Bittersweet Memories In Design Experience – Andre Simapranata

Thom Mayne was the founder and the main principal of Morphosis, one of Californian influence architecture firm which was founded in 1972 by Mayne and Jim Stafford before Rotondi joined a year later. This firm was known as a progressive consultant, which has a range of work from residential, institutional, civic buildings, and large urban planning projects. [1] Morphosis also does a research project initiative, cooperating with the graduate school of architecture department in the University of California Los Angeles, under The Now Institute. Over the past 10 years, the institute has partnered with private organisations, policymakers and non-governmental organisations in Los Angeles, New Orleans, Madrid, Beijing and Port-au-Prince. [2]

Our friend, Andre Simapranata shared his pleasant journey through the past 10 years abroad. During those times, Andre interned at Morphosis architects at LA, EMBT at Barcelona, and pursued architecture education from UCLA and University of Houston. He spent 2 years master degree under the guidance of Thom Mayne, then he took the Now Institute research project in Haiti as a subject of his study and got a chance to learn with Thom Mayne directly. There are some things to point out from his experience:

1. The basic principles are the main important things before anything.
He was involved in the Haiti Life Tree, a non-profit social project dealing with the need of basic infrastructure for the community, such as clean water conservation tank, renewable energy, and improvement of social spaces in port au prince. During this period, he spent more than 6 months to collecting basic data for the research before they did a workshop for the design. It is very important to collecting and making a very clear basic principle of design as a starting point of a design phase. By doing this, it will always emphasise the design performance more than other things.

2. The employee in the morphosis is encouraged to think and work independently.
Thom Mayne is more responsive than an active person. He never gives the how-to-do list instruction to the employee. He just checking out the progress once a week and if their employee didn’t do anything he will leave them without any words. It means the critical thinking, preparation before meeting, pro-active attitude are the basic things in their working culture.

3. Research and testing the prototype to make sure the design works.
The Morphosis office divided into two areas, one area for the design activity and one another for making a prototype. Thom was the person who really gives priority to the experiments of the design performance. He such a rationalist and very pragmatic person, who tried to push the boundary between technical and design principle. His interest in the performance of the design and functionality has been started since he was young, through many experiments by himself like making a rocket and a strange dining table. He is a person who always tries to push the boundary between architecture and another discipline, but also minding the gap between each discipline and consciously know his position as architects. So he can translate the language of other disciplines to the art of the spaces.

4. Dialogue=Innovation.
Collaborating with other disciplines would find many new design possibilities. Mayne along with other with Los Angeles architects did an active discussion since they were young. Catapulted to fame by the international media in and around the 1980s, a loosely affiliated cadre of architects–the so-called L.A. Ten–emerged to define the future of Los Angeles architecture. So, their provoking thought still influencing today architectural discourse through their so-called deconstructive agenda. Thom living in between practical, academic, and political areas today.[3]

Andre also shared his experience and we did an intensive discussion. He also has shown the documentation of his works, the sketch of Thom Mayne, and the final report books. Such a very inspiring stories for us. Thank you, Andre, for sharing with us.

[1] OMAH Alpha Book p.94
[2] http://www.thenowinstitute.org/
[3] Phillips, Stephen John et al. L.A. [Ten]. Zürich, Switzerland: Lars Müller Publishers, 2014. Print.

Credit:
Summary by Rifandi S. Nugroho
Video by Yenni Khaliddaziya