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Purple Haze



Designers: Jason Payne, Heather Roberge

Gnuform was a YAP finalist in 2006 with Purple Haze, a project that used fog, wading pools, mist, rain, a canopy, and the crowds of WarmUp attendees to create a sensory experience suggested in the lyrics of Jimi Hendrix's iconic song of the same name. Architects Jason Payne and Heather Roberge have since gone on to found the architectural firms Hirsuta and murmur.

Q&A with Gnuform

MoMA PS1: How did you position yourself to get nominated?
Jason Payne and Heather Roberge, Gnuform: We did not consciously position ourselves for nomination. Instead, the direction our work had moved in the years leading up to our selection seems to have coincided with a larger discursive shift happening around the edges of emerging experimental design. We refer here to the move from projects of a more rarefied geometrical fixation toward the inclusion of affective and atmospheric qualities. Celebration of process was supplanted by a renewed focus on product. Our own formalist origins notwithstanding, we had been pushing in this alternative direction for several years prior to our nomination. More than any overt act of "positioning," we were in the right place at the right time as our own objectives and sensibility aligned with changing disciplinary tastes.

MoMA PS1: Did YAP change anything for you or your firm? When did you recognize the full potential of the competition?
Gnuform: We've followed the shortlist and selection process of YAP since the beginning. The program provides a rare opportunity for young architects to conduct design and material research with few aesthetic constraints. During the design process we had a talented team of assistants larger than any group we'd previously led. We were pleased with the conceptual strength and quality of our design proposal. Following the program, our proposal received positive attention from colleagues, educators, and students, and continues to provoke discussion on techniques of multisensory stimulation, the potency of atmospherics as a fundamental design objective, and the legitimacy of affective disposition as endgame.

MoMA PS1: How was your design shaped by the history of YAP?
Gnuform: We collected documentation of each prior proposal and discussed the merits and limitations of each scheme. Paramount in this initial research was our assessment of the polemical position assumed by the stronger schemes such that we might position our own entry in critical relation to the larger trajectory of YAP's discursive history.