Meeting with Greg

Bill and I sat down with Greg today to discuss my thesis proposal for the museum. Greg was excited to say the least. We didn't talk to much about specifics other than a few programatic elements that Greg threw out off the top of his head. The next step will be to meeting with Greg over at the museum and have him show me around. I'll also have to figure out how to fund this thing since I'm all but broke. Heh.



The thesis project

In a conversation sometime last year, Bill told me the museum had approached him about designing and building a deployable "cart" to serve guests during exhibit opening, among other things. The conversation developed from one we had previous on Allan Wexler. Bill had Allan as a professor during his undergraduate studies at Parsons in New York.

I was introduced to Allan several years ago while at Auburn. He came to lecture on his current work which I immediately became fascinated with, specifically his use of restrictions in his design process. Allan would use self imposed restriction such as materials, time, tools, typologies and geometries when designing/building a project. To him, these limitations are media to work within, ways of sparking ingenuity and help ignite discoveries and innovative ideas. the resultant object or objects represent an idea either done singularly or in series. When he is completed, he compiles the object(s) as well as the scrap materials and presents them as a complete work. By doing so he allows the viewer to see the process of his making each displayed for interpretation.

For Allan, making is a form of meditation. He approaches his work with clear thoughts allowing the process to guide him. Process is a tool he uses to frame or guide his making. By using these imposed restrictions, he is allowing for many decisions to be predetermined. He sets up a series of knowns and allows himself the opportunity to discover the unknowns. His investigations are not about the end product; they are about the process of his making and the learning through simple design problems. These circumstances give him the ability to push each investigation to its boundaries while challenging the outcome. By changing one simple variable within his process, a whole new set of opportunities emerges and become a fresh palette to work with.

To get back to the conversation with Bill, while at Parsons Allan created a project for the Parsons School of Architecture, Parsons Kitchen. This project was a serving bar and meeting place for the entrance lobby for the school. When needed, the cart is rolled out and when not in use it occupies what was once a large cavity space in the wall. The museum was essentially asking Bill to design and build something similar to Allan's cart for Parsons.

Flash forward to this past summer. Bill had not mentioned the cart for the museum in quite some time. I wondered if he was going to build it. Because my thoughts were, what if I could design and build the cart for the museum, as a thesis project. I got nervous, even panicked a little. This was what I was looking for, a thesis project I could get excited about. It took me about two months before I could get the nerve to ask him about it. What if he was planning on building the cart? My hopes by then had built up to an ecstatic level. A few small words and they would quickly be dashed into a million bits.

His reaction? "You have to do this for your thesis project." Woohoo! I was soaring. The only catch would be selling the idea again to the museum and following through with it, not to mention figuring out how to pay for it, but I'll get to that later. So immediately when Bill and I had a free day, we set up a meeting with Greg Wittkopp, director of the Cranbrook Museum of Art.

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