New York, USA
Ghiora Aharoni’s dynamic installation for the BOFFO Show House in New York reimagines the concept of the workspace.
BOFFO is a New York-based non-profit organisation ‘that produces creative, ambitious, forward-thinking public art’. Located in the historic Charles B. Snyder Public School in Manhattan, the Show House was initiated as a place for creating collaborative, temporary site-specific installations using furniture and objects whereby artists, architects and designers are paired with product manufacturers.
One of the rooms in this edition of the Show House focused on the workspace. “The brief was to play with convention and challenge the norms of contemporary interior design using USM, and focus on both physical as well as mental productivity,” explains Ghiora Aharoni. “I’ve had a long-standing appreciation for USM’s sleek modularity, and was interested in how that modularity could be reinterpreted, especially within the framework of BOFFO’s concept of playing with convention.” The specificities of the space included twenty-foot-high ceilings and an exposed concrete column in the middle of the room.
“Taking those criteria into consideration I designed a workstation that used USM’s modular forms to create an un-modular workstation,” says Aharoni. Anchored to the column, the towering 18-foot high sculpture is centred around a chair and table that expands into a stacked universe of open and closed frameworks and volumes. “It’s an expansive, non-linear form that extends up, out and beyond the footprint of the traditional workstation—much like how the creative thought process might travel. As USM is incredibly sturdy, I included spaces for physical activity within the installation.” Reflective flooring and dramatic lighting used to cast skewed shadows on the walls and ceilings broaden the installation into another dimension. A singular colour adds harmony. “Green felt like an ideal choice for this project. It brings a pleasing reference from the natural world into the workspace.”
Visitors responded enthusiastically to the installation. “My aspiration was to showcase USM in an unexpected yet totally functional context—one that was conducive to work as well as a place that could spark imagination,” Aharoni continues. “I also wanted it to be inviting, and for people to feel they could interact with it.” Far from a Do Not Touch approach, the installation encouraged the opposite. “People sat down at the desk, opened the doors, explored inside and around the installation—and there were a number of people who spontaneously climbed it. When I saw that, it really thrilled me. I felt we accomplished what we set out to do.”
Not only visitors could enjoy the exhibition but USM’s expert installers who built this unique construction. “Our challenge,” Aharoni explains, “entailed installing an intricate configuration in an asymmetrical shape with cantilevered units, around the existing cement column.” This particular commission would have seemed rather unusual for the USM installers. “As it turned out, they really enjoyed the challenges of the site conditions and the intricacy of the design. And, it was wonderful to watch how excited they were to build something completely different.”
The installation inspired visitors to really think differently about how to envision a space for work. In any case, being at work has never looked so much fun!
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