One of the rites of passage for a New York summer is MoMA PS1’s Warm Up series, a weekly music event that takes place in the museum’s outdoor courtyard. There’s the impressive roster of international DJs, an architectural installation that looms overhead (this year’s pavilion 'COSMO' was conceived by Andrés Jaque/Office for Political Innovation), but, over the last six years, the museum has also been tapping a series of young designers to come up with stage environments to further animate the event. This year, the organisers turned to Chen Chen & Kai Williams, 69, Fort Standard, The Principals and Fort Makers.
First up was Chen Chen & Kai Williams, who suspended slender tubes of bubbling water around the DJ booth. Then, for weeks three, four and five, the Los Angeles textile and clothing design firm 69 draped an artfully perforated sheet of denim around the stage. Fort Standard responded over the following two weeks by wrapping the museum’s stage and main tower in gold mylar, and, most recently, The Principals choreographed a team of air dancers on the museum’s roof. Next up and commencing tomorrow: Fort Makers.
PS1 implements the program as a way to give emerging designers a fresh platform to realise work. Remembering back on his four years of having participated, Drew Seskunas, a co-founder of The Principals, says, 'For us, it was the first time we had done something at that scale – maybe not size-wise, but in terms of audience.'
While the parameters are few – 'Every surface is considered fair game,' says curatorial associate Jocelyn Miller – time is acutely limited. 'Projects have to be something that teams can mount in the morning,' she adds. That scramble, though, becomes part of the design challenge. 'It’s a different muscle they flex to do this,' said Miller, who organises the program with producer Cecelia Thornton-Alson. To Seskunas, now a veteran, that kind of turnover has a certain appeal. 'I love how it’s quick and dirty,' he says.