[Herald Design Forum 2019] Alex Mustonen, artist who reinvents everyday structures, materials

By Shim Woo-hyun
  • Published : Oct 7, 2019 - 18:05
  • Updated : Oct 7, 2019 - 18:05

Alex Mustonen, co-founder of New York-based studio Snarkitecture, is a creator of unconventional objects and spaces, merging different disciplines, including art and architecture. 

Benches and translucent balls used for “The Beach” are on display at the National Building Museum in Washington in 2015. (Snarkitecture)

Mustonen and his colleagues at Snarkitecture -- Daniel Arsham and Ben Porto -- are widely known for their works that reinterpret everyday structures and materials, transforming them into something utterly new to invite visitors to engage with their surroundings.

At Herald Design Forum 2019, Mustonen will talk about Snarkitecture projects, including the collaboration with Berlin-based Pentatonic, titled “Fractured.”

“Fractured” is a set of modular furniture made from recycled waste, including cans, computer parts and coffee cups. It is hard to fathom they were created from recycled waste when looking at the sleek-looking products. 

Furniture from Snarkitecture’s project “Fractured,” a collaboration with Berlin-based brand Pentatonic (Snarkitecture)

Made entirely with post-consumer waste, each bench required 240 plastic bottles, 45 aluminum cans, 120 items of food packaging and four car bumpers. Each table was made using 1,290 cans, 140 food containers and coffee cup lids and six car bumpers.

The furniture items have large cracks that split the pieces into two parts like puzzle pieces. The items were designed to reflect the recycling process itself, as each piece can be broken into two and put back to form a whole again.

Other projects by Snarkitecture include a permanent exhibition space called Snark Park, which opened this year in the Hudson Yards multibillion-dollar redevelopment program aimed at expanding Manhattan’s midtown business district toward the Hudson River.

This year, the New York-based studio filled a Manhattan gallery run by carmaker Lexus with 168 responsive spherical orbs that change color upon being touched.

In 2015, Snarkitecture transformed the grand hall of the National Building Museum in Washington into a “beach” featuring a sea of translucent balls, complete with a shoreline decorated with lounge chairs and umbrellas.

Mustonen studied at the Irwin S. Chanin School of Architecture at the Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art in New York. He later co-founded Snarkitecture in 2008.

By Shim Woo-hyun (