GRAFT begin from a mandate diametrically opposed to Burdick’s rigorous assignment but end with a similarly satisfying formal expression. Neither tomb, monument nor architecture, the project by this intercontinental design-collective confounds Adolf Loos’ sliding-scale between art and utility with their contribution of three remote-controlled helium-filled balloons. The surfaces of the floating forms are metallic and reflective and bear random photos of, among other things, other GRAFT projects, bringing up the question as to whether these are advertising blimps. The shapes of the balloons speak of arbitrariness itself, with a profusion of limbs and protrusions curling away from the main body. They’re a cross between furniture and vehicle, about the size of a sofa but moving around, bearing reflective metallic skins. Maneuverable by remote control like a toy boat or plane, the inflatables focus the viewer’s skill on controlling the flight path. The movement in the vertical axis is the most delightful and surprising, and along the ground it offers variability to the gallery space filled with static objects. The main function of the balloons is play, and play is an ultimate Modern use that has, over the course of the last century, been perceived as the most exulted of human activities.5 With its only objective being delight and pleasure, play invokes sensation with a directness often attributed to the expressive power of pure form. Play has been ascribed utopian, transcendent qualities through experience that is clear and accessible. These GRAFTBalloons declare themselves as forms-for-their-own-sake, deploying associative and historical references in a light, offhand way.
Like Fackel Dictionary: Idioms and the The Most Expensive Space in North America, Folding Structure is an example of design-as-research. A graceful four-foot wide strip made of faceted clear plastic material arcs over the viewer’s head in a symmetrical parabolic shape about eight feet high at its mid-point. The Folding Structure is somewhere between object and enclosure. It is a prototype hinting at architectural uses, but is also complete in its form and function as an artwork. Yeh and Jerrard’s stated intention is purely pragmatic: they are investigating rigid surfaces through folded-plane geometry, be they made of paper, Styrofoam, plywood, plastic or anything else - to create forms that are both structure and skin. These structure-skins imply infinite uses since the folding technique is applicable ubiquitously at any scale. Some of his suggestions for use, presented within a list of categories: lampshades, conference rooms, bus shelters
and some under “military” (the evil cousin of “camping/beach”). Yeh and Jerrard’s project resembles
experiments carried out at the Bauhaus in which design was inspired by techniques of industrial production. For example, Marcel Breuer adapted the fabrication of non-reinforced steel tubes from bicycle handlebars for use in furniture. But another historical precedent contemporaneous with the Bauhaus has a closer link to the Folding Structure: In 1926 Le Corbusier published a new kind of manifesto, one which deferred any literary or philosophical references, making it very different from the polemical writings of Walter Gropius, the director of the Bauhaus. In The Five Points of Architecture the Purist painter and architect made an