December 28, 2019

The 15 Coolest Installations of 2019

Inventive, aesthetically pleasing, and sometimes out of this worldInterior Design featured dozens of standout installations throughout 2019. They all demonstrated the otherworldly skill and talent of their creators. The following 15 installations—which include the Best of Year award winner in the Architectural Installation/Pop Up category—are our picks for coolest of 2019. 

The Lawn at the National Building Museum by Rockwell Group

Around the same time that military tanks were rolling onto the National Mall like stage props to commemorate Independence Day in Washington, D.C., a few blocks away at the National Building Museum, designer and Interior Design Hall of Fame member David Rockwell was offering a sneak peek of an even more iconic symbol of summer in America: a giant rolling lawn complete with croquet, hammocks, and fireflies. The Lawn won the 2019 Best of Year award for Architectural Installation/Pop Up.  Read more about this project

Governor’s Island Church in New York by Shantell Martin

Protect. Fly. Grow. Think. What do these verbs have in common? Shantell Martin spray-painted them on Church, her exterior building installation on Governors Island, the 172-acre, former military base that’s a half-mile ferry ride from downtown Manhattan. Since 2017, the Trust for Governors Island has been commissioning temporary public-art installations for the summer season and invited Martin out last winter to choose her site. Read more about this project

Calpis Co.’s “Universe of Words” Installation in Tokyo by Emmanuelle Moureaux

Ask Emmanuelle Moureaux to name her favorite color, and she’ll laugh at the ridiculousness of the question. Ask her to name her top 100 favorite colors, however, and she’ll happily oblige. Emmanuelle Moureaux Architecture + Design relies on color as a primary tool for shaping and dividing space while conveying emotion. The French-born, Tokyo-based architect even has a punny Japanese portmanteau word for the concept, shikiri. To select the rainbow palette she’s been using for her vibrant 100 Colors series of installations, she sorted through a mind-boggling 8,000 shades. A recent iteration of the series celebrated the 100th birthday of the Japanese beverage Calpis. Read more about this project

Serpentine Pavilion in Los Angeles by Selgas Cano 

The Los Angeles cultural cognoscenti may be experiencing déjà vu. SelgasCano’s Serpentine Pavilion, which debuted in London in 2015, has made its way across the pond to La Brea Tar Pits, courtesy of the Natural History Museums of Los Angeles County and Second Home, the U.K.–based social business committed to supporting entrepreneurship and creativity (it counts Kickstarter and Taskrabbit among its London members). In keeping with Second Home’s commitment to sustainability, the pavilion reuses the same multicolored ETFE and steel from the first installation; only the weather-proof boating rope securing them together is new. Read more about this project

Tippet Rise Art Center in Montana by Francis Kere

Forty-thousand linear feet of logs. That’s the amount of felled trees Francis Kéré used for his installation at the Tippet Rise Art Center in southern Montana. The installation, which features a 60-foot diameter roof, took seven months to construct—with the help of 30 architects, designers, engineers, and fabricators led by Kéré. “Xylem merges with the nearby hills but remains unique in this huge landscape,” Kéré says of the project. Read more about this project

Nomadic “New Horizon” Balloon in New England by Doug Aitkin

“I love the idea that a farmer in the field could look up and see this mirrored sculpture float by.” That’s multimedia artist and filmmaker Doug Aitken referring to New Horizon, his nomadic installation that roamed the Massachusetts skies this past July. Commissioned by the Trustees of Reservations, a nonprofit focused on preserving 25,000 acres of the state’s natural sites, Aitken  created an oversize hot-air balloon from 70-denier high-tenacity nylon coated in mylar laminate. Read more about this project

Outdoor Event Pavilion in Stuttgart

Researchers from Universität Stuttgart in Germany look to a sea creature and advanced digital timber-fabrication methods to construct an event pavilion called Buga Wood Pavilion for a horticultural show. A group of 18 researchers and craftsmen led by Universität Stuttgart professors Jan Knippers, a structural engineer, and Achim Menges, an architect contributed to the project. “A biomimetic approach to architecture enables interdisciplinary thinking,” says Menges. Buga Wood Pavilion took 13 months to develop, and 17,000 robotically milled finger joints and 2 million lines of custom robotic code to build. Read more about this project

The Tube in London by Numen/For Use

Art collective Numen/For Use took a previous installation for handbag designer Anya Hindmarch and made it new in London. The Tube debuted in Austria in 2015, originally in black. But for the London version, Hindmarch decided on a royal blue instead. The installation was assembled by 14 designers and fabricators led by Numen/For Use artists Sven Jonke and Nikola Radeljkovic. It was comprised of 4,500 square feet of netting and one thousand suspension ropes, spanned 300 feet, and took four days to install. Read more about this project

Flutter Multi-Artist Installation in Los Angeles

“I’ve been reading about art’s transformative powers, so my intention is to create not only an environment that makes it accessible to all but also an impactful business that does good,” Chris Dowson states. The result is “Flutter,” his immersive multi-artist, multi-room installation occupying a central La Brea building in Los Angeles, a portion of pro­ceeds from its $28 entry ticket going to Lady Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation. To curate, Dowson turned to Karen Robinovitz, who selected 15 contemporary artists—Liz Collins and Saya Woolfalk, among them—whose work embodies playfulness. Read more about this project

Breathing Walls in London by Studio INI

The theme for the second London Design Biennale was Emotional States. Among the 40 countries and territories that participated was Greece, its pavilion by Studio INI spanning much of Somerset House’s central courtyard. Titled anyπakok (Disobedience), the work is derived from disobedience being a characteristic of the Greek temperament since ancient civilization, explains the studio’s founder Nassia Inglessis, noting the mythological Prometheus, for example, felt a moral obligation to disobey the gods in order to create opportunities for human progress. Read more about this project

Inflatable Steel Sculpture

An inflatable steel sculpture by Zieta Prozessdesign brings a breath of fresh air to a site in southern Poland. Led by Oskar Zieta, 23 designers and fabricators built Nawa. “My grandfather was a blacksmith who worked with basic tools—I do similar work but with data,” Zieta says. The sculpture is comprised of 52 tons of stainless steel and 35,000,000 cubic feet of compressed air, and is 42 feet long. Read more about this project

Marc Fornes Parking Garage

Parking garages are often the most uninspiring structures in an urban landscape. Not so for the Novel Stonewall Station in Charlotte, North Carolina, host to the state’s largest public artwork. Created by Marc Fornes/TheVeryManyWanderwall’s psychedelic swirls of blue and green instantly catch the eye, even amidst the rapidly expanding, ultramodern downtown skyline. Read more about this project

Georgetown Glow

Hou de Sousa‘s Prismatic lit up the night in Washington during Georgetown Glow,” an exhibition of outdoor light installations. Led by Nancy Hou and Josh de Sousa, a total of eight designers, engineers, and volunteers assembled Prismatic. The installation was comprised of 10 cord colors, 55,000 linear feet of cord, and 333 frame facets, and was assembled over four weeks. Read more about this project

Richard Woods’ One Day Estate in England

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a…nearly 2-acre earthwork captured from a drone. And it was only up for one day, on the grounds of the Grade I-listed Houghton Hall in Norfolk, U.K. Called Estate, it was the folly of British artist Richard Woods, known for turning trompe l’oeil on its head. For this installation, 70 volunteers spent the morning pinning down 1 miles worth of black cotton fabric in the shape of a generic house. Read more about this project

Multiple Installations

These five unique installations—from Beijing to Israel—show off unconventional styles and destinations. Read more about these projects

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