Recent Posts

Help Us Find a Home for the Groove Grove!

After a dynamic exhibition history that includes the Oakland Museum of California, Chabot Space & Science Center, The Anderson Collection at Stanford University and Yelp!, we are looking for a new home for the Groove Grove – five 18 foot long bean bag modules that can be reconfigured for a variety of inhabitation options. Perfect for your museum, office or home!

If you are interested, please download the Groove Grove Brochure (which is also laid out below) and give us a shout!

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Tide/Untied – A New Monumental Sculpture for Fort Mason

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We are pleased to unveil the designs for Tide/Untied, a new monumental sculpture that will stand at the redesigned entrance to San Francisco’s venerable Fort Mason, the largest urban national park in the United States.

Commissioned by the Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture, Tide/Untied is both whimsical and deeply imbedded in the cultural and infrastructural history of Fort Mason, which was once known as the Point of Embarkation for the US Army.

Constructed of railroad track that seems to connect to the terminus of the historic track inside the Fort, the sculpture rail lifts dramatically out of the ground, creating places to sit, loops to walk through, and a playful definition to the entrance to the Fort. Though abstract in form, Tide/Untied looks vaguely familiar; perhaps the form references a nautical knot, frozen somewhere in the process of being tied, or perhaps it is a gesture toward the rolling tides that have carved the contours of the San Francisco Bay for millennia. Whatever the form might spark in the imagination of the viewer, the material of the sculpture is deeply connected to the history of Fort Mason and the San Francisco Waterfront.

The piece is currently being fabricated by Art & Design Works, LLC, the masterful makers who built our Intersection piece in Portland, Oregon.

We are currently planning to install the piece during the summer of 2017. Stay tuned!

 

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Urbanauts: Custom

Urbanauts: Now available for custom installations in your home!

urb_08An 18-month long Artist Fellowship at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, Urbanauts is a speculative exploration of urban infrastructure and its relationship to the everyday experience of the contemporary city. Through a series of interwoven conversations, urban expeditions, design charrettes, and conjectural artworks based at the de Young, MoreLab’s Matthew Passmore collaborated with artist Sean Orlando to examine the ways in which urban inhabitants relate (or don’t relate) to the largely unseen mechanical systems, societal constructs, and cultural imperatives that mediate and structure life in the built environment.

After the Urbanauts Artist Fellowship concluded at the de Young, Matthew and Sean agreed to donate a custom Urbanauts sculpture to the “Artumnal” auction fundraiser for the Black Rock Arts Foundation, the arm of Burning Man that funds interactive civic art projects in cities around the world (now known as Burning Man Arts).urb_09

At the Artumnal auction, not one but two motivated bidders won custom made sculptures inspired by the form, structure and complexities of urban infrastructure.

 

Would you like a custom Urbanauts sculpture in your home or business? Drop us a line…

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The Gemscape!

50_FUND_logo_Tagline_GRANTEE-01We are excited to announce that we are a PLAY 60, Play On grant winner! PLAY 60, Play On, an initiative presented by 50 Fund and the NFL Foundation, is transforming everyday spaces into places for play. The 50 Fund and the NFL Foundation have awarded $750,000 to 21 Bay Area cities, nonprofit organizations, businesses and individuals.

Our contribution is the Gemscape a new, improved outdoor prototype version of the Kaleidoscape project we created for the Berkeley Art Museum a few years back.

Rendering of the Gemscape.

Rendering of the Gemscape.

The Kaleidoscape

Like Kaleidoscape, the Gemscape is a series of large, colorful modules that can be stacked, climbed upon and otherwise re-arranged by the users to create an everychanging landscape for play and interaction. Because the scale of the larger modules requires more than one child to move, users will need to collaborate with other kids in order to achieve the arrangement they desire.

To execute the Gemscape, we are thrilled to be working with our friends at the Flux Foundation, who are our fiscal sponsor as well as extraordinary public artists in their own right.

The Gemscape will debut at a free, all-day public event on the Mandela Parkway near 14th Street, on Saturday January 23, 2016. Stay tuned for details!

 

World Bike Forum

 

We are pleased to announce that Matthew Passmore will be presenting the closing keynote address at the World Bike Forum 4 in Medellín, Columbia. The conference runs from February 26th through March 1st. Matthew’s talk, on the subject of “The Bicycle as Urban Artform” will be followed by a moderated panel with Assaf Biderman (co-inventor of the Copenhagen Wheel) and Belen Bike, an urban artist.

 

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The Forum brings together a stunning collection of advocates, artists, scholars and practitioners from around the globe to discuss contemporary issues related to the social impact and cultural importance of the bicycle.

The roster includes such estimable figures as Janette Sadik-Kahn (Bloomberg Associates, former Transportation Commissioner of NYC), Enrique Peñalosa (former Mayor of Bogotá) and Lotte Bech (Cycling Embassy of Denmark).

From the organizers:
The theme for the 2015 edition of the World Bike Forum is “Ciudades para Todos – Cities for All”, relating to ideas geared for humans and living spaces. The forum will discuss how cities can be organized to the benefit of all it’s citizens. After all, it is not just an event for cyclists, but for the entire population.

