Yen Ha & Michi Yanagishita (Front Studio) DISSOLVING BARRIERS / Lecture

Front Studio, the enterprising firm founded in 2001, is noted for its ability to blur the distinctions between art and architecture. The practice has won several international competitions which challenge conventional notions of space, often through the evocation of visionary ideas. Currently under the stewardship of Yen Ha and Michi Yanagishita, Front Studio pursues a thoughtful and creative approach to design.

Recently their entry into the White House Redux competition entitled “American White House” was named an Official Selection of the Popular Vote online component. The project proposes taking the renovation of the White House into an extreme light by empowering the American public with the right to decide the outcome of our national symbol, the White House through the most democratic of stages, the reality TV show.

Front Studio’s speculative work often acts as a springboard for discussion and inspiration. Most notably the Farmadelphia project, a finalist in the “Urban Voids: Grounds for Change” competition, has served as a catalyst for the local farming and gardening communities in and around Philadelphia. The disparate individuals and organizations, based on the ideas posited by the Farmadelphia project, have begun to find cohesion in each other using Farmadelphia as an initial thematic generator.

In their built work, Front Studio has been recognized as a leader in elegant and timeless design. Whether creating interior environments or constructed additions, their built work exudes a carefully detailed, warm modernity. They have been named one of the world’s hottest 50 young firms by Wallpaper Magazine.

Reluctant to participate in current trends and fashions, Front Studio’s commitment to creativity ensures that every project undergoes a careful and comprehensive investigation. In addition to rigorous design methods, the firm instills projects with a sense of humor, recognizable in their whimsical proposals. Fluent in French, Vietnamese and Japanese, Michi and Yen work on an international scale, collaborating with foreign clients based locally and abroad. Whether speculative or realized, Front Studio is constantly inspired by its surroundings, discovering innovation and imagination in every opportunity.

During their lecture at Laznia CCA they will not only talk about the origins of Invisible Gate but also present their current projects (e.g. Q-CITY: An Investigation exhibited at Storefront for Art and Architecture, New York). The duo will also focus on the most significant works of art in public space and architecture pieces that attempt to dissolve barriers or overcome borders.

Invisible Gate, the project by Front Studio awarded in the 1st edition of the Outdoor Gallery of the City of Gdansk competition, aims to abolish the physical barriers between the Old Town and the Lower Town while being typically minimalist in form, materials and architecture, and displaying a high level of symbolism. Covering the part of the flyover with steel lining in the form of mirrors gives a new value to the Lower Town and in a way it undoes the mistake of those who had designed the flyover and separated two quarters from each other. It brightens up, physically and metaphorically, the space under the flyover, making it feel wider. The advantage is its fragmentary character, showing the contrast between what decorates and what mars the city organism. It is also a monumental project in its scale, influential in the scale of the entire city, giving it a new meaning. Invisible Gate is characterised by its wide symbolism in the form of mirrors, reflections, multiplications of the images of people, architecture and the river which provides a wide field for interpretation. It is worth emphasising the play of the light at successive times of day and the change of colours as an aesthetic and sensual quality. Moreover, this work is surprising and its location will encourage tourists to overcome the “not-existent” barrier and to visit the Lower Town.

Coordination: Anna Szynwelska