What is Ornament?
Within the history of architecture, the debate about ornament has defined theoretical positions and driven sudden changes of paradigm. Despite or because of its importance, ornament in architecture escapes a final definition. What is ornament? today remains an open question, which doesn’t need definitive answers but instead prompts a series of possible discussions.
The different guests, which are all contributors of the Culturgest exhibition, will try to answer, reflecting their proper specific position. Sam Jacob, founder of the London-based office Sam Jacob Studio, will talk about pattern and politics, focusing on the conflict among visual pleasure and meaning. Michiel Rieddijk, founder of the Dutch office Neutelings Riedijk Architects and author of the recent published book Ornament and Identity, will elaborate on the incorporation of figurative compositions in the architecture designed by the office. Konstantinos Pantazis, founder of the Athens-based office Point Supreme, will present how specific found materials, color choices, objects or elements chosen in construction become part of the ornamental structure or the office projects. Matilde Cassani will talk about visible and invisible ornament, when it relates to the urban scale and tempo.
How can the introduction of ornament be introduced in current architectural production in a systematized way? Can this be independent of the question of form? What are those elements of architecture that inevitably carry ornamental properties, and what are other aspects of buildings that are not typically seen as carriers of such properties but might as well be?
Point Supreme (Konstantinos Pantazis) (GR)
Economy of Means
The discussion will focus on economy of means and its role in the design of buildings, as well as in other cultural fields. Economy of means, which, is an aesthetic category and a tool to create but also evaluate projects, is at the core of any rational architecture. The keynotes and discussions will be a pretext of investigating questions such as the permanent principles of the architecture considered as an autonomous discipline, but as well a way of understanding how this discipline will be able tomorrow to face the change of paradigm implied by global warming and scarcity of resources, and even to reinvent itself once again through those new necessities. Among others ones, Kersten Geers (principal of OFFICE KGDVS, and professor at Harvard GSD and Accademia di architettura at Mendrisio), Sharon Johnston (principal of Johnston Marklee, based in Los Angeles, professor at Harvard GSD) or Robin Collyer, a Canadian conceptual artist using photography and installations, interested in the description of space and architecture, whose work is imbued with economy of means, will be part of the talks.
My career as an artist began in the height of Conceptual and Minimal Art. The existing notions of what an art object was, and the function of galleries and museums that presented the ideas of artists, was under critical evaluation, raising questions about the entire significance of the exhibition context. To quote Douglas Heubler in a 1969 exhibition by Seth Seigelaub “The world is full of objects, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more. I prefer, simply, to state the existence of things in terms of time and/or space.” Since 1969, the worldwide production of “things” has grown exponentially. We are flooded with objects and images, and more than ever, we are judged by the objects we own and the ones we dream of having, but for most of us, will never have. In my own practice, the materials and the methods of construction, and the frugal and direct approach have been defined by financial restraints, technical difficulties, as well as conceptual strategies. My artworks are strongest when the nonessential has been eliminated. My “handyman” skills have contributed to the bricolage of diverse things in my work. “Economy of Means” describes many of the strategies I have incorporated in my sculptures, installations, and my photography. I have incorporated existing objects, used materials and images and text from other sources, reusing and reframing them in my artworks. Architectural structures are depicted or referred to in many of my works, but I have never had to worry about them being safe and structurally sound. They serve no practical function.
Robin Collyer (CA)
3-day pass – 40€
Moderated by Ambra Fabi and Giovanni Piovene
15:00 Presentation by Sam Jacob
15:45 Coffee Break
16:00 Presentations by Michiel Riedijk, Konstantinos Pantazis (Point Supreme) and Matilde Cassani
17:00 Coffee Break
Economy of Means
Moderated by Éric Lapierre
17h30 Presentations by Kersten Geers and Robin Collyer
18h35 Coffee Break
18h50 Presentation by Sharon Johnston
19h20 Short conversation
19h45 Drink & Talk* (Room 1)
In a more informal format we gathered guests from the various sessions to confront ideas and perspectives on the theme with the speakers from this session.