Today's guest blogger is Scott Johnson, a Design Arts Society Board member and designer at Axiomport in Indianapolis.
Several years ago, I watched a video about the artistic collaboration between Picasso and Braque that lead to the birth of cubism. Part of that video included remarks by Frank Gehry, David Hockney, and others expressing the influence of cubism on art and design throughout the 20th century. Gehry spoke about sketching his ideas, the innate quality of the loose sketch, and of trying to capture that quality in the final execution of his designs. These ideas began to manifest themselves in his work, especially in such sculptural architecture as the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, the Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles, and, closer to Indianapolis, the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park.
Frank Gehry did not begin his career this way. His aesthetic evolved over many years from traditional architecture to architecture as sculpture. This is an evolution that’s understandable, given the three-dimensional nature of architecture and sculpture, how they occupy space, and the sense that both are considered the embodiment of a place. But when an architect applies a cubist sensibility to a project, with its depiction of a subject from multiple viewpoints rather than a single point of view, giving the subject a broader context, the lines between architecture and sculpture truly begin to blur.
I wonder if this isn’t the idea behind Gehry’s design for the three sided cube, an oxymoron of a name that hints at the furniture’s artistic origins. The cube closely resembles his design of the IAC Center, InterActiveCorp’s headquarters, Gehry’s first contribution to the Manhattan skyline. It’s been said that IAC Chairman Barry Diller suggested that his riverside headquarters have “something to do with sailing up the Hudson” and, indeed, the building is the embodiment of that sense of motion and movement. Like its companion easy chair, bench, and coffee table, the cube presents multiple points of view at the same time. Even the cube’s silver finish mimics the shimmer of Gehry’s signature stainless steel structures.
It’s refreshing to see a modern adaptation of an earlier style handled so well. Gehry interprets cubism on his own terms, using his vocabulary and aesthetic sense, giving an early 20th century art form a timeless representation, and adding a great object to the Design Arts Collection.