When the Seattle-based firm Olson Kundig Architects were invited to create the Collectors Lounge for the tenth edition of Design Miami, they knew they wanted to bring a taste of their hometown across the country with them.
Nestled in an inviting corner of the Design Miami tent, the practice has created a dynamic haven, made from huge reclaimed wood beams, for collectors to take a load off and revive themselves with Perrier-Jouët champagne (of course). The lounge also serves as the backdrop for an anniversary portrait project by photographer Gesi Schilling commissioned for the fair.
'It had to look, taste and feel just like the Pacific Northwest,' explains Olson Kundig Architects partner Alan Maskin. 'The concept is based on these historic images of Seattle lumber yards from a hundred years ago, and the way they would stack the wood to dry it. We were really taken with the concept of stacking. And with the massiveness of them, we knew it would feel different from most things in Miami.'
The installation is titled '38 Beams' in reference to the number of vintage timber beams that the practice used to create its 15ft high pavilion. Originating from Douglas fir forests in the Northwest and most probably milled in the 1950s in Oregon, each beam was originally 30ft long and salvaged from a commercial building in Los Angeles that was recently torn down. The beams were sanded, cleaned up and given burnt edges for a rich finish.
Olson Kundig Architects played with cantilevering the beams to create the open latticework that forms the space. Maskin says, 'We wanted everything about it to be a respite from the dialogue and chaos that happens out there. We wanted it to be calm and welcoming.'
Inspired by the origins of the Aqua Art Miami fair, which initially comprised galleries from the Pacific Northwest and the West Coast before it was sold and became an international event, the firm wanted to bring some fellow Northwesterners with them to continue the cross-country dialogue.
In addition to the staff's custom-designed uniforms from cult boutique Totokaelo and music by artists signed to independent Seattle label Sub Pop Records, the space features a floating neon tube chandelier by artists Etta Lilienthal and Ben Zamora, three adjustable steel-armed light fixtures by Olson Kundig designer Jamie Slagel and furniture designed by its founders Jim Olson and Tom Kundig. Olson's 'Longbranch' chairs were first designed for his captivating cabin in Longbranch, Washington - which is showcased in-depth in the pages of our upcoming January issue (on sale 11 December).
At the end of the exhibition, all the beams will be donated to the University of Kansas' design-build teaching program that creates affordable buildings in communities of need.