“Instruments: Reimaging the Music Room” is a fascinating exhibition of student work from the Piet Zwart Institute’s Master Interior Architecture & Retail Design program, studying the role of sound in the domestic space. Each work creates a physical manifestation, or conduit, of the soundscapes that pervade our most private spaces, either raucously or imperceptibly. The exhibition itself is formatted similar to a black box theatre, to encourage visitors to completely immerse themselves in the pieces’ atmosphere. Check out the exhibition description below, along with images of the students’ work.
Instruments. Reimaging the Music Room is an exhibition that centres on the theme of the domestic soundscape and the place of music in the home. The study explores the detection and recognition of an immaterial audio presence or sonic architectures that exists in the home, engendered by our domestic rituals, their space and objects. This audio presence requires the inhabitant to recognize a spatial acuteness, cognition, and mapping, which isn’t necessarily rational, visible or haptic. In turn, the inquiry has generated projects, which offer novel design solutions and alternative ‘sonic’ experiences for contemporary home life.
The exhibition is designed to simulate a black-box theatre -an immersive space for the designers to present and demonstrate their projects to the visitors. Videos complement each project, planned as performative narratives to illustrate how the projects work in space, while they also reflect the designer’s idiosyncratic domestic ‘sound diaries’ that originally inspired the project.
Building upon the past two exhibitions Fabrikaat (2012), Altered Appliances (2013), both exhibited at Ventura Lambrate during Milan Design Week, INSTRUMENTS (2014) is part of a trilogy that investigates making, materiality, and application in the context of the domestic space. The projects were researched and made during thematic design studios by a group of international designers in the Master Interior Architecture & Retail Design [MIARD] program at the Piet Zwart Institute, Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
The Master of Interior Architecture & Retail Design programme at the Piet Zwart Institute is an international postgraduate programme that is part of the Willem de Kooning Academy Rotterdam University.
The project INSTRUMENTS examines sounds that occur in the contemporary domestic space - from the materiality of the house as a built structure with ‘live’ integrated systems, as well as its room types, their objects and human activities. The domestic today is a polysemous environment. Yet, it is a personal place, where we experience some of the most intimate and private moments. Good or bad. It is a sequencing of spaces/interiors, as Walter Benjamin would note, where we leave and display our “traces.” It is where we welcome our friends, fold and hang our clothes, cook and store our food, arrange and display our objects and furniture, and nurture our children, pets and plants. The home is where we sleep, eat, fornicate, work, entertain, cook, bath, defecate, fight, as well as Skype and Tweet – clearly, one of the most poly-functional spaces we inhabit. With its squeaky floors, rickety steps, rusty doors, banging cabinets, springy mattress, windy windows, popping toasters, snoring lovers, on and on these are sounds, noise artist, Luigi Russolo wouldn’t refuse. The home is a space where a certain audio ‘presence’ exists, where we make and deploy the soundscape and sonic architectures of today’s domestic life.
Further inquiry was to look at music as a more formalized and cultivated mode of sound making both historically and today. By analyzing the history of 17th century music rooms as a domestic room type, its architecture and emergence in Western European society as a secular open-space for music making, recitals, dances and the relationship between player and listener. We studied the making of musical instruments and its materialization as a highly elaborate form of art and craft. And more recently, how the digitalization of music has radically transformed how we make, play and listen to news forms of audio.
As a third point of view to examine sound as a medium and material, we studied artists whose work is grounded in sound art, such as Ronald van der Meijs, Pinaree Sanpitak, Zimoun, Bernhard Leitner, Luke Jerram and Haroon Mirza, among others.
“At first, the number of rooms specifically identifiable as ‘music rooms’ was very small, but gradually, over the following 150 years, specialised music rooms began to appear in larger residences in both France and Italy. A major theme.....is the relationship between the size and purpose of the room and the kinds of music performed – depending on the size, portability and loudness of different instruments; the types of music suited to spaces of different dimensions; the role of music in dancing and banqueting; and the positions of players and listeners. Musical instruments were often elaborately decorated to become works of art in their own right.”
The Music Room in Early Modern France and Italy: Sound, Space and Object, Deborah Howard and Laura Moretti, 2012, British Academy Publications
All images and videos courtesy of Alex Suarez.
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