guest post for YHBHS
"The S U P E R B O X E S exist in the round, and frankly this then threw into question instantaneously, for me at least, any traditional roles of architecture and furniture— that one houses the other, that one makes the space while the other serves it. This was liberating as much as it was enlightening and confusing. "
I first encountered Ettore Sottsass in a book that was in a stack of books on someone else’s desk in graduate school. I can’t remember what intrigued me more, the book’s title, Italy: The New Domestic Landscape, or the book itself wrapped in its yellowed translucent paper cover that was filled with free-floating cut-outs of the furniture pieces that were featured inside. What I do remember is fingering it surreptitiously and opening it directly to the spread on Ettore Sottsass’ SUPERBOXES—although they weren’t labeled as such, and it was a long time before I learned that this was their moniker.
The captions referred to these strange, scaleless objects in the most banal way possible, “models of wardrobes, prototypes” and as “cupboards” and offered nothing more by way of description. But the bulky towers of stripes were certainly something more—hovering almost irresponsibly between being packages or furniture or altars or buildings. These figures acted for me as a kind of railroad switch from one line of thinking to another. Previously I had been interested in designed objects and spaces and the roles they play within cultural histories— objects with known narratives, moralities, styles even. Suddenly here was a set of objects that were deliberately indeterminate in those terms, and as such they seemed to begin to create their own alternative narrative via character traits.
The captions aside, the Superboxes exuded no clear function and no clear history. Yet they were a family of forms, surface patterns and colors, a genealogy that seemed designed to impact the space around them rather than be controlled by it. The Superboxes exist in the round, and frankly this then threw into question instantaneously, for me at least, any traditional roles of architecture and furniture— that one houses the other, that one makes the space while the other serves it. This was liberating as much as it was enlightening and confusing.
In my practice today, I continue to return to Sottsass and more often than not, to the Superboxes as talisman of objecthood.
superbox + multicolored salt + pepper shaker = dinner party!
Laurel Broughton is WELCOME....
"WELCOME is a studio run by Laurel Consuelo Broughton focused on the production of discursive sensibilities that rest at the intersection of fashion, interiors and architecture. WELCOME enlists craft and grass-roots mores to fabricate meaningful design toward the explication of cultural ideas. WELCOME Products are accessible and fun but also gravely, practically serious. WELCOME Consultation offers Architectural, Design and related Strategy and Conceptualization Services"