Name of Work: Times Pool Lounge

Bent wood, fabric / 100"w x 45"d x 40"h

About the Work:
The Times Pool Lounge is a spin-off of a design commissioned by The New York Times for an office lounge meant for closing advertising deals. With a green-light from the client, I photographed the upper-story conference room and flew to Mexico City where I designed in the mornings and explored the city in the afternoons. I saw a kind of Magical Realism in the built environment. The fantastically zany schlock agglomeration of unnaturally yellow anodized bronzes, hand-glazed gradient tile façades and folk-art Modernist metalwork interspersed with Deco architecture elevate Mexico City to an ornate hallucination. Hand-craft from laborers migrating to the city in the 70s and a Chirrigueresque more-is-more aesthetic weave an incredibly rich tapestry. To this day, basket weaving there is a trade not a COVID hobby and there’s a sense that time has stood still. Pondering while walking, I found Mexico’s arte povera design culture had a strange resonance with the cheekily appropriated ziggurats and melamine of the Italian Radical. The rich detail in Mexican building speaks to a surplus of labor as do the disco spaces designed by “bored architects” as leisure spaces for the dispossessed in Italy. In the late 60’s when Renzo Piano’s career was taking off, the country was riven with labor strife and a student occupation of the Milan Triennale in response to a kind of future shock. Both of these Architectural contexts exist in a carve-out between Modernism and Post-Modernism. I’m drawn to this play with time, and think of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mayan send-offs; Ricardo Bofill’s mining of the past, presented as a future in movies like Blade Runner or Brazil; and the gutter-rat characters of a Roberto Bolaño book. This pool lounge is meant to respond setting of The New York Times building, but also query the design lineage, reification of the everyday and my own itinerant context.

About the Studio:
Iliad Design’s principal Matt Howard had a brief stint in architecture at Vito Acconci Studio before moving on to design experiences in-house and under an ad agency umbrella for brands like Tory Burch, Clinique, Spotify, RedBull and Shake Shack. This collection represents a design-oriented solo effort that draws on the remarkable architectural context of the Renzo Piano-designed New York Times building (in which the original design concept preceding Times Pool Lounge is rooted). This work is also informed by Matt’s voracious travels and extensive visual research.