While societies in the entire world are urbanizing they face environmental as well as social challenges. At the same time the bicycle is gaining momentum as a serious transportation option and catalyst for creating better living spaces for all humans. In this process, cycling advocacy and citizen engagement play a crucial role in employing the bicycle as a vehicle for social change and urban equity. It is time for the bicycle to take a leading role in shaping an equitable and sustainable city for all!

 The forum will be celebrating and furthering the work of various stakeholders (individuals, groups, NGOs, businesses, or government agencies) working together to bring about positive change on all levels: individual, local, regional, national and global. Collectively, we will discuss, think and plan solutions so that bicycles, pedestrians and motorists can coexist in harmony. And the more thinking heads, the better – and merrier!

If you’d like to follow the Forum on social media, the hashtag is #FMB4

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Foro Mundial de la Bicicleta (World Bike Forum)
from Foro Mundial de la Bicicleta on Vimeo.

The Taliesin West Shelters

 

The “Hanging Tent”: student housing at Taliesin West. Sculptural, but becomes an oven at first light.

 

One of the more extraordinary elements of the unique pedagogical approach to architecture at Taliesin West is the student housing. It was part of Frank Lloyd Wright’s design vision to imbed his apprentices in the landscape, to let them learn from the land, the wind, sun and shadow, soil and sky, the sight, sound and smell of it, the plants and animals of it, and to let the landscape reveal itself as inspiration for designing shelter that is positioned deeply within the context of its site.

This tradition carries through to the present day. Most of the 30 or so graduate students live in very small shelters that dot the open desert a good distance from the main Taliesin West compound. Though the scale is modest, often only large enough for sleeping quarters and a fire pit, the designs range from spartan to contemporary to totally outlandish. Students are invited to design and build their own if they so choose.

Moving among them is like walking in a large desert sculpture garden. But as I see them I am called to wonder – how much did the designers heed Wright’s call to let the design emerge from the landscape? How heavy is the hand — and central is the vision — of the designer in these shelters the students call home? You tell me…

 

One of the original tents from FLLW's day. Much more modest than today's versions.

One of the original tents from FLLW’s day. Much more modest than today’s versions.

 

The designer who created this has gone into business making these sorts of tents. You've probably seen one...

The designer who created this has gone into business making these sorts of tents. You’ve probably seen one…

 

Tent shelter interior. Form inspired by nearby mountain ranges.

Tent shelter interior. Form inspired by nearby mountain ranges.

 

Another nice one, even though the students think of Pizza Hut when they see this one.

Another nice one, even though the students think of Pizza Hut when they see this one.

 

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Professor Aris Georges challenged a Taliesin designer to build a perfect cube. The interior planes of this shelter is said to be just that.

A professor challenged a designer to build a perfect cube. The interior planes of this shelter is said to be just that.

 

Nifty sculpture but it doesn't provide enough shelter to be usable.

Nifty sculpture but it doesn’t provide enough shelter to be usable.

 

A modern update on a small miner's cabin.

A modern update on a small miner’s cabin.

 

This glass sliding door faces east, turning this shelter into a sweltering oven first thing in the morning. Why?

This glass sliding door faces east, turning this shelter into a sweltering oven first thing in the morning. Why?

 

This one is very odd, and now brushing up against suburban Scottsdale, which is inexorably marching toward the edges of the Taliesin property for several sides.

This one is brushing up against suburban Scottsdale, which is inexorably marching toward Taliesin from several sides.

 

WTF? Is that a monumental rendition of FLLW's colon?

WTF? Is that a monumental rendition of FLLW’s colon?

 

Maybe also a greenhouse...

Maybe also a greenhouse…

 

The Dean of the architecture school stays in this one from time to time. It has a fake lawn cantilevered over the arroyo.

The Dean stays in this one from time to time. It has a fake lawn cantilevered over the arroyo.

 

My favorite and perhaps the most successful.

My favorite and perhaps the most successful.

 

Cor-ten works well in the desert. The solid wall faces south and east to create a buffer from the heat.

Cor-ten works well in the desert. The solid wall faces south and east to create a buffer from the heat.

 

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This one is to me the most like a FLLW building, who was an expert at shadow and sun.

This one is to me the most like a FLLW building, who was an expert at shadow and sun.

 

A fallen shelter slowly absorbing into the desert.

A fallen shelter slowly absorbing into the desert.

 

Taliesin West

We are pleased to announce that MoreLab’s Matthew Passmore will be participating in a week-long residency and public lecture series at the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture located at Taliesin West, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Sonoran desert compound outside Scottsdale, Arizona.

The lecture is free and open to the public on Thursday, January 29, 2015 at 7pm at Taliesin West.

For the remainder of the week, Matthew will be meeting with students and faculty in an informal context to discuss the evolving interplay between tactical/user-generated urbanism, public art and the governmental agencies and organizations tasked with generating the form and content of our urban public spaces.

Matthew will be staying in the “Sun Cottage” – Wright’s private quarters at the Taliesin compound.  It’s nice! See below for pictures and stay tuned for more images from the residency.

What is architecture anyway? Is it the vast collection of the various buildings which have been built to please the varying tastes of the various lords of mankind? I think not. No, I know that architecture is life; or at least it is life itself taking form and therefore it is the truest record of life as it was lived in the world yesterday, as it is lived today or ever will be lived…So, architecture I know to be a Great Spirit.
— Frank Lloyd Wright

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Taliesin West’s famed living room

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FLW with Taliesin students

 

 

 

 

 

 

image by Michael Stephens
The Sun Cottage. Image by Flickr user Michael Stephens under CC license
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Informal conversation at Taliesin West

 

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Taliesin West

Taliesin West

Taliesin West

Notes from Riga

 

MoreLab’s Matthew Passmore recently returned from Riga, Latvia, where he presented the keynote address at the 100% City International Forum on December 5-6, 2014. Focusing on new forms of citymaking, the 100% City conference brought together a range of urban researchers and designers, architects, artists, sociologists, activists and theoreticians to discuss visions, strategies and practices that include everyone in living, seeing and making a good and balanced city.

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100% CITY showcases both one–off activities and long–term processes aimed at changing attitudes towards public spaces and urban lifestyles, debate about the clash, coexistence and interaction of local and global phenomena, as well as the relationship of the city and art.

During the Forum, two main approaches to active and participatory city making were discussed: the «constructive approach» represented by urban planners, architects, and politicians who come up with long–term plans and try to implement them according to regulations, and the «destructive one» when artists, activists, communities change the city and make a change by destroying the established order of things by sudden, unexpected, radical and unsolicited actions and interventions.

Riga is a fascinating city: part Eastern European, part Scandinavian, but mostly its own  creature entirely: a proudly independent Baltic state still recovering from the strictures of the Soviet era.

 

The winding streets of old town Riga

The winding streets of old town Riga

House of the Blackheads – built in 1334, destroyed in WWII and the Soviet era; rebuilt 1999.

Soviet “Palace of Culture”

Old town square

Constructivist snowman slide. Have a post-Soviet Christmas!

TEDx Vienna

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We are pleased to announce that MoreLab’s Matthew Passmore will be speaking at a TEDx event at the beautiful Weltmuseum in Vienna, Austria on September 25, 2014. “CITYx,” the name of this TEDx event, specifically examines the nature of contemporary cities. What is a city, exactly?

In a talk entitled “The Medium is the Metropolis,” Matthew will speak about the implications of positioning the city itself — its physical infrastructure, spatial arrangements, social codes, political, financial and cultural institutions — as an artistic medium.

 

CITYx

From the curators:

“The sun rises, draws restless lines from rooftops to street corners. People slip through shadow and burst into light, coming and going in all directions like synaptic charges, humming electric. Who are these people? And what is this place, solid as stone but always in flux, in plain view but impossible to see? It is a riddle and a paradox, much like the people that give it life. We call it CITYx.

“CITYx is an idea, a question, and a challenge. It is the individual dreams, risks, loves, and actions that collectively shape the city. CITYx is the individual people who shape their city, and it is the city that shapes its people. CITYx is kaleidoscopic, it must be seen a thousand different times, from a thousand different angles. CITYx belongs to the people who see it, who inhabit it, who engage it, who invest themselves in it, whether for an hour or a lifetime. CITYx is what we make it.”

Weltmuseum, Vienna

Weltmuseum, Vienna

 

We are honored to be invited to participate in what will surely be a lively series of talks and conversations.
So if you are in or around Vienna in late September, please come to the event

Matthew will be in Vienna from September 21st until the 28th, so please get in touch if you are there!

 

 

Intersection

 A monumental sculpture for Portland, Oregon begins to take shape.

Since 2010, we have been developing a sculpture for the Clinton Street light rail station, along TriMet’s new Portland-Milwaukie light rail line. Situated between the Hosford-Abernethy and Brooklyn neighborhoods in Southeast Portland, the community expressed a desire for a piece that would serve as a beacon to the station, which is set back 50 feet from a six-way intersection.

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Inspired by the lines and curves of abstract topological transit maps and the powerful materiality of rail, we designed a piece to celebrate both, with a soaring interlocking tower and seemingly impossible bends. To execute our vision, however, we would need to develop an entirely new method for bending railroad track to the impossible angles required by the piece. Luckily, we found a couple of fabricators in the Portland area who were up to the challenge – Jim Schmidt and Ken Mack.

 

3D print of the sculpture

 

The piece is scheduled for installation at the end of 2014 or in early 2015, and we recently took a trip to Portland to visit Jim and Ken and their team to check in on the progress. What we found was inspiring. The fabrication team has developed a cutting-edge method for bending railroad track into angles the material was never meant to achieve. The results are simple, refined, elegant and impossible. Behold:

 

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Ken Mack’s outdoor fabrication shop near Portland, Oregon.

 

 

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Fabricator Samantha “Sam” Nagmay standing with her handiwork

 

 

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