Minima Moralia Is…
Tomaso Boano & Jonas Prišmontas
Will London still be the capital of creativity, arts and crafts in 10 years time?
With the significant increase in educational fees and rental prices, both residential and work spaces, London seems to be heading towards an era of a relentless battlefield for its citizens.
London has always represented a hub for creative minds, but recently these financial pressures have turned ‘creativity’ into an industry that can only be joined by people who are able to afford an education and pay the rent without a fixed work income.
Creativity should not be linked to a social status. It rises within people and therefore anyone should be granted the opportunity to investigate, experiment, rehearse and play. To do this we need new affordable spaces.
Mimima Moralia is a critical installation, a manifesto of social hope with no political intention. Inspired by our namesake, T. Adorno 1951’s masterpiece, it investigates and reflects our “damaged lives” in nowadays London condition.
Minima Moralia offers tiny, cellular pop-up spaces to be inhabited by designers, sculptors, painters, musicians and other creatives.
During the London Festival of Architecture, Minima Moralia popped-up on Dalston Roof Park. The installation was not very open to the public, but also hosted a series of events and activities to support the local community of artists.
Minima Moralia is a programmatic vision for London’s backyards and interstitial spaces.
Each of them will be temporarily occupied by artists. Workshop and live/work studio spaces have potential of creating new typologies for creative communities that would pop up in unused public or private spaces around London.
Minima Moralia investigates the process of inhabiting a space.
Each artist will bring their tools and have the opportunity to reveal, if reckoned, the secrets of their making and crafting. The tight space will filter out uselessness. Only what is essential to produce their art can be hosted and used.
Minima Moralia is social experiment. It promotes human interaction and interconnection between private spaces and public use. London Housing typology often includes green areas and backyards, which are sometimes abandoned or misused. This project is a type of urban acupuncture that targets those places and effectively brings life into them.
Minima Moralia is a naked minimalistic structure. It comprises a structural skeleton, a roof, a floor and a translucent external skin that is able to communicate and establish a holistic relationship with its surroundings. Acting as a window into an artistic mind, the space allows a glimpse into the creative processes and the crafting abilities that take place inside.
Minima Moralia interacts with the context. Openings are designed to give a range of options for interactions with the outside world:
– The window: an elegant vertical unfolding opening with a “feel at home” quality. It is a subtle but direct contact with the external world allowing people to “take a peek”.
– The canopy: a folded opening that lifts to reveal one side of the workspace. It fully exposes the internal space and the activity happening within. At the same time it creates an inhabitable threshold between the structure and the surroundings.
– The skylight: an opening where sunlight flows freely inside. It is a little glimmer to a constant connection with the stars and the sky above.
Minima Moralia is a design piece.
Modular steel frame creates an empty grid with multiple potential for internal configurations. Shelves, desks, artificial lights and curtains can be provided, to meet the user’s needs.
Who influences you graphically?
David Hockney, Piero della Francesca, Paul Klee, Michelangelo Antonioni, Luigi Ghirri, Aldo Rossi, OMA
What dictated the graphic language for this proposal?
We wanted to achieve fresh and simple graphic, something that could be immediately understood, but at the same time meaningful and engaging. We thought that the representation had to be honest and clear, because the ultimate goal was to communicate the concept that we believe in.
The process of representing architecture always begins in our mind. We have the intuition of what the image should look like, and the more you investigate that thought, the more it fades away and gets contaminated with the real drawing you are producing. This process of disconnection and translation between ideas and final outcome is always of great interest. We are satisfied with an image only when it embeds in itself all stages of this investigation.
How does the animation of a drawing affect the way it is perceived? What was the reason for this format and how does it relate back to the concept of the studio and thereby proposal?
Minima Moralia is a space inhabited by artists. The structure is a customisable three-dimensional grid. The tight internal space filters out the unnecessary and only the tools that are needed to produce the art are temporarily hosted inside. Animating the image gave us the opportunity to portray all these aspects with just one drawing. An image in movement is not only an eye catcher, but it also offers the possibility to deliver a completely new enriched story. And although the variable of time is introduced, the image still has to be composed and balanced graphically, revealing a contained energy that is based on surprise, movement, rhythm, sequence and repetition.
You portray a very stereotypical view of the artist as with an easel, how relevant is that typology of artist nowadays?
We believe that a graphic designer that uses a MacBook for his/her illustrations can comfortably work in his/her kitchen as well as in a random public space in the city (i.e. coffee shop). Our project is mainly targeting individuals that have physical spatial requirements for practicing their craft. A person can bring the needed equipment that are not always suitable to be used in domestic space – such as tools for cutting stone, polishing metal etc. The pictured easel is a representation of all those tools and activities.
By portraying an artist in a stereotypical way we immediately communicate “the idea of an artist”. The image becomes a vector that carries a symbolic meaning and contributes to reinforcement of the concept.
What dictated the typology of drawings you chose to represent the project through?
The Axonometric drawing seemed like the most natural choice when representing the masterplan of Minima Moralia. We tried to condense all London space typologies in one aerial view to show how this installation could be placed in many different places and be able to activate them all. This drawing acts as a matrix for a network of possible interactions between the studios and its users.
The Section instead illustrates the relationship between the studio and its context at a more intimate scale. The drawing dissects the volume allowing the spectator to have a look inside. This aspect is also very important for the project. Minima Moralia is in fact conceived as a research about the interplay between public and private space, intimacy for creation and revelation to the outside world.
You talk about urban acupuncture where the latter seems to have precise/clean/to the point connotations- how does this relate to the more fluent atmosphere of the studio?
The studio is the “cocoon” where the art, the imagination, the craft, flow and grow freely. It is a shelter, an intimate space that the artist can decide to open in different configuration to reveal itself and its craftsmanship to the surrounding world. The “outside word” is therefore important, but not fundamental for the artist’s activity.
We talk about urban acupuncture, as it is a method of healing the city by targeting the misused and forgotten spaces. In our project the acupuncture refers to the revitalisation. Both the Minima Moralia studio and the potential networks of these studios around the city, share the same idea of generation and flow of creative energy.
Tomaso Boano & Jonas Prišmontas are an architectural duo that have collaborated on many projects since 2014. Their work has been predominantly focused on self-built and small scale architecture, having successfully designed, published and built several installations. Their approach towards design has been consistently oriented towards investigating and challenging the way we live. Their research has also been focused on the representation of architecture, envisioning it as a valuable opportunity to challenge our perception of the existing world.