Poché / The Space Between

Poché / The Space Between

Pratt Institute

200 Willoughby Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11205

Interior Design
Deborah Schneiderman, RA, LEED AP

Team Members

Poché / The Space Between

CONNECT 2016 - Pratt Institute CONNECT 2016 - Pratt Institute
(549 KB),  23-Oct-2016 09:02 PM

Poché is a French architectural term meaning ‘the space between’. Students of architecture and interior design have long understood this concept through the centuries-old employment of hand drafting techniques and the soft subtle spread of lead shavings to demonstrate the impenetrable thickness of walls. Historically, with the use of stone masonry, these walls could be up to several feet thick from surface to surface – a solid barrier between exterior and interior or as interior separation, meant to stand for generations. Our generation, however, has become immutably entranced with the concept of efficiency, function, and usability. It is a time when as a global community we are challenged to tackle great issues of homelessness, poverty, and overcrowding, especially in urban centers. 

In searching for inspiration for the design of the Pratt Institute 2016 SOFA Connect installation, the Pratt Team looked first to the host city itself, Chicago. We were enamored with the intense sculpture of the structural skyline scraping the sky over Lake Michigan. The contrast of the city’s most iconic buildings: the structural expressionism of the John Hancock Center, the international Willis Tower, the neo-gothic Tribune Tower. Because we are interior designers we read these great buildings not only as imposing envelopes, but more so for the human experiences, lives, work, and play, that they allow to unfold within their constructed bodies. In a way this becomes a typology of space between, a poché between scales of urban exterior, building interior, and human.

Pratt’s 2016 SOFA Connect installation is an exploration of this concept of poché between scales. Using white, silver, and transparent vinyl in combination with recycled cardboard the team has constructed an occupiable architectonic rendering of an urban city skyline. The design itself is comprised of a series of pre-fabricated inflatables evocative of a cityscape. This initial perception of urban scale is directly challenged, however, by user occupation of these structures. As interior designers traditionally concerned with the human scale, we co-opted these structures to become understandable at the scale of the body. Some may be sat in or laid upon, others wrap around the user, while others may be occupied only symbolically. In this way we have entered the poché. We are now in the space between scale, at once both larger and smaller than ourselves.

This user interactivity is a direct action of imposing the human condition on a symbolic representation of urban scale and a pushing into the boundaries of poché. It is representative of the struggle between humans and the environments that they themselves create. Further, it is meant to spark intellectual conversation about overcrowding and overpopulation by remarking on the enormous amount of already built but currently under-occupied square footage available in the urban centers of the world in relation to the equally enormous number of people to whom any sort of permanent structure is beyond reach.

This design is an attempt to capture the essence of the city and of humanity as a whole. It is meant to be an exploration of physical constructs, architectonic spatial understanding, and modern conceptual engineering. With elements of user interaction and movement, the space is conceived as a space of experiential learning and play. It is also our intention that this design, which came about as an expansion on the architectural concept of poché, will provoke discussion and thought about what it means to occupy and live in the space between.

The installation will be designed and fabricated on the Pratt Brooklyn campus and then transported and installed at the SOFA CHICAGO on the Navy Pier in Chicago by a team interior design students along with their advisors Deborah Schneiderman and Alex Schweder. The Pratt Interior Design program is internationally renowned with students on the team representing eight countries from China to Iran and Turkey to the United States of America. The program itself is architecturally oriented, emphasizing strong spatial design in addition to comprehensive understanding of material, pattern, texture, and other decorative embellishment. All aspects of space-scale, proportions, configuration, and lighting, as well as textures, materials, and colors are studied in relation to their effect on the human spirit in a designed and inhabitable space. The department’s educational community encourages philosophical explorations, ethical responsibility, aesthetic expressions, and practical applications. With a firm commitment to social and environmental responsibility, the department strives to create interior designers who effectively and measurably contribute to the enhancement of function, health, safety, and overall quality of the lived human environment.


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