Dezeen Magazine

Spirit of the City at A/D/O "designed for people to lose themselves in" says United Visual Artists

Matt Clark of United Visual Artists explains how the installation he created for MINI's Brooklyn creative workspace A/D/O, is designed to reflect human experiences of the city, in a movie produced by Dezeen for MINI.

Spirit of the City is an artwork created by Clark's studio, United Visual Artists (UVA), for the courtyard of A/D/O – design-focussed co-working space funded by MINI.

The installation consists of a grid of sixteen rectilinear columns clad in gold-tinted mirrors, which have been programmed to rotate at different speeds at intervals throughout the day.

"They're all individually controlled, but programmed to work in group behaviours," Clark explains in the video, which was shot by Dezeen at A/D/O.

At points, all of the columns turn in unison, creating a multiplicity of moving reflections around visitors as they walk through the installation. In other moments the columns collectively come to a stop.

Clark, who founded UVA, says he wants the installation to mimic the feeling of being in a city. "It's a response to the human experience of the city in quite an abstracted form," he says.

"I tried to remember the first time I came to New York many years ago," he continues. "You get caught in traffic and the rush hour, and at times you feel like things are flowing in a very chaotic way, at other times there seems to be more order. It's these moments of chaos and order that we're interested in."

According to Clark, the installation is designed to offer visitors an immersive experience.

"It's designed for people to lose themselves momentarily," he says. "It's a bit like a hallucination, it can be very disorientating, but in an interesting way. We want to embrace that moment when you're kind of off-kilter and questioning your surroundings."

Esther Banhe, head of strategy and business innovation at MINI, says that UVA and A/D/O share a multidisciplinary outlook.

"They're a team that works very collaboratively, working across functions and disciplines," she says. "This fits us perfectly, because this space is all abut crossing disciplines and cross-pollination."

As well as a co-working space, restaurant, shop and art installations that are open to the public, A/D/O also features areas for members, including an accelerator for urbanism startups and a workshop and fabrication lab for designers.

Clark's team used the equipment in the workshop when assembling Spirit of the City. "We had to rebuild a lot of the more intricate things that we thought we could only do in our studio," he states. "They've got great facilities here, and people who know what they're doing."

A/D/O is part of a wider push towards design by MINI, alongside the creation of architecture wing MINI Living. "MINI is an emotional design company," Banhe claims. "We generally think that good design can tip the scales towards a more humane world."

Banhe sees A/D/O as a facilitator for design projects. "We want to work with designers here at the space to help them to bring to life interesting work that wouldn't exist otherwise," she says.

Spirit of the City is open to visitors in A/D/O's courtyard in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, New York. Dezeen and A/D/O are hosting a series of talks on the theme of Spirit of the City until September 2018. The first was about being a designer in New York, and is available to watch now.