jessica charlesworth

THE BUILDER’S LOUNGE at Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago

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Tim Parsons and Jessica Charlesworth present The Builder’s Lounge, a furniture installation at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago.

Following their installation Adhocism last summer in the MCA’s 12×12 gallery, designers Tim Parsons and Jess Charlesworth have created a new installation for the lobby of the Museum’s 4th floor gallery.

Designed to coincide with the exhibition Skysraper: Art and Architecture Against Gravity the installation re-purposes construction site materials into ad-hoc furniture, providing visitors a space to relax, read, or create their own artwork on the Museum’s 4th floor windows.

Visitors are encouraged to imagine the process of building skyscrapers by being confronted with the accoutrements of the building trade. In The Builder’s Lounge bulk bags become armchairs, scaffolding creates counters and stone slabs on pallets make coffee tables.

By recontextualizing familiar construction site objects in layouts associated with domestic space, the installation aims to create an uncanny balance between the real and the surreal and raise questions about the status of designed objects in gallery environments.

The Builder’s Lounge runs alongside Skysraper: Art and Architecture Against Gravity from 30th June – 23rd September 2012 at The Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, 220 East Chicago Avenue, Chicago, IL 60611

Sack-o Armchairs & MCA Plaza Coffee Table

Statements from the designers:

Tim Parsons:

“The objects that we see on building sites – not so much what is being built with but what is being used to facilitate building – such as scaffolding, pallets, bulk bags for moving sand and gravel, hold a fascination for us as items that are ubiquitous, and yet just out of reach. As objects designed primarily for use not contemplation, their aesthetic qualities are often refreshingly unselfconscious. They also tend to be incredibly durable as they are designed for a harsh physical environment. In these objects we find a lot that is missing from much of today’s domestic furniture.”

Jess Charlesworth:

“We wanted to bring the everyday, in the form of these often overlooked objects, into the art context where everything is heavily scrutinized in the search for meaning. But as designers we were also interested in the new functions the objects could adopt.
Another aspect was that the tools used in constructing buildings – or exhibitions for that matter – are rendered invisible in the final presentation. Here they become part of the end result, implying a work always in progress.

Tim Parsons:

“We like the ad-hocist idea that everything can always become something else. These objects have been re-purposed but with very little intervention. Each is able, if desired,  to return to its originally conceived function once the show ends.”

A-Frame Trestle Counters

A-Frame Trestle Counters
A run of six red powder-coated steel builders trestles with shuttering ply planks creates a series of counter surfaces along the MCA’s 4th floor. The A-frames are bold and utilitarian in their construction and when considered as interior furnishings, suggest reference to the furniture of Jean Prouvé.

The wooden counter surfaces have red metal tote trays, conventionally used for carrying tools, here filled with vinyl window clings in a variety of geometric shapes rendered in primary colors. The window clings, designed by the MCA’s design department, offer the public the opportunity to create compositions on the windows, collaging the shapes over the view of the Chicago skyline.

Reading Table - detail of scaffolding

Reading Table
A standing-height reading table sits centrally opposite the entrance to the Skyscraper exhibition, enabling visitors to peruse the catalogue and a collection of related books from featured artists. The table base is a direct assemblage of scaffolding frames, cross-braces and planks, making a minimal yet highly durable framework.

Sack-o Armchairs

Sack-o Armchairs
Sack-o is a comfortable armchair made from a bulk bag (a woven polypropylene container used for transporting aggregate and other granular materials) filled with biodegradable packaging peanuts. After filling, the chair is shaped over a mould and sewn closed. Like a bean-bag, the seat can be partially shaped to the form of the sitter. The name refers both to the sack used in its construction and the original Italian “Sacco” bean bag produced by Zanotta in 1969. The installation contains eight Sack-o chairs.

Sack-o Armchairs

MCA Plaza Coffee Table (In progress) - detail of pallet, stone slab and caster

MCA Plaza Coffee Table

 MCA Plaza Coffee Tables
Two low coffee tables for books have been made using 4ft square pallets on red urethane casters topped with reclaimed granite pavers from the plaza of the MCA. The broken pavers (cleaned and pieced back together) have a yellow dot sprayed on each – the method used to denote they were to be replaced from the plaza. With the appropriation of the pavers, the spray and the cracks become decorative and narrative details.

Tim attaches window clings creating skyscraper archetypes


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