SWA Group Gives Us the Inside Scoop On Their RETROSPECT Concept

SWA Group Gives Us the Inside Scoop On Their RETROSPECT Concept

As we head out to the RETROSPECT Garden Party at NorthPark Center this evening, we have this timely post from the SWA Group on their exhibit in this year's show.  Make sure you get out to the exhibition before it closes on Sunday so you can see their creative handiwork in person.  Thanks to Carrie Van Valkenburg and her team for providing us with their insights! Visit our Facebook page for an allbum of images of their concept and its fabrication.



The public generally views architecture in static terms. They see a building or a landscape as a stationary object, or as a place, but we see our designs as fluid objects and places that are dynamic with movement and life. Being able to express this idea in the built form is the challenge of our daily work, but a challenge that inspires us to think in extraordinary ways about how we live, work, and play. 

When we began thinking about this year’s Retrospect exhibit we convened a full staff meeting to discuss what sort of message we could send to the exhibition visitors about how we as designers think about the world around us. Knowing that we would be crafting this object ourselves meant that there would be a personal attachment to the idea that went beyond a simple diagram or model. Therefore it was important to us that the expression of the final piece needed to say certain things about SWA, but without the benefit of words or signage. We wanted to express the idea that what we do is artistic, but that it also has a basis in nature, and that the sustainable aspect of our practice is at our collective core.

The result is an organic object that is rhythmic and sculptural with visible lines that abstractly depict the contours of the land. The material is a recycled product that is also recyclable--and its purpose is also recyclable: in its vertical form it’s a marketing piece, and when laid on its side it is a bench.

So what does our piece say about us as designers? Firstly, that there is a three dimensionality to our work that is often expressed in landform; secondly, that there is artfulness that is expressed in our built work, and lastly, that we see our work as sustainable in idea as well as form.


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