Client: SOFA Connect
Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States
Completion date: 2013
Artwork budget: $2,000
ReFrame, as presented at SOFA Chicago, is a prototype for an installation at UC Davis currently under construction in the Design Department courtyard. ReFrame is a platform for experimentation – an outdoor classroom, a place for groups across campus to come together, and a way to extend the design classroom outside – an incubator for collaboration. Reframe is equally about the communities that produce space as well as the communities that space can produce. In the form presented in Chicago, Reframe was a 20'x20' space created out of perforated vinyl, lit with LED lights to create casual spaces for gathering.
The intention was to transform perforated vinyl, an ubiquitous material used during construction on campus, to create dreamlike spaces, lit from within.
Our installation, ReFrame, has one primary principle: re-evaluating resources. This ethos is not limited to objects –the attempt is to consider the places, spaces, and communities that could be leveraged to greater effect. What juxtapositions, relationships, and adaptations might produce better learning outcomes and more vibrant spaces?
Meeting regularly with a group of students from design, landscape, and geography schemes were developed. From dozens of conceptual diagrams, many by graduate student Sahoko Yui, one proposal stood out: a series of operable frames that could be the receptacle for student projects; an open framework that might allow one material to be tested during a term and later to be replaced with another material. The frames do double duty as shade devises and have the potential to act as scaffolding with a rotating cast of infill material. Mahan Soltanzadeh, a first year graduate student, spearheaded the design and developed details.
Essentially, the result is an outdoor pin-up space. But unlike pin-up space, the outdoor classroom has the potential to work with the elements: wind, rain, sun, and temperature. And furthermore, it’s in a public space, not a private classroom. It’s a testing ground, a playground for designers.
While we are in the confines of a design school focused on objects, textiles, and experiences, many of the ideas present in ReFrame might resonate with larger scale urban design. The landscape architect James Corner described innovative environments as “a constant process of unfolding rather than a rigid reality.” But if industrial design scaled objects can imbue some of these larger ideas, there is a unique efficiency at play, the ambition of which might set off a series of other initiatives that can continue to feed back into even more productive landscapes.