. Essential to each project is the “design” of the production process itself. We devise proprietary systems of construction, create new fabrication devices, develop custom digital tools, and invent materials with the aim of expanding the potential of the physically constructed world. We share an enthusiasm for the fabrication process as it relates to the built world both physically and poetically by letting the properties, limitations, and economic scenarios associated with a process guide a structure’s ultimate form while developing methods to extend the intertwined boundaries of aesthetics, physical performance and lifecycle.
Speculation and execution are inexorably linked in our work; each project demands that we maintain tight control over design and production. As young practitioners, this requires a do-it-yourself ethos. Consequently, we have “designed” our career so we can exploit opportunities to build that are outside the constraints of the conventional architectural milieu. Although our projects are experimental with respect to production, they are far more than prototypes; each directly addresses human occupation by enhancing and celebrating social interaction through sensation, spectacle and physical engagement.
Ball-Nogues has exhibited at major institutions throughout the world, including the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Guggenheim Museum; PS1; the Los Angeles County Museum of Art; arc en rêve centre d’architecture + Musée d’Art Contemporain de Bordeaux; the Venice Biennale, the Hong Kong | Shenzhen Biennale; and the Beijing Biennale. They have received numerous honors including three American Institute of Architects Design Awards, United States Artists Target Fellowships and a grant from the Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts. In 2007, the Studio was the winner of the Museum of Modern Arts PS1 Young Architects Program Competition. Recently, their work became part of the permanent collection of MoMA. In 2011 they were one of the Architectural League of New York’s Emerging Voices. The partners have taught in the graduate architecture programs at the Southern California Institute of Architecture; the University of California, Los Angeles, and the University of Southern California. Their work has appeared in a variety of publications worldwide including the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, Architectural Record, Artforum, Icon, Log, Architectural Digest, and Sculpture.
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