THE THREADS

architecture | interior design

Design & architecture reflect their times as much as they shape them. Weft or warp, each thread stands on its own and in the context of other threads. Feel free to jump around as you explore these threads curated by Micène Fontaine, Executive Director at DAS.
Design & architecture reflect their times as much as they shape them. These threads reflect the aftermath of a global pandemic, worsening and more frequent weather events, and societal shifts. Weft or warp, each thread stands on its own and in the context of other threads.
#wovenintime
WOVEN IN TIME
#1
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Our need to isolate and to feel protected predates the pandemic. The motivation for needing to isolate varies widely: From focus to relaxation, from lessening sensory overload to protecting from pathogens. From the 60s ball chair to mobile partitions to solutions designed for the open floor plan, our need for isolation is most evident in furniture design.
#isolation
ISOLATION
#2
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Not everyone was singing the praises of the open floor plan, especially not people working in open offices. On display in this thread are various solutions to provide occupants with a way to make a space work for them. A similar pattern is happening in homes that are increasingly called upon to serve as classrooms, offices, gyms, etc. Worth noting here is the departure from the room within a room as an afterthought to something planned to accommodate multiple uses.
#roomwithinaroom
ROOM WITHIN A ROOM
#3
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Our digital and physical spaces and lives are increasingly entangled, forcing us to look at how the built environment supports our digital lives and vice versa. Lines are increasingly blurred between interior and exterior spaces and between the physical and the digital. Virtual showrooms, digital material banks, samples, and various tools bridge the gap between the physical built environment and the digital spaces we inhabit.
#hybrid
HYBRID
#4
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While hybrid points to solutions that adapt to a variety of behavioral, physical, psychological, and cognitive needs and to solutions that are multidimensional in their use cases, augmented pokes at the extent to which our personal and professional abilities, lives, and bodies are augmented, enhanced, or boosted by advances in technology.
#augmented
AUGMENTED
#5
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As the pandemic ranged on, at the height of our need for isolation and desire to escape, we had to examine the spaces we inhabit, the people we live with, and the urban and natural landscapes closest to us. As we get reacquainted with the places we call home, severe weather events across the globe send stark reminders that things must change. Some of the answers we are looking for are hiding in plain sight: In local materials, traditional construction methods, and in what past generations had learned about the land. Solving the challenges we face globally requires a profound understanding of how interconnected the world is, yet localism is one of the first lines of defense.
#senseofplace
SENSE OF PLACE
#6
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Escapism is what happens when our need for isolation goes unmet. Maybe a room within a room is no longer sufficient. We need processing time. We need a respite from everything that is going on, and many of us find it outdoors or far away from what keeps us up at night. Advertisers have picked up on that.
#escapism
ESCAPISM
#7
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Architects and designers not only share concepts that satisfy our need to get away but also point to our yearning for togetherness. With escapism comes a degree of avoidance of challenging questions: How sustainable is luxury eco-tourism? Is conscious capitalism the answer? With a built environment increasingly divorced from its context, are we losing more than a sense of place? Are we also making it increasingly difficult to escape in real life?
#avoidance
AVOIDANCE?
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Biophilia, biomimicry, and bio-design drive innovations across sectors, including design and architecture. Biophilia starts with the use of patterns, colors, and shapes that echo nature on accessories, furniture, coverings, and finishes. While we derive some benefits from being exposed to representations of nature, we need biophilic design to go deeper. Green walls, green roofs, and green infrastructure are all steps in that direction, and so is the use of natural construction materials.
#biophilia
BIOPHILIA
#8
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We are a part of nature and cannot survive without it. Our built environment needs to embrace that.
#commitment
COMMITMENT?
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Mother nature has been busy knocking us off our pedestal. We are now on an accelerated collision course with nature, mostly stemming from our refusal to see ourselves as part of it. It's overwhelming, and the path forward requires a mindset shift. For starters, it requires a multi-generational, deep-time approach, so some naturally cling to what's behind door number one: more of the same, do nothing. However, most architects and designers engage with what is behind door number 2. For some, the door is barely cracked open. We will stay put. Design and build to mitigate symptoms and solutions still rooted in the "us versus nature" narrative. For others, the door is wide open, and innovative ideas abound to allow human life to thrive in symbiosis with nature.
#doornumber1doornumber2
DOOR #1 OR DOOR #2
#9
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When the pandemic hit the brakes on the hamster wheel, space was carved for us to take stock of our lives. Some are eager to get back on and "back to normal." For others, it's an opportunity to recalibrate how we show up and engage — a chance to design and build the future we want to see for future generations.
