Collecting

Tabula Plena

“How Much Does Your Building Weigh, Mr. Foster?” Buckminster Fuller asked in a famous conversation with the British architect.

“Architecture” is certainly knowing how to build. Not just buildings: the field of action is larger. We speak of the architecture of a novel, of a symphony, but also of the human body or of Roman law. “Architecture” also means the absence of pre-established rules: it is itself leading to the creation of rules. “Architecture” implies a complex construction, a self-sufficient construction of a specific body of work.

We think at the same time through words and through images. But the ideas expressed through words and those contained in the images are not the same. Through the words, we depict an accumulation; through images, a totality. A “thing” (and therefore the universe) appears different depending on whether it is presented though words or through images. Words are perfect for analyzing an experience; to have an holistic understanding, to embrace the totality – we need images.

Building an image – this is therefore a fundamental contradiction.

Building means putting together elementary things, and forming a unitary thing from them. On the contrary, from the beginning, the image is a unitary thing, which loses any value if it is broken down in single pieces.

We do not know for sure how to grasp reality, but it seems to us that we can try only dealing with images. It’s what dogs do, but it can happen to us too.

The entire history of humanity can be represented by a sequence of images.

“The Complex Order: How To Construct an Image” Y. Friedmann

This is the process we always go through with our experiences, about life and architecture. These are the only fragile certainties we were able to build. We have been traveling quite a lot – Lemonot is constantly shifting headquarters, based among Rome, Bangkok, La Paz & London. Compulsive collectors before architects and academics, we’ve been gathering different props and mirabilia from everywhere. They are the privileged witnesses – probably the only real ones – of our desires, ambitions and fears. Most of these fragments are always the starting point and the conclusion of our architectural thoughts, our projects. And now that our drawers are fully occupied, we had to lay them out on the table, suddenly with no longer space to eat.

Let’s forget about the weight – how can you measure the length of this “Tabula Plena”?

It takes 2 seconds to consume it – the maximum attention span you can think about nowadays.

It took one afternoon to construct it – Photoshop often crashes when it comes to GiFs.

It took two year to travel across 4 different cities and to accumulate the fragments. Anyway, some of them where also really heavy.

We create through fragmentation and re-assemblage. The way we create our work and ourselves is through connecting the parts we get in touch with.

The Carneval Leader
The Carneval Leader

What we do as architects but as well as people is to collect and connect fragments. The way we put together our cultural environment, our knowledge, our influential references are what make the consistency of our body of work and our persona.

However, the architect is not confined to the figure of the collector but rather of a maker.

We believe in the collection as an active tool: a layered form of obliteration, re-arranging and dismantling the fragments to feed completely new architectural products. Nowadays accumulation has been taken up as a core action of cultural production. We believe that architects do not have just to accumulate, but to overlap information, creating patterns among all the different disciplines. To design is to change scale, function and program – not in a linear process but as a geological construction.

Clockwork leaves to Bangkok
Clockwork leaves to Bangkok

To design is to know how to operate through layers, accumulating strata of informations and working as plastic surgeons to recompose dissected bits into something new and unconventionally authentic.

To design is to choose.

Nonetheless, we do not work as isolated minds, but as a whole.

Architects must be aware of this paradoxical mechanism: in our fragmented reality, we must highlight both singularities and connections to express the world as a faceted continuum – in relation to individual identities and common shared traits. Our methodology consists of designing assemblages through the use of cultural fragments, appropriating and transforming tools deeply rooted in our contemporary realm.

God save the Hoky tokens
God save the Hoky tokens

Indeed, we need to be extremely careful to perform act of mundane symbolic consumption and iconographic accumulation: we believe that the raw fragments must undergo a process of dissection, consumption and reconstruction.

Existent imagery and popular expressions cannot just be inherited and recycled; figurative instances meet geometrical abstraction, they need to be transformed and synthesized to create new consistent, yet ever-changing, systems of architectural values.

Roman Faces
Roman Faces

We want to alter the canonical order of the creative process, inverting the project’s output with its medium, the proposer with the proposal, the public with the spectacle. We always mess up with design protocols, raising different methodological questions to achieve new aesthetic synthesis.

Architecture is not necessarily the beginning nor the end of our stories but we always use it as a filtering framework – as a medium to grasp reality. Explicitly aiming to undermine its disciplinary autonomy, we work to introduce free trade zones between architecture and other fields of knowledge, crafted stories and engineered artifacts.