A social furniture exploration at the Berkeley Art Museum.

Kaleidoscape is an interactive sculpture system created to explore the tension between the system of order implied by a radial “plan view” symmetry and the soft symmetry of social use patterns that change over time or emerge spontaneously. Exhibiting this unique form of double symmetry, Kaleidoscape can be enjoyed visually from galleries high above the atrium floor, as well as by museum visitors in search of a comfortable place to sit, relax, or collaborate to build a wide variety of social spaces.

While the formal elements of the piece imply a system of radial order, the emergent use patterns will provide another structure – an informal “social symmetry” given by the improvised and evolving requirements of Kaleidoscape’s users. Borrowing a page from the work of Henri Lefebvre the piece can be thought of as an expression of the inherent tension between a “conceived” ordering system designed at a privileged distance from the experience of the space, and the “perceived” properties of the space, based upon the complex and evolving needs of the user; the tension between a radial, top-down kaleidoscopic symmetry and an emergent and chaotic social symmetry of ever-changing use patterns.

Kaleidoscape was an intensely collaborative effort. We benefited greatly from the contributions of Joel Rose, fabricator extraordinaire, the expert upholstery design of Joona Creates, with clutch collaboration from Sasha Vermel Designs, and intrepid Apprentices Paul Andam and George Zisiadis.

The piece is on display at the museum through December 2015 and, if all goes well, it will continue to live at the new Berkeley Art Museum, designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, which is slated to open in 2016.

Have a look at the Museum’s exhibition page, which includes an open Flickr group as well as a video of the piece.

  • Date: 2013-present
  • Client:Berkeley Art Museum/Pacific Film Archive
  • Location: Berkeley, CA

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