#futures
FUTURES
#10
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Greenwashing is alive and well. From misleading labels and misinformation to hidden trade-offs and hidden costs, we need transparency. Yet, gatekeepers continue to play a role in controlling the narrative. In a post-truth and ultra-democratized era, some gatekeepers further muddy the waters while others help us see through the chatter. Telling them apart can be tricky, yet - if we are going to design anew - we must.
#transparency #gatekeepers
TRANSPARENCY / GATEKEEPERS
#11
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The challenges we face are too complex, and the stakes too high not to engage in some form of co-design. Yet, not everyone supports participatory design, which switches the narrative from designing for to designing with a particular group. Not only does it reflect a shift in the role of designers and architects and in the power dynamics surrounding their work, but it also spreads the responsibility of finding adequate solutions to the entire community.
#participative
PARTICIPATIVE
#12
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Cities won't change overnight, but they are ripe for reinvention. Step one is to zoom out and understand the ecosystems at play. Then we must find ways to embed our built environment into the natural world. Tough questions are bound to come up: Can we afford to build for resilience and stay put? If not here, then where? Are we mitigating symptoms or getting to the root cause of the issues? What's the goal: Future readiness or future fitness?
#rethinkingcities
RETHINKING CITIES
#13
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Tough questions are bound to come up: Can we afford to build for resilience and stay put? If not here, then where? Are we mitigating symptoms or getting to the root cause of the issues? What's the goal: Future readiness or future fitness?
#toughquestions
IF NOT HERE, THEN WHERE? IF NOT NOW, THEN WHEN?
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The numbers have not changed much. The industry is one of the least diverse, but there's an awareness and a deliberate attempt to work on it. Any proposed path forward must include diversity, modularity, and adaptability to be viable. That's how life thrives, and our built environment can bolster that.
#diversity #modularity #adaptability
DIVERSE, MODULAR, ADAPTABLE
#14
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Fun and play help us process the world. That's also how we connect with each other and how we learn. Every whimsical design or ethereal art installation creates an opportunity to engage with the issues we are facing. The increased emphasis placed on whimsy in design also reminds us of the mental health crisis that has taken hold.
#play
FUN
#15
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Look around. It's a lot. Often overwhelming, sometimes paralyzing. No wonder we are each experiencing some level of emotional exhaustion. Awareness is rising that we must take of ourselves. "Put your oxygen mask on first before helping others."
#mentalhealth
MENTAL HEALTH
#16
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One With the Land starts with context-dependent designs and calls upon us to rediscover local, traditional, ancestral, and indigenous knowledge and artifacts, symbols, beliefs, values, construction methods, use of local materials, etc. It's about relearning how to have a more intimate and symbiotic relationship with nature so we can continue to thrive as a species on Earth.
#onewiththeland
ONE WITH THE LAND
#17
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With a strain on resources, architects and designers are teaming up with scientists to develop innovative building materials. We are also rediscovering traditional methods and materials perfected over time before falling out of favor.
#science
EARTH SCIENCES
#18
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Handmade is a natural fit for architects and designers who understand the emotional weight and cultural relevance of handmade items. It speaks to our innate desire for authenticity and feeds us in our quest for meaning. Handmade is also a stress test of our willingness to let go.
#handmade
HANDMADE
#19
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Handmade items are highly sought after except for one thing: They are handmade, and it shows. We have not fully come to grips with what it means. Do we value authenticity or perfection? Is variability a price we are willing to pay for storytelling, provenance, and a sense of place?
#itshows
IT SHOWS
#20
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Those are some of the people who chose to leverage the power of design and architecture to address the challenges we face. It takes a diversity of voices and approaches to do this work. You are one of those voices.
#people
PEOPLE
#21
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We are looking for portals. Portals through time, place, and our collective inner realm. It's all about storytelling. Stories we tell about ourselves, about the world, about the future. About the version of the future we want to see. How much imperfection are we willing to allow on this quest as we tackle complex issues? While it stands firmly rooted in fear and politics, the allure of the status quo crumbles under close inspection. Deep down, we know that more of the same won't stand the test of time. We are on a soul-searching mission for meaning and purpose. And in the process, we must face our troubled relationships with time, place, each other, and ourselves.
#portals
PORTALS
#22
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It's all about storytelling. Stories we tell about ourselves, about the world, about the future. About the version of the future we want to see.
#storytelling
STORYTELLING
#23
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