Conversations in Context

Murray Moss + Francois de Menil

Conversations in Context invited leaders from creative fields to reflect on the site’s past, present, and future, and to contribute their perspectives on the Glass House and its significance to contemporary debates.

Murray Moss of MOSS and Moss Bureau, has sought out, discovered (or re-discovered), collaborated with, supported, and often nurtured, a large number of international designers, studios, and manufacturers, not only providing a unique and highly influential platform for their voices to be heard, but introducing new thinking, new contexts, new technologies, and new materials to the public for the past 17 years. Moss’s store has often been compared to a museum: at his shop/gallery in SoHo, he was a pioneer in his field, curating and producing, annual, acclaimed exhibitions, partnering with diverse entities and thereby expanding greatly the subject and definition of design. Moss’ agenda is to expand the criteria with which we evaluate ‘functional objects’, arguing that the inclusion of narrative, or an ‘art content’, in a functional object creates a hybrid: for example, ‘sculpture’ as well as ‘tool.’ Moss has continuously argued that the dictum ‘form follows function’ should be re-thought of as a point of view, not a biblical command. He believes good design is based on established, but arbitrary criteria, and that there are multiple sets of criteria due to multiple designer agendas; and hence multiple definitions of good. He has repeatedly invented more effective ways of illuminating the multitude of briefs designers can bring to a project, and succeeded in clearly articulating these briefs to the public through his iconic store displays and gallery exhibitions. Deliberately blurring the distinctions between industrial production and studio craft, between utilitarian objects and art, and more recently, between Modernist tenants and the resurgence of the Decorative Arts, the highly eclectic, ingeniously curated, museum-like presentations incorporate both humor and surprise as well as an intelligence and highly informed familiarity with the questions what ‘design’ is (and, most importantly, what it can be). Moss is a frequent guest speaker at art academies, universities, and museums. Mr. Moss has been acknowledged through numerous awards in his field, including the 2002 Chrysler Design Award and Russell Wright Award, House Beautiful’s 2000 Giants of Design Award, and Metropolitan Home’s 2004 Modernism Award. In 2007 he was inducted into Interior Design Magazine’s Hall of Fame. Photo courtesy of Moss.

Francois de Menil, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C; is Principal and founder of FdM:Arch, an internationally acclaimed architecture firm. De Menil grew up in one of the first International Style structures built in Texas, a mid-century residence designed by Philip Johnson in 1948, a one-story brick long and low-slung house set back on a large plot of land that is now part of the Menil Collection.  De Menil began his career as a filmmaker, creating films on the sculptors Mark di Suvero, Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle. It was an interest in three-dimensional forms that first drew him to architecture. In 1987, he received his Bachelor in Architecture from the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art. Prior to founding his own firm in 1991, de Menil worked in the offices of Richard Meier & Partners and Kohn Pedersen Fox. FdM:Arch has provided architectural and interior design services for a variety of institutional, residential, retail and corporate office projects. Under de Menil’s guidance, FdM:Arch is known for combining a understanding of light and space with an ability to find architectural solutions through inspiring narratives. The firm’s architecture examines issues of social, historical, and cultural context and transforms this research into a specific narrative related to the client, the site, and the program. From this synthesis emerges a signature concept that informs the tectonics. Across typologies from residential to institutional, the work explores issues relating to how we live, how we work, and how we experience the spirituality of life. The work exhibits innovative interpretations of programs capturing the project’s essence, reflecting its occupants, and harmonizing with its site. Photo by Oberto Gili.

The 2013 season of Conversations in Context was generously supported by Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope®  

Additional support was kindly provided by Nat and Lucy Day.

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