ARLAB is a Social Condenser that brings together several architecture and design sub-fields, by questioning the past, exploring the present, and anticipating tomorrow’s architecture. Like archaeologists of the future, we perceive the built environment as a huge playground that we can excavate, analyze with a critical eye, and use to identify rare specimens. We establish a relationship that is both unique and plural (social) with space. The urban space, the countryside, the public space, the private sphere, the plaza, the shelter are all spaces and metaphors that condense and connect people, or create time and space for retreat, intimacy, and introversion. We aim to place people at the center of our concerns.
Alexander Ekman - Play - photo Ann Ray
Dwellings For the Tokyo Nomad Woman by Toyo Ito - 1985 and 1989
KOOZ In which ways do the selected 10 references inform about your practice?
RD As architects, we are like sponges, we don’t invent anything. We reinvent based on existing patterns and continuously build up our pool of references. This work with references is a very important part of our practice at ARLAB. Not only do we take inspiration from atmospheres or materiality but mostly from the composition. The underlying concepts of our references, such as Sam Chermayeff’s Freestanding Kitchen, bring us back to our identity as individuals in a community, as an element, by its mere presence and position, influences or generates space. We have been interested in objects as catalyzers, by their shape, geometry, or spatial attributes, intending to bring people together and create cohesion. This is a research topic that we are developing in some of our experimental projects with some collaborators.
KOOZ To what extent is reference collecting an ongoing process within your practice?
MG We live in an image-driven society, like many architects we collect our references on Instagram with a simple click but also on many websites carefully curated that depict our vision of architecture. The challenge with collecting references is not finding the images in the first place but finding an efficient classification system and being able to re-visit and build on our references. We think that sorting references is just as important as the references themselves. We have realized that it is much easier to look at news feeds rather than digging back into our corpus.
KOOZ Would you say that these derive from more digital or analog sources?
RD As in our work, we place a lot of importance on the substance and tactility of objects. For us, analog supports like books, leaflets, or journals are deeply rooted in our cultural identity. However, far from refuting the digital, our library is entirely electronic. We embrace our long-standing friendship with analog mediums.
Jacques Tati - Playtime
Manfred Mohr Computer Graphics - Une Esthétique Programmée, exhibition catalog, ARC - Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, 1971
KOOZ How are these fragments then organized and archived?
MG Like archaeologists, we carefully tabulate, label, and organize our fragments. Long before classifying them, we perform a curatorial process to compile Websites, apps, editors that we value. So there are two steps involved: platform and medium.
KOOZ How and to what extent do you look for inspiration within both the built and unbuilt worlds?
RD We are more inspired by unbuilt projects because they are rough theoretical inputs with no constructive filters. We are trying to relate to the primitive idea that the architect or the artist intended to inject into their project. The absolute zero level of the idea.
KOOZ What is for you the power of collecting for the architect?
MG the power of collecting reminds us of scientists: archaeologists, biologists, anthropologists. At ARLAB we are archaeologists for the future, we believe that this process of investigating, sampling, and documenting will let us create ambiguous and complex projects with various levels of interpretation.
Media House - Ugo La Pietra
ON Running Store - New York City
ARLAB is :
/ two partners: Marianne Ghorayeb & Romain D’Incau
/ a laboratory; with research as its center
/ an atelier; emphasizing history, theory, and people
/ a gathering place; seeing collaboration as the future of practice
Studio Unravel - Rare Market Retail Store