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Design Miami/ holds it’s Collector’s Preview today, and outside the tent you’ll see the fair-commissioned pavilion from designer Jonathan Muecke. It’s less monumental in scale than in year’s past, and a bit more experimental. Shaped like a drum you can walk inside of, its curved walls are painted in solid primary colors, with a covering above of outdoor screen fabric.
We meet with Muecke a few weeks before the fair to discuss the importance of critical scale in his design practice.
WHITEWALL: Can you tell me about the pavilion you’ve created for Design Miami/?
JONATHAN MUECKE: I went to school for architecture, worked architecturally for a while in graduate school, and began to produce furniture objects. So even though it’s an object, I’m still thinking about interiors and exteriors. This is an important part of my practice. Design Miami/ thought that it’d be interesting to see how I would handle a larger scale, something that you could really go inside of.
The pavilion is kind of without any details. It’s a series of colors and surfaces with a ground below and a canopy above. It’s very small, and in a way is the opposite of what’s happening inside of the tent. There is this variable space and color and a proximity and distance.
WW: So you decided not to make something on a more monumental scale?
JM: Yes, I wanted to make this exact middle scale, where you’re not looking down at it and you’re not looking up at it, you’re kind of exactly at eye level with it.
I proposed this pavilion in visual language. Even now, talking about it, I still feel that there’s this flexibility to where it could be described in a lot of different ways. You wouldn’t have to say the same thing over and over again, which I think is a quality that exists in architecture, and maybe doesn’t exist so often in objects.
WW: Better to experience it.
JM: Yeah, and experience is variable. A lot of times objects are so fixed that you kind of view the same things about them all the time. Architecture to me seems to have this other freedom.
WW: And when you’re creating objects do you try to come from that sort of architectural angle?
JM: I do, so in a way, it’s harder for me to allow the freedom in the furniture objects that I make. It was a real natural idea to have that freedom occur in this architecture; it’s inherent to the quality of the scale.
WW: Has being able to experiment with this kind of scale affected your studio practice or upcoming projects?
JM: I don’t know the outcome of the project yet so it’s hard to step back and consider the impact. It definitely is more complicated in the sense that there are a lot of people involved in the project and criteria.
In a lot of ways this is an experiment, and I’ve been clear with Design Miami/ about that. It was clear that the ground should be reflected above and that you would be beneath these two planes before you go into the drum. And when you exit, depending on how you go, the canopy continues above your head.
WW: You’re also creating an object that will be shown at the fair. Can you tell us about that?
JM: I’m making a blue cabinet and it’s a series of three panels on a frame. The scale is very specific, it’s just above eye height, and the panels are quite large. They move left and right to the full extent so you can expand and contract the cabinet. It’s a triangle, but there’s no top or bottom to it. It’s just three panels on a vertical frame and everything’s blue. I kind of like to work this way, where you’re given a very specific criterion of making a cabinet, and then you find what the qualities of a cabinet could be in the widest sense possible, and then really try to find the limit of that object.
WW: Like, at what point does it stop being a cabinet?
JM: Yeah, I always find myself working towards this limit. It’s very clear when you reach that limit. Like sculpture, it’s got this nice counterbalance to you, it changes when you change. It’s an interesting opportunity in design, this limit. So that’s where the blue cabinet is, that’s where the pavilion is, in somehow this critical scale.
Design Miami/ is open to the public December 3-7.