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Dinner Party!


The Kit House

Kit-Houses of the 1930s are one of the first known examples of typological thinking in the realm of domestically mass-produced homes in the United States. The Harris catalog of house plans offered in 1920 contained a variety of these mass-produced bungalow style homes. Most plan layouts were on the minimal side of just 624 sq. ft. which included a living room, kitchen, bathroom, and two bedrooms. The M-1022 model was one of these such homes that exemplified early modernist theory surrounding typological thinking in the domestic sphere. ︎︎︎

While this home was a staple for mass-production in the United States, the resulting creation was that of a specific ‘type’ of living.

The Chair

The Rietveld Chair (later referred to as the Red-Blue Chair) was initially designed by Gerrit Thomas Rietveld using common nominal pieces of lumber that could be sourced from local hardware stores and built using simple means of assembly with hammer and nail. Rietveld did so in the hope that the chair could potentially be mass-produced for the common public consumer. Since its creation, the chair has since become an icon for both kit-of-parts design as well as the Dutch de Stijl movement of the 1920s. As a bi-product of its creation the Rietveld chair has ultimately established its own known “typology” of chair-ness in architectural furniture design and has since been the prototype for other stereotypical designs over the years.

What would happen if the chair’s known social context (its form, function, operability, etc.) were erased all together? What would be left? What if the parts that construct the chair are re-configured in a new way yet still provide the function of a chair? Would it still be within the ‘type’ of a Rietveld Chair? Or something else all together...

Click through the narratives below to find out︎︎︎

In the hope of promoting an individual’s personal habitus the Rietveld chair is simplified down to its inherent parts, yet provided with no directions or context as to their potential or limited use (as seen above)︎︎︎ 

In a way this experiment is a kit-of-parts without instructions! For instance an angled plank of wood (16”x37”) usually used for sitting now can instead merely become a plank of wood. Descriptions and details become limited to a level as to not reveal any particular use for a given part. In this way, the parts have no hierarchy, no priority, and instead remain just parts.

In addition, all assembly becomes unitized using a magnet-pin connection. Each part would have equal distribution of pin slots as to not pursuade any particular orientation or condition of use.

This experiment looks to challenge the known understanding of a “chair” and instead provide the needed parts and assembly to allow for an altered interpretation of a chair. Perhaps through this direction-less assembly new and strange variations of chairs can be implemented, further questioning the use of ‘typology’ in architectural discourse and design.

The Laundromat

Certain instances of social habit are inherent to architecturally programmed institutions of the public realm. They situate themselves within ‘common life’ and as a result can form a known and prescriptive function of use. Examples of this can range from the public ‘Laundromat’, the ‘Barber Shop’, or even the ‘Athletic Gym’; all of which provide a clear and prescriptive function. However, while their functions are seemingly clear their socio-economic conditions run parallel to this function. As mentioned by Thomas F. Gieryn in the chapter ‘What Buildings Do’, excerpted from the book “Theory and Society”,

The known familiar programmatic use of architectural institutions may be “commonly adopted” or stereotypical in their classification -- but so are their not so apparent social stigmas or perceptions. In this way socially common architectural institutions are the perfect setting to enact and challenge TYPOLOGIES in architecture and society. Through the exploration and potential reinterpretation of these sites of public/private social habit perhaps variants can be introduced to enact a more provocative architectural experience.


“Within a given social context one’s habitus - the set of dispositions that one may hold individually or in common with members of various groups and strata -- is reinforced by recognizing the potentials and limits in the built environment that engage those dispositions,” (6*).
Public Laundromats while rooted in their functionality of providing the ability to clean clothes (which is a fundamentally adopted necessity of modern living) they also seemingly perpetuate another “social program” within their environment. Laundromats have been revered as an ‘in-between’ space which because of their distinct uses are oftentimes associated stereotypically with certain groups of individuals in society.

In itself this site of function is prescribed to users that clearly don’t have their own personal source of cleaning. In the era of modern 21st century technology and resources, washers and dryers are relatively common in upgraded homes. Yet, because of this reality a variety of groups are limited and inappropriately sanctioned outside of these programs. For those experiencing homelessness the laundromat becomes a public refuge for cleaning, rerspite, and often protection. 
Yet, why is the social stigmas between different users so apparent? Is it the clear juxtaposition of personalized programmatic function of users? Is it the mixed understanding of public and private space? The laundromat is a social procession of activities, all varied because of personalized washing styles and tendencies. In this way the laundromat becomes not just a functional activity but a cultural one - embedded in an individual’s personal desires and habits.

The currently known format of the Laundromat is inherently static and complacent. It merely provides a backdrop for mixed public/private activities but lacks the facilities to become an agent for those activities. It’s clear that the laundromat challenges the usually public/private domestic normalities of washing clothing, but how could this space provide more to its users and the society it's situated in?︎︎︎

Strategy 01 - The Washer

Situated as the initial step in the LAUNDROMAT process, the washing machine is an intimate thing. With a series of controls and settings, it's meant to adapt to the users own personal desires for cleaning materials. The act of washing is also one tied to the act of resetting or reverting to the original state. While currently a static system situated structurally to the foundation of the washing space, what if the washer became a dynamic process much like its internal functions that it provides? Perhaps the initial step in the washing process could be a configurative system that looks to promote the interactivity of users within the washer space. When a user interacts with the functional object of the washer, their manipulation of the object in space has inadvertent impacts on the manipulation of other washers in the room. The cords of the washers are tied together in a functional way promoting the social interactivity of users through both functional and social discussions.

Strategy 02 - The Dryer

The secondary step (at least the most commonly adopted one) in the LAUNDROMAT process, is the dryer. Often revered as a visual step - the dryer becomes an interface of viewing, one that allures to emotional feelings or states. What if the act of drying becomes an emotional endeavor. Much like going to the movies can often be culturally or emotionally tied - perhaps the system for drying can be instead a nook of consciousness. The functionality of viewing also allows for users to join viewing “rooms”. This could potentially promote the non-normative or habitual activity of emotionally discussing or interacting.

Strategy 03 - The Folder

The “last” step in the LAUNDROMAT process, is the folding table. While most often not used for folding… these semi-functional surfaces are usually used for other activities all together (some more promiscuous than others). While the surfaces have a prescribed function their perceptual nature is ultimately not considered. The surfaces are varying things for varying people - all dependent upon the habitual nature of folding (or some other programmatic function all together). The Folder Wall is meant to enable that promiscuousness. The reflective wall has hidden seams meant to promote the curiousness of users. For some the wall becomes purely functional… meant to allow for the folding of clothes, while for others the acting of exploring the surface of the wall promotes the non-usual use of the wall all together. In this the perceptual endeavors of each user remains personal, yet set within an all too public space.