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I have been working on a little sketch competition to create a pleasure desk for a well known colleague who is to conclude soon his numerous years of famous lectures and turn them into book volumes.

In Mark’s original lectures and debates on numerous architectural topics was ever present negotiations to how we relate, evolve and subconsciously react to the world that surrounds us, how these relations may affect our ever-changing psychic and physical bodies while recognising the indeterminacy of the external world, and architecture’s oblique place within it.

Inspired by Mark’s unique topics designing a desk for Mark became uniquely oblique question – can a desk as a utilitarian object become an agent in evolving indeterminately functional relationships in architecture space for ever changing physical and psychical satisfaction of needs?

Thinking materially what desk as an object and architecture share are edges of materiality that bodies brush off so often. Greatly unexplored in desk design these corners and edges may be opportunities to address indeterminacy of needs within an interior space and turned into deliciously pleasurable edges, not for one but few people.

As important drive and intrinsic principle that operates at unconscious level that demands gratification of desires and need A Pleasure Desk with Soft Lines for Mark is also a utilitarian object and a potent drive for making it a comfort zone and joy to work at in the office. It could be rotated, moved and adjusted to numerous positions in the room so to relate to students, visitors or colleagues and other pieces of furniture. It has an underneath storage space for various chapters of Mark’s forthcoming volumes, loose items like bags or computer bags and the raised level, un-obstructive shelf for coffee cups, pencils, ashtrays and cigarettes. Desk’s position in the room is indeterminate, hence the introduction of ‘soft lines’ – a tool and an element by which design could be precariously understood – as a pliability to touch similar to other utilitarian objects like a phone, cup or a lighter or as a painter’s depiction of softness and richness of fabric that is in touch with the body. Finally the colour – a first thing that is perceived in the brain, before motion and form – is an element of joy and alteration of space in the room – a table as a source and focus for many events that take place in the room.

All together a bit like Mark himself.table movement diagramsmark plan view betterMark table persp viewMark table front pers viewMark table front view 2Mark table side viewMark desk room view 2Mark desk room view 3Mark desk room view 4Mark standing viewMark table derrida viewMark table editor viewMark table student viewMark and derrida drwg

This table questions the hierarchy of dining table by discussing the difference between ‘being at the table’ and ‘interacting around the table’ moving the body from static expectation into dynamic encounter. The table consists of 5 parts, numerous corners and legs with the possibility to be re-assembled and assembled in numerous configurations. Each configuration offers deliberately indeterminate opportunities to be configured by the body and its performance. Photography Frederik Petersen and Ivana Wingham.

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LOOKING ‘BACK’

The Body Model was an approximation of a look back by a body unaware, a deliberate dispersal of precision of an eye, a trace of body motion left behind yet recorded. Loosely inspired by the looking back present in the Grande Odalisque by Ingres, Manet’s Breakfast on Grass and Lot’s wife myth, the wearable model attempts to harness the temporality of motion present in the body disturbing the precision of the camera. 

Ingres paints a woman from the back whose elongated spine, with her upper body outgrown the proportion of her lower body, in order to be able to stretch and turn her head so she could look back. Manet’s naked woman, in the company of two dressed men and a woman, who looks back, gazes daringly into the space outside the place where she seemingly belongs. Lot’s Wife, who looked back, became a pillar of salt. This pillar is a cornerstone around which space evolves in all directions – mythically and geographically. 

These, key protagonists of looking back gaze, are displaced, either portrayed as being out of the enclosed world of a harem and given a special position amongst many, or displaced from the fully dressed company of man and another woman, or encroaching into disputable territories from where the space can evolve in various directions. The body model exploits this ambiguity of the location of such gaze – could it be that its location is constantly evolving temporally in space? As the camera is conditioned by the body it’s technically minded lens enters into a borderland where the spatial conditions of an image are unfixed and mutable, evolving the timelines of displacement, fuzzy registrations and uncertain conditions.