Five Question For: Snarkitecture's Daniel Arsham and Alex Mustonen

Art.sy: What is your definition of design?

Alex Mustonen: Snarkitecture has an interesting relationship to design. We’re not necessarily a design practice. I started with a background in architecture. Daniel’s an artist, so we moved between these disciplines and it’s something that’s sort of a grey area, or a blur, between those two disciplines, without ever necessarily fully immersing in either one. We’re always interested in that kind of confusion between, say, design and architecture or objects and architecture. For us, design is productive territory between art and architecture.

Daniel Arsham : Design is objects that have purpose.

Art.sy: What design object do you live with that you couldn’t live without?

DA: Probably my iPhone. [laughs] 

AM: That’s probably the most realistic answer. I have other things that aren’t design objects that I live with on a daily basis, because it’s very functional. To date we’ve been solely focused on functional objects, objects with a purpose. 

DA: Although, those objects often have an ambiguous function. So they look like they could do something, but you’re not quite sure if it’s a table or a stool or a bench; it floats between all of these different purposes. 

AM: Or for that matter, confusion in their function, meaning: if you look at some of the pieces we’re doing with Volume, some of them look like they’re literally broken or non-functional, but in fact they’re all entirely functional, entirely stable, purposeful objects.

Art.sy: Can you share your favorite design book, periodical, or blog? 

DA: I like Frame magazine a lot. I look at a lot of design blogs, more than anything. SiteUnseen and DesignBoom and things like that. 

AM: Pin-Up is always in the studio, although it’s a little more architecture than design.

Art.sy: What is your favorite piece being exhibited at Design Miami/?

AM: Our piece “Bend” is my new favorite piece because we just made it. I really like Maarten de Ceulaer’s collaboration with Fendi. 

DA: I really love all the Wendell Castle works; I’ve seen a lot of them before, but never in person and in such a large quantity.

Art.sy: In your personal spaces, how do design objects and fine art relate? 

AM: I don’t have anything on the walls in my apartment. 

DA: I have lots of things on the walls in my apartment. There’s no hierarchy though; everything’s sort of the same, from a drawing that I picked up at a flea market to one of my own works or by artist friends. It’s salon style. There are objects framed that are on tables leaning against walls, stuff everywhere.

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Portrait courtesy of Noah Kalina

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