Despite the heavy downpour of rain yesterday morning, upon my arrival at the Open House symposium I was greeted by a full house of black and gray-clad architects and designers. Open House is a concept/experiment/art installation by Droog and led by Diller Scofidio + Renfro to encourage suburban homeowners to transform a portion of their homes into service-providing, collaboratively-minded, income-generating establishments.
The morning talks were very interesting and critical to understanding the afternoon’s Levittown tour of installations. Highlights of the symposium included: Renny Ramakers (co-founder of Droog) who laid out the concept and how it came to be; Charles Renfro (partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro) with a humorous (yet serious) presentation on finding one’s inner service provider; and Roo Rodgers (serial entrepreneur and director of Redscout Ventures) spoke about the rise of collaborative consumption and its success in models such as Zipcar, all tying into the Open House theme.
Two large buses took us out to Levittown, NY, where we met up with four minivans that circulated between the eight Open Houses. All the installations had interesting aspects and were cleverly executed, but the one I was most impressed by (design-wise) was Open House #2: Block Pantry by Janette Kim and Erik Carver with Gabriel Fries-Briggs; CNC cut in Brooklyn by Kontraptioneering. A large foam contraption, through which trays of mac ‘n’ cheese and meatloaf were served, had been attached to the exterior of the house around the kitchen window on a track that permitted the entire construction to be wheeled across the front of the house out to the lawn for an outdoor or self service option. Incredibly clever.
All of the houses and their services were fun to see, and though I’m not sure this notion will catch on right away, it does get the wheels turning.