Studio Other Spaces. The Design of Collaboration
Artists: Olafur Eliasson, Sebastian Behmann
Curator: Christiane Rekade
Project partners: Barth Innenausbau, Talking Water Society in cooperation with Pichler, Frener & Reifer
Kunst Meran Merano Arte presents the first institutional exhibition of Studio Other Spaces (SOS). Founded in Berlin in 2014 by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson and German architect Sebastian Behmann, SOS combines art and architecture through experimental and interdisciplinary work.
The presentation of various projects, models, prototypes and objects illustrates the studio’s in-depth research and conscious handling of space and resources. For Kunst Meran/Merano Arte the studio has developed a new, sustainable and highly contemporary form of presentation that invites viewers to rethink the traditional way in which architectural exhibitions are staged.
The exhibition is divided into three parts, all of which are dedicated to collaboration: In the first part, visitors are invited to move virtually through a digital setup of the buildings, pavilions, and landscape of Meles Zenawi Memorial Park in Addis Ababa (2013–2020) by means of VR projections. This project for Ethiopia’s capital, based on a collaboration between the two cities Berlin and Addis Ababa, consists of an extensive landscape that visitors can explore by foot. Inspired by the former prime minister Meles Zenawi’s accomplishments and struggles, the park is dedicated to the country’s recent history as well as visions for the future. In close collaboration with local craftspeople, designers, engineers, architects, and artists, SOS has developed methods that enable traditional forms and materials of local Ethiopian architecture to merge with new concepts of space and light.
The second part of the exhibition addresses SOS’s material-research-based fabrication and form-finding processes. Various models and prototypes designed for Lyst Restaurant (2019), located on the first floor of Fjordenhus in Vejle (Denmark), are on display, representing the studio’s experimental and collaborative working methods. The iconic Fjordenhus building (2009–2018), an architectural landmark in southern Denmark, was developed by Olafur Eliasson, Sebastian Behmann, and Studio Olafur Eliasson, and its completion led to the founding of Studio Other Spaces. For Lyst Restaurant, the architecture of the building acted as a catalyst for the cuisine, and the food, in turn, inspired the design of the restaurant. The space, furniture, lighting, and eating utensils aim to emphasise the relationship between the fjord, the building, the food, and the way people use the space. Through several interdisciplinary workshops with the owner, the chef, and his dedicated kitchen team, SOS formulated a design language based on basic materials and production methods and inspired by the way cooking with simple ingredients can achieve unique results.
With the support of the Talking Waters Society, an essential feature of Lyst Restaurant will be on display and in use during the exhibition at KUNST MERAN MERANO ARTE: An adapted version of the restaurant’s barbecue – the original is positioned on one of the restaurant’s balconies and used by the kitchen staff as well as guests in a participatory experience – will be installed on the terrace of KUNST MERAN MERANO ARTE for the duration of the exhibition and used for various accompanying events.
For the third part of the exhibition, located in KUNST MERAN MERANO ARTE’s atrium, Studio Other Spaces is collaborating with local facade engineering specialist Frener & Reifer, Brixen. Inspired by the project Common Sky, which SOS is currently developing for the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo, New York, the piece for KUNST MERAN MERANO ARTE will depict an adapted mockup section of the kaleidoscopic canopy. Thanks to Frener & Reifer, the delicate mesh of steel tubes and triangular glass and mirror surfaces will reflect Meran’s sky into the museum’s entrance hall.
Here too, ideas and concepts are being exchanged and developed, so as to adapt to local conditions. Experienced craftspeople and apprentices at Frener & Reifer are in constant contact with the design team at SOS to create this custom-made sculpture.
Studio Other Spaces aspires to create works that are sustainable, ecological, and collaborative, in which an open dialogue with local craftspeople, fabricators, engineers, architects, and artists is essential, while aiming to keep CO2 emissions as well as travel and transport costs as low as possible.