OK Valise, Proposal for Collective Living III

Today we are inundated with countless of images at almost every waking moment of our day. It might be safe to say that an overwhelming majority of these images either document the immediate present or the past but rarely imagine a possible future. OK Valise, Proposal for Collective Living III aims to imagine a possible future based on images from the past and present. OK Valise is a literal carrying case for tools, specifically a “Genuine Makita Hard Plastic Empty Carrying Case for 6916FD Impact Driver purchased for $24.68 on eBay and physically acquired at H&R Pawn in Burbank, California. The case for OK Valise sits vertically and is opened at a 90 degree angle. The interior of the case is filled with a conglomeration of miniature architecture that aims to image a new possibility for collective living in the 21st century. 

How do you define inspiration?

For me inspiration is something that sparks a new creative direction or add to an existing one. Inspiration for me comes from collecting images and physical objects. Usually when I set out to collect images or objects, I am looking for things that I have not yet seen and things that I find appealing for various reasons. It is a bit of drift in searching out this inspiration, and what material is found may not always have its immediate inspirational purpose at hand, but I feel the need to “collect” it because it might be useful later.

What are your micro-tools? Are these fixed or do these changes for very project?

Our micro-tools are images and objects. We are constantly collecting both and sharing both and we aim to mobilize them in our creative output.

How do you collect and archive these tangible moments of inspiration?

First, I would have to make a distinction between the type of material we collect. At one level we collect a great quantity of images – images of the past. These images come from old media and they are archived with a book scanner. This is the material that is shared on Archive of Affinities, and at times this material is used to make new images through collages. At another level we collect a large quantity of physical objects. These objects are acquired from places that range from the internet, thrift stores to simply finding material on the street. These physical objects are at times also scanned with the same book scanner and archived for the use of producing digital collages. These physical objects are stored in boxes until they might be used towards the construction of physical models for various purposes. At times completed models that are made from a number of collaged parts have also been archived with the scanner, but most of the time these models are documented through photography.

How did you approach the brief?

From the brief we extracted two main ideas. One was that of tools, and the other of the traveling case – or the Valise. We wanted to use an everyday, recognizable object as our Valise and one that was also normally used for the purposes of carrying tools – in this case quite literally a Makita Drill Case. Instead of holding tools, this drill case holds a model that is a speculation for a new type of collective living – a model that is a densely produced collection and compaction of altered found objects that are arranged in a contiguous manner.

What is your take on the role of image platforms within the creative process?

I think they can be very instrumental to the creative process and probably at a very general level serve as mood boards for people. I also think that platforms like Pinterest have changed the relationship between client and architect. It seems like today, clients find what they like on Pinterest, or perhaps any other platform, and give these images to their architects to execute and realize.

What is your relationship to these? How and to what extent do you use these?

Our relationship to image platforms within the creative process is a pretty active one I think. I think we use various image platforms like Instagram to share what we like what we have recently discovered, while also sharing the material we produce as a design office. We are very much interested in the intersection of say a speculative architectural practice and how one might use social media to disseminate that work.

How and to what extent has the mediation of architecture through social tools as Instagram impacted the very practice of this?

I think that the mediation of architecture through social tools as instagram will have more of an immediate effect on architectural discourse, criticism, and commentary and then the production of architecture. Currently, one can already see a group of younger architects engaging social media platforms in novel ways – from either creating and sharing architectural memes to sharing speculative projects that are akin to paper architecture projects of the recent past. I think we are witnessing a new kind of paper architecture – one that is created for and disseminated through social media. And hopefully, this work will have a broader resonance through the discourse of architecture.

How do you as an architect approach the idea of ‘instagrammable’ architecture?

This is a great question. While we might speculate about what constitutes a successful ‘instagrammable’ architecture, I think at the end of the day what really is considered as successful ‘instagrammable’ architecture is up to the audiences consuming such information. I think it could be a bit dangerous to try and make a formula for ‘instagrammable’ architecture, because as soon as one might the formula would become irrelevant, or immediately apparent and therefore unappealing.

Is this new accessibility to architecture productive?

I believe it is immensely productive. Never before have architects of different generations and different geographies been able to communicate so instantly with each other. Discourse, new ideas, new collaborations, new alliances in the world of architecture can travel and form much faster today, and ultimately I think this is productive.

How do you choose to mediate the work of your practice through social tools as Instagram?

Another great question. Archive of Affinities began when I was a graduate student, and it was eventually folded into my Master’s Thesis and is a project I continually work on to this date. The project has no deadline, no client and no budget so it is free from outside impositions and able to morph accordingly. In recent years Archive of Affinities has not only become a tool to share our work – both the work we collect and produce – but it also acts as a kind of barometer of what we are interested in and what we are doing. Simply put, we share what we like and what we are working on.