Formlessfinder Dept. of the Interior: The Domestic Landscape of Casa das Canoas
One would be hard-pressed to find a more archetypal example of modernism than Oscar Niemeyer’s self designed house outside of Rio de Janeiro in 1953. If the prewar years saw modernism emerge as a radically avant-garde style, in the postwar era it became mainstream. Architectural photography played a key role in this process, as iconic images of modernist houses were widely disseminated in the popular press and shaped the public understanding of the style. Dmitri Kessel’s photo’s for LIFE Magazine in 1959 exemplifies photography’s role in this process, capturing the Neimeyer family ensconced in their home. The most radical dimension of the house, normalized by these images, is the huge granite boulder that protrudes into the living room. In one of the photographs, Niemeyer lounges on it as if it was just another piece of built-in furniture. This boulder is a profound moment of exception to the norm in this period when nature was typically safely on the other side of the transparent glass walls that became a signature feature of the modernist house. Accordingly, Formlessfinder’s Department of the Interior proposes to construct a model that reclaims the radical nature of this bolder, revealing it for what it is—not just another domesticated image of nature, as suggested by photographs, but as a literal domestic landscape.
formlessfinder was founded by Garrett Ricciardi and Julian Rose in 2010. The studio was selected as a finalist for the MOMA PS1 Young Architects Program in 2011 and received the 2012 AIA NY New Practices award. Formlessfinder’s design work, ranging from residential additions to public pavilions, has been exhibited at institutions such as the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the MAXXI in Rome, the Storefront for Art and Architecture, and Design Miami. They have been featured in publications including Architecture Record, Domus, Surface, Metropolis, and W magazine. Ricciardi and Rose have lectured on their work at The Cooper Union, Princeton University, University of Chicago, and other universities. They published their Formless Manifesto with Lars Muller in 2014. Formlessfinder’s recent clients include Design Miami, Museum of Art and Design (NY), Museum of Modern Art (NY), AIA NY Center for Art and Architecture, and Blue Hill Restaurant.