March 7, 2012  |  Artists, Behind the Scenes
Architect Collaborations at the MoMA Design Store: Stephan Jaklitsch

Terrain Vase. Stephan Jaklitsch. 2011

In 1932, MoMA established the world’s first curatorial department devoted to architecture and design. Since then, the MoMA Design Store has collaborated with a number of established and emerging architects, inviting them to develop thoughtful, engaging home products that encourage exploration of the discipline’s key themes including structure, spatial organization, and materials.

Working with MoMA marked the first time these architects developed small products for the home and for personal use. They were challenged to apply skills generally used in the conception of large, immobile spaces to the design of durable, transportable items that could be produced en masse at a reasonable cost.

Today inaugurates a series of posts that will examine specific products in the stores resulting from these collaborations. I hope the learning process undergone by each architect will inspire you to try your hand at a new, creative endeavor.

Terrain Vase. Stephan Jaklitsch. 2011

Stephan Jaklitsch‘s portfolio, which includes all the Marc Jacobs stores around the world, is notable for rigorous designs that manipulate space and light to enhance people’s experience with a building. His idea for the Terrain Vase shows the same sensitivity to human interaction. The vase is composed of interlocking panels arranged over a watertight reservoir. Following the precise logic of an intelligent puzzle, the panels can be arranged in two mirror-like configurations.

Assembled, the panels create an undulating form evoking the earth’s natural tapestry. Arranging flowers in the vase is a purposefully engaging activity as its multiple openings at different heights encourage playfulness and experimentation with a range of floral varieties. For a dramatic display, several vases can be connected to create a flowing, tabletop setting that mimics the natural landscapes frequently informing Jaklitsch’s work.

The project proved to be an opportunity for the architect to unify disparate interests, including natural topography, puzzles, organic formations, and environmental sustainability. The latter drove Jaklitsch to research biodegradable materials and led to the vase’s construction from a cornstarch-based plastic selected for its eco-friendly properties as well as its suitability for the vase’s contemporary aesthetic and practicality for day-to-day use.