Anna Corpron and Sean Auyeung are the founding members of Sub-Studio, a multi-disciplinary design studio located in New York City. While their backgrounds are in architecture, Sub-Studio focuses on paper goods, illustration, graphic, and web design. Besides making things, in 2006 Anna and Sean founded the Sub-Studio Design Blog — a curated collection of products, furniture, jewelry, architecture and artwork.
In 2008, Anna launched Brevity, a collection of jewelry that brings all of her influences together — graphic design, architecture, and fabrication. Her Geometric line explores the intersection of manmade processes and materials with forms taken from the natural world. The newest line, Horo, is inspired by time — the idea of fusing the temporary into the permanent.
Anna and Sean’s most recent project, The Working Proof, was launched in 2009. The Working Proof is an online print gallery/shop that promotes art and social responsibility. Each featured artist selects a charity to whom we donate 15% of the sale of each print, creating a product with both aesthetic and social value. The Working Proof releases a new print once a week, on Tuesdays at 1:30 pm, EST.
Sean and I both come from architecture backgrounds (we met in Cornell University’s B.Arch program). While only one of us is really doing architecture at the moment, here are five theoretical architecture projects that have inspired our design process.
1. Lebbeus Woods – Radical Reconstruction (book)
Lebbeus Woods’ disregard for the practical/pragmatic and his embrace of the narrative, agitation and freedom of form-making always inspired me to think about how architecture does not have to be something to be inhabited in a traditional sense. Architecture is experiencing an environment, an idea, a recording, or a manifestation of unseen forces. Woods’ drawings are also a departure from typical architectural representation, and it’s hard to argue that the drawings are anything but amazing.
2. Archigram – Living Pods
Being a third culture kid, the idea of what makes a home has always been of interest to me. Is “home” a place of origin that implies a static, permanent environment, one that gives us a sense of place and identity? Or can “home” be more transient and fluid — created by a collection of objects, rituals and memories? Archigram’s Living Pods theorize that “home” can be flexible and mobile — a living space that adapts to our needs. All of the programmatic needs within the Living Pod (eating, sleeping, bathing, communal space, etc) are multi-purpose, and space is maximized for flexible, mobile living. The only fixed elements within the Living Pod are the outer walls, storage, and circulation. Programs such as eating and working are kept flexible and mobile through machines that can relocate to satisfy the inhabitant’s needs. As David Greene said, “the house is an appliance for carrying with you, the city is a machine for plugging into.”
Image credit: minimaforms
3. Jeremy Bentham – The Panopticon
The Panopticon is a classic illustration of architecture informing and prescribing social behavior. The idea of influencing human behavior is both the ultimate goal and ultimate failure of architecture. The Panopticon dealt with how the built environment of the prison institution would directly prescribe more obedient behavior in the inmates through the perception of constant observation. Bentham’s exact prison was never built, but its design was used in the layout of numerous prisons afterwards.
4. Lewis Tsurumaki Lewis – Tourbus Hotel
The Tourbus Hotel is only one example of a larger body of LTL’s incredible theoretical work. David Lewis was one of our professors our first year, and his ideas greatly influenced how we conceptualized architecture as a tool for exploring ideas of “what if”, no matter how strange or seemingly incongruent the combinations. I am pretty sure this was his brother Paul’s project during his stay at the AA in Rome, but the ideas are shared within their twin-brother brains. The hotel is an exploration of the European bus tour program and how to best serve the program of transportation mode, speed, highway, service and isolation. I learned a lot from David, most importantly that architecture can be playful, as long as it is rigorous. LTL continually pushes that idea and LTL’s rigor in exploring ideas is a fantasy that most others will never achieve.
The idea of the palimpsest in architecture refers to what once was. Wikipedia puts it better than I ever could: “Architects imply palimpsest as a ghost — an image of what once was. In the built environment, this occurs more than we might think. Whenever spaces are shuffled, rebuilt, or remodeled, shadows remain. Tarred rooflines remain on the sides of a building long after the neighboring structure has been demolished; removed stairs leave a mark where the painted wall surface stopped. Dust lines remain from a relocated appliance. Ancient ruins speak volumes of their former wholeness. Palimpsests can inform us, archaeologically, of the realities of the built past.” Living in New York city, we have the pleasure of stumbling upon sites like this every day — the above is a photo I took a few years ago of a the remnants of a building that had been demolished, leaving behind traces of its former self — joists, bathroom tiles, paint, fireplaces…