If given the choice between staring blankly into space or reading architects’ office statements on their website, we choose the first. They all say the same thing: we’re sustainable, responsible with budgets, experienced, award-winning, etc. . . . The game seems to be how to say nothing in particular and comfort any worries of someone contemplating hiring you. After a few clicks, it’s hard not to think that all this quote-unquote professionalism is very cold at its core. We can’t tell you exactly when MOS started. We like to say it was 2003, but we didn’t have an office space then and our name was !@#?, which we quickly found was too difficult to use because 1. you couldn’t pronounce it and 2. you couldn’t get a web address. So, eventually, we drifted towards MOS—an acronym of our names and reflection of a shared desire to be horizontal and fuzzy, as opposed to tall and shiny. We began around an oversized table, a surface for collecting, gathering, and working through a range of design experiments—a make-believe of architectural fantasies, problems, and thoughts. As we’ve grown, we remain around a large table, working together on each project through playful experimentation and serious research. This website indexes that work: housing; schools; houses; cultural institutions; retail; exhibition design; installations; furniture; objects; books; writing; software experiments; and videos.
Krabbesholm Højskole (Denmark) is awarded an AIA NY Excellence Award
MOS Architects receive an AIA New York Award of Merit for Element House
We draw, talk, email, doodle, diagram, render, print, print, draw, model, receive, distribute, call, approve, confirm, reject, plead, deny, laugh, export, import, present, listen, order, zoom, script, post, pan, copy, paste, scale, collate, staple, eat, list, drink, walk, draw, chat, meet, photograph, crop, calculate, draw, adjust, tweak, sip, solve, stack, note, organize, scan, edit, review, print, question, comment, make, sketch . . . and occasionally, we collect things from this process and store them in a flat file.
Reproductions of Reproductions of Reproductions (or, Model Furniture).
An obsession with the banal stuff occupying the background of architectural representation, those things we fill architectural spaces with, eventually led us to look at the model furniture fashioned and photographed by architects. Close-ups of generic, nearly notational chairs; fields of wobbly stools, each with its legs so slightly out of alignment; the most mundane shelving systems imaginable; entirely abstracted blocks turned modular benches, nondescript cabinets, tables, displays, who-knows-whats; reproductions of reproductions of reproductions of mid-century modern chairs; miniature prototypes or replicas of the architect’s own for-sale designs; indescribable things distorted by humidity; ergonomic, bodily curves turned 2-D extrusions; tables of an impossible material, woodgrain so cartoonishly out of scale; seats proportioned a little too high or low, supports left floating or bodies off-kilter; and so on and so forth. . . . These miniature objects, made by armies of interns and careful craftspersons alike, populate models by architecture offices large and small. They’re a sort of representational default, a reduction to the bare qualities of an object. Made with the wrong sized tools—human hands—and with the wrong materials, the models are translations of translations: from a chair to a model to a chair again, or from reality/reference to replica to representation. This scalar shift produces another condition, something familiar but different or slightly off, akin to the effects of shifting resolution when one blows up an image. This low resolution, the reproduction of a reproduction, allows us to reinterpret everything. As we reimagine model furniture at real scale, we use aluminum because it resembles paper, that many of the pieces of model furniture are made from.
While working on this series we have collected a myriad photographs of model furniture into a single catalog, An Unfinished Catalog of Model Furniture Without Architecture, we have used various bad images as a starting point for translations of our own design in a new furniture series, titled “Model Furniture.” Scaling up these miniatures toward their originals while maintaining their reductive, archetypal forms and indifference to use, the resulting chairs, stools, and shelves are at the same time reference and referent, original and copy, reality and representation . . .
Project Team: Michael Meredith, Hilary Sample, Andrew Frame, Michael Abel, Fancheng Fei