Recharge: Illinois Tech’s winning exhibition

TechNews Writer
Mon Nov 26, 2018

Photo courtesy of Illinois Tech College of Architecture


The Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design (SOFA) Fair was held its 25th exhibition on November 1 - November 4, 2018 on the Navy Pier. The fair featured work from museums, colleges, and art organizations. Works from the event included three-dimensional sculptures, ceramics, glass blown objects, paintings, jewelry, decorative arts, and mixed media. Part of the SOFA Fair is an exhibition called SOFA CONNECT. This year marked the sixth year of CONNECT, which is a design competition that highlights six design programs throughout the nation. Students, under the  guidance of faculty, are tasked with creating a seating and lighting installation to be displayed during the fair. One of these six installations was chosen as the winner of CONNECT, and Illinois Tech was crowned this year’s winner. The other schools that participated this year were the University of Iowa, the University of California Davis, the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, and Virginia Tech University. The winner was chosen by a jury of five design specialists.

This year, Illinois Tech’s third-year architecture studios entered the SOFA CONNECT. Illinois Tech’s student leaders included Adam Rostek, Erez Krengel, Myles Emmons, Mitchell Hawkins, and Riya Desai. They were advised by Professor John DeSalvo. However, the entire third year studio was involved as well as the College of Architecture faculty and the Materials and Metals staff. Their exhibition was titled "Recharge." The final design was conceptualized by combining ideas from smaller groups and using the principles of space to create an intimate, single user, group and transitional spaces. The title "Recharge" was chosen because of how the students chose to incorporate varied scale and object configuration to fill a 24-by-24 foot site. To let guests a change to relax during their time at SOFA, Illinois Tech included charging station so guest of SOFA could “recharge” during the fair. The project itself was chosen by emphasizing the different planes - X,Y, and Z. By using seating arrangement in width, wall facade in depth, and lighting systems in height, the students were able to capture the essence of the different planes. To establish lighting, a daylight white light was chosen to complement the tone of the wood.

The project was inspired by the four Japanese words for space and the different connotation for each word. "Wa" refers to relational space which is how a person’s relationships are influenced by a space. "Ba" refers to knowledge-mobilizing space which is when elements of a space allows for new knowledge and experience to be formed. "Tokaro" refers to location which is how a space fits into a bigger picture. The notion of "tokaro" lets an interior space connect with an exterior space because it mixes the boundaries between the inside and out; thus, creating a relationship between different spaces. The final concept of "ma" refers to negative space, which allows for a viewer to experience moments of quiet and awareness. “The negative space throughout the project was set by configuration of spatial intersections between seating elemental bands and wall systems, leading to a dictated, yet uncontrolled movement into, out of, and through the composition,” said Rostek.

This year's winning SOFA CONNECT exhibition will be on display and for use in Crown Hall from December 5 through January 18.


Photo courtesy of Illinois Tech College of Architecture



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2018 - Fall - Issue